Learn / India’s Holistic Rehabs Treat Your Mind, Body, and Spirit

India’s Holistic Rehabs Treat Your Mind, Body, and Spirit

Kayla Gill
 September 13th, 2022|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Rajnandini Rathod

Travelers are drawn to India for its beautiful landscape and tropical climate. This country is perfect for people who enjoy warmer weather and striking views of the Himalayas, lush jungles, or vast beaches. And its vibrant culture has a focus on holistic wellness—which is a great fit for some people in recovery.

If you’re interested in integrated treatment for addiction, you may find what you’re looking for at a rehab in India. This approach is designed to help you heal as a whole person, instead of only treating one health issue at a time. 

What Is Holistic Treatment?

Most of India’s rehab centers take a holistic approach to addiction recovery. The goal is to help you heal your mind, body, and spirit as one. These programs also have a strong focus on spirituality. Treatment may include activities like yoga, meditation, and massage.

Some of these alternative methods are controversial, due to a lack of scientific data deemed legitimate in the Western world. However, many people find these ancient treatments helpful. Holistic techniques may be gentler than Western ones, with a larger-picture approach to healing and a greater focus on sustainable wellness. For instance, you may be able to go through treatment without taking prescribed medications. Instead, clients use diet and exercise as tools to improve their mental health.

And there’s no need to choose one philosophy over the other. You can do yoga and take antidepressants. You can join a support group and meditate. Some rehabs even recommend this combination approach. Lotus Wellness and Rehabilitation Center, for example, combines traditional Ayurveda with Western biomedical treatments. 

Lotus Wellness and Rehabilitation Center in Tamil Nadu, India, combines holistic and Western treatment methods.

India’s Most Popular Therapies

You’ll encounter many different holistic treatment methods at rehab facilities around the country. These are some of the most popular.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice that teaches you to just be in the present moment. These exercises can help you cultivate self-awareness and improve emotion regulation.

Meditation is a mindfulness technique that helps quiet your mind. You’ll feel more at peace, and learn to let your thoughts pass by, without attaching emotions to them. And you don’t have to meditate for hours to reap the benefits. Meditating for only 13 minutes a day, over the course of 8 weeks, had a profound effect1 on participants in one study. After treatment, they felt more positive and less anxious, and their memories improved. And mindful meditation can be an effective treatment2 for addiction.

Most treatment centers in India offer some form of mindfulness training. For example, Kairali The Ayurvedic Healing Village provides daily group meditation sessions.

Kairali The Ayurvedic Healing Village‘s peaceful surroundings in Kerala, India, set the tone for their meditation sessions.

Yoga for Mental Health and Addiction

You don’t need to be flexible or strong to try yoga. While this practice has physical benefits, it’s also about self-acceptance—not competition. And because yoga originated in India, you’ll get the full experience by practicing here. You may even enjoy it enough to continue after you leave rehab.

In addition to its physical health benefits, research shows that yoga contributes to positive mental health outcomes.3 It is especially helpful for people who are quitting smoking.  

These positive effects translate to people with other mental health conditions as well, like women with PTSD.4 One study discovered that practicing yoga for 12 weeks decreased these subjects’ PTSD symptoms. These changes were present both right after the study and at the 3-month follow up.

People in addiction recovery5 can also benefit from yoga. Research shows that yoga minimizes stress, decreases addictive behaviors, improves confidence, and increases self-control for these patients. One survey even found that yoga is “an effective tool” for people in every stage of recovery.6 Because this practice addresses both physical and spiritual wellness, it can be an important part of integrated treatment.

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurveda,7 also called Ayurvedic medicine, is an ancient, holistic approach to health. It teaches that diet, exercise, and herbal remedies can all contribute to a healthy lifestyle. 

Providers at Kairali The Ayurvedic Healing Village incorporate Ayurvedic teachings into rehab for addiction, chronic pain, and other conditions. They describe these techniques by explaining that “the human body is made up of 3 components,” or doshas.  Each dosha has 2 distinct elements:

  • Vata consists of space and air. Vata controls movement in the body and mind, like blood flow, waste elimination, breathing, and thought.
  • Pitta consists of fire and water. It is associated with heat, metabolism, and transformation within the mind and body. These functions include digestion, perceptions, and understanding right and wrong.
  • Kapha includes water and earth. This dosha governs structure and lubrication in both the mind and body, like the joints, lungs, and body tissues.

Depending on your specific needs, you may try various Ayurvedic therapies during inpatient treatment. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Abhyangam is a type of oil massage that improves sleep, circulation, and more.
  • During Podikizhi, the practitioner pounds warm bundles of herbs onto the body. This relieves muscle spasms and joint stiffness.
  • In Sirovasti, a clinician pours oil into specially-designed head gear while you wear it. This treatment relieves migraines, stress, sinusitis, and other issues.
  • During Kavalagraham, you’ll gargle oils and other Ayurvedic medicines to promote oral health.
  • Dhoompanam is a practice in which you inhale medicinal smoke intended to detox your body.

