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Contents of Nalanda Ayurvedic Centre Newsletter 7 - October 2004
- Nalanda News
- "Bringing out a sense of wellness at the core of your
- Natural Eating Guidelines
- Digestive Seeds
- Fantastic Fennel
- Upcoming Activities at Nalanda Ayurvedic
A warm welcome to all of you. We carry many of you who have touched
our lives, in our hearts. We love to hear your news, as we often wonder
how your journeys are continuing.
For those of you who did not see it, below is the article which
appeared in The Argus on the 4th of October. It gives you a good idea of
what you can expect from our Ayurvedic Wellness Retreats. Also, this
weekend on Free Spirit on Sunday at 1pm, there will be a feature on our
group retreats at Pringle Bay. We hope you enjoy it!
We are introducing a new weekend workshop, Yoga and the Five
Elements, which will take place on the 26th - 28th November. Also
coming up next weekend is the one day workshop: Ayurveda - Doshas, Diet
& Digestion. See the end of the newsletter for more details on these
and our other activities.
|Bringing out a
sense of wellness at the core of your being
|October 4, 2004
A half-day retreat at the Nalanda Ayurvedic Centre in Hout Bay
could be just the thing you need to restore a sense of balance and
well-being particularly as the stresses of the festive season
What woman would say no to a retreat, albeit only a half-day one?
In the midst of a hectic week in which time seems speeded up, the
invitation from the Nalanda Ayurvedic Centre seemed heaven-sent.
Drink plenty of water and herbal tea a few days before, I was
instructed, and wear loose clothing.
On arrival at Nalanda I'm greeted by Samantha Wittenberg and
Margit Gilliot, who will be my gracious hosts for the morning at
this quiet spot on the Hout Bay mountain.
First up, I'm taken to the cottage on this rambling property,
where a log fire keeps the icy wind at bay. I'm told that this
morning is about me, and must put my notebook away until later.
They've organised a programme for me, but I'm not to know what it
is, the idea being that I let go and relax.
To start the process, I'm given sesame oil, which I have to keep
in my mouth for around 10 minutes while I walk around outside.
This is called "gandoush", and is a detoxifying process
that should be done first thing every morning (after tongue
The oil is a bit strange, but not unpleasant. But that's where
digestion begins, and in Ayurveda good digestion is central to
health. It's also a good practice to start your day with a
thorough tongue scrape - which may sound odd to some people, but
is common practice for many Indians. You clean your teeth, why not
I'm encouraged to drink a lot of water and tea - and a pot of
fragrant cardamom tea awaits me. It's a warming tea for a cold
In Ayurveda there are three main body types; Pitta (fire), Vata
(air) and Kapha (water/earth), as well as combinations of these.
You are born with a constitution and your lifestyle throws it out
of balance, causing all sorts of disturbances. Samantha is an
Ayurvedic practitioner and a remedial yoga therapy teacher. During
the consultation that follows, she assesses my body type, and
what's needed to bring my body back into balance.
Then I'm off for a massage with Margit, who studied Ayurvedic
massage in France and worked in a pancha karma centre in Normandy
for many years. The room is warmed, the massage bed is low on the
floor, and I'm made cosy with a duvet. Margit's hands are like
petals on my toes as she starts on my feet, ever-so- softly, and
then with increasing pressure. It's never uncomfortable though.
I feel a sensation I'm unfamiliar with, which sends waves of
sensation up my body. Afterwards, Margit tells me this was a
massage using a small bowl made from different metals and ghee
(clarified butter). For the next hour or so, I'm transported. The
oil is warmed, and it feels as though she's using litres of oil
(sesame and coconut, I'm told).
Massage, she says, is love therapy - and you must give it to
yourself and others. "Of course you can learn techniques, but
that's just a tiny bit of what I do. I go with what feels right
and appropriate in the moment."
Ayurvedic massage offers a variety of options, including a body
rub with chick pea flour, a massage in the foetus position and one
using rice cooked in milk. Shirodhara is a therapy using warm oil
poured on the forehead. The masseur decides what you need.
Ayurvedic massages have a balancing effect on all body types, says
I would have been happy to fall asleep right there, but it was
time to go back to the cottage, and more tea - this time ginger -
and a facial steam, which was a mixture of cinnamon and other
spices. It cleared my head, and I felt very ready for the yoga
session with Samantha. It felt wonderful to stretch.
Lunch is an optional extra for the half-day retreat. The
cook is Daniel Erasmus and the food was served with aplomb by
Xolisile Mahlobo. Rice, dhal and vegetables - simple and
Because digestion is so important, it follows that what and how
you eat is also important. Food really is your medicine in
Ayurveda, which has a range of seeds and spices that aid
digestion. Before the meal, to stimulate the digestive fire, I eat
a tiny amount of agni paste, which is a mixture of ginger,
turmeric, jaggery (palm sugar) and ghee. Afterwards, a pinch of
Samantha ends by giving me lifestyle advice, which includes tongue
scraping, a morning massage with warm oil and the sesame oil
mouthwash. And no eating late in the evening, as your digestive
fire is at its lowest at night.
