Editor’s note: This article was published before the coronavirus pandemic, and may not reflect the current situation on the ground.

It’s not just the latest spa buzzword … Ayurveda pivots on 5,000 years of science and ancient wisdom, with holistic healing, preventative medicine, and the balance of physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing at its core. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

“Your dreams are vivid and your sleep is light, disturbed. You need to relax but not with activities like reading—just complete rest.”

I’m looking straight into the steady, near-hypnotic gaze of Dr Sharma, high in the Tyrolean Alps. It’s December and outside, the snow is falling in thick, feathery flakes. It’s an incongruous setting for an Ayurvedic consultation.

Within a few minutes, Dr Sharma has hit many nails on many heads. “Your digestion is sluggish,” he says, peering at my ridged nails and indented tongue. “You use too much olive oil and eat too much raw food.”

He’s spookily right. “And I would recommend not drinking water immediately before, after and during meals as it reduces your digestive fire, or agni,” he advises, looking closely at my face structure and skin. I nod, dumbstruck.