Panchakarma Program FAQs
- Pre-Panchakarma — Diet and Internal Oleation
Approximately one week to ten days before you arrive, your panchakarma consultant will call you to instruct you on pre-PK procedures including diet and internal oleation. A pre-panchakarma schedule is included in materials mailed to you when you book your five-day PK.
Internal oleation consists of taking ghee or flax seed oil, in order to prepare the doshas and impurities to be removed from the tissues. This facilitates more effective cleansing during PK. Please do not begin internal oleation or take castor oil until you receive instructions from your panchakarma consultant.
- Your First Day
Please check in with our staff when you come into the PK department.You will have an appointment with your panchakarma consultant to receive an Ayurvedic assessment, read your pulse, take your medical history and plan your panchakarma program.
- Daily Treatments
Please be prompt to your appointments. Plan to arrive about ten minutes before each of your scheduled treatment times. If you arrive too late for your scheduled therapy time and there is not time to perform your treatment and allow time for the next client, you may have to forfeit that session.
You will receive Ayurvedic treatments based on your prakruti/vikruti. Typically, this includes abhyanga, a specialized Ayurvedic oil massage performed by two trained and licensed massage therapists; swedan, an herbalized steam bath; udhulana (dusting) herbal skin treatment with Ayurvedic powdered herbs, chickpea or vacha powder; and shirodhara, a very calming and balancing treatment consisting of a stream of warm oil poured over the forehead while you are lying down. Clients then shower after their treatment.
Daily, after each set of treatments, you will need to shower and thoroughly shampoo the oil from your hair to prevent soiling the yoga props and equipment, the classroom walls, chairs and floor, and the PK house furniture, carpet and bedding.
These treatments profoundly relax the body and mind, improve the flow of energy by opening the srotas (channels of circulation), and prepare the body to eliminate excess doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) or toxins (ama) on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. After a few days of these treatments, the doshas have usually “ripened” in their sites of origin, and are ready to be flushed from the system. Depending on your doshic imbalance, you may be advised to do one of three things to facilitate this elimination of the accumulated toxins: 1) herbal enema — for which you will be given the herbs, equipment and directions to administer it yourself, 2) herbal purgation — for which you will be given the herbs and instructions, or 3) vamana, therapeutic vomiting — for which you will need to be guided by a staff member and be charged an additional fee (however this is rarely indicated).
You will check-in daily with your panchakarma consultant or his assistant to discuss how your program is going, answer any questions you might have, provide you with information about Ayurvedic diet, lifestyle and daily routine, and to plan with you how to implement these principles in your life when you complete the program.
- Extra Alternative Treatments
Alternative treatments are typically recommended to our clients to support their specific needs during PK. In the first session with a practitioner, these treatments are suggested as an addition to the five-day PK program. These extra treatments, called “specialized basti treatments”, are an additional fee and are completely optional.
A basti treatment usually consists of a dough made with chickpea and whole wheat flour mixed with water and then placed at locations on the body to support specific organs, marma points or places that need extra attention. The dough is then adhered to the skin and special oil (or ghee) is poured into the circle. We also offer other subtle therapy treatments at an additional cost. Please refer to the PK Fee Schedule for pricing details
- Possible Effects of Panchakarma
While panchakarma is a physical process, it affects the body, mind and spirit. When you begin your pre-PK preparation before you arrive here, you may begin to notice shifts in your self-awareness. During PK, your self-awareness may increase even further. It is not uncommon for unresolved issues to come up which can sometimes make one feel upset or uncomfortable, and sometimes de-toxifying can be physically uncomfortable. It is important that you tell the PK staff of these feelings so that we can assist you in this process.
Some of the emotions you may experience may be sadness, grief, anger, elation, joy or others. It is possible that you may become aware of issues in your life that had been buried or unresolved. Panchakarma may catalyze and also resolve and release these emotions. The more aware you are of unresolved issues in your life, the more effective PK can be. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can be effective ways to help release these issues from the mind and body.
- After PK
Panchakarma is an ongoing process that continues even after you complete your program here at the Institute. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual effects may be experienced in the weeks and months following PK.
It is important to recognize that these effects are a positive cleansing and to process them consciously. If at any time following PK you experience anything unusual that concerns you, please call us.
The Panchakarma Experience
During your panchakarma, you will be provided with a special diet of kitchari (a soup of mung dal, spices and vegetables served alongside basmati rice) and special herbal teas. The kitchari mono-diet has a de-toxifying action and is nutritious and easy to digest. Kitchari is provided Sunday evening during orientation and 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday in the Panchakarma (PK) department. The food is delivered by a local Ayurvedic restaurant and kept hot in a steam table during the day. We provide condiments of cilantro, shredded coconut, freshly grated ginger, lime and ghee that you can add to your choosing. You are advised to come by the PK department before 5:30 pm and take enough kitchari for dinner that night and for breakfast the next morning.
