A grand return to nature

SOCIAL INITIATIVE

While DharOASIS OF CALM: The treatments at Shantivana, set amidst lush green lawns, are structured according to the ‘Return to Nature’ principles. Photos by Sushma Mohanmasthala is one of the most popular religious destinations in Karnataka attracting divine seekers from all corners of the state, just a kilometre away from it stands the Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Yoga and Nature Cure Hospital or Shantivana as it is popularly called, that is sought by seekers of another kind, those desirous of good health.

Standing on sprawling 16 acres of exhilarating lush green landscape, this Hospital, managed by the illustrious Dharmasthala Heggade family, offers a variety of naturopathy treatments for improving one’s health.

Holistic healing

‘Return to Nature’ says the writing on the mammoth entrance gate of this holistic healing centre. All treatments here are based on the premise that nature is the best healer and therefore, instead of conventional medicine, the Panchabhutas or the five elements viz., earth, water, air, space and fire are utilised to nurse the patients back to health. True to its name Shantivana, designed by a French architect, boasts of an extremely soothing and relaxing ambience ideal for a healing experience.

“This hospital was started by D Veerendra Heggade in 1986 mainly for the poor of the region who could not afford to pay hefty medical expenses. But over time, the holistic benefits of nature therapy started to attract even the educated and well-do-to sections of society,” says Dr Y Rudrappa, the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital. It was Mahatma Gandhi who revived the ancient system of nature cure in India by practising it in his ashram and he wrote a wonderful book as well on the subject.

The advocates of naturopathy believe that since the human body is made up of Panchabhutas, it is only logical that one has to seek cure in these elements when one needs treatment.

The treatments at Shantivana are structured according to this philosophy. While various water-based treatments like hip bath, spinal bath, sauna bath, steam bath, water massage, etc are employed to balance the water element in the body, the imbalance of the space element is treated with a  detoxification diet that purifies the body of toxins to facilitate easy flow of life force or prana. Healing properties of the mud are utilised to harmonise the earth element while pranayama and breathing exercises are taught to correct the manner in which the body processes the air element to heal itself.        
Rejuvenating effects of the sun’s rays are employed in methods like colour therapy to balance the fire element in the body. Besides, yoga, body massages appropriate for one’s physical condition, physiotherapy, acupuncture, colon hydrotherapy, magnetotherapy, diet therapy, exercise therapy, meditation, Reiki, Pranic Healing, etc are employed as supporting treatments to assist the healing process.

But how effective is this medicine-free system of healing in addressing modern day health problems? “Naturopathy is a gentle but effective system that relaxes the mind and reinvigorates the spirit besides improving physical health while the same cannot be said about modern medicine. All we are doing here is reviving the body’s natural healing response which takes care of the rest of the healing,” explains Dr Rudrappa.

Service- oriented approach

State-of-the-art facilities and service-oriented approach are the hallmark of all projects undertaken by the Heggade family of Dharmasthala, and Shantivana is not an exception to this. As per their convenience, the patients can opt for either general ward, special room, deluxe room or a luxury cottage during their stay here.

The day begins at 5.30 am with yoga which is followed by treatments that are specific to one’s health condition given under the supervision of trained attendants.

Each patient’s progress is carefully monitored by a doctor and on completion of one’s stay, a follow-up diet and health routine are suggested to sustain the benefits derived from the treatments.

The SDM College of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences in Ujire, situated a few kilometres from the hospital, offers a five-year bachelor course in Yoga and alternative systems of healing. The increasing demand for this course is the indicator of the growing popularity of nature cure among the general public.

Indeed, places like Shantivana are the need of the hour to remind us of the fact that true healing of body and spirit can take place only by strengthening our connection with nature.

For details, check out website: http://www.naturecure.org.in/

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