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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Naturopathy camp

(All places referred in this article are in Tamilnadu, India)
In spite of being cautious with respect to food and exercise, I see a drastic increase in my weight these days and I was not sure whether I am all that healthy. Most of the days when I am in my home town, I fondly do surya namaskar asana, yoga asana and pranayama. I am aware of meditation also but do not practice it for fear of losing the aggressive attitude that is very much required for my business these days. Contentment may result in complacence and a leader today cannot be contended for he is required to run in the front so that his team will follow. The next generation has more challenges and we cannot be teaching contentment to them because of ruthless society that has been formed.

 I wanted to understand what is wrong with my habits and more about healthier living. Some of my acquaintances had gone to Aravind Ashram, Rajapalayam for a training in naturopathy and yoga and I also made up my mind to take up one. I browsed through the internet and by repeated phone calls I ensured that I got registered for the camp that started on 7-08-2014. 

I have to be there at Arvind Ashramam at 4.00 p.m for registration on 6-08-2014 and the real camp started from 6th evening at 7.00 p.m. On 6-08-2014 I had some important works and I was hurrying to complete everything by 1.00 p.m. But practically it was 1.30p.m. when I returned. Then I remembered that I did not have ¾ pants that were mandatory for the camp. I rushed to a textile shop in our area and bought 2 pants and when I reached home it was beyond 2.00 p.m. I packed my essential things in a travel bag and had a hurried lunch. It was 2.45p.m. I had decided to take public transport to go to Aravindh Ashramam.

 I requested my younger son to drop me at the bus stand and he asked me how I could reach Rajapalayam by 4.00 p. m. by bus. I said whatever it might be; I did not want to miss the opportunity.  I made up my mind to persuade the organizers and somehow get into the camp. 

I had to first reach Thirumangalam and then take a bus to Rajapalayam  a small town famous for mangoes .When we reached the bus stop, an almost empty bus bound for Thirumangalam was about to leave. I had to run a few steps and had to jump in to a literally moving vehicle. My only aim was to reach Rajapalayam as quickly as possible. Normally I am not for boarding a bus that is moving. But after getting in to the bus the thought of my mistake of getting in to a moving bus troubled me though there was no problem. 

At Thirumangalam I had to settle with a bus in which I had to travel standing all the way. Nevertheless I got a seat in the middle of the journey. I got down at Rajapalayam and boarded an auto rickshaw. When I reached Aravindh Ashramam it was 5.05pm. I was directed to the reception for registration and got checked in after some formal procedures. My weight was 83.1kg about 10 kg in excess of the standard healthy weight. I was asked to buy a camp kit consisting of an enema can, an eye washing can , a nostril washing can and a packet of herbal bathing powder that costed me Rs.100/- . 

I was shown into big hall and there were several mats made of grass ( we call it korai Paai). I was to occupy one .All those who came to attend the camp had to hand over the cash and mobile phones. So before handing over, I spoke to my wife, son and office and informed them that probably they would not be allowed to contact except in case of emergency. I gave them the land line numbers of the camp site.

Having selected my floor mat, I washed my face and refreshed myself. I went round the entire hall and went upstairs to the open terrace. The ashram was located in a lovely place near the mountain ranges. It should be Western Ghats of South India. There was very less inhabitance. There was the factory of Aravindh Herbal Labs(P) Ltd., and the building belongs to them. The camp is being organized by them every month.  There were 34 participants who were men. The amenities were adequate and clean.  Equal number of women should have participated who were housed down stairs of the building. 

At 8.00 p.m. there was a bell ring denoting that the Master is calling everyone down. I was feeling hungry .There was nothing to eat with me. I eagerly awaited a meal though not a square one but one that at least would be comfortable. When we reached down we were given only two bananas and it was very interesting to see the disappointed expressions on everyone’s face. Mr.K.Balasubramaniyan , Diploma in Naturopathy & Yogic Science was the master. Here afterwards I will refer him only as Master. 

