No one will blame if you make any of these mistakes because many things about an Ayurvedic treatment is counter-intuitive.
1. Going by the Olive leaf/ Green leaf certification.
This certification awarded by the Kerala Government checks the basics and then divides service providers into two categories based on the infrastructure of the property.
A Green leaf means infrastructure is of 5 star facilities. An Olive leaf is given to an establishment with 3-star amenities.
If you are choosing between two properties which look kind of similar, don’t chose the Green leaf over the Olive leaf and pay several $$ more, unless you wanted a luxurious stay experience.
The physicians, therapists and equipment at both properties are more or less the same.
Opting for a green leaf does not automatically ensure a clinical grade Ayurveda experience.
2. Not making up your mind about Clinical or leisure experience.
Why so, you wonder? Why can’t I have a clinical grade Ayurveda treatment and stay at a fancy place with the legendary Kerala seafood on the menu, the bar close at hand and a nice pool to splash around in.
Here is why.
Ayurveda works on the body, the mind and the spirit.
An Ayurvedic treatment is time to rest all three and go inward, face what’s coming up, process through it , restore the energy channels, get a new lease on life, literally.
Easily digestible vegetarian food, gentle yoga, restrictions on getting wet, swimming, avoiding sex, and putting away digital distractions are all important part of a thorough healing.
Any place worth its salt, that offers medical grade Ayurveda will make you feel like you signed up for an internship at a Benedictine monastery.
Some places of repute even make patrons observe complete silence!
3. Not having a Skype Consultation
Most facilities that care for your health will offer a free initial Skype consultation. If you have health concerns, please insist on this.
Facilities that do not offer some sort of up front remote consult are not in business to serve you or may have so much volume of patients, that they may not be able to give you attention, when you arrive.
Some Ayurvedic treatments may not be suitable for you due to medical history, present health condition and age.
It will be sad to check in to a facility and then discover that your expectations were not met. Don’t solely rely on the email consult done by over-crowded renowned establishments.
Ayurveda is a highly personalized treatment modality and physicians must have time to do a thorough check up. It is always in your interest to go to someone who offers a more personal experience.
4. Getting thrilled by the a la carte Ayurveda experience
Guilty of falling for this one. I went in for a full body Ayurveda massage right off an 18-hour flight. I hurt my body. It took weeks to recover from the misalignment and swelling.
If I was at a facility under a Physician’s care, she would have taken one look at my slightly swollen legs and refused the massage.
Any place that lets do what you want to do is not doing you any favors. If you are undergoing medical grade Ayurveda treatment, the services you may pick and chose from an a la carte menu may interfere with your treatment.
5. Forgetting to read between the lines
If you were planning to check into a picturesque hotel by the backwaters with the added benefit of a few Ayurveda treatments and the reviews mention intense healing, periods of silence, therapeutic vomiting, run!
In Kerala, some medical grade establishments are in some of the most beautiful locations on the planet.
If you were planning to get that arthritic knee fixed for good and the menu features non-vegetarian food, it will kill you to watch others crunching on fried fish while your only meal was red rice gruel with a dash of salt.
Please search again for a place where you can at least be satisfied that everyone else is suffering as much as you are.
6. Going solely by what your travel company decides
Many have been led down the garden path by travel companies who do not bother or are not aware of the difference between leisure and therapy.
A therapeutic Ayurveda session is certain to ruin any leisure traveler’s vacation. Please ask lots of questions, email the establishment directly, check what kind of food is served, who is their average customer.
Once you check-in do not be talked into a clinical grade session no matter how much the Physician insists it will do you good. No doubt it will do good, but perhaps this is your first vacation in 5 years and crying over childhood trauma and battling your guilt issues can wait for another time.
Kerala is a paradise and there are plenty of other ways to recharge your spirit. Medical grade Ayurveda is chosen by those who are facing issues western medicine cannot cure, who want to avoid surgery or reduce dependence on medications and are somewhat aware of what happens when the medicines start working.
7. Going for the cheaper alternative
You have a few quotes in the range of a few thousands for a 14 day and stay and whoa! A new facility comes up and says everything and a few free massages, all yours for half that price.
Did I just win the jackpot, you think!
What a deal, you think!
No. No. No. Walk away.
Stay with those who are charging a reasonable price. Kerala is as expensive as any western country and the massages and treatments involve copious amounts of medications, oils with herbal extracts and ghee (clarified butter).
Some of these preparations have over 25 different herbs and are cooked over several hours. Well established Ayurveda houses have their own certified drug manufacturing units and keep costs down that way.
They make sure high standards of hygiene is maintained. Your oils, boluses and herbal massage powders are used only on you. This is a very important point.
I hope you have a wonderful stay in Kerala and like many, you leave transformed and touched by the beauty of the land and the love of the people. I wish you happiness and health.
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu.