NAMASTE!
AYURVEDA   |   THE TRAVANCORE HERITAGE

Dr.Binod Sydney
01: Ayurveda is a lifestyle

ZUZANA ZWIEBEL

In the opening chapter of the talks with Dr. Binod Sydney, the leading ayurveda doctor in The Travancore Heritage Resort since 2002, Zuzana Zwiebel is interested in "how authentic ayurveda lifestyle can be successfully practiced in the leisure resort". 

YOU HAVE JOINED THE TRAVANCORE HERITAGE RESORT IN 2002. IT SOUNDS QUITE A JOURNEY…

Yes, it is! Travancore Heritage is a venture of Joy's Resorts and Hotels and we are constantly investing into resort and improving its services. When I have joined the resort, it had only 2 treatment rooms, but today with its almost 40 treatment rooms, it is one of the biggest leisure resort in Kerala, offering authentic traditional ayurveda.

THE NAME OF THE RESORT, THE TRAVANCORE HERITAGE, CARRIES THE LEGACY OF POWERFUL INDIAN KINGDOM TRAVANCORE, WHICH RULED THE SOUTH INDIA FOR CENTURIES. EVEN THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE RESORT REFLEXES THIS HISTORY, BUT HOW IS AUTHENTIC AYURVEDA LIFE STYLE PRACTISED IN THE RESORT? 

We use to say, that "stay at The Travancore Heritage is kind of a journey back in time through vintage Travancore cultural and architectural glory". It is true, but what we have tried to recreate was not only external environment inspired by traditional architecture, but also offer authentic ayurvedic practices, which are still valid in modern life. 

The buildings in the resort itself are recreated traditional palaces called ‘Nalukettu'. All were built almost 100 years ago and they were brought from different locations of Kerala. The houses have been dismantled and transported to resort with utmost care, with all their architectural grandeur with fine woodcarvings on the rafters, gables and the connecting timber members on the walls intact.

The houses represent authentic, traditional Kerala architecture, which allows communion with all the elements of nature. The courtyard within the 'Nalukettu' in its centre, around which the four wings of the house were built in timber, bring in the air, sunlight and the rain water right into the house making the inhabitants live in tune with nature and also reflecting principles of vastu shastra and ayurveda itself.

WE WILL SPEAK ABOUT THE CONNECTION OF VASTU SHASTRA (TRADITIONAL INDIAN ARCHITECTURE) AND AYURVEDA LATER, BUT WHAT DOES AYURVEDA ITSELF MEAN FOR YOU? 

According to me, ayurveda is  a lifestyle. I don’t look at it as a treatment. It’s a treatment for the body through lifestyle. It includes all forms of medical treatments, yoga, meditation and many other practices, because whatever we are doing in life, everything is related to our bodies. Whatever can positively influence our body, mind and soul, it is ayurveda.

KERALA IS REGARDED THE CRADLE OF AYURVEDA, AS YOU HAVE MENTIONED  AYURVEDA IS LIFESTYLE THERE. BUT CAN IT BE PRACTISED ALSO IN OTHER COUNTRIES? 

Yes, ayurveda is inspired by lifestyle in Kerala, but our society has changed last years. My grandfather used to oil-massaged himself everyday evening. He had dinner at 6:30 pm. He went to bed around 9:00 pm and woke up at 4:30 am. That was a lifestyle 30-40 years ago. Nowadays people in Kerala doesn’t use much oil for bath, nobody has time for it.  We have a different lifestyle influenced by different organisation of the society. But the good sign is, that people are trying to come back to their roots and practise healthy lifestyle. It is almost impossible to return completely to all ayurveda practises, but we should try as much as possible.

There are lots of factors, which are influencing lifestyle. The environment, climatic conditions, food and habits are different in Europe. You should not think, "Whatever I did in Kerala I should do in my country." Ayurveda tells us, that you should do whatever is good for your body. There should be different approach for each country considering its natural resources, but also social and cultural habits. Each person is different, but also country. 

THESE CHANGES REFLECT INTO THE AYURVEDA EDUCATION SYSTEM. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VAIDYAS AND DOCTORS?

In the past the children studied in the gurukulas. It was the teaching system which prevailed in India. At the age of 5 they were sent to the physician's house. They lived there, studied there and came up. They became Vaidyas when they were able to heal not when they passed the exam with certification. Vaidyas used to have a better knowledge than us because they have learnt about the herbs from very young age. It's the grasping time. You grasp lot of things during that period of time. As a doctors, we come to the medical field at the age of 18 or 20, that time the grasping power decreases. 

One of the biggest problems in Kerala is that a lot of people live in the cities. We are not familiar with the trees, plants and herbs. For example, I have seen coconut, mango or jackfruit trees during my young ages, but till the age of 18, I was not familiar with the herbs. In the past, from the age of five, they were taught, this herb is for this thing, that herb is for that thing. They had more knowledge than us.

I've heard that in Kottayam, there were physicians, who could tell a patient is coming from certain area only by seeing the candlelight movement. They could predict snakebites and also had specific knowledge about poisons and toxins, which they could remove with positioning stones on certain parts of the body.  

 
Read next chapter of THE TALK WITH DR.BINOD SYDNEY

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AYURVEDA RESORT

THE TRAVANCORE HERITAGE

It's a journey back in time through vintage Travancore, experiencing the glorious ethos and cultural moorings. Built with recreated palaces and 'nalukettus' of vintage Kerala is situated on the pristine beach.

AYURVEDA DOCTOR

DR.BINOD SYDNEY

The first thing I want from patients is to smile and to be friendly with me. When I am friendly, they would be friendly. When we are friendly only then energy would be passing and the treatment works.

INTERVIEWED BY

ZUZANA ZWIEBEL

Founder & Director of Ayurveda Trails, healing collection of (extra)ordinary people and their stories, whose experiences are transferred into various trails shared by travelers.

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