POOMULLY MANA - Home to pristine Ayurveda remedy

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  • Jyoti Subramanian, in her inimitable style, writes about her 11 days Ayurveda detox treatment, the why’s and wherefores.

Mana means home in Malayalam, it is a term used for family homes in Kerala that were practitioners and patrons of and actively supported local art forms like Kathakali, classical music, percussion, literature, Vedic and Sanskrit learning; martial art like Kalaripayattu and Ayurveda.

Poomully Mana is situated on a three-acre property of the Poomully family spanning a 500 years old history as patrons of Ayurveda. I was here for an eleven day detox programme, the minimum number of days offered by them. Anything less was not permitted as it was against the system.

During eleven days I got to know more personally how the authentic Ayurveda system was being followed without dilution or giving in to modern day spa style demands.

The centre traces its origin back in modern days to 1879 when the late Sri Cherukulappuram Krishnan Namboodiri completed his education in the ancient Koodallur Gurukula system, began practice and sharing this learning with others at Poomully Mana in the tradition of the guru shishya parampara. Today their senior consulting physician is a product of this guru shishya tradition and was a disciple of the erstwhile late Sri Aramthampuram Poomully.

As my taxi sped from Kochi airport to Peringode in Palakkad district, I was overtaken by nostalgic memories of my childhood summer vacations spent here. I was returning to my home district after many decades in Chandigarh, North India.

Sight of these buildings set the tone for the detox program. 

The location of the centre was everything promised by their website, nestled in the lap of a wondrous green bowl, it was quintessential Kerala, god’s own country. Two ancient grand old trees gave witness to the antiquity of the place.

Ancient tree. 

The room where I stayed was spacious and airy; I had opted for single occupancy, no air conditioner and had declined the use of their Wi-Fi. I had also decided not to switch on the television for the duration of my stay even though most rooms were equipped with a TV and A/c.

DAY 1

This was an introduction to and a familiarisation between Physician and patient. The centre was very clear about the fact that they were not a spa but a treatment centre hence patient and not client!

Senior physician Dr. Devan came to check me accompanied by Drs. Aparna and Arathi, both daughters in law of the Poomully family and proficient in the Ayurveda tradition of the Poomully system of healing. My tridosha was checked and a treatment regime prescribed.

Tridoshas are the three underlying elements in every body governing physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. They correlate with the four humours of the Hippocratic medicine. Ayurveda physicians study the subtle vibrations in the wrist, separate from the pulse to determine the treatment to be prescribed for patients.

As I had no ailments my treatment was essentially for detox and rejuvenation.   

Inverted tree of treatment.

DAY 2 TO 8

The brain and the stomach are considered of utmost importance in the Ayurveda treatment. Akin to the inverted tree analogy of life in the Bhagavad Gita, Ayurveda looks at the brain as the roots. The roots are saturated with medicated oils so that the healing is carried down through the nervous system in the spine to every part of the physical body.

I was prescribed Shirodhara for 7 days with Abhayanga to improve circulation for more efficient absorption of the medicines. Each of the seven days the medicine worked on a different layer starting from outside in- skin, blood, muscle, bone, bone marrow, endocrine glands and organs. Simultaneously it also worked on the seven Chakras - Muladhar, Swadhishthan, Manipur, Anhad, Vishuddhi, Agnya and Sahasrahara.

Inside treatment room. 

Every treatment began with the ladies chanting the mantra invoking Dhanawantari, god of medicine and the avatar of Vishnu who first appeared with the nectar during the samudra manthan. Om Dhanawantari Murtiye Namaha, Chitra who was doing the actual hands on treatment on me would chant with devotion as she respectfully started.  The sacredness of this was not lost on me as I deeply felt love and respect for the physical body that houses our soul, both the body of the patient and the healer represented the idol, murti of Dhanavwantari!

Being a long time Kriya Yoga practitioner the detox was very palpable for me, the realisation of the cleansing of every layer of the body, emotions and mind very defined and definite. The final 7th day of clearing the mind brought forth some very lucid dreams, a sloughing off of deep seated anxiety and fears. This was confirmed by some of the other patients who also had experiences of disturbing dreams on this day, proof that healing takes place at very deep levels.

Each day was disciplined from 6 in the morning to early supper at 7:30 then bed. We were asked not to sleep in the afternoon to maximise circulation and combat lethargy. We were also asked to walk and sit at intermittent intervals and not stay stationary for long periods.

