My Ayurveda Experience – Day 1
Ayurveda is a system of Hindu traditional medicine. Its roots are said to be over 4000 years old. The practice of Ayurveda seeks to bring the body’s biological setup into balance, thus bringing health. It is the sister science of yoga. I thought it would be interesting to explore this system of health. Last Wednesday I went to a consultation at an Ayurvedic center in Central New Jersey. I met with a woman who took my pulse and talked about issues about my health, pain, illnesses, my diet, and my yoga practice. She recommended a few changes in my diet, and recommended that I follow a course of therapies for seven days. I started today with these therapies that will go on for six more days. This was my visit today:
I got to the center and was brought into a room with a massage type table. I met with a very nice man who would be my therapist. He briefly explained the six things I would be experiencing. He then handed me a little plastic bag and said something that I couldn’t understand. I asked him what he said, and told me, “Put this on. Hang your clothes there,” as he pointed to some hooks on the wall. He then left the room. I opened the little plastic bag. In it was a very thin black bikini. I took off my clothes and took out the bikini. I kept turning it around trying to find out which of the three little openings in the small amount of cloth was for my waist and which two were for my legs. I knew one of the openings had to be bigger than the other two. I’m used to getting massages naked, or at least under a blanket. I’m also used to therapists being somewhat overzealous in avoiding seeing or touching anything remotely private. While I was standing there trying to figure out the little bikini thing, the therapist opened the door, poked his head in, and asked me if I were ready. I kind of sheepishly said that I would be in a minute or so, and he closed the door. I finally figured out the little black thing and got it on. The therapist came back in and told me to lie face down on the table. It wasn’t padded as much as the massage tables I’m used to. When I put my face down on the padded opening for your face, my nose, which isn’t very small, was smashed down onto the somewhat hard table. The therapist tried to adjust it so that I could lie face down in the little crescent shaped pillow, but my nose was still smashed. If I squeezed the little pillow thing closer together to get some height, I couldn’t breathe. I mean, I’d be ok if my nose was a little wider than deeper, but I finally just turned my head to the side for the time being.
The therapist took what felt like little bags of sand that were fairly hot and slapped me with them gently, then spread around on my muscles something that smelled spicy and soothing, It felt really good. He then took something that felt like clay and made a little dam on my lower back and filled it several times with some hot liquid sand like stuff. That felt great too. While this hot stuff was sitting on my lower back, he somewhat aggressively spread warm oil all over my legs and feet, then my back and arms. I’m used to deep tissue massages, so I thought it was great. I’m not sure why I had the little pants on because he kept moving them to get at what was under them. I’m perfectly ok with that. Seemed like a waste of material though. I’m also used to many therapists who seem terrified to move their hands anywhere near where I would wear a bikini. This guy’s hands were either under them or running across them as if they weren’t there. And I’m ok with that, too. It did suddenly occur to me that he was most likely going to do this to the front of me. I think I might have worried about it for a second. But after I turned over, we proceeded to address my front in the same wonderful and fully legal way we addressed my backside. This whole process, while like a massage, was much more oily, slippery, and smelly. Good smelly. I was then very carefully guided off the table, fully oiled, and onto a chair in a wooden box with a hole for my head. I was told to sleep while steam filled the box and I worked up a good sweat.
After my sweat box time was up, I was told to lie face up on the table. He put drops of herbed oil into my nose while I breathed it in. He kept adding drops until I felt them come into my throat. He then applied an enema of some specially prepared herbal oil. He told me to keep it in for 30 minutes and asked how far I had to drive to get home. He said that it would be very difficult, but to keep it in. I’ve done coffee enemas for years so I told him I would be fine. I barely made 30 minutes. Barely. I made it home, too.
He told me to leave the oil on my skin for at least an hour. Then I could shower. He then asked me to get dressed. I’m used to therapists dashing out of the room, seemingly terrified of my naked body. This man stayed in the room. So, off came the little oily pants, and on came my clothes. Luckily they were clothes that I didn’t mind if they got herbed oil on them. I drove home, made it through my 30 minutes (of course with some intentional distractions, such as shaking my legs, stomping my feet on the floor, trying to squeeze my body in ways that I haven’t done in a yoga class and waited another 30 minutes before I showered.
I can’t wait for tomorrow!