Monday, July 5, 2010

Indian Ayurvedic Treatments in Manila

Hello from Tokyo, where it seems the rainy season is finally ending and summer is beginning. It's 4 PM and still it's sweltering over here. The best thing to do is to seek refuge in shade, preferably doing something indoors somewhere calming and airconditioned (such as having a cold soba lunch and a few hours of shopping at Midtown, Tokyo's swankiest shopping mall, where summer sales are running up to 70% off) until late afternoon, when it's finally safe and comfortable to hit the streets again.

An authentic ayurveda center in Manila

The day before I left Manila last week, though, I decided to try out Arogya, a newly-opened Ayurvedic center in San Antonio Village, Makati. Those who follow this blog will know that I'm a big fan of almost everything Indian; and, for natural health, I believe that Indian ayurvedic medicine has great benefits for the mind and body.

Of course, to receive the full benefits of ayurveda, you must have a series of treatments over a course of time. Results are hardly instant as ayurveda is very much a part of natural healing and of helping the body to help itself. Until Arogya opened in Manila, however, this was never quite possible. Personally, I love ayurveda treatments but until now my experience had been limited to a couple of days of treatments as a tourist at spas offering ayurvedic treatments all over the world.

Ayurveda all over the world

Last March, for instance, I was in the state of Kerala, in the southern part of India, which is widely recognized as the home of ayurveda. At the Lake Kumarakom Resort, among India's finest resorts, I spent an afternoon of pure bliss at their ayurvedic spa and came away completely relaxed and refreshed. And before that, I'd had ayurvedic samplers at places as disparate as the Taj Hotel in Delhi, the Four Seasons in Mumbai, the Four Seasons Sayan in Bali, Chiva-Som in Thailand and a couple of spas in England.

With Arogya now only a few minutes away in Makati, and run by serious ayurvedic practicioners who have themselves been trained in India, it now becomes possible to have a proper course of ayurvedic treatments to treat specific conditions. Arogya is owned by Manelle Katigbak Jose, a follower of natural healing who herself used to spend weeks in India undergoing ayurvedic treatments for various ailments. To run her ayurveda center, she recruited Patrick Eyquem, a Frenchman who has been practicing and promoting ayurveda for over 30 years; and Shinoj Jose, a native of Kerala who also trained in his home province. Meanwhile, the Filipino staff have all been rigorously trained in ayurvedic principles, and most of them are actually nursing graduates so they're able to combine Western and ayurvedic principles. What a treat for natural healing followers.

I was happily surprised to find a very comfortable and calming set-up at Arogya, with an intimate and Zen-like feel. It's not plush as it isn't supposed to be a spa, but everything is done with simple and refined taste. It has whitewashed interiors, a relaxing lounge with books on ayurveda and natural healing, and lots of plants everywhere. The minute you enter the place, you leave the hustle and bustle of the world -- and your life -- outside. Meanwhile, as with proper ayurveda centers, the treatment tables are all wood so the hardness takes some getting used to -- but if you actually go to an ayurveda center somewhere and they have comfortable heated massage beds or plush mattresses, I can guarantee that is not a genuine ayurveda center.

Away from stress

That Friday I visited Arogya was exactly the kind of day I needed some ayurvedic TLC. It was the day before my trip to Tokyo and my schedule was packed to the minute with meetings and events -- and even a wine dinner at the Hyatt -- until midnight, except for these two precious hours I was asked to secure for my treatment. And still, just before going up to the second-floor treatment room, I was receiving calls on my mobile while making another call to a client on Arogya's landline -- so much so, that I had to ask Tisha Fernandez, Arogya's manager, to answer my mobile for me while I used her phone. She very sweetly cooperated, taking messages for me while I ironed out details for Travelife's upcoming trip to Turkey on the other line. I must have looked quite a sight, frenetically juggling phones and calls amidst this oasis of calm; and I was so sure this was not the way to start my treatments.

"Do you think you can turn off your phone for the next two hours?" Patrick asked me kindly, as he observed my phone acrobatics. I knew he was worried that the ayurveda treatments he had just prescribed for me, which were specifically to combat stress, would not be effective if I would be holding on to my ringing mobile and texting people nonstop for the next two hours.

Abhyanga for detox

I'd filled out a comprehensive questionnaire at the outset, and based on this and a consequent chat, Patrick had decided what treatments were best for me. That day, I had the Abhyanga, which is a full body massage done by two therapists in synchronized motion using large quantities of herbal-infused sesame oil. This was supposed to balance my dosha, liquefy toxins, normalize blood pressure and induce relaxation. Afterwards, I had the Takradhara, wherein one of the therapists poured medicated buttermilk on my forehead for about 10 minutes. This is supposed to bring relief to sufferers of insomnia, depression and stress. To end, I had the Aschutan, which involved having medicated ghee applied on my eyes for another 10 minutes, thus cooling irritated and stressed eyes.

Unlike typical spas offering ayurvedic treatments, Arogya focuses on health rather than relaxation (although de-stressing is a benefit), and so it uses only the highest quality medicinal-grade oils and herbs.

"Usually, these kinds of oils are not available for retail or even to spas offering ayurvedic treatments," Patrick told me. "Even in India, manufacturers only sell these to ayurvedic hospitals treating hundreds of patients. However I'm able to get these oils because I've known the manufacturers for years."

All three treatments were extremely relaxing and they did wonders to lower my stress level that day. But the Takradhara was very unique because it made use of buttermilk on the forehead instead of oil, and was something I had not experienced before. It was so refreshing and I could immediately feel the stress easing with each minute. After the treatment, I swore my mind cleared up and I could see better. That, combined with the Aschutan, was perfect for tired eyes that have been laboring for hours over the computer!

So here I am now in Tokyo, which is quite peaceful. But still, I can't wait to return to Manila and continue a series of treatments at Arogya. I think I'm going to need some de-stressing from my holiday!

All treatments are by appointment.
To book a session, contact:
Arogya Ayurveda Center
8398 Mayapis Street, San Antonio Village, Makati
Tel. (02) 403-4048, Mobile (63)(906) 2492-2463

Purpose of Ayurveda

* Integrates and balances body, mind and spirit
* Improves health by preventing recurrence of disease
* Reverses biological age
* Improves metabolism
* Provides luster to skin

Importance of Ayurveda

In this modern era, people are acquiring numerous diseases like arthritis, paralysis, heart-related diseases, obesity, migraine, insomnia and glaucoma. Ayurveda provides an integrated approach to prevent illness and to promote wellness through natural therapy. It also emphasizes physical rejuvenation and extension of life span.


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