After an early morning flight from Chennai, arriving at Carnoustie with my family (grandparents included) felt like discovering a secret hideaway. Spacious villas are dotted among lush grounds with a pool, beach, main restaurant and herb garden all within easy walking distance. Everything here, from the wellness programmes to the personalised dosha-based food menu, centres around Ayurveda, the ancient science of life. Therapies work hand in hand (they are launching a new anti-ageing programme) and each individual’s timetable is created around which bio-energy system they fall into. During my first consultation with Doctor Ajitha I filled out a detailed questionnaire that set out my objectives. I was determined to detox. I wanted to feel lighter and sort out any digestive issues. Her recommendation was a three-day juice cleanse, starting tomorrow followed by one day on a ‘normal’ diet and then ‘purgation’. I ended the afternoon with a yoga class just before sunset.
The day began with a rather pulpy amla juice (Indian gooseberry, it’s packed with vitamins and great for the hair) and then straight into an Ayurvedic massage that involved two therapists methodically working their way head to toe (they used a lot of oil so the smell was intense). Afterwards, I waited for an hour before showering to let the oils soak into my skin. Mid-morning I drank a glass of coconut water and for lunch I had a glass of orange juice (fresh coconut water is also available throughout the day).
My introduction to marma meditation in the afternoon involved a pulse reading from which the therapist, Rahul, was able to relay my personality, temperament, habits and balance of positive and negative, heart and mind. Essentially, marma therapy focuses on the vital points of the body, of which there are around 140 and when you activate these points the whole energy system is enhanced. During these sessions, Rahul would use his chakra balancing methods to help me achieve a better equilibrium and open up my heart more (apparently a strong mind, will and exterior didn’t equal a strong heart in my case).
Sitting with my grandparents for dinner, it was hard not to eat so I had a plain cauliflower soup which was incredibly tasty. The ideal scenario is not entering the restaurant when on the juice diet but it was a family holiday and as I was suffering from a heavy head (due to lack of caffeine) I thought food might help.
I had every intention to get up for 7am yoga but my body’s desire to sleep took over. I woke up at 9am, just in time to hear the doorbell as the waiter delivered my amla juice. I then had my second marma meditation session, during which I apparently slept a little. I was more aware of what was happening during today’s session and realised that something must be working when my lip involuntarily puffed out a breath of air, rather like the sound you would make if you were teaching a child how to pronounce a ‘p’. Rahul told me it was something loosening up deep inside. The marma was followed by another Ayurvedic 90-minute massage (this time I washed the oil off immediately). I still had the no-caffeine heavy head but it disappeared during the day.
A late afternoon swim in the ocean was pure bliss. The beach seemed entirely untouched: there’s no-one and nothing to be seen apart from a few fishing boats parked in the sand. My watermelon juice had arrived by the time I finished my swim. In the evening, I had a marma therapy session booked with Dr Middu which focused on finding pain points, intensely massaging and correcting any alignment issues. Surprisingly it was my thighs and calves that she focused on. I always felt that it was my back that needed attention but there were cramps in my legs I had never realised were present until she dug into them.
For dinner, I had pomegranate juice, clear vegetable soup and a few spoons of spinach puree curry. After dinner, for some reason, my body, especially my legs, were aching. It wasn’t one of those delicious post-massage aches. It was uncomfortable to sit or sleep and, in the end, I had to succumb to pain killers. It might have been the extra 20 lengths in the pool after all the massages, coupled with the ocean swim. Dr Ajitha told me the following day that doing any strenuous exercise isn’t recommended during this process and that the aches could also be a way of my body detoxing itself.
This last day of juicing came round quickly and I realised that the reason it hadn’t felt so difficult was, in part, because I was adding in the odd soup to the plan, but also because the therapies took up so much of the day and the heat naturally makes you want to eat less. I was told that without any solid food the body is active and digestive powers are strong. The juice combinations offer enough nutrition and minerals; the one day of ‘normal food’ just gives the body a little extra energy and fibre so that the purging happens easily and doesn’t deplete every ounce of energy.
My legs weren’t aching so much this morning but it took me an hour to actually get out of bed. No yoga – again! Contrary to how active I thought I’d be here and how much reading I thought I’d get through, I was resting rather a lot. What my body and mind must need, I told myself. I started the day with the usual detox tea, followed by gooseberry juice and then another marma meditation. The highlight of the day was heading to the beach for sunset, where I had a quick dip in the ocean as my nephews ran in and out of the waves.
