For some time now, I have been toying with the idea of demystifying the burgeoning wellness industry for myself. Not the fancy-shmancy, snotty affair, aimed by marketing gurus at the (so-called) spiritually-bereft from materialistic worlds. But the kind that goes about its healing business in a no-fuss manner. Having partaken of curative therapies in the Orient as well as the Occident, it was time to test home ground.
I finally nailed it last week. Letting curiosity get the better of us, a couple of friends and I found ourselves checking into a recommended naturopathy centre located in Gohana. A bustling town in mofussil Haryana, it was last in the news, many years ago, for the propensity displayed by some of its residents to torch others’ homes. The Sanjeevani Kaya Shodhan Sansthan, however, was a verdant oasis of calm when we arrived there.
A number of buildings dotted expansive grounds as we drove along tree-lined avenues to the administrative block. We then followed a hedgerow-flanked path, through manicured greens, to the residential block a short walk away. Our room was spacious, airy and clean, characteristics we came to associate with most spaces we utilized whilst there. Post check-in, we returned to visit with the resident doctor, who planned our detoxifying regime subject to medical history. We were in for a few surprises. For one, what I shrug off as a consequence of an epicurean lifestyle is really obesity in their jargon!
Anyhow, here’s how a typical day passed us by:
5.00am: Wake-up call. Come on, guys, it is midnight for some of us.
5.30-6.30am: Sleepwalk to treatment area for Shwatkarma, thorough cleansing of the insides; yes, all of them. Partake of warm lime water.
8.00-9.00am: Breakfast. If the tiniest portion of papaya, five almonds, five raisins and three figs can be so described. Oh, I forgot the spoonful of crushed garlic. My bad.
9.00-12noon: General treatment: a flurry of massages, mud packs, steams, saunas and showers. Kind of took on the semblance of a modern-day Turkish hammam by the end of it all; humid, messy and tons of skin-show. But for the relentless and loud chatter of scores of women, it may even have been relaxing.
12.00-3.00pm: Lunch. Comprising soup, a portion each of watery and dry vegetables, salad and chutney. In case you were still hungry, half a teaspoon of roasted flax seed followed. A fitful siesta; fruity refreshments. I will, in all likelihood, never miss watermelon again.
3.00-6.00pm: Curative treatments: mud baths, sheet-wraps, yet more massages, Jacuzzi dips, body and joint wraps interspersed with fruit and wheat grass juices; ending with a brief acupressure session and visit to doctor.
6.00-7.00pm: Tea (almost the real McCoy, in a teabag) followed by meditation which we readily gave up in exchange for a hearty walk around the sprawling farmlands. A masochistic streak had us stop by each day at a community kitchen on the premises; no cheating, just checking.
7.00-8.00pm: Dinner, no different from lunch save for a warm glass of milk sweetened by raisins. Both meals depleted to soup and fruit two days later; staying thus till our Last Supper, when we finally got to ingest food as we know it.
Repeated regularly for seven days, this punishing routine resulted in a slight drop in body weight, some tautening of skin and plenty toning of muscles. It also resulted in a solemn vow never to return.
Truth be had, it wasn’t easy. The first two days went by in a zombie-like daze, sporting a monster headache and alarmingly high blood pressure. Unsuccessful in harnessing an active mind was adding to the distress. The trick, we were informed sagely, is to make it through to Day Three. They were right; it did become a tad bearable after. Although I suspect it may have something to do with the discovery of a cupboard full of books.
Verdict: They don’t tell you anything you don’t already know. Eat healthy, exercise regularly and de-stress. If you get it right, you will inhabit a drug-free world. As for that dose of nature, bring on the mountains, baby!