When a young London couple booked themselves into an Ayurveda retreat in India, they had no clue what they were getting themselves into. Owen Webster, 34, booked himself and new wife Helen, 31, for what he thought, was a vacation full of morning yoga, relaxing massages, delightful dinners and lazy afternoons. Ignorant of what lay in store for them, the couple found themselves walking right into a chartered surveyor, medically-induced vomiting and diarrhoea, enemas, and three-day fasts.
In a hilarious diary maintained by Owen, he shared their ordeal. “We arrive and notice the other patients walking around looking emaciated, sweating, and wearing Indian hospital gowns. There's not even a swimming pool. In the afternoon, we're told to head over for a 'relaxing massage' and go into separate rooms to meet our same sex therapists, where I get down to my undercrackers and am told 'take those off as well please',” wrote Owen. He further describes, “I find myself naked on a stool while my 20-year-old therapist massages my head, neck, shoulders, and strangely, thighs. I then lie face down on the table and the therapist pours a gallon of massage oil over me, before I feel four hands on me (no idea where the other two came from). Altogether I’d say I was at least 50 per cent less relaxed than when I’d entered.”
The couple talk to “fellow inmates” over dinner to find out there are several guests who have been recovering from autoimmune diseases, nerve disorders, and various cancers. They discuss what kind of treatment they'll be given and are told that the toughest is 'Panchakarma' “which translates as '5 Treatments', although it is technically now four as leaches are no longer used.”
Owen said the second day, they were “up at 4.30 am, covered in mosquito bites, and ready for a day filled with pooja, morning yoga, breakfast, treatment, meditation, lunch, doctors' appointment, afternoon yoga, dinner, pooja, and bedtime.” They even began four “treatments”, including a body preparation called the 'Ghee Stage' which consisted of consumption of mouthful of ghee.
Their treatments also included projectile vomit, and a 30-minute stream of warm milk being poured over the head. Owen wrote, “In addition to the enemas, a new treatment for is a 30-minute stream of warm milk being poured over the head. Helen meanwhile is to receive a cow's piss massage. 'Not only have they made me drink it now they want to rub it all over my body' she said.”
The couple who began the treatment at a solid 85kgs, Helen 59.5kgs, left the place weighing 81 kg and 56 kgs.