The Master explained about the necessity for awareness in naturopathy. He talked about junk food culture and growth of parotta eating habit. The parotta is prepared using Maida flour. Maida flour is made from wheat and was primarily meant for making adhesives. Somehow people started using maida for bakery, some kind of sweets, dosa and parotta. Parotta has reached such a status that in due course this will become the staple food of Tamilnadu. Maida is used for Pizza and Nan. The fine particles of the flour harm the intestines and reduce their efficiency. This will give raise to digestive problems. There is very high risk of Amebiosis through unhygienic parottas available.  So, parotta will help our country’s GDP greatly by direct sales and rapid growth of health care industry including pharmaceuticals.  He also cautioned about tooth paste and it is said that some of the popular brands contain high amount of nicotine. The common man is in a grossly disadvantageous position to check the ruthless strategies of the MNC’s and corporates. The simple inference is that no packed food or no cosmetic including hair dye is safe and you will have to pay double the price, the first one to buy them at whooping costs and the second one by way of treatment costs. The Master also briefly made a mention of harm due to alcohol but these days we live in a society that highly values the habit of drinking alcohol.

He explained the schedule of the camp. All three days we were supposed to use the enema can. But after the camp the enema can should be used only on the day of fasting or if we have constipation.

Next day there was a bell ring at 5.00 a.m. We had to be ready after morning cores by 6.00 a.m. We should have used enema can and used herbal tooth powder for mouth wash by then. 

All the participants appeared very sincere and reached the lecture hall at 6.00 a.m. Some who cannot sit down were sitting on the chairs. Master was seated in a big wooden chair with his legs crossed in Suga Asana posture. We meditated for half an hour and then were directed to take training of using the eye wash can and nostril cleaning can. For eye wash, pure water and for nostril cleaning saline water is used. Then we were given gingeli oil for doing goggling referred to as oil pulling. 

The breakfast was only a glass of 200 ml of coconut milk with curry leaves, cardamom and jaggery mixed. It was so good and comfortable to the stomach. We were asked to drink in small sips mixing lot of saliva, the way to drink anything except water. 

Next session was “Energy from food” the usual stuff about our anatomy and digestive system. The Master stressed the point that we have to sit on the floor and eat because if we stand like in buffet or sit on a dining table lot of energy is dissipated for maintaining blood circulations in the legs. Also we have to eat chewing thoroughly and hasty meals or gulping semi solid meals like gruel and payasam should be avoided since the first stage of digestion takes place in the mouth. 

Then we were trained on taking sand bath. Fine sand from ant hills is used for the purpose. The sand is mixed with water and the mud so formed is applied throughout the body from head to toe. Then we were asked to stand in the sun till the sand got dried. Afterwards we were asked to take bath in taps positioned above the head, water pouring with some force. This is just to help removing the sand. This bath is very good for skin diseases. It enhances the glow of the skin. More than anything one feels totally fresh after the bath. The skin attains a silky feel. It is great to experience a sand bath like this.

Afternoon meal consisted of

 Beaten rice sweetened with jaggery 50g.

Papaya fruit 150 g Soaked groundnut 75 g

dates 3 nos.

Small sappotta fruit 2 nos.

Carrot and cabbage chipped and garnished with coriander leaves 50g  

We felt it was just sufficient. Then till 3.00 p.m. we were allowed to take rest.

From 3.00 p.m to 5.30 p.m. there was a session on “ Avoiding junk food” . White sugar’s constitution is highly inappropriate for our body and it is better to avoid sweets made out of white sugar. There are better drinks than coffee and tea and it is better to avoid taking milk and curd. Butter milk is a better choice. Tea without white sugar and milk may be taken. We have to take the food preferentially that is grown in the area we live and follow the tradition of the place. For instance an apple is not a right choice in hot places like Tamilnadu. Banana, mango, Gova or even jack fruit makes a better choice and in fact very inexpensive.

From 5.30p.m. to 6.30 p.m. there was a session on Surya namaskaram. Since I do it regularly it was not difficult for me but others were struggling to stay in the 12 postures for few seconds that constitutes one cycle. 

Night meal consisted of

Soaked ground nut and green gram mix about 75 grams and ripe bananas 2 nos. We were asked to sit and eat slowly chewing every bit of the meal. 

