AT JINDAL HEALTH FARM
It may be a tough regime at the Institute of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, popularly known as Jindal Health Farm in Bangalore, but then you asked for it, says Farzana Behram Contractor, who thinks we really take our bodies for granted.
I had been meaning to go to Jindal Health Farm since a long time. For years I had been suffering from a pain in the neck, brought about in good measure with the kind of work I do, as also certain kind of people I deal with! Well, to my good fortune, I eventually made the time and enrolled for the 10 day course (which is the minimum term required) at the Institute of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences on the outskirts of Bangalore. INYS, Jindal Health Farm and Jindal Institute are its popular synonyms.
The place was set up in 1978 by industrialist Sitaram Jindal, a believer in naturopathy and INYS is possibly the most well-known nature cure establishment in the country.
I had heard sufficient tales about the place and was fairly aware of what to expect. For example, I knew it's not the kind of place where all you do is take a spa treatment or two a day, go for long leisurely walks to return to lie in the hammock for a bit before you saunter to the dining room and eat lean, grilled New Zealand chops, a la Chiva Som in Hua Hin, Thailand. For starters, INYS is strictly vegetarian. In fact the refreshing part is you eat and drink stuff, you would never imagine you could. Ashgourd soup, bitter gourd juice, tulsi leaves, raw beetroot to name a few. What's even better is most of the produce used is organic, home grown in the backyard of the Institute. On days I wanted to go for extra long walks I'd venture into the vegetable and fruit gardens. Was a sheer joy to see luscious papayas growing in bunches on trees not higher than a few feet.
The INYS is indeed an unpretentous place, where ordinary, common folks rub shoulders with the richie rich, the politicians, the film stars. It's a perfect campus to put off your mobile phone (they don't even allow laptops here) and forget all your office woes and get back to the basics of life. If I were asked to describe in one word my stay at INYS, I'd say: simple. Everything was so simple. The accommodation was clean and simple, the staff was simple and ever smiling, and the treatments were simple and uncomplicated. Life itself became so simple. The people, all those who enroll there, become friends with each other by the end of the course. All very natural and so wonderful.
The discipline at the campus is something you don't take lightly though. In that aspect it is pretty regimented. To begin with, you can't leave the campus once you sign in, unless of course some sort of emergency arises. You cannot eat outside food, quite obviously for the whole purpose of being there would be defeated. You don't/can't sleep long hours. If you are in the dorm style accommodation (there are also deluxe rooms, nests and executive rooms) you are awakened by a loud bhajan playing on a public address system at 5a.m.! And the way the entire day is structured you find yourself going from one doctor or treatment to another.
Here is what an average day would be like. You wake up at 6 a.m., bathe, etc, walk to the canteen and drink a warm glass of water with some lemon juice squeezed into it. You gather at the 'Time Square' for a spot of laughter and surya darshan and after feeling energized, walk towards the Recreation Centre where you remove your shoes outside and carefully place them in the shoe stand and go inside the hall. Here you spread out your yoga mat and for the next one hour follow instructions and go through a group session of yoga. Then you head back to the cafeteria, where you drink some more of the warm lemon water and perhaps chew on some basil (tulsi) leaves. If your diet permits (a detailed chart is worked out for you on Day 1 itself for the entire duration of your stay), you may have some coconut water. Then you go to your room and rest for about 15 minutes before you head to the 'baths', where you may go through some hydro therapy, under Sheilaamma's watchful supervision. Then it's lunch time. Maybe two chappatis, a vegetable and a fruit. Maybe not, maybe just fruit, in which case it maybe two varieties, like some watermelon and pineapple. After which you return to your room, where an attendant will come within the hour to do some cold compresses or enemas. Then again you leave your room, go for a mudpack or mudbath treatment or some acupressure or perhaps acupuncture, may be an oil or powder massage. There is no afternoon tea or any such thing but you are welcome to go and drink any amount of water. Then it's time for a walk, minimum one hour. Return, have dinner, pretty much like lunch, then go to your room and crash!
