Travel

Yoga Holiday In Egypt

News from Susan Metwali

The Yoga Centre in Dahab, Egypt is now up and running and Susan would love to welcome you there. I have seen some of Susan's photos and it looks like the perfect getaway for a relaxing retreat or Yoga holiday. I do not have plans as yet to run any retreats in Egypt but if this is something that would interest you, please let me know for planning future events.

I hear from Susan that Dahab itself is still quiet and peaceful in spite of the ongoing political unrest in Cairo.

Susan is running relaxing Yoga holidays and further information can be found on the Yoga on a Shoestring website.

Flights to Sharm-el-Sheik are operated by Easyjet, Monarch and BA. Transportation to and from the airport can be arranged for you.

http://www.yogaonashoestring.com

I hope that we will all have an opportunity to visit the centre there soon.

 

The Poonthottam Ayurvedic Ashram

Many of you have been asking about the Ayurvedic Ashram that I recently visited and talked about in my newsletter. I have contacted the Ashram and they have agreed for Agewellyoga to have a link to their website so that any one who is really interested can plan a visit.

The word Poonthottam literally means “Flower Garden” and reflects the natural surroundings of this location.

I spent some time talking to Dr Ravi (P.M.S. Raveendranath) and was very impressed by his commitment to uphold the tradition of Ayurveda and to encourage the newly trained doctors to come and increase their clinical knowledge through hands on practice in the administering of treatments. Sadly it is unusual for graduate Ayurvedic doctors to carry out the treatments themselves. Normally once they are qualified their main role is to diagnose and oversee the prescribed treatments. The treatments themselves are carried out by practitioners who are trained in massage techniques but have little training in the theory and principles that underlie the treatment.

In the past I have found that this can result in Ayurvedic massage being less than satisfactory as the practitioner can sometimes lack sensitivity to the specific needs of the individual patient.

An Ayurvedic massage should take into account the constitution and the disorders of the patient and consequently the depth and pressure of the hands-on approach should be adjusted to suit the individual.

By encouraging the doctors to experience the administering of treatments first hand Dr Ravi is ensuring a more holistic approach to the overall concept of individuality and constitution in Ayurvedic treatments.

Dr Ravi is also very keen to protect the environment and is committed to keeping the natural crops, plants, and trees along with the flora and fauna that are natural to this region of Kerala.

Recently the planting of rubber trees has undermined the natural eco-system and destroyed the delicate balance by depleting the soil of nutrients. Of course rubber trees bring large financial rewards to the owners of the rubber tree plantations but, as Dr Ravi points out, you cannot eat rubber, and the land should provide for the people. Consequently, when Dr Ravi recently acquired more land for the Ashram he uprooted the rubber trees and returned it to the growing of coconut and banana trees and crops that uphold the environment and the people who live on the land.

The Ashram also has a factory that produces the herbal preparations and this ensures the quality and purity of the products used here. There are no plans to expand the Ashram itself and therefore the friendly atmosphere and calm environment are not threatened.

There are only six cottages for visitors so you will have to book in advance if you plan to go there. Remember this is a place for rest and rejuvenation and as such you will need to comply with the prescribed treatment which includes diet and herbal preparations.

The staff are all kind, caring and friendly, each doctor has a helper who will come and prepare you for your treatments. There is a cloth that is wrapped around the genitals to protect the modesty of the patient and the helpers support the patient in many ways. They will wash the oil off after each treatment and help with all aspects of the after care. I found it hard to say goodbye to my helper as she had become a close friend in the short time I had known her and she had helped me through some potentially awkward embarrassing moments. Lakshmi’s kitchen provided ginger tea and a place to chat with members of staff or other visitors. However you should be aware that English is not the first language as most of the staff speak the local Malayalam and the language of Ayurveda is Sanskrit as is the language of Yoga.

 

Getting there

To get to the Ashram you will need to fly to Cochin now known as Kochi in Kerala.

From there you will need to get a taxi from the airport to the ashram. The ashram will arrange this for you and advise you on the cost. You will need to take Indian rupees to pay your Ashram bill as they do not have a credit card facility, so it is important to agree the cost before you go. You can change your currency into rupees at the airport but be aware that there are several different exchanges all next door to each other but all offering a different exchange rate, so it is worth checking that you are getting the best current deal.

If you would like to stay inCochin for a night or two there are many nice hotels around FortKochi. If you need a guide for the day or an airport pick up or a rickshaw to take you around the shops; my friend Babu is just the man.

He will also be able to advise you on a good hotel in Fort Kochi, and will drive you to various good hotels so that you can inspect the rooms and make your choice. He is honest and trustworthy. You can contact him on: 0091 9744791628 if you are calling from a mobile change the suffix to +91. If you need an airport pick up it is best to call in advance as he requires notice.

 

Flights

I recommend Oman Air. There is a short stop in Muscat before travelling on to Kerala.

I was travelling home when the snow and icy weather conditions closed Heathrow airport. Oman Air placed all their passengers in a very nice 4 star hotel and provided excellent food for the whole time we were stranded there. We were also able to explore Muscat and enjoy its lovely beach and warm sunny climate.

For more information about the Ashram you can visit their website through clicking on this link: www.poonthottam.com