Ultimate Mind-Body Detox

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What Is Panchakarma?

What Is Panchakarma?


Panchakarma is the ultimate mind-body healing experience for detoxifying the body, strengthening the immune system, and restoring balance and wellbeing. Developed thousands of years ago in India, panchakarma is the cornerstone of the Chopra Center's Perfect Health program. It is recommended on a seasonal basis, as well as when an individual feels out of balance or is experiencing illness.

Panchakarma Detoxifies the Body and Mind

"I can't believe how great I feel. Panchakarma is an amazing process. Thank you for the nourishment and attention to every detail. I can't wait to visit again!"
- C. Callahan

According to Ayurveda, good health depends upon our capability to fully metabolize all aspects of life, assimilating that which nourishes and eliminating the rest. When we can’t completely digest our food, experiences, and emotions, toxins accumulate in our bodily tissues, creating imbalance and – ultimately – disease. Panchakarma is an elegant cleansing process that releases stored toxins and restores the body’s innate healing ability.


When our digestive energies, known as agni (fire), are robust, we create healthy tissues, eliminate waste products efficiently, and produce a subtle essence called ojas. Ojas, which may be envisioned as the innermost sap of our psychophysiology, is the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and immunity. On the other hand, if our agni is weakened, digestion is incomplete and creates toxins that get stored in the body. This toxic residue is known as ama.

The Foundation for Health and Wellbeing

When ama accumulates in the body, it blocks the flow of energy, information, and nourishment throughout the system. Ayurveda considers this build-up of toxins the underlying cause of all disease. A common example of this is the accumulation of saturated fat and cholesterol that is beyond the body’s capacity to metabolize. Over time, this leads to the blockage of the blood vessels and arteries and, ultimately, to heart attacks.

While it’s easy to understand agni and ama in terms of food, it’s important to remember that your mind and heart are continually digesting energy and information as well. Right now your mental digestive powers are working to break down these ideas into components that your intellect can assimilate. Similarly, your emotional agni is responsible for processing your experiences and feelings, including the smile of a loved one, unexpected criticism at work, or the excitement of a new relationship.

Restoring the Body's Natural Balance

If your emotional agni is strong, you are able to extract whatever is nourishing and eliminate the rest. The inability to metabolize emotions, however, produces just as much toxic residue as undigested food. In fact, pent-up anger, long-held sadness, and lingering guilt are more debilitating for most people than problems with physical digestion.

If we want to experience optimal health, it is crucial to maintain a strong digestive fire and eliminate toxins from the body. Panchakarma is a time-proven natural therapy that detoxifies and restores the body's inner balance and vitality.

At the Chopra Center's Perfect Health program,you can experience the healing power of panchakarma in our beautiful, nurturing setting. Please call 888.736.6895 to speak to one of our Program Consultants or request more information here.

What Is Ama?

What Is Ama?


Ama is a sticky, toxic residue created from undigested food particles and other waste materials when our digestive powers are weak. In ayurveda, the accumulation of ama in our cells and tissues is considered the underlying cause of disease and illness. Ama clogs the body's circulation channels, preventing the healthy flow of energy and information throughout the system. Ama can manifest in a variety of ways. For example, you may experience a build-up of mucus that restricts the airflow through your nasal passages. Or ama may accumulate as plaque in your arteries, reducing blood flow and increasing the risk of heart attack. 

Symptoms of ama include loss of appetite, indigestion, tongue-coating, bad breath, fatigue, depression, inability to concentrate, susceptibility to infections, and generalized pain.

Panchakarma is a profound detoxification and cleansing therapy that enables the body to release ama through a powerful combination of daily massage treatments, herbalized oil-based enemas (bastis), a cleansing diet, and other gentle therapies.

Panchakarma is the cornerstone of the Chopra Center’s weekly Perfect Health program, which combines specific foundational teachings, intellectual guidance, and daily experiential practice with deep Ayurvedic healing therapies. To learn more, please call 888.736.6895 or request more information here.

The Process

The Panchakarma Process


Panchakarma was developed thousands of years ago by the ancient healing masters of India. In Sanskrit, panchakarma means “the five actions” (pancha=five, and karma=action), referring to the five different cleansing and rejuvenating procedures described in classic Ayurvedic textbooks.

As panchakarma has been adapted for use in the West, the therapies have evolved and the number of procedures included is not always five, but varies according to an individual’s mind-body type (dosha) and health concerns. However, the principles of purifying and replenishing remain the same. At the Chopra Center, panchakarma follows these steps:

Step One: Preparatory Procedures

Panchakarma begins with oleation – applying and ingesting pure essential oils in order to loosen and mobilize accumulated toxins or ama. This step includes supplementation with organic seeds, as well as deep, soothing daily Ayurvedic massage treatments using herbalized oils.

A vital aspect of this step is swedana, a Sankskrit word meaning “that which produces heat in the system.” Specific steam and warm oil therapies are used to heat the body. This process helps open the body’s circulation channels (srotas) and allows toxins to flow more easily from the tissues to the GI tract for elimination. Swedana also relaxes the body, releasing tension and allowing impurities to be eliminated through the sweat glands.

Step Two: Elimination and Release

Once the body's toxins have been mobilized, gentle therapies are used to release them from the body. The treatment includes a sequence of daily bastis – a therapeutic process in which medicated oils and herbal preparations are used to flush toxins from the intestinal tract. Bastis are often referred to as enemas but actually offer many more healing benefits than a simple colon cleanse. During a basti, the herbalized oils enter the deeper tissues and eliminate fat-soluble toxins that can't be dislodged with standard enemas.


This stage of panchakarma also includes nasya, an Ayurvedic treatment that gently cleanses the upper respiratory tract and sinuses. This soothing process uses pure herbalized oils to improve the flow of life energy and help you breathe freely and easily.

Step Three: Rejuvenation

The final step of panchakarma is rasayana,a term that means “that which is nourishing.” Once the toxins have been released, this is a critical time to begin replenishing the body with natural foods and herbs, revitalizing massage treatments, and healing practices such as meditation and yoga. 

Ayurvedic physicians recommend getting regular panchakarma treatments to detoxify and nourish your entire mind-body system. In just a few days, you will feel renewed as you release whatever is no longer serving you and open yourself to vibrant health.

"I prefer the Chopra exprience to the one in India; your practitioners are full of love and grace. Thank you!" -B. Prouster 

To learn more about panchakarma and the Chopra Center's other mind-body healing treatments, please call 888.736.6895 or request more information here

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