The stomach, now increasingly recognised as the second brain by western medicine, was the second organ of attention after the brain. Regular kashayam – a water decoction of herbs was administered morning and evening to flush accumulated toxins from the stomach. The junior doctors made sure we emptied the glass in front of them… I guess some patients may otherwise empty it down the sink! The taste could be unbearable if you are not used to it, but as I was introduced to these concoctions, castor oil and kashayams as a child so had no problem downing it in a few gulps.

Food was cooked supervised by a family member and though simple it pacified all five tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent leaving a great sense of satisfaction.

A small Basti, enema of medicated oil was administered after the midday meal everyday, to replenish the body as the oil stays in the body and the colon absorbs the medicine and it is carried to the whole body.

DAY 9 TO 11

Once the body is fully prepared for detoxification, it was ready for panchakarma. This took place on the last three days for me. The decoction basti is administered early morning on an empty stomach. I was a bit nervous but Dr. Aparna was present and the whole process got over very smoothly. Both doctors made sure one of them was present at every basti, gently explaining the process and taking me through it.

The food served was special on these days, very light rice kanji with mildly salted vegetables. All internal medications now stopped.

The body in these last three days felt nascent and tender like a newly born baby. I felt a lightness and purity in my physical body as if all the toxins had been scraped clean, as they had been.

DAY 12

My taxi came to pick me up in the early hours and I was ready to head back to boisterous Punjab and the cacophony of the city.

SOME SPECIAL SALIENT FEATURES OF POOMULLY MANA

It was very heartening to see that most men and women who worked here were from local Peringode. The centre is giving back to the community with employment to locals, training them to administer expert Ayurvedic treatment. Care was taken to start the treatment for women patients after 8:30am so the women workers could finish their household chores and send their children to school before coming to the centre. All mobile phones have to be deposited at the gate so throughout the treatment. I had no experience of the staff busy on the phone!!

OPD dispensary. 

The centre runs an OPD and Pharmacy for locals so they could take benefit of the expertise of the senior doctors.

Aushadshala. 

In an aushadshala, in the temple premises, medicines to be used at the treatment centre are made with great care. I was lucky to see the medicated oil for the oil enema being prepared over five days. For four days the herbs are steeped and boiled to make the decoction and on the fifth day sesame oil and milk added. About 600 litres of oil is made at one time and 30 litres used everyday for treatments.

CONTINUING THE KALARI TRADITION

Kalaripayattu 

The tradition of supporting the Kerala martial arts of Kalaripayattu is kept alive here. The practice is performed on mud floors and the room is a long hall in the outer premises of the temple. Equipped ropes, roman rings, parallel bars and a punching bag, children from the village, who come after school in the evening, are trained here in yoga and strength and agility building exercises.

Many of us from the centre would go and sit there in the evening seeing children train under the watchful eye of a local teacher and the imposing statue of Poomully Aramthampuran, who was known for his expertise in this martial art.

Kalari is one of the oldest martial art traditions still in existence, its origins dating back to 3rd century BCE. Interestingly Lord Parashurama taught it with weapons and by Sage Agastya without weapons.

Further, interesting is the fact that in 5th or 6th century it was believed that a son of Pallavi Raja, who was a Bodhidharma spread this spiritual art in China and it became known as Kung Fu. 

THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN - THE RAMA TEMPLE

Rama Mandir, Hanumanji and Deepam.  

My favourite spot every evening, when we were allowed to step out of the centre, was this old temple. Hanuman himself is said to have established the murti of Sri Rama here.

Only local people visited the temple hence the traffic was limited to 10-20 people every evening. That gave me a lot of silent moments to go deep into my sadhana.

I returned to Chandigarh with a resolution to come here once every year for a complete detox and rejuvenation.

About Poomully Mana

To know visit their website Contact poomully@gmail.com Shri Vasudvan Poomully Mana, 91 95620 33066 and 91 89439 33977. It is about 90 kms from Cochi Airport, takes about two and a half hours. Cost per day in first half of 2019 was Rs 4,500/ inclusive of stay and treatment.

To know about Ayurveda

Author has been teaching the practices of the Siddhanath Yoga Parampara since 1999. Her site is https://www.ayu.yoga/the-lineage

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