Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre Manager, Alina Withers, is from Ukraine. As an 11-year old her first love was fashion and by the time she was 15 she was making clothes for herself, her family and her friends.
Then came university and a degree in organic chemistry. Shortly after completing the six-year course, Alina moved to England with her husband, Stuart. Here she learned Transcendental Meditation and gained her first knowledge of Maharishi Ayurveda.
“I started learning about what foods suit me best and was doing the morning oil massage, which I found very soothing. My mother and sister also learned to meditate and became interested in Ayurveda. In Ukraine there is great respect for India and its culture.”
By the time she started her family, Alina had become interested in the Maharishi Ayurveda Mother and Baby Programme. This delightful knowledge covers not only the care of the new born baby, but also preparation prior to conception and health support during pregnancy.
“It took away the tiredness and helped me recover quickly. Our baby slept well and she was always happy and alert. No crying or discomfort.”
The results for herself and her daughter were impressive and Alina felt the need to ‘give back’ after receiving and using this wonderful knowledge of life. She decided to learn how to give ayurvedic treatments and in 2006 enrolled on the Maharishi Ayurveda Panchakarma training course, held in Seelisberg in the Swiss Alps.
“It is such a beautiful place to learn, surrounded by mountains and lakes and the air is very pure. The course was really thorough, and we were busy learning and practising from morning to night.”
During this time, as well as working part-time giving Maharishi Ayurveda treatments Alina was also involved with her husband’s property company.
“I found that I liked working with people and helping people. Finding a nice home for someone is very satisfying in the same way that giving treatments is.”
After a period working for a large property management company in Manchester, Alina returned to Skelmersdale so her daughter Tudor could attend Maharishi School, where the knowledge of Maharishi Ayurveda and Transcendental Meditation is given to the children from age five through to age sixteen. From age five, pupils learn the Ayurvedic technique of pulse diagnosis and begin to recognise what their pulse is telling them about the quality of their health and the workings of their body.
“It’s amazing how the children can even tell how their friends are feeling, and how confident they become in themselves and being their own person. They instinctively learn to do things that are good for them. For example, my daughter has a Pitta (hot) constitution and loves ice-skating and swimming, which are cooling sports that balance Pitta. And it’s not many parents whose child asks them in the supermarket to buy a food flask so they can take fresh soup to school for lunch. Ayurveda has also helped to clear Tudor’s skin and made her less prone to seasonal allergies and asthma.”
In 2011, Alina decided to work full time in Maharishi Ayurveda to combine her knowledge of the treatments, her love of working with people and the business management skills she had acquired.
She became manager of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre in Skelmersdale, arranging treatments for the many visitors from the UK and Ireland and for guests from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the USA. Alina was working with the Health Centre’s two doctors, Greg Watras, now retired, and Donn Brennan and with the team of six highly-trained and experience technical staff.
“The work is challenging. Our standards are as high as any Ayurveda centre in the world, so every detail of treatment and care has to be attended to. We always want to do justice to the great knowledge of Maharishi Ayurveda and for the well-being of our visitors.”
“People coming for Panchakarma are usually very tired from their busy lives. They want a break where they can switch off and be totally rested and relaxed. Their daily treatment routine gives them this deep rest so they can go home refreshed and energised.”
“Some who come may have health concerns, such as eczema, joint problems, weak digestion, weight imbalances or stress headaches. For some, these problems completely disappear, never to return. For others there are noticeable improvements, which encourages them to adopt the ayurvedic recommendations the doctors give for their lifestyle and diet. Many come regularly, once a year or at the change of season.”
“Most people come for prevention. They want to maintain good health right through their life and not to have health problems.”
“One lovely experience recently was a couple who wanted to have a baby. The lady, who was 41 at the time, prepared for her first pregnancy by following the ayurvedic advice on diet and daily routine given by Dr Brennan, then had Panchakarma treatment to clear her system of toxins. After the birth of their beautiful baby boy, they enjoyed the Mother and Baby Programme at home where both the mother and baby received warm oil massages for five days. The technician then taught her how to give her son the baby massage and baby exercise. He absolutely loved it.”
“The lady is Russian, so for me the wheel had come full circle. It was really satisfying.”