Starting the day with the perfect kind of porridge with chopped prunes and papaya on the side made for a pleasant change. I asked John, the restaurant manager, if they could make me the red spinach thoran (dry curry made with freshly grated coconut) with some ragi roti for dinner since seeing my aunt and mother eat a similar curry the other day, I was rather craving it. For lunch, I had soup and tadkadaal (the best ‘curry’ they’d ever had, said my nephews). And my thoran dinner was delicious! I was ready for my proper detox tomorrow.
At 6am I took the lethal medicine. It was a rather awful tasting mix of three tablespoons of powder with warm water which didn’t kick in until 90 minutes later. Before I tell you about the next six hours, I should say that hardly anyone had the same reaction that I did – clearly I had rather a lot to detox. I had no idea that the medicine would involve hours of sitting in bed feeling nauseous and sick (I watched a few episodes of a television drama that I’d recorded on my laptop which kept me occupied) and if ever my large bathroom felt unnecessarily large, today I understood the reason why it was such a comfort. I was sick a couple of times then went around 20 times to the bathroom. The ‘yellow’ was the bile, Dr Ajitha told me (I won’t go into more detail, but this was no laxative – it was the full shabang). As she’d correctly predicted, just after noon I felt fine and I was able to eat a dry mung bean and coconut curry with a soup-like porridgey rice. I ended up having a couple of cups of masala chai in the afternoon, and chocolate chip cookies my sister had brought. I had a light abhyanga massage at 4pm and that was it. Intense relief for the rest of the day!
It felt so good to eat normally. I started the day with coffee and porridge with prunes; I had coconut milk vegetable curry with appam for lunch; an afternoon masala chai, and then some light Indian food with brown rice for dinner. Since I knew I would be on the juice diet from tomorrow I ate rather well. The treatment schedule – Ayurvedic oil massage, marma treatment and yoga – resumed as well. Today’s session with renowned marma practitioner Dr Sebgat was a real revelation. From looking at my eyes and tongue, he could tell that I was irregular with my meals and that I had fallen and hit my head between the ages of three and six (correct – I fell off a swing). This has made my pelvic floor uneven (so I’m not properly balanced when I walk) and has affected the vessels in my neck causing quick mood changes. It could also be causing my cravings of sweet foods. He spent the next few days correcting this and intensely massaging my pelvis, neck and spine. It was incredibly painful at the time, to the point where I was trying not to scream, but the post-treatment feeling was just bliss – a delicious lightness in my body that I didn’t know I was capable of feeling.
Today, I was meant to be juicing but it didn’t go well: I had porridge with prunes for breakfast and then boiled curried cassava and coconut chutney on a boat journey we did through the backwaters. It was also the one day I cancelled my massage – I’m going to admit that I simply could not be bothered to have all that oil slathered on me, especially since there was less time today because of the outing. Dinner was a broth soup with a few floating vegetables, followed by an apple and a large mug of hot water with lime, cinnamon, fresh ginger and honey – my new addiction whether it’s served hot or cold!
For the first time, today I felt wonderfully light – both mentally and physically. After today’s massage, I was given some ghee nasal drops as another way of ridding my body of toxins. It worked like magic in dislodging any phlegm that I didn’t know was even there (spitting out every few seconds is such a bizarre feeling). In the evening, there was a candlelit dinner by the pool (tomato soup, followed by roti, rajma, which is a kidney bean curry and one of my all time favourites) and a short south Indian dance.
Today Dr Sebgat took me through the exercises I should do each day in order to maintain the adjustments he had worked on. Apparently one massage each week is necessary and I should ask my therapist to focus on specific areas for ten minutes at a time. Marma therapy is literally miraculous. My grandfather, for example, at 90, had started losing balance when walking even with a walking stick because of constant pins and needles. After his sessions with Dr Sebgat, they had completely disappeared and his balance had returned. For me, another huge achievement was breaking bad habits and retraining my brain and tastebuds to make better choices on a daily basis. I came away feeling like I’d been to a body and mind rehab. In a sense, it reprogrammed me and, almost a month later, I feel much lighter and able to put into practice those things I always knew were right but thought I couldn’t instill in myself.
CONTACT: +91 478 2830400, firstname.lastname@example.org
PRICE: An all-inclusive seven-night body purification and detox package at Carnoustie resort costs from £1,950 per person, including accommodation, therapies, daily consultations with the doctor, all meals as per the Ayurvedic diet plan, prescribed Ayurvedic medicines, a boat trip through the backwaters and transfers to and from Cochin airport.
NEAREST AIRPORT: Cochin International Airport
TRANSFER TIME: Two hours