Your Ayurvedic practice doesn’t have to end when you leave rehab. Kairali The Ayurvedic Healing Village also provides lectures on Ayurveda every week, helping clients learn how to implement these techniques into daily life.

Acupuncture for Physical and Mental Wellness

During an acupuncture session,8 a trained acupuncturist will insert small needles into specific anatomical points. These points correspond with meridians, which are channels of energy that run throughout the body. The goal is to remove energy blockages, so that your qi—or vital energy—can flow freely. According to traditional Chinese medicine, this treatment can improve your physical, mental, and spiritual health. 

Massage for Detox and Recovery

Massage treatments can help you heal—both mentally and physically. Research suggests that massage therapy can treat chronic pain and various mental health conditions.9 And it’s hugely beneficial for people in early recovery from addiction. In fact, massage might even help decrease withdrawal symptoms.10 Rehab centers in India may offer Western styles of massage, Ayurvedic massage, or a combination of these techniques.

Ayurvedic massage techniques11 incorporate special oils, which are chosen based on the client’s energetic balance. Different oils correspond with the doshas, and are used to achieve specific purposes during treatment. Your provider may also stimulate certain pressure points that correspond to other areas of the body.

Mamta Landerman, president of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, addresses the importance of Ayurvedic massage.12 “Ayurveda addresses therapies that relate to all the 5 senses,” she says. “And a very important component is the sense of touch.” For many clients, this is an essential part of holistic treatment.

Nutritional Therapy

A balanced diet can contribute to better health—and not just physically. In fact, studies show that good nutrition improves mental health,13 lowering depression and anxiety.

Because of this, most rehabs in India offer some form of nutritional therapy. For example, many centers will design a personalized nutrition plan for each client. These healthy, organic meals help you heal from the inside out. 

Kairali The Ayurvedic Healing Village takes it a step further. This center offers cooking classes, where clients learn to make their own rejuvenating meals. With this new skill, you can continue to eat well even after returning home. And, like any other creative pursuit, cooking can help you find joy in recovery. 

Train Your Brain With Music

Studies show that listening to music can decrease anxiety.14 Research suggests that music may even be more effective than anti-anxiety medication. Music has a natural ability to boost levels of certain hormones in your brain—like dopamine—that can increase positive feelings. In addition, music can decrease cortisol, which is the hormone involved in stress. Because of the role dopamine plays in addiction,15 the chemical effects of music can support your recovery process.

Alpha Healing Center offers various holistic treatments, including a Brain Health Training Program. In this program, clients participate in various activities, one of which is Brain Music Therapy. They describe Brain Music Therapy as an innovative treatment “based on the premise that personalized music derived from a guest’s own brain wave patterns can affect emotional stability.” Because this treatment hasn’t produced any negative side effects, it’s safe to try, and worth combining with other therapies. 

Located in Gujarat, India, Alpha Healing Center offers innovative holistic treatments like Brain Music Therapy.

Hypnotherapy for Substance Misuse

According to researchers, hypnosis16 is a “state of awareness, (or consciousness), in which a person’s attention is detached from his or her immediate environment and is absorbed by inner experiences.” Hypnotherapy is just what it sounds like: receiving therapy while under hypnosis. 

Research shows that this treatment can minimize pain and emotional stress. It’s highly effective for patients with depression17 and anxiety.18 And one study found that “clinical hypnotherapy is a powerful promoter of mental and behavioral change” for people healing from addiction.19 In the right environment, this can be an inspiring way to start your recovery journey.

Explore India Treatment Centers

How to Travel to—And Within—India

India’s 2 largest airports20 are Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi and  Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. Each one serves over 80 destinations. Because of this, it’s easy to travel to rehab in India—although it may be a long flight.

In addition to India’s 30+ international airports,21 there are more than 100 domestic ones scattered throughout the country. This makes it easy to take a quick flight if you’re traveling within India. 

If you fly to rehab, most centers will pick you up from the airport. 

If you’re traveling internationally, you may need a visa for India.22 These regulations vary by country, and you may need to apply in advance. Check with your rehab’s admissions team to see if they can help you arrange for travel.

Start Your Recovery Journey in India

If you’d like to begin your healing journey in a place that emphasizes spiritual and personal wellness, India might be a great fit. Maybe you want to surround yourself with people who share your values. Or if you’re coming from abroad, you might not have access to these treatments in your home country. Whatever your reasons, India is waiting for you. And so is your recovery.

Visit our list of rehab centers in India to learn about their philosophies, amenities, and unique treatment options.

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