November/December  2006 





“The beauty of Ayurveda is that every person is considered unique; treatment programs and lifestyle advice are tailored to individual need.”

Doshas and characteristics

VATA - Wind/air (cold constitution)
-Vata people are slender, light, lively and on the go.
-They tire easily and may have dry skin and hair.
-They dislike the cold and are prone to anxiety.
-Vata people should only have hot or warm food and drinks. -Avoid ice cream or drinks with ice.
-They should eat poultry and fish, cooked rather than raw vegetables and sweet, sour or heavy fruits such as bananas, avocados, peaches, cherries, mangoes and figs.
-Vata Season: Winter and early spring
-Vata Time of Day: 2-6am, 2-6pm
-Vata Cycle of Life: Ages 60+

PITTA - Fire (hot constitution)
-Pitta people are of average build with moderate strength and stamina.
-They may have a fiery temperament and/or red hair.
-Pittas are natural leaders.
T-hey prefer cooling breezes to hot sunshine.
-Pittas should favor cooling food and flavors that are the opposite to their constitution – so cereals with milk instead of a hot cooked breakfast, chicken rather than red meat and peppermint tea instead of stimulants like coffee and tea.
-Pitta Season: Summer
-Pitta Time of Day: 10am to 2pm, 10pm to 2am
-Pitta Cycle of Life: Ages 20 to 60

KAPHA - Earth and water (cool constitution)
-Kapha people are kind and strong with good stamina and memory.
-They tend to be calm, practical and slow to change.
-Kaphas put on weight easily and crave sweet and fatty foods.
-They should eat meat sparingly and reduce their intake of dairy foods.
-Green vegetables are good for Kaphas but not courgettes, tomatoes or sweet potatoes. They should eat apples and berries and avoid heavy fruits like avocados, dates and bananas.
-Kapha Season: Autumn
-Kapha Time of Day: 6-10am, 6-10pm
-Kapha Cycle of Life:  Birth to age 20
(While children have Vata qualities like lightness and quickness of movement, Kapha is responsible for the growing and structuring of young bodies and minds that predominates early life.)

ant to live a long and healthy life? Then discover the wisdom of Ayurveda--not just the utterly relaxing spa treatments but the Ayurvedic philosophy and way of life. Ayurveda, which means “knowledge of life,” is the Indian system of holistic traditional medicine that has evolved over centuries and embraces every aspect of life on the planet. It aims to maintain health and prevent illness by helping us achieve a natural state of balance and harmony. Just a little energy and time spent absorbing and using Ayurveda will empower us to regain and maintain our natural state of health.

The beauty of Ayurveda is that every person is considered unique; treatment programs and lifestyle advice are tailored to individual need.

Three principles or doshas are used to identify the cycles of day and night, the seasons of the year, the stages of life and most important, our individual constitutions. Each dosha has its own characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, and no one dosha is better than another. Most of us have several doshas within us, with one or possibly two more dominant than the others.

Before starting a treatment program, Ayurvedic spas offer a medical consultation to identify your dosha and any imbalances. You will be asked about any current or past health problems and all aspects of your lifestyle. You are also likely to have your tongue examined and your pulse taken, as this is an important part of the diagnosis and reflects the balances of Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the body. Ayurvedic doctors train for the best part of six years, so are well qualified to diagnose health problems and prescribe effective remedies and activities. These range from specific food regimens, herbal and plant medicines, steam baths, and particular types of therapeutic massage to meditation and yoga.

In India, where Ayurveda is used to treat specific diseases, some more extreme therapies such as the purifying ritual of panchakarma, last for up to 21 days. They include treatments that most westerners find unpalatable, such as emesis (induced vomiting), bloodletting, purging with medicines, enemas and nasal medication.

The Home of Ayurveda

Most Ayurvedic practitioners train in the state of Kerala, the home of Ayurveda. Situated on India’s southwest tip, Kerala is also known as “God’s Own Country” because of its idyllic beaches, coconut groves and scenic backwaters. Ayurvedic massage is widely advertised and available – in dubious roadside shacks, clinics and beach resorts up and down the coast.

While visitors used to the pampering spas of the US and Europe will find basic ‘no frills’ Ayurveda decidedly lacking in the comfort stakes, leaving them feeling a tad oily and exposed, a number of upmarket resorts are taking advantage of the global spa boom and developing authentic Ayurveda spas in more salubrious surroundings. These are staffed by experienced doctors and therapists, ensuring the visitor enjoys the best of both worlds and the highest standards of care and treatment.

ayerveda-3One such resort is the Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach, one of Kerala’s finest. Perched on a sunny promontory between two wide sweeping beaches, it enjoys fabulous views of the Arabian Sea and the coconut plantations along the Kovalam coast. It has 194 stylish rooms and suites, gourmet dining and a host of amenities including a brand new spa.

The newly opened Divya Ayurveda and Wellness Spa is located in the resort’s tropical gardens overlooking a private beach. A team of 15 experienced therapists and a dedicated Ayurvedic doctor dispense advice and create personalised treatment programmes. Decorated in contemporary Indian style, the spa has eight spacious treatment rooms including a couple’s suite, a dedicated foot massage pavilion and a large airy yoga meditation centre. Unusually, there is a small library of books for relaxation and a music menu.

The range of treatments is impressive. You can choose one to 28-day Ayurvedic packages that focus on wellbeing and preventive treatments or opt for more therapeutic and curative programmes.

