Join Ananda as she scours the planet for traditional medicinal and healing practices

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Diving into Ayurveda

OK. So I'm doing it. I'm diving head first into a treatment plan that I'm a tad skeptical about, however I will try it with an open mind.

Arriving to Goa felt like the weight of the world was sliding of my shoulders. The warm sea air (noticeably cooler than the scorching heat of Tamil Nadu), the palm trees swaying in the breeze and the portuguese architecture gracing the tropical landsape. Ahhh heaven. I spent 2 months here 5 years ago, but I was bracing myself knowing that the tourism industry, always predominant, had exploded. Especially in my cherished Arambol, a formerly sleepy little fishing village now grown beyond recognition.

Our first planned stop was Candolim. An old friend (Vijay) opened a gorgeous Ayurvedic clinic here, and we thought to stop for a brief hello, a couple of days and then head down to my old haunt Arambol. Vijay treated Jose and I to some free massages, steam baths, and facials. And I was hooked by the luxury of it. Vijay also has a way with words and he convinced me to stay for a treatment. After contemplating his offer I accepted.

I have to admit this mode of medicine is a bit bizzare and often uncomfortable. I had experienced some basic massages - but the first day of treatment was something else.

I met with the Ayurvedic Doctor who told me very little. I had to fish everything out of him. He took my pulse and I asked him to explain what he found. He said I'm Vatta Pitta. A blend of 2 doshas. In Ayurveda there are 3 Doshas - Vatta, Kappa, and Pitta. Each a constitution having it's own quirks and tendencies. I will get more info on the specifics and add it to future postings.

Anyways I'm starting with a treatment to remove excess Vatta. 4 women pund me with linen bundles filled with piping hot herbs, while a 5th woman prepares fresh bundles as the temperature of the beating must remain constant. This is done while I'm contorted into 7 different positions. Some comfortable, some not. This process lasts around an hour. After which I'm so stinky that even after a shower my boyfriend won't come near me! This follows a wonderful Ayurvedic massage performed by 2 people (I will describe this further soon).

After the brutal pounding I am guided into a "steam bath", which looks like a medeival torture device - a big box with a hole for my head. I sit there for 15 minutes while steam medicated with a combination of herbs is piped into the box. This feels almost unbearable after all the previous treatment. But the facial I get after makes up for it.

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