When you go to see an Ayurvedic practitioner, the first thing he or she will do is establish your dosha by asking you questions about your diet, habits and recent illnesses, and by checking your teeth, tongue, skin, eyes and body composition [source: Callender].The practitioner might also check your urine, stool, speech, voice and pulse.
Once the practitioner has established your dosha and reviewed your symptoms, he will tailor his recommendations for things like diet, exercise, meditation and stretching to your dosha.
According to the Ayurvedic tradition, certain foods promote inner harmony for certain doshas while others can create imbalance. Similarly, each dosha has its recommended exercise regimen. The lively vata, for example, will be advised to do calmer forms of exercise like walking or low-impact jogging whereas sluggish kaphas may be told to take up tennis or racquetball [source: Ayurveda for You]. Your practitioner may also prescribe one of the more than 600 herbal formulas used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Besides recommending changes in your diet, lifestyle and habits, your practitioner may also recommend you undergo a five-part cleanse called a panchakarma to rid your body of toxins. To prepare the body, you'd get a daily oil massage called a snehan to move toxins toward the gastrointestinal tract followed by a svedana, or sweating, in a medicated steam room.
After three to seven days of that, you'd start the panchakama, which could include one or more of the following five procedures:
- Vamana -- During this procedure, the patient drinks an herbal remedy to induce vomiting to eliminate mucus in the lungs that causes repeated bronchitis, couch, colds or asthma.
- Virechana -- During this procedure, the patient takes a laxative to clean the liver and gall bladder of toxins to relieve irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal tumors and jaundice. The laxative is typically an herb like senna, prune, bran, flaxseed husk or dandelion root.
- Basti -- During this procedure, the patient is given an herbal enema to clean out the lower intestines to alleviate constipation, kidney stones, backache and hyperactivity.
- Nasya -- During this procedure, herbal oils are poured into the patient's nose to clean the nasal passage to treat migraines, sinusitis, facial paralysis and mental disorders.
- Rakta Mokshana -- During this procedure, the patient undergoes bloodletting to remove toxins from the blood to prevent repeated attacks of eczema, acne, scabies, chronic itching and hives.
But before all this talk of enemas and bloodletting scares you off, read on about one treatment you're almost guaranteed to enjoy -- Ayurvedic massage.