Let us know of any dietary restrictions when making your PK reservation and further discuss any dietary needs during your pre-PK phone call. Please note there is an additional charge for any extra food ordered during your five-day PK.
All of the food and tea served is 100% organic.
Before and after your PK program, you will be responsible for providing your own food. We have recipes for kitchari and ghee in the materials mailed to you when you book your sessions. It is best to avoid cold drinks, cold food, dairy, meat, caffeine and refined sugar before, during and after PK. You are encouraged to stick to kitchari or kitchari-like foods that are warm, cooked and easily digestible.
- Post-PK Diet
If you are new to Ayurvedic eating and diet, it can be discouraging to realize that some of the food in your house and many of your favorite dishes are on the list of foods to avoid—the “No” side of the Food Guidelines. We find that moderation is a virtue when changing one’s diet. If you can stay on the recommended diet 60 to 70% of the time for a long time (months), this is much better than following the diet 100% for one week and never returning to it again.
Be easy with yourself. Observe what effects are produced by foods in the “avoid” category. Try keeping a food journal, listing the times you eat, what you eat and how you feel physically and emotionally before and after eating. This can be helpful in noticing your response to certain foods.
- For Women
Panchakarma is contraindicated for women during their menses. Women, please take care to schedule panchakarma safely outside of your menstrual period. If menses unexpectedly takes place during panchakarma, the program will be adjusted accordingly.
- Your Panchakarma Appointment
An appointment for panchakarma does not necessarily indicate an appointment with Vasant Lad. If you do not see Vasant Lad, you will see his associate, Mr. Ed Danaher, the manager of the Panchakarma Department since 1988. At the time of scheduling, the person scheduling your PK program will let you know who your appointment is with.
If your appointment is with Vasant Lad in the morning, his advanced Gurukula student interns may be present during your consultation. (This is part of their education.) Each intern has signed a document honoring client confidentiality. A significant benefit of a morning appointment with the interns present is that Vasant Lad will lecture on your situation and you will hear more detailed information than is usually given in a private consultation.
Please note that during the months of January through mid July, scheduling allows for only three clients per week to be seen by Vasant Lad in the classroom setting. Please make sure you let our staff know your openness to having your consultations with Vasant Lad in the classroom setting when booking your Panchakarma program.
There are certain medical conditions for which PK is contraindicated (not advised). It is therefore important for you to complete all forms and return them as soon as possible. We need time to review the information to determine if PK is contraindicated for you before you make final travel plans to attend.
Upon your arrival, if we determine that you have a contraindicated condition—one that no one was aware of, or that has recently developed, such as pregnancy—it may be necessary to suspend PK treatment until such time as we feel PK is indicated, if at all during your visit. Alternative treatments may be indicated. These will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Ayurvedic Consultant.
If the following conditions exist, panchakarma may not be advisable. Such conditions will be reviewed with a PK Consultant to determine if panchakarma should not be taken.
- Cancer of the Lungs or Testicles
- Angina Pectoris
- HIV or AIDS
- Extreme Obesity
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Any Active Infectious Disease
The Ayurvedic Institute is not a medical facility. Panchakarma clients are expected to be healthy enough to be able to take care of their own basic needs. If this could be an issue for you, please inform us and we can discuss possible options.
- Massage Therapist Teams
Men will have their abhyanga treatments with a male-female massage team. Women may have their abhyanga treatments with either two females or a male-female massage team. If you are female and have a preference, you must inform us of this when you schedule. Your massage team cannot be changed once your appointment is booked.
- Travel and Housing Arrangements
Please do not make non-refundable travel arrangements until your PK appointment has been confirmed.
When making travel arrangements for PK, it is ideal to arrive the day before your first PK session and to leave the day after your last session. This gives you time to “decompress” from traveling when you arrive, and time to let the last session really sink in before dealing with travel and the hectic atmosphere of daily living when you leave.
The Ayurvedic Institute is located at 11311 Menaul Blvd NE, just East of Juan Tabo Ave. These are major cross streets and are known to all taxi and shuttle drivers. Our phone is (505) 291-9698. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
- Travel To and From the Airport
You will be flying into the Albuquerque Sunport located at 2200 Sunport Blvd, Albuquerque, NM 87106. From the airport (if you aren’t renting a car), you can use one of the ride sharing services such as Uber or Lyft. (These are an app on your smartphone.) Taxis are available at the airport. Private car service information is available upon request.
