India Traditional Medicine – Build Program

Arriving into Mumbai to meet ISAC and the rest of the group on the 11th January was slightly confusing due to a café changing name to something else and we didn’t know where to go. We eventually spotted several fellow students and we grouped together and hoped for the best – which was great because Raksah found us all. She welcomed us with water bottles, biscuits and lollies – the best gift to supply us with for the long bus journey into the unknown.

Our main focus is on traditional Indian Medicine. The orientation on 12th was extremely interesting and helpful information about Indian culture, ISAC’s expectations of us a plus extremely entertaining stories from Aaron which kept the long morning enjoyable.

The first day on clinic placements was at Dr Pisal’s Ayurveda Clinic. He had no appointments booked for the morning that availed us time to discover more about Ayurveda. I found similarities between Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda in regard to pulse diagnosis. At times it was difficult to follow due to my mental fatigue and a slight language barrier (although Rakash was a tremendous interpreter). Yoga and Pranayam later in the day was a welcome change from all travel, sitting and listening. Ms Sampan Patil fabulously led us through traditional postures that helped relieve tension in my back muscles.

The 14th January saw us travel to the National Institute of Naturopathy in Pune. A wonderful place for hydrotherapy, yoga, nutritional guidance and acupuncture. We were led on a tour of the treatment rooms and spent most of the day listening to presentations on the topic’s mentioned above. I found the fasting information interesting namely, the connection between lifestyle diseases and inflammation in the body, how fasting is defined as total rest – on every level (physical, physiological, sensory and mental). The presentation on yoga and breathing interested me especially the exercises to correct hormone imbalances (chin pulled into thyroid then released and extending chin up). The next topic was all about the benefits of mud – the benefits being increasing calcium and minerals (external and internal treatments). Magnetotherapy – when sleeping do not position head to the north instead sleep with head to the south and feet to the north for improved circulation and sleep.
The downside regarding this visit was the lack of hands on experience or simply receiving a treatment personally.
We then travelled to the Uani placements and again this modality was fascinating, originating from Greece, taking aspects of Ayurveda. Again, pulse diagnosis is used to determine imbalance within the person but also to determine personality traits which can lead to particular diseases.

On the 15th January we all travelled to Herbal Hills, unfortunately the factory was closed but we spent time looking at the organic herbs growing on the farm. A beautiful and functional farm, we experienced cow urine, gee and wandered around the grounds. Afterward, we travelled to the Unani Clinic – Herbs & Hakim Unani Clinic. Extremely interesting listening to the doctor’s presentation. I kept wondering what my dosha is?

The 16th January was another morning with Dr Pisal’s. We walked in on him treating a patient with leeches for a migraine headache. Two leeches were placed on the right side of her temple. Dr Pisal advised that leeches only feed on stagnate old blood. The patient confirmed the treatment was indeed easing her pain.
Yoga with Ms Sampan was again fantastic. Although I struggled through the middle section of the class due to tiredness. I felt much better for not giving up and finishing the class.
We ended the day with a party – the yellow house group joined us with henna painting and delicious food. Unfortunately I was so tired I didn’t have the strength to dance to the groovy music.

I haven’t been culturally shocked too much – the food is delicious, sleeping arrangements are fine, as is the bathroom facilities. Perhaps I have travelled other parts of the world that have very poor conditions, I’m finding my stay here comfortable, I feel very supported and cared for by the staff.

My plan this week is to experience traditional medicine by either having a consultation (more than happy to pay for it) or getting a treatment of some sort (more the better). I’m looking forward to the 4 classes of yoga next week plus the barefoot acupuncturists in Mumbai. If we can, I would greatly appreciate joining a tour of the Mumbai slums while we are there.

My ultimate aim before I leave India is find out what my dosha is.

The second week of the program saw us being more hands on in our clinic placements. We were able to experience traditional medicine from another perspective that I personally found helpful in putting the concepts into practice.

Monday 19th – Dr Rajput’s Ayurveda Clinic
The session started with theory and ended with a demonstration of herbal compresses applied to a painful knee. Interesting to watch how the compress was prepared especially the way the leaves were fried to release the healing properties.

Yoga class was difficult today. I have to admit the mats we used to practice yoga on were filthy. The local ladies all brought their own mats and I was very jealous. The yoga today didn’t seem to have much of a warm up and as a result I finished with an ache in my shoulder from too many ‘lifts’.

Tuesday 20th – Dr Pisal’s Ayuveda Clinic
Our group walked in on one of Dr Pisal’s clients having a leech therapy treatment. Interesting facts regarding leeches: they only feed on old stagnate blood, they fall off on their own when they’re done and they are drained and reused within 7 days. The client seems relaxed (her first experience with Ayuveda) and said her migraine pain was easing.

Dr Raje’s Ayuveda clinic was fascinating. He allowed us to feel his client’s pulse and demonstrated where the doshas are. Dr Raje also felt my pulse and told me what was happening in my body and how to fix it simply without medication. I am still practicing what he suggested and am finding benefit from it. Worthwhile clinic and experience for me, highly impressed.

Wednesday 21st – Barefoot Acupuncturist Mumbai
This clinic was amazing. The exercises they teach in the waiting room to the treatment client’s receive is truly inspirational. No fuss, basic health care that benefits all people with no discrimination. The client files which we had free access to was beneficial for background knowledge.

The slum tour was my highlight of the day. Walking through the alley ways seeing how families live and where they work was eye opening especially after witnessing the same demographic in the acupuncture clinic – I could see how they would get the aliments they do. The tour showed how the slums are a thriving business and showed us all the programs run within the area to benefit the community.

Thursday 22nd – Dr Raje’s Ayuveda clinic this morning was again interesting – seeing clients and asking questions about different healing approaches.

I had a treatment with Dr Rajput, I ended up very oily but it was relaxing and I’m happy I had the opportunity experience it.

Friday 23rd – Cooking class, graduation and closing up was good. I was happy to stop for the day and have a break from traveling to placements each day.

It was a full program, I enjoyed my time with ISAC. The staff incredibly helpful and give so much more than just shuffling us from place to place.

Kelli Howard (11454117)

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