Karkidaka Chikitsa: The magic of Ayurveda in the Monsoons
Monsoons in India is like no other. It is as beautiful and vibrant as it can be aggressive. Falling between the months of June and August, the period is traditionally classified as the ‘off-peak’ or ‘low season’ as torrential rains make it difficult for businesses to run and recreational activities to take place. Tourists, who do choose to come experience this, might find themselves confined to their hotel rooms too often. Unfortunately, the monsoon period is also a precursor to many ailments.
Despite that, what many people are unaware of is that the monsoons happen to be one of the best times to revel in the traditional therapies of Ayurveda. Practitioners of this ancient system, which dates back 5,000 years ago, believe that the human body is the most fragile during monsoons and so it is considered to be an ideal time to engage in a holistic approach to healing.
What makes Ayurveda effective during this period is that the atmosphere remains dust-free and cool. While the humidity in the air causes breathlessness and weakness, it also opens up the pores allowing medicated and herbal oils to seep thereby restoring the body’s health and vitality. Also, the monsoon’s moistness help soften the skin allowing Ayurveda to remove excess energies and toxins from the body and mind.
The monsoon season or ‘varsha rithu’ in Kerala come in two parts – the south-west monsoons – from June to August and the north-east monsoons – from October to November. The name Karkidaka Chikitsa refers to Karkidakam – a month as per the Malayalam calendar, falling in July/August, while ‘chikitsa’ means treatment.
Karkidaka Chikitsa is a healing tradition that affects the physical, mental and spiritual health for prolonged well-being. This begins with understanding the three main doshas/ elements that govern the body – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Treatments done during this period have great importance as the monsoon affects each of the doshas in different ways. A lot of toxins tend to get accumulated during the summer and gets aggravated by the rain; resulting in an excess of Vata, leading to diseases. The rain falling into the hot summer earth is known to increase acidity in foods – aggravating the Pitta dosha and leading to fevers, acidity, digestive problems as well as inflammations. Also, contaminated water and food during the monsoons can aggravate the Kapha dosha in turn causing cold, cough and allergy and skin diseases.
The Karkidaka Chikitsa helps realign these doshas in the body. These treatments are also effective in the prevention of diseases and in increasing energy levels, reinvigorating the body and extending the longevity of life. Moreover, it also prevents many another ailments such as arthritis, Spondylitis, back pain, insomnia, muscular pain, stress, and depression. These treatments can vary from 7-21 days, depending on individual requirements.
Some of the recommended practices while undergoing the chikitsa or generally during the monsoons are:
- Drink at least 2 litres of luke warm water daily
- Avoid non-vegetarian foods, fried foods, alcohol and smoking
- Include a healing diet [oushada kanji] to enhance immunity
- Follow an early to bed & early to rise routine
- Do deep breathing exercise for 10 minutes, every morning
- Participate in social gatherings or Satsangs for spiritual dialogues which will provide a positive frame of mind
Ayurveda also recognizes the monsoon season as the best time for experiencing a Panchakarma program. Panchakarma is a curative treatment that detoxifies the body and reinforces the immune system and leaves it healthier, stronger and free from chronic ailments. The moist qualities of monsoon is known to soften and ripen the seven tissues of the body, the dhatus, during the preparatory phase of Panchakarma involving Snehana (oil application) and Svedhana (steam treatments). When the tissues are well prepared soft, moist and pliable the Ayurvedic techniques used for eliminating toxins and excess doshas from the body and mind are accomplished easily, effortlessly, and completely, giving the customer a much more intensive cleaning. Diet is also an important aspect of this treatment. Under most Ayurvedic practices, dietary modulations are mandatory and therapists provide a detailed program that gives a disciplined schedule of massages, exercises, and diet plan rich in vegetarian and wholesome meals – thus gaining it a reputation of being ‘holistic’.
Besides detoxifying, Karkidaka Chikitsa can also help boost immunity, rejuvenate the body with its healing massages, lose weight by breaking down fat deposits and toning the body, improve existing current health concerns. With regards to exercises, the answer is Yoga – the universal regime of well-being. The cool temperature and lull of the rain drops work in symbiotic harmony to help you relax and feel contentment.
Aside from the Ayurvedic benefits during this season, monsoons are also an attractive period to get competitive rates at your preferred hotels. If you prefer to stay indoors, and have a relaxing holiday, then there could be no better time than the soothing rainy season. Keep an eye out for properties that offer good view, come with great reviews, great dining and wellness center, if you are in a mood for indulgence and pampering.
The Karkidaka Masam in the traditional Malayalam calendar usually starts from mid-July and ends mid-August .