One would be hard-pressed to find a country with a richer and more ancient heritage of self care. While Western physicians were still practicing "blood letting," (it was believe a disease could be cured by draining some of a patient's blood), India had already developed a host of advanced medicinal practices that are still used effectively today. And they didn't stop with the body. Wellness was (and is) treated holistically, and variety of Indian cultures also gave birth to different practices to improve the mind and tap into the deepest parts of ourselves. A week on the beach might leave you relaxed for a while, but many of the techniques you'll find during a vacation in India have benefits that reach far into your future, healing you on a deeper level and providing you with the tools to continue once you're at home. Here are a few of India's specialties.
Ayurveda is an ancient healing science that approaches physical ailments as being connected to a wider array of phenomena, including emotional and mental wellness. Now adopted and integrated by many allopathic doctors in the West, its advanced and subtle techniques have become widely respected for their effectiveness. While it focuses on prevention, it works as a curative practice as well. The best part about Ayurveda is that the treatments themselves are enjoyable. No scalpels are needed! In fact, you will find yourself enjoying any number of approaches such as massage (which can do everything from improving circulation to curing migraines and reducing body fat), healing oils, and a vast number of other techniques that improve mental as well as physical health. The South Indian state of Kerala is especially well known for Ayurvedic spas and retreat centers that offer complete packages designed specifically for tourists.
Yoga, literally "union," was originally created as a tool to bring practitioners to directly experience God, free of any religion or belief. While spiritual benefits do pervade its practice, many Westerners have taken it up for its deep, far reaching physical benefits. More effective over the long term than aerobics or weight training, it approaches the subtle aspects of the body, improving energy flow, strengthening muscles that are rarely used, and improving posture and flexibility. It can also be a tool to build tremendous strength and aerobic endurance, but it does so in a way that relaxes rather than stresses the muscles. After just one session, you will find yourself in a calm and joyful state. Yoga centers of different disciplines can be found all over India, and with a little research you could find yourself learning from one of the great masters, or saluting the sun as it rises over the Himalayas.
India is the birthplace of some of the most effective meditation techniques alive today. Now used by many Western psychiatrists, business leaders, and rehabilitation centers, meditation can be an effective means of self help and personal growth. By developing single pointed concentration, meditation first creates a calmer, more focused mind capable of expressing your full potential moment to moment. It is also becomes a tool to look deeply into yourself, and the benefits of working through trauma, dropping unhealthy habits and limiting beliefs, and uncovering the deep compassion, peace, and joy latent within you are immense. India is home to many courses and retreats of all different varieties, suitable for everyone from the complete beginner to the advanced practitioner.