This 'average day' gets a bit worse. After three days you head towards even less food intake. To a point where you are just on a liquid diet. Juice, hot water, buttermilk. For about five days. But before you go, 'Oh no', let me assure you, it is exhilarating. Liberating. You realize how little food you really need to eat to feel great. You don't feel at all weak, you don't totter or faint or get headaches. Instead you feel so WOW, nice and light, fit and strong. Not sluggish or acidic, just raring to go. You spend more time outdoors, under the shade of the tree, by the lake touching the property. Occasionally you go to the library or even for some fun exercising. Like cycling on an overhead rail track. Very quaint.
Everyone is encouraged to spend whatever free time there may be, indulging in some form of activity. And there are quite a few to choose from. Swimming, gyming, aerobics. There are some who walk all day long. The walking track which goes all around and through the accommodation areas passes through beautiful, wooded pathways and is indeed very pleasant. And since the track forms part of the campus ground it is safe at all times, even at night if you prefer to walk after dinner.
INYS has a great reputation for treating patients suffering from asthma, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, migraine, spondylitis. Treatments differ based on need requirements. Steam Sauna, Infra Red Sauna, Oil Massage, Vibro Massage. Various hydro therapies like, under water, Jacuzzi, graduated immersion bath with Epsom salts. There is also the Asthma bath. There are many yogic treatments like Vastra Dhauti, where you swallow cloth (white, pure cotton, washed in hot water) leaving the last bit out, allowing it to reach the stomach, then pulling it out slowly. This is for patients suffering from asthma and bronchitis. Vama Dhauti: swallowing jugs full of warm salted water and then vomiting it out. Jalneti: pouring water from one nostril and allowing it to come out through the other. And then there are the eye washes which help in improving eyesight, lightening dark circles and of course keeping them cleansed. At the yoga classes which begin with three Omkara and my favourite - the Gayatri Mantra, in addition to the asanas (excersises), the pranayam (breathing) techniques are also taught. Aanapana, Shukapranayama, Kapal Bhatti, Bhastrika, Anuloma Viloma, Nadi Shudhan, Bramari help variously in calming the mind, increasing lung capacity, helping control diabetes, asthma, cough and cold, strengthening joints, and inducing good sleep. Ah, the goodness of yoga.
So how does it work, what is nature cure?
To begin with, all diseases can be attributed to the accumulated waste matter within the body. Treatment therefore lies in eliminating it by enemas and fasting, even sweating it out. Naturopathy believes that among the five elements, earth corresponds to the solid structure of bones, water to fluids like blood and lymph, air to the breath of life, and fire to the body's vitality. Ether is the constituent of the soul. Any imbalance of these elements leads to illness. The emphasis, therefore, is on restoring the balance.
It can best be described in the words of S. Swaminathan, a Delhi based minimalist naturopath: "Nature cure is synonymous with nature care. It is essentially concerned with the care of mind, body and spirit. Nature cure is a harmonized amalgamation of the basic sciences like physiology, applied psychology, nutrition, sanitation and immunity. There is an ingrained power of healing within the body that has to be activated by following certain simple doctrines. Not only does it improve the condition of a diseased person but it also enhances the immunity of a healthy person. Nature cure is nature's prerogative and cannot be imposed. Those who live in tune with the laws of life keep their body and mind clean and maintain health. Human health, as everything else in the world, is governed by the laws of nature. One of them is cause and effect. Happiness and hygienic living are the cause and health is the effect."
This in effect translates that half the ailments we suffer are due to the erratic lifestyles that most of us lead today. Eating anytime of the day and on the run. Overeating, starving, eating fast food, processed food, food laden with pesticides. We stress, don't relax, don't rejuvenate, don't celebrate life. We run, run, run. Live precariously, in the fast lane, on the edge. If it's not about money, it's about success and power. Mind games are played, multiple kinds of guilt carried around, lies, deceit, jealousy, envy ... all toxic to the soul, how can it not take its toll, affect our health?
But nothing is lost. You can start now, this moment. It's just a life style decision one makes. Nature cure is the answer. A system of keeping body, mind and soul in balance and therefore intact.