“Ayurveda is not just about prescribing medicines. Ayurveda is about so much more. It is about prevention, about therapy, food, meditation and yoga,” shares Gita Ramesh, Jt Managing Director, Kairali Ayurvedic Group, during an exclusive interview
Nestled in the green district of Palakkad in Kerala, and spread over 60 acres of natural vegetation is Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village. Serene, full of trees, herb and vegetable gardens, villas built as per vastu, it is a health retreat, which boasts of 100 percent Ayurvedic practices. In addition to medical assistance by qualified doctors (the facility also has a hospital license), the retreat focuses on providing holistic experience by providing best of traditional therapies, meditation and yoga guidance. Above all, food as medicine, the prime philosophy of Ayurveda is followed with passion.
Gita Ramesh, Jt. Managing Director, Kairali Ayurvedic Group is the architect of the healthy food menu at Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village. For those in the wellness industry Gita Ramesh needs no introduction. She is considered amongst the leading authority in the Science and practice of Ayurveda in India. She launched the first Ayurvedic Centre (New Delhi) in 1989 followed by a self-sustaining wellness retreat at Palakkad, Kerala – The Ayurvedic Healing Village (Formerly known as “Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort”) in 1999. Today the company under its umbrella has over thirty centres spread in India and abroad. Kairali Ayurvedic products and medicines are widely retailed.
Gita Ramesh has authored two books “Ayurvedic Herbal Massages” and “The Ayurvedic Cookbook” and is on the way of finishing her third book. She has introduced a healthy method of cooking using very less oil, simplistic preparation, vegetables cooked the right amount, and spices used sparingly - and the result is some really delicious preparations that are light on tummy and packed with balanced nutrition.
Gita Ramesh shares her philosophy of food and what traditional Ayurveda is all about during an exclusive interview.
Excerpts from the Interview:
When did your tryst with Ayurveda begin?
It started from the time I married Mr Ramesh. He comes from a family of reputed Ayurvedic doctors. The family has been into manufacturing medicines. During the time foreigners believed in Ayurveda much more than Indians. The general public did not know much about it. Traditional system of medicine that gives such good results was lost somewhere. We wanted to explore ways of taking it to people. We began by starting a therapy centre. We went all the way from Kerala to New Delhi to start Kairali which was then only a day centre. This was in the year 1989.
Slowly people, who took therapies started seeing results, and by word-of-mouth Kairali began to become popular. After 10 years, we came back to Kerala to set up the Ayurvedic Healing Village.
Where do you see Ayurveda now?
Ayurveda has been growing in popularity. While many are trying to replicate the system; various misconceptions continue. In order to meet the expectation of people, who want fast results, a mixture of various therapies is being given to the patients. Ayurveda is about continued therapy. Ayurveda in its pure form is still hard to find. What you often see is diluted versions.
What is true Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is science. Ayurvedic treatment depends on the lifestyle you follow. One needs to maintain proper routine, get up on time, eat at proper time and eat healthy food that is simple, easy to cook and digests easily, and sleep on time. This is called ‘Dina Charya’ and this needs to be followed. Then there is the seasonal routine - ‘Ritu Charya’, which involves Panchakarma - detox and rejuvenation therapies. Taking care of the body, oiling it every day, eating good food and maintaining clean environment around you, play a major role in making you a healthy person. When you stay at Kairali, you get all this plus yoga and meditation which are talked about in the ‘Dinacharya’.
You have written a book of recipes and have introduced healthy menu at Kairali. Do tell us about your philosophy of food.
I am passionate about food. And, that comes from my childhood, and my mother. We followed simple food system at home. The yearly detoxification was also there at homes; even though it was never at a mass scale like today.
Eating right food in right proportion is important, and that led to the thought of creating the menu at Kairali. We experimented and came up with tasty recipes. I wrote the recipe book and began to teach chefs and cooks to make dishes using simple vegetables that are grown in the premises. No outside food comes in. We use the same vegetables and make different recipes – we use them in raw salads, poriyal, curries, juices. Separate diet that is strict and nutritious including Kashayams and Kanjis are prescribed for the patients. We don’t use much of dairy. People who come here eat gluten free, vegan free. We don’t use milk in coffee and tea, and we do not serve yoghurt. On our menu we only serve buttermilk that too cooked using jeera and turmeric, which according to Ayurveda is good for health.
Another rule we follow as per the Ayurvedic principles is that food is served fresh and hot, and it includes all tastes - sweet, sour, astringent, pungent, bitter.
Everybody who eats the food relishes the dishes.
Is there any special Post Covid diet that you included in the Kairali menu?
Our food has always been focused on immunity building. The masalas in Indian diet; use of ginger, garlic, turmeric and cumin are already good to prevent unwanted diseases, and people realized this during the Covid pandemic. We also have Chawanprash, Ashwagandha and Mulberine Tonic that we prescribe to help immunity system.
However, one should always consult a doctor before using Kashayams etc., to understand the right kind and dosage of Kashayam, which is also dependent on the seasons.