Oasis is the perfect word to describe the Ayurveda healing centre run by Louise Darragh-Law in Eltham, Melbourne. As soon as you enter, youre immediately surrounded by beautifully recycled wood interiors and a vast, decked balcony overlooking acres of eucalyptus trees. Your worldly worries slide off you as birdsong, stillness and natural light all work together to soothe and calm.
Upstairs in Louises inviting consulting studio, youll spend some time taking part in a comprehensive diagnostic consultation. Its important to Louise that, before any treatment begins, a patient learns something of the principles underpinning this venerable, 4000-year-old practice. You have to forget the western notion of honing in on a trouble spot and treating it in isolation. Ayurveda looks at the human body as a complex, holistic system which embraces all possibilities and all knowledge.
Louise spends a lot of time investigating a health problem typically she will spend about an hour assessing a persons current health status. Pulse and tongue diagnoses are followed by a close examination of diet, lifestyle habits, family history, work and social environments.
When assessing a persons dosha, Louise also uses her intuitive expertise to discover the Prakruti and Vikruti the subtle interplay of energies that determine the state of a persons wellbeing. Prakruti looks at the constitution or, in dosha terms, the metabolic type.
There are three dosha types, which are linked to the elements of the universe: Vata (ether and air), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (earth and water). While a person can predominantly be considered a Pitta, Kapha or Vata, there are also dual doshic types and even some who display the attributes of all three doshas.
The Vikruti diagnosis gets to the bottom of a persons current imbalance which can manifest as obvious or subtle levels of aggravation or disease.
Following a diagnosis, the next stage is to begin a program of body treatments called shodhana. These are an essential part of the restorative process they not only help stimulate the bodys healing response but are powerful in cleansing and purifying the body of built-up toxins.
One of the most popular hands-on treatments is the abhyanga massage. This is performed by one or two masseurs using long, rhythmic strokes where hand contact on the skin is maintained consistently for an hour, providing continual energy release. This technique concentrates on stimulating blood circulation through the tissues, deeply working the muscles and draining the lymph glands.
But just as there are different dosha types, the herbal oil preparations and the methods of application are also chosen according to body type and health requirements. For example, Vata people, who often feel nervous, require a calming oil and soothing massage. Kaphas are naturally heavy energy types and need light and spicy oils that invigorate and enliven the body. Hot Pitta types need cooling down with something like cocoa nut oil, applied with moderate strokes to restore their sense of equilibrium.
Traditionally, Ayurveda body treatments are conducted in complete silence and a patient is always kept informed of what the massage entails. This is so that they can feel totally at ease and allow the body to respond to the healing manipulations.
Because of the gentle, non-intrusive nature of Ayurvedic treatments, they guarantee a pleasurable, deeply relaxing and energising experience that is ideal for everyone, including very young children. So even if you dont have a specific health problem, this is an excellent therapy for busy people wishing to restore their sense of balance and wellbeing.