Niika Quistgard Shares Her Story of how
Rasa Ayurveda Traditional Healing Centre for Womem
Came to Be
“I’ve had a heartfelt relationship with Indian philosophy, spirituality and culture since I was a young teen. In the early 80’s, I traveled and lived in Maharashtra, India for a couple of years. While in India, I discovered Ayurveda–the science of life and longevity–and later undertook formal study. I’m a bit older now, and after almost ten years of clinical practice and teaching Ayurveda for women in the West, I came to the Indian state of Kerala for my own session of Ayurvedic rejuvenation.
On my very first trip, I simply fell in love. Kerala is the sweet spot of India–the birthplace of Ayurveda, and Trivandrum especially continues to resonate with the life pace of ancient times. I liked it so much, I stayed on half-time and began looking for an opportunity to establish a women’s Ayurvedic healing retreat. I had dreamed of creating a place that truly honors each woman’s power to heal her body, her mind, and even to transform her life. A place where eastern and western women learn from and support each other. A place promoting conservation of native medicinal plants and sustaining healthy traditional practices of lifestyle and diet.
My teenage son joined me here for several months, getting to know Kerala and advising me in my quest. We enjoyed developing relationships with the loving people in our Trivandrum neighborhood. We also had the good fortune to forge close ties with Sanjeev Kumar (Sanju) and his family. Sanju is a skilled and caring Siddha therapist with more than 20 years experience treating patients from all over the world. Over time, Sanju became a true uncle to my son, and my heart’s adopted brother.
I’d noticed the positive effect Sanju had not only on the patients he gave therapies to, but even those he simply spoke with. As we found time, we shared many conversations about the true essence of healing and the value of happiness–enjoyment, juice, rasa–in life and health. He’d say to me, “Chechi” (chechi means sister)—”The patient herself is 40% of all healing. Without a good mind state in the patient, we can give so many therapies and so many powerful medicines, but if the patient is unhappy, how can they have their full effect?”
His respect for the divinity inherent in every body shone through his work and his words. He explained to me, “Chechi, we can think of what we do as therapists as simply removing rust in those places where there is rust. Our treatments cleanse off impurities and highlight the goodness of the body. We are not adding anything to the patient that is not already there itself. When the patient admits these treatments with 100 percent of mind, the results are outstanding.” I was delighted to have found this person who shared my conviction in the patient’s innate wholeness, no matter the imbalance that may be manifesting.
The word “rasa” means
“juice,” “essence,” “taste,” and “top enjoyment.”
In Ayurvedic terminology, a Rasayana is any
substance or practice bringing rejuvenation.
In Ayurveda’s theory of metabolism,
Rasa is the foundation of all our bodily tissues,
and the primary source of our fertility and immunity.
High-quality rasa leads to
physical health, longevity and mental well-being.
Continuing to explore possibilities for establishing a healing center, I talked with people and looked into locations, but the right situation didn’t present itself. My son had gone home, and eventually, I returned to my practice in the U.S., helping women discover the power of Ayurvedic knowledge and experience.
Five months later I made one more trip to India, thinking I’d have a nice visit with my Malayalee family, pack up my Kerala home and maybe let go of my dream for a while. This time, though, Grace flooded each day! Everything magically fell into place. First, Sanju’s employer moved out of town and accepted his resignation. He is only a fine healer and teacher, but also an experienced clinic manager. I knew he would be an enormous help to establishing the women’s healing center, and he agree to work with me. Next, a perfect center site became available right here in my neighborhood. Local supporters seemed to walk out of thin air to help us in the tasks of establishing Rasa. Clearly, the unseen force–the MayaShakti–was behind all the unfolding.
I feel incredibly blessed to live a life of Ayurveda in Kerala. It is with much gratitude that we welcome you to Rasa Ayurveda – a place to live some days in the company of the local people and plants, to steep yourself in Ayurveda, to hear, smell, taste and be touched by Mother Nature–our ultimate healer, our source and our home.
Come to heal. Come to detoxify and be replenished. Come to learn. Come to embrace your own true nature.
Come. Make life juicy!
We hope to see you soon.