Clean Up Your Act

Say the words "Eastern medicine" and a lot of halfwits conjure images of heady incense and potions made from the innards of small, defenseless animals.

Peasants.

It's 2003, yo, and if you haven't been the recipient of some beneficial Eastern remedy, chances are you know someone who has. In the medical world, people are flocking to all things holistic, and for good reason. Western doctors treat syptoms. You get a cold; your doctor treats it. But can he or she prevent the cold from getting a chokehold on your immune system to begin with? Usually not, and that's where practices like Ayurveda come in.

Ayurveda is, in the literal terms, the "wisdom of life." Where your American doctor treats various maladies after you've already contracted them, Ayurvedic practitioners address the question: "Why did your immune system fail you in the first place?" It's about all-around well-being, aimed at using natural means to balance and rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. There's a lot to learn, but a good teacher, like Susan Vettichira of the Florida Ayurvedic Wellness Center in Tampa, can lead you through the painless (that's right: I said painless) process of maintaining health the natural way.

Certified by the American Board of Holistic Medicine, Vettichira is among only a handful of doctors in the U.S. with a degree in Western medicine and extensive training in Ayurveda. At classes offered by Baywinds, Vettichira breaks down the principles of Ayurveda in clear and concise terms, using her medical degree to back up her holistic knowledge with hard facts and figures. At her center, Vettichira introduces clients to the practice of Ayurveda with a comprehensive consultation, integrating a full physical exam with the wisdom of Ayurveda to address each person's individual constitution. What follows is a three-phase detoxification program: Phase one is aimed at loosening the body's toxic debris via a detox diet, herbal preparations, massage and steam therapy. The second phase flushes out the toxic debris. And the third phase, maintenance, involves diet modifications, aromatherapy, meditation and nutrition counseling, and yoga referrals. Vettichira also offers the occasional Ayurvedic-based cooking course at the center for those wishing to take the practice a bit further.

Sound intriguing? It is. If you're skeptical, give Baywinds a call and attend a class. You've got nothing to lose but bad health and possibly a cabinet full of prescription meds you may not need.

Vettichira's Baywinds classes take place most often at Baywinds Learning Centre, 722 E. Fletcher Ave., Tampa. Classes cost $39 and were not yet scheduled for summer at press time. Register by calling 813-977-0996 or at www.baywinds.net. Florida Ayurvedic Wellness Center is at 6953 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. Call 813-914-WELL or visit www.InBalanceWithNature.com. Baywinds offers tons of other classes, including various kinds of writing, crafts, languages, fitness, dance, photography, music and personal growth. Check their website for up-to-date course schedules.

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