Then there was a session on “ Fasting” . The advantages are enormous. It is the age old technique of allowing the body to purify itself and reset the entire digestive system. During fasting our body starts excreting the accumulated impurities and unwanted substances. Fasting can be of four types. 1. Taking only fruits,2.Taking only fresh fruit juices, 3. Taking only water and  4. Taking nothing . The fourth one is very difficult and the Master asked us to practice “Fasting taking water”. 

On the fasting day morning we should avoid brushing the teeth using any tooth powder since our digestive system will get confused with the sensing of the taste of the tooth powder. It may get prepared to receive food. We were asked to take bath in cold water starting pouring water from head in the morning. Enema should be taken thrice during the day, morning, afternoon and evening. Bathing from head to foot should be repeated in the same way as in the morning at the close of the fast. We were not to wander anywhere but remain resting or meditating. We were to maintain perfect silence till evening 5.00p.m.  In the evening we can clean our teeth with tooth powder.

Next day was Friday and the day break was as usual .

 I got up at 5.30 a.m and completed the daily core except teeth wash using tooth powder. It was very difficult to keep silent. Meditation was not comfortable since some thoughts about office built anxiety. I tried to persuade one of the assistants to allow me to make a phone call to office. He refused saying that it will affect the results of the procedure.  When it was not possible to contact the office I used my usual meditative technique to release the stress. I felt, in such circumstances a brief phone call might be allowed. However this may increase the stress instead of releasing the anxiety. This was of course a practice for getting detachment from anxiety giving elements. My philosophical tilt helped me over come anxiety. People who were either employees or self employed seemed not to have any such difficulty. 

All of us maintained silence, had small naps and spent time meditating the whole day. Evening at around 4.30 p.m. we broke the silence but sitting outside the hall not disturbing those who were religiously following the directions. There was a pharmacist and he was telling us about the unethical practices of the doctors. Some doctors choose to prescribe too many medicines than required and chose to prescribe the most expensive brands. They get expensive gifts like smart phones and lap top computers from the pharmaceutical companies. Also many doctors have a medical shop attached to their clinic and they get very high margins on the MRP. So the common man is exploited. The fault lies in the ignorance of the common man that he is unaware of the action of each medicine he is swallowing. The common man is lazy to understand the basic concept of medicinal intervention. Some doctors exploit this situation. It is a very sad state. However these doctors have their own justifications since medical education is enormously expensive in India or the aspirant should have scored very high mark something like 99 % and above. So for all these things they want to reap the reward and the practices are justified. They can very easily establish that their prescription is right. Doctors should have conscience and should have sound knowledge of anatomy, physiology and psychology to be ethical in their profession. The pharmacist said that there are very good doctors also who are service minded and value their professional ethics. The common man having led into the culture of hand full of medicines for any ailment do not believe in them. 

It was 5.00 p.m. and the bell rang. No one was in a hurry. All of us went down and we were offered a glass of lemon juice sweetened with jaggery. There was one man whose weight could be around 120 kgs. We saw him to be very calm. Out of eagerness and a notion that fat people cannot withstand hunger,   I asked him how he was feeling. He replied that he was absolutely fine and happy that he has learnt the technique of reducing weight with good benefits without unpleasant side effects. Master was present near us and was eager to listen to our feedback. He was also mentioning about the wrong technique adopted by the fashion show models. Many of the models have the habit of joining in grand dinners and immediately after the dinner they forcefully vomit the food they had consumed. This spoils the digestive system producing irreparable damage.

Night dinner was served at 7.00 p.m. It consisted of only 2 ripe bananas. Master said after day long fast the digestive system should be loaded very slowly and only very light fruit diet is recommended. There was a session on medicinal use of various fruits, leaves and vegetables. Some of the interesting points are

1.     The curry leaves should not be discarded as many do, but should be chewed and eaten with food for it is rich in nutrients.

2.    Every week, men may take oil bath on either Wednesday or Saturday morning. Women may choose either Tuesday or Friday. The procedure consists of first heating gingeli oil adding a clove of garlic, one small size red chilli and some cumin seeds. Apply the lukewarm oil from head to foot and then wait for 20 min. Take bath in lukewarm water using Ayurvedic powder or Sikakai powder. After bathing never sleep in the afternoon. Also avoid sex since the seminal fluid will be dilute and more energy will be lost. Never go in direct sun light. Oil bath keeps the pore in the skin clean. On subsequent days the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D3 from sun light is enhanced. This vitamin is essential for calcium absorption and helps to prevent osteoporosis.

