Nepal was once a land of mystery and adventure, and mysticism and romance. Times have changed with unfortunate rapidity, but fortunately, some aspects remain that still bring back the lore of a Shangri La in the Himalayas. Yoga and other esoteric meditation and healing techniques based on Eastern philosophies are still going strong around here.
Take pranic healing, for example, which revolves around the idea of energy. It is an ancient technique using energy to heal and treat pain and stress. If you want to experience this unique method of healing and relieving stress, then a visit to the Pranic Healing Center in Kamaladi, Kathmandu, is called for. The concept of this technique is based on the idea of prana (life force), the central unit in a human body that is integral not only for development, but also for the stability of the physical body. Prana is the invisible life force that keeps the body alive, and pranic healing’s goal is to revitalize this force.
The second principle of pranic healing is the concept of self recovery, meaning that the body is capable of healing by itself, and it is through the techniques of pranic healing that the body’s ability to heal itself is speeded up. It is believed that the body’s energy is kept in synchronization by chakras that rotate clockwise and anticlockwise continuously. Disturbance in their movement, or the blocking of their pathways, result in illness, disease, physical unease, and mental stress. The objective of pranic healing is to make things right again, and remove such congestions, thus revitalizing the body’s energy, or life force.
A high degree of faith on the sufferer’s part is required in order for pranic healing to be effective; he/she has to be in a receptive frame of mind and open towards the positive energy emanating from the healer. Pranic Healing Center provides two-day basic courses as well as more advanced ones, including intensive classes that consist of psychotherapy, or Arhatic yoga. One interesting course is the “Twin Hearts” meditation that focuses on two of the more important chakras, the heart chakra and the crown chakra, which are regarded as the epitome of love and enlightenment.
Besides this unique healing center, there are of course numerous yoga centers in Kathmandu. There used to be one called the Healing Hands Center in Maharajgunj; don’t know if it is still there. It specialized in Nuad-Bo-Rarn, a Sanskrit term for ancient Thai massage that is actually based on yoga postures, and is also said to be “yoga for lazy people”. In reality, Nuad-Bo-Rarn is for those who are unable to do yoga by themselves due to old age or infirmity, and need a helping hand to do so. Like pranic healing, it, too, is based on the idea of energy running through the body in a specific manner and taking particular pathways. According to this form of yoga, or ancient Thai massage, there is a second body comprised of many energy lines in addition to the physical body, out of which 10 are believed to be vital pressure points.
At the Arogya Ashram in Tangal, you’ll come across the art of naturopathy, the credo of which is that prevention is better than the cure. Chemical medicines are a big no, no, since they have harmful side effects, and the goal of treatment is to detoxify the body of all toxins that cause disease. Treatment regimes may vary (clay therapy, solar therapy, hydrotherapy, and so on), but the basic parameter of all is based on the philosophical aspect of panchakarma, that is, the five elements of fire, air, earth, water, and akash (vacuum). Regular classes are conducted every day, and the central goal is to change bad habits and harmful lifestyles. Generally, a treatment may last for a month; however, for chronic problems, it can go up to six months or so. It would be good to note that naturopathy is often said to be the ‘mother therapy’, since it is compatible with most other treatment methods.
Some other well known centers of yoga and other esoteric healing arts are Ananda Yoga Centre in Satungal, Pranamaya Yoga Studio in Kantipath (which teaches ‘power yoga’), and Osho Tapoban in Nagarjun, where the path of self realization is explored in depth through meditation and discourse. Jain Mandir in Gyaneswar, Kathmandu, also has regular yoga classes every day, and these are for free to all who come. Different yoga centers teach different styles of yoga. Bishal Ayurveda Ausadhalaya and Yoga Centre in Anamnagar, Kathmandu, teaches Patanjali yoga. A typical routine is as follows: 10 minutes of jogging, all the while focusing on balanced breathing; then, a period of Om dhoni (a continuous humming of the word ‘Om’). This is followed by the asanas, and then, pranayana and dhyan.
Vipasaana is another method that many swear by to get balance and serenity in their lives. It was actually one of the discoveries of Lord Buddha himself that meditation enhances two qualities, namely, samantha (tranquility) which steadies and concentrates the mind, and vipassana (insight), which makes you more observant. Vipassana classes are held regularly in Shivpuri, Kathmandu, which consists of 10 days or so of silent retreat, wherein one abstains from any desire and bad habits before delving into aanam (breath work), which is followed by deep meditation, or vipasaana.
So, you see, there’s more to experience when in Kathmandu than just world heritage sites and Thamel. There are plenty of centers where you can spend some fruitful time learning one of the esoteric arts of natural healing. It would certainly be worth your while, because good health is after all the most precious asset anyone can have.