If you are renting a car, obtain an Albuquerque city map from the car rental agency. The city map will get you to the intersection of Juan Tabo and Menaul. Once there, the map enclosed in the booklet mailed to you will help you find the Institute and the Panchakarma House.
- Check In with The Institute
When you arrive at the Ayurvedic Institute on the first day of your PK, please check in at the front desk of the Panchakarma department to let us know you’re here and to ensure that all paperwork is complete and understood.
- Grocery Stores Nearby
On the northeast corner of Juan Tabo and Menaul is a Walmart Neighborhood Market. On Juan Tabo Ave., about 3 blocks north of Menaul Blvd., is an Albertson’s grocery at the SE corner of Juan Tabo and Candelaria.
A listing of good restaurants (including East Indian cuisine) is available upon your arrival.
- PK Housing
We have limited accommodations available very close to the Institute, about a 1 minute walk. Reservations are handled at the time you book your panchakarma program. If your spouse or partner is coming with you but not participating in PK, they will need to plan to stay offsite.
- Hotels, Motels and B & B’s
A listing of hotels, motels and bed & breakfast inns is available upon request. Albuquerque is very “spread out” and our bus system is minimal. Some of the B & B’s will make arrangements to drive you back and forth to the Institute for an additional fee. Some of the hotels have a shuttle service available so you may or may not have to rent a car for your visit.
Travel and Housing
- What To Bring
Panchakarma is best done in a reflective state of mind. We suggest bringing a journal and/or books to read that are conducive to healing. We do ask that you avoid TV, loud music, and reduce screen time on your laptop, or cell phones and other electronic devices. We recommend you bring comfortable clothes (please check with staff for weather info), a water bottle/to-go mug, and shower shoes (optional). Also, it is best to minimize tourist activity while doing PK. Generally, people find that they need to rest a great deal during PK and it is important to do so.
Typically, PK clients receive the shirodhara treatment, a constant stream of warm oil poured onto the forehead. It is a good idea to bring a scarf or a cap to wear (that you don’t mind getting oil on) to keep your head warm and to “contain” your hair.
- Climate and Weather
Albuquerque’s climate is typical of a high altitude desert. It is very dry and often windy. We have four seasons; with snowstorms in the winter, the spring can be unpredictable, and very hot summer days contrast with cool summer nights. Dressing in layers is the best approach to our changeable weather. If you’re coming in the winter, be sure to pack a winter coat, gloves, hat and warm socks!
Dress is very casual in New Mexico. T-shirts and sweat suits are completely acceptable.
Albuquerque's Average Temperatures Month Hi/Lo (F) Hi/Lo (C) January 47/22 8/-6 February 53/26 11/-3 March 61/32 16/0 April 71/40 21/5 May 80/49 26/10 June 91/58 33/15 July 93/65 34/18 August 89/63 32/17 September 83/55 28/13 October 72/43 22/6 November 57/31 9/-6 December 48/23 9/-6
What to Bring
- PK Orientation
On Sunday evenings there is a PK client orientation, which includes a tour of the facility, a brief talk on the basic philosophy of Ayurveda and what to expect during PK. We provide your first meal of kitchari during the orientation so please confirm with us that you plan to attend.
- Vasant Lad’s Classes and Seminars
While you are a PK client, you may attend any or all of Vasant Lad’s Ayurvedic Studies Program lectures at no cost to you, when they are in session. They are held Monday through Thursday from 6 to 9 pm. The weekend seminars are not free. A listing of these seminars is available on request.
If Vasant Lad is not lecturing, the PK department will provide one or more evening lectures by Vasant Lad’s more advanced students on the basics of Ayurveda, daily routine and panchakarma.
- Classroom Etiquette
It is customary to show respect for the teacher by removing your shoes at the door of the classroom, and by not presenting the soles of your feet to the altar, the lecturer or to other students. Please see handouts in the PK department for more detailed information regarding classroom etiquette.
- Yoga Classes and Private Instruction
Special PK Ayur*Yoga classes are offered for PK clients at no additional charge. A current schedule of classes will be available when you check in. Please advise the instructor about your yoga background and of any injuries or limitations.
Specific yoga postures may be recommended for your condition. You can also make an appointment with one of our yoga therapists to receive private instruction on the postures while you are here. Please refer to the PK Fee Schedule for pricing details.
The yoga therapist will go over all the recommended postures, ways to prepare to do the postures, specifics on technique, and give you written materials. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with the yoga therapist, please let the PK Department know before you arrive, or immediately at the time of your arrival.