3.    The seeds of grapes are medicine for cancer and so chew the seeds and the outer skin and consume while eating grapes.

4.    For fever no medicine is required. One is required to take enema and fast drinking only water. To control high temperature wet cloth pack is to be applied on the fore head and bottom part of stomach. For fever due to infection Nilavembu Kashaym is the only medicine.  This is the only medicine for Chikungunya as of now.

5.    For dry cough chew pepper with some honey and take a glass of water. 

6.    For ulcer, white pumpkin and curd is the best medicine. No need for antacids or histamine blockers.

7.    The running nose during an attack of cold can be immediately stopped by chewing one clove of small onion and drinking hot water.

8.    The everyday diet should have more amount of green leafy vegetables than flour. The maida flour should be avoided and multigrain flours will always be better. For us in Tamilnadu apart from rice grains like ragi, maize , cholam, kuthuravali and saamai are available. It is better to avoid grain of other land like oats etc.

9.    Everyday diet should contain items of all six taste i.e. each one with different taste namely sweet, salty, pungent, sour, bitter and astringent (just as betel nut).

10.  There are very simple natural medicines for irregular menstrual cycle and white discharge in women using poppy seeds. (Some countries classify poppy seeds under narcotics and so cannot be carried freely.)


It was almost time to retire on the second day. The camp will end on the 3rd day that is Saturday 9-08-2014 at about 12.30 p.m. Master said that we had to report at 6.00 a.m after enema and teeth wash in the morning.

On the last day of the camp at 6.00 a.m the Master taught us a different meditation. Since I considered this as a kind of auto suggestion I am not giving details of this mode. I like the meditation of observing breathing. Then we had the usual cleansing session and we were taken upstairs for yoga exercises.  After the exercises for some time the Yoga Master asked to do surya namaskar Asanas. One can find good demonstration in “you tube”. Then he taught us Pranayama. Nadi sudhi, Bastrika, Kabaalabatti, Brahmari and Sheetali techniques were taught. Tiger breathing and dog breathing techniques were taught to us. A CD was offered to us that has all the lessons. 

The morning breakfast at 9.00 a.m consisted of soaked ground nut, two ripe bananas and half glass of Gooseberry juice sweetened with jaggery. It was enough for us. Then there was a session on Banana Leaf bath and Sand bath. Some people who were interested in hip bath and back bone bath were offered that. 

Since banana leaves could not be arranged, sand bath was offered. Some of us took sand bath again, this time relishing better than before. 

After the bath we got ready to leave. We collected our money and mobile phone from the counter. Soon as I got the phone I made calls to home and office. Everything was fine. Then I stepped on to the weighing scale eager to find how much weight reduction was there. The scale read 80.7 Kg. This meant that there was reduction in weight by 2.4 Kg. 

The lunch was a Puree’ made up of banana , beaten rice, and dates. In addition to that 2 small sappotta fruits, quarter piece of Papaya and a handful of chipped carrot. We felt the stomach to be full. The Rajapalayam Town Lions club member Ln.Kumar offered to drop me in the railway station. 

At the railway station when I was waiting for the train I was observing the fellow passengers. Many of them were eating whatever they could buy.  In the train also I saw people consuming noodles, cool drinks tea, samosas and some packed meals. The food conscious is absolutely lacking. It is high time that schools and social service organizations start working on diet consciousness first. Otherwise the heath care industry will have tremendous growth. 

Mahatma Gandhi had said

If we lose money nothing is lost

If we lose health something is lost

If we lose character everything is lost.

Had he been here today he would have rewritten his sayings as

If we lose character something is lost

If we lose money many things are lost

If we lose health everything is lost.

Are we going to awake from the slumber and become heath conscious or going to lose all our hard earned money to the modern health care industry ?

The choice is in our hands. The difficulty is that we have to overcome the biggest hurdle that is there in the form of mass media directed by the corporate business houses.