Then we talk. Margit tells me she is also an Ayurvedic
practitioner and yoga instructor: "I feel humble about what I
do. Ayurveda is a vast body of knowledge, and I've tasted just a
little of it. We do not claim to do therapy here, but work from a
wellness point of view. And I see it work for people. Our vision
at Nalanda is to be a platform for Ayurveda."
They offer various retreats - from a half-day one to
as-long-as-you-need residential retreats. They also offer one-day
Ayurvedic workshops, retreats at Pringle Bay and a "Give and
Receive" Ayurvedic massage workshop over a weekend.
It's tempting to stay for the afternoon - my sinus has cleared,
I'm feeling calm and rested - and a nap would be great. But I have
things to do, hours to work still. I leave clutching a handful of
recipes, a tongue scraper, ghee - and feeling recharged,
surprisingly so after only a morning.
Mostly, though, I'm touched by the ambience of warmth and trust at
Nalanda. What stays with me are Samantha's first words to me:
Being here is about non-judgment - we don't judge you, you mustn't
judge yourself here. And Margit's magnificent massage.
The mini retreat is a wonderful present to give someone, I muse,
especially with the silly season coming up.
Natural eating guidelines
Feeling sluggish? Perhaps you're plagued with chronic sinus,
tiredness or just don't feel on top of the world. In Ayurveda, how
you eat is as important as what you eat. Here are some guidelines:
- Eat in a congenial, quiet place with pleasing accessories
(tablecloth, flowers and so on).
- Engage in light, calm and soothing conversation, or observe
silence while eating.
- Avoid eating when you are not hungry, or failing to eat when
you are hungry.
- Over-eating overloads the digestive fire.
- If possible, share your meal. The gift of food is the best
gift of all.
- Only eat when your previous meal has been digested (three to
- Regularity of mealtime routines promotes health.
- Food is most health giving when made from fresh, wholesome,
seasonal produce, and is freshly cooked, warm and appealing to
the eye, as well as tasty.
- Try to include all six tastes in every meal or at least once
a day (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, pungent and astringent).
- Eat food that is prepared by someone who is happy, content
and working in a pleasant environment.
- Avoid eating when you are depressed, angry or otherwise
- Water or ginger tea may be sipped before and half way into
the meal. Drinking cold drinks or large amounts of liquid
before or within one hour of a meal dampens digestive fire.
- Eat at a comfortable pace so that the food will move at a
proper pace through the digestive tract.
- Chew the food well and be aware of its smells, tastes,
textures and sounds.
- Experience the joy of eating with your hands.
- Avoid eating while standing or lying down.
- Sit on your heels for 15 minutes after meals, or take a
gentle walk to encourage digestion.
- Eat nothing within three hours of bedtime.
- Don't cook food for more than two hours, or leave it
- Take agni paste, or a mixture of a small amount of grated
fresh ginger, lemon juice and salt before meals.
- Recipe for Digestive Seeds (eat after a meal to aid
digestion and prevent flatulence)
half cup fennel seeds
quarter cup sesame seeds
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs ajwan seeds
2 pinches of salt, preferably rock salt
1 Tbs water
Clean seeds of all foreign objects. Dry-roast each seed
When fennel seeds are slightly brown, add water in which the
salt has been dissolved and stir.
Allow seeds to dry out completely before taking them off the
Mix all ingredients and allow to cool before storing in an
airtight jar. -
Fennel is sweet and slightly cooling, but balances all constitutional
types. It is one of the best herbs for digestion. It helps to relieve
menstrual or other cramps and dispels flatulence. It is calming for the
nervous system. For coughs, fennel is a decongestant and expectorant. It
also has a very long history of magical uses.
Boil up a teaspoon of seeds for two cups of tea or pour boiling water
over a piece of the fresh plant for a refreshing summer drink.
On behalf of the team at Nalanda Ayurvedic Centre, we thank you
again for your support and wish everybody peace, health and happiness.
With love and greetings,
Margit and Samantha
Upcoming and ongoing activities at Nalanda Ayurvedic Centre
(click on those which interest you to find out more -
this will link you to our website)
Ayurveda - Doshas, Diet & Digestion: 6 November 2004
Yoga and the Five Elements
24 - 28 November 2004
Seven Spiritual Laws of Success 10 - 12
Ayurvedic Massage - Give & Receive: 21 -
23 January 2005
Ayurvedic Massage Retreats, over 1, 3, 5 and 7 days
Ayurvedic Dietary & Lifestyle Counselling
Weekly Yoga classes and individual sessions
Practical Ayurveda Evening: 15th November
Cost: R90 per evening
Spend an evening relaxing with Yoga, enjoying a tasty ayurvedic meal as
well as learning about some practical aspect of Ayurvedic daily routine.
Welcome to Nalanda Ayurvedic Centre