A one-day de-stress package includes two body massages and a traditional head massage and costs from $64. Longer Ayurvedic programmes lasting five, seven, 14, 21 or 28 days cost from $200 and include an in-depth private medical consultation, herbal medicines for the duration of the programme and a daily 75-minute therapeutic massage. Yoga and meditation classes are taught by local professionals and cost from $19.

ayerveda-4The Divya offers three signature treatments based on the ancient Kalari massages of Kerala. Vishram relaxation massage ($26); Sukhakara energizing massage ($47); Sammardana Indian deep tissue massage ($47).

All visitors to the resort should take a trip to explore the backwaters of Kerala in a kettu vallam - a traditional Keralan longboat. Gliding silently through the shimmering labyrinth of lakes and waterways flanked by dense tropical vegetation is an unforgettable experience. The ever-changing scenes offer a fascinating glimpse of Keralan life and its homes, temples, churches and mosques, all surrounded by the ubiquitous coconut palm.

The Leela, Kempinski Kovalam Beach, Kerala
Tel: +91 471 248 0101
Fax: +91 471 248 1522
Visit for latest rates and offers

Seaside Rejuvenation

ayerveda-2Nestling between the Arabian Sea and the River Sal, the Leela Goa has an idyllic setting in an unspoilt part of South Goa. The public areas of the 75-acre resort are designed like an Indian summer palace, while the 152 guest rooms and suites are housed in pink villas that reflect Goa’s Portuguese heritage. The villas cluster around pretty lagoons and lush tropical gardens with pathways bordered by frangipani trees and trails of bright pink bougainvillea.

At the Leela Goa, you can combine five-star relaxation with healthy exercise, thus burning off the calories accrued in the excellent restaurants. Facilities include a 9-hole golf course, outdoor pools, fitness room and a tennis club with floodlit courts. There’s also a hair and beauty salon and a pleasant, if unpretentious spa with eight treatment rooms. The spa has an Ayurvedic doctor and eight therapists and offers a full range of Ayurvedic services as well as yoga and meditation classes.

As I was still feeling jet lagged, Dr Arun Arvind, the spa doctor recommended an abhyanga body massage, which he said would help me unwind and boost my circulation and lymph system. I was expecting him to perform the massage and was surprised when a smiling diminutive female therapist introduced herself. (I later learned that in India it is the custom to be assigned a same sex therapist.)

My treatment was carried out in a clean but sparsely furnished room. A solitary candle provided a soft light. I took off all my clothes and covered myself with the light cotton wrap provided. Then, seated on a wooden stool, my bare feet on the floor, my head and shoulders were kneaded and massaged with warm Ayurvedic oils for about ten minutes. After this I had to climb onto the wooden table for the body massage. Despite the dim lighting, I felt awkward and uncomfortable lying exposed on the hard surface. But gradually I began to relax as warm oil was poured onto my back, and deft fingers worked on my scalp, ears, backs of knees, fingers, thumbs and each of my toes. By the end of the treatment I felt rejuvenated and totally relaxed.

ayerveda-1While in India, I wanted to experience an authentic sirodhara treatment. Carried out in absolute silence, sirodhara involves lying on a flat surface and having five or six litres of warm herbal oil (selected according to your dosha) poured in a slow continuous stream onto your forehead – the so called ‘third eye. This takes about 30 to 45 minutes, and afterwards you are given a gentle scalp massage. Sirodhara leaves you in an almost comatose state of deep relaxation and is used as a treatment for insomnia, high blood pressure and other ailments.

The Spa at the Leela Goa now offers a new three-day BLISS spa package combining a mixture of meditation techniques, traditional yoga and relaxing spa treatments. Each day includes a spa lunch, yoga session and a spa treatment. The package price starts from $758 pp based on a double occupancy and includes a buffet breakfast.

The Leela Goa (A GHM Hotel)
Tel: +91 832 287 1234
Fax: +91 832 287 1352
Visit for latest rates and offers.

New Trends

You can now combine having cosmetic surgery in a private modern hospital in Kerala with a two-week luxury holiday at the picturesque five star Leela Kovalam Beach Resort. The whole package costs less than half the price of the surgery alone when carried out in the US or UK.

The specialist packages include tummy tucks, eye lifts, laser eye surgery and dentistry and include all hospital treatment and aftercare, transport between hospital and hotel, half board accommodation and Ayurvedic treatments at the hotel spa.

Prices start at $1,995 for a seven-night eye lift and eye surgery, and rise to $3489 for a 14 night tummy tuck. Prices do not include airfare.

For further details visit
Tel: 0871 789 6150

There are no direct scheduled flights to southern India from the US or UK. US travellers should fly to the UK and then take a scheduled flight into Mumbai then an internal flight to Trivandrum (Kerala) or Goa. New airline Etihad Airways flies to India via Abu Dhabi from the UK. These are brand new planes with all modern conveniences and exceptionally good service and food. You can take a direct charter flight to southern India from the UK. Goa Way Travel can arrange flights to Trivandrum and Goa.
Tel: + 44 (0) 870 890 7800

BeattieCatherineCatherine Beattie is a UK-based health and travel writer/publisher with a lifelong interest in spas. Her credentials include writing and publishing several consumer guides including Healthy Breaks in Britain & Ireland (the UK's first spa guide) and The Really Useful Guides. Catherine was founding editor of Spa Health & Beauty magazine and contributes to many UK national newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Express, Here's Health and Harpers & Queen. She is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers, Guild of Health Writers and Spa Business Association.




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