Ayurveda is a word from the Sanskrit language, meaning the ‘science of life’. It is the study of all facets of life from infancy through to old age. It is the ancient Indian medical science whose origin can be traced back to the Vedas, which are the oldest ancient books of knowledge, or science from India. They contain practical and scientific information on various subjects like health, philosophy, engineering, astrology, etc.
Ayurveda has been recognised by the World Health Organisation as a health science. In India the Ayurvedic degree takes up to 6 years to complete and involves traditional and contemporary medical subjects ranging from Herbal Medicine, Ayurvedic Surgery to Gerontology (the study of ageing and life extension). It is a science that deals not only with treatments of disease but is a complete way of life.
Ayurveda practices the theory of balance. According to Ayurveda, health is the state of balance and imbalance is disease. It teaches self-knowledge and self-discovery, encouraging a person to learn who they really are and why they become ill. The person may then change their lifestyle to maximize their health. Ayurvedic treatment of disease is usually non-invasive, preferring to rely on diet and practices.
The Three Doshas
Ayurveda has identified three predominant constitutional categories, or dosha, which control the mind and body. These are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – Air, Fire and Water. All three doshas form an individual’s makeup, but one will predominate at any given time. Vata controls movement, Pitta controls metabolism, Kapha controls structure.
A Kapha tends to be physically and psychologically heavy, and may have trouble getting motivated. The Pitta person is strong willed, fiery, impulsive and easily burned out. A Vata type is likely very creative and impulsively drawn to spiritual matters, frequently anxious and given to over-exertion.
Ayurveda focuses on living and eating correctly. It is concerned with achieving balance in body and mind by restoring the balance of the three elements of which the body is made. Lightness is considered to be a balanced state. Each person has their own individual body constitution according to the three elements.
Jiva Spa at the TAJ Hotel
The Taj Hotel in Cape Town is home to the first Jiva Spa in Africa, offering authentic, traditional Indian Ayervedic wellness treatment packages in a exquisitely stylish setting, from the moment you walk into the hotels grand lobby to the spa itself. The Jiva spa programmes are designed to pamper and indulge, heal and nourish, restore and rejuvenate and all products used are developed from Indian herbs and essential oils.
Their ethos draws on the rich and ancient wellness heritage of India, the fabled lifestyle and culture of Indian royalty through the centuries and the healing therapies that embrace Indian spirituality. Each treatment and experience has been selected to initiate physical, mental and spiritual equilibrium.
Jiva Spas are rooted in the philosophy that Jiva or ‘life force’ is the foundation of wellness. Yoga and meditation, as well as Ayurveda, aromatherapy and other indigenous Indian therapies are offered by traditional physicians, using exotic Indian ingredients.
My visit to the Jiva Spa was one I will treasure for a long time. Having had the pleasure of staying at the hotel the night before and enjoying their gracious hospitality, delicious Indian cuisine at the Bombay Brasserie which I recommend to anyone visiting Cape Town, luxury accommodation and complete attention to details as far as guests comfort and experience is concerned. After breakfast, I headed to the Jiva Spa.
Welcomed politely by the receptionist. I was then guided to changing facilities, to leave my world behind in the locker and immerse into the Jiva Spa Experience. In keeping with the all natural and organic theme of the spa, the robe and slippers, which I am still enjoying at home today, were a natural cotton, imported from India, as with all the linen and towels used throughout the spa. Thereafter I was met by the Medical Director of the Spa, Dr Thulasiram Hemanth Kumar, who guided me through the most beautiful spa, explained the philosophy of the spa and the healing tradition of its treatments, and additionally how they have addresses the South African client. Extremely knowledgeable and most gracious, the good doctor managed to make thousands of years of Indian tradition and Ayurveda, completely understandable and most inviting. I could not wait for my spa treatment.
I selected the Vishuddi Signature Treatment, exclusive the Jiva Spa, to assist the body detoxify. Using natural oils and fresh ingredients, the treatment started with an exfoliation, with the assistance of a silk glove to stimulate the circulation and energy, as toxins are eliminated. Then warmly cocooned in a traditional Indian Herbal Wrap which infuses the body with health and relaxation and lastly a slow lymphatic massage, using natural fragrant oils, ensuring each area of the body is addressed and as you systematically feel completely renewed. The treatment was simply sublime, between the thorough and insightful explanations from the therapist, fluid movements of the treatment, the fragrant journey of the natural oils, herbs and traditional ingredients, the attentive massage and the exquisitely decorated treatment room, I was very sad to eventually have to leave this beautiful, tranquil Spa.
In true Indian tradition, Jiva believes in the time-honoured adage “Atithi Devo Bhava,” that means “The guest is god.”