Today (Saturday. I'm posting a day late) was the first real day of our retreat. They took it a little easy on us in the morning, because we’re still battling jet-lag. In fact, I woke up at 2:30am and could not get back to sleep. So I tossed and turned and read a bit.
When the restaurant opened at 7am, Mom and I were there! As always the food was amazing.
At 9am we met our group for the formal welcoming (opening ceremonies if you will). We received our schedules for the week, and met the Ayurveda doctors that worked at the resort—the doctors we would be seeing that day to diagnose our Doshas, and work on any other problems. They gave us detailed questionnaires to fill out that would help the doctors determine what our dominant Doshas were. Once the Dosha was determined, they would prescribe treatments that complimented them.
We had a little free time on our hands before meeting with the doctors, so I took a dip in the pool. It is REALLY hot here. I needed to cool down.
Soon it was time for our appointments. Here’s where it gets really interesting.
Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas Anymore
The doctor I was assigned to was a very large, stern Indian woman. Although she was perfectly kind, I found her a little intimidating. The consultation didn’t take long. She looked through my questionnaire, took my blood pressure, checked my heart rate, and pushed on a few places to see if it hurt. Satisfied with the exam, they told me to come back at 2pm for my first treatment.
I assumed it would just be a massage—perhaps focusing on my head and neck—where I tend to get migraines.
What’s that saying about making assumptions? When you assume, you make an ass…
I’m going to be as detailed here as I possibly can to give you the full experience of my experience. If you start to get some unpleasant visuals, I apologize, but now you are feeling a bit of what I was feeling during treatment.
I arrived at the clinic and was introduced to my therapist. I will see the same therapist for all six of my treatments. She smiled. Her English was very limited so our communication was pretty much one-word sentences and pointing. She said, “Come” and motioned for me to follow. “Shoes.” She wanted me to put my shoes on because we were leaving the clinic (you take your shoes off before you enter buildings here). I followed her down several walkways, between some buildings to another area of the resort where they had several treatment rooms. “Toilet?” Yes, that would probably be a good idea. She pointed to which door to go through for the toilet.
We had been warned during our welcoming that treatments here are done naked. (There will be no pictures in this portion of the blog).
So I was already a little nervous. I’m the woman in the locker room who changes in the little booth. I’m not the woman who struts around buck naked chatting with people. I don’t like to be naked in front of people. We were told you could ask for panties if you really felt uncomfortable, and they would bring you these little throw-away white panties.
So the therapist takes me to the little room. It’s an open air room, but the windows are high enough that people can’t see in if they walk by. There’s a large wooden table with a mat on it. There’s a little stool, another large thick mat on the floor, and a ring hanging from a rope on the ceiling.
“Clothes off!” she says.
“Ummmm….do you think I could have some uhh…panties?”
She leaves the room for a second and comes back in with a bag full of the generic white panties. She hands them to me and waits for me to get undressed and put the panties on.
Now most of you have probably had a massage in the U.S. You can leave on whatever clothing you need to leave on to feel comfortable. The therapist waits outside the room while you prepare. And you get to slide yourself under a sheet or blanket before the therapist comes back in.
That’s not how it works here.
Reluctantly, I strip down and quickly put the panties on.
“Sit.” She says and points to the little stool covered with a cloth. There are a few towels on the ground to put my feet on.
She turns around to a table in the corner and lights some incense and candles. She pours some pungent oil into a warmer, and comes back over to me. She places her hands on my forehead and does a chant of some sort, then places some powdered herbs on my head. Then she takes the heated oil and starts oiling me up—EVERYWHERE. This goes on for a while. It’s a good massage; I’m just so self-conscious about my nakedness, that I have trouble relaxing. Soon a second lady comes in, and together they continue to rub the oil in in tandem. At the end, they wrap my oily hair in a towel and tie it into a little turban—and tell me to remain on the stool. The initial therapist leaves the room, and the other gets to work on the next thing that’s in store for me.
She starts to tie a cloth to the ring that’s hanging from the ceiling. My mind immediately goes into panic mode, “For the love of God, what are they going to have me to next??? Some bizarre visions were coming to mind.
She then unfolds the large mat on the floor and sprinkles it with water. She then stands in the bowl of water herself, and does kind of a ritualistic cleaning of the mat. She puts another large cloth on it and gestures for me to lie on the mat. “Stomach”. Hanging onto the cloth she tied to the ring for balance, she begins to massage me with her feet. Eventually she tells me to turnover, and massages my entire front side with her feet—breasts and all.
By now I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that this is how it’s done here. And, these ladies have seen hundreds of naked bodies by now. I’m just one of them.
The final segment of this two-hour treatment is called Sirodhara. “Sira” = head. “Dhara” = continuous flow of liquid. A mixture of herbal oils and medicated milk are poured on the forehead in a special way for about 40 minutes.
It was actually a pretty cool process. And, it was so relaxing that I actually fell asleep. (And they prescribe this treatment for me because of migraines and insomnia).
They ended the treatment with a face massage. They then very thoroughly dried me off with towels. “Panties off.” Again, I reluctantly slid them off, and handed them to her. She held out a maroon cloth robe that I had seen many people around the resort wearing. My clothes were in a bag. My oily hair was once again tied into a towel turban.
The therapist escorted me back to the main clinic. I felt a little out of it/disoriented so it was good to have an escort.
Back at the clinic she gave me some hot herbal water (that’s big here—even though it’s 90 degrees) and said, “You come back tomorrow at 2pm.”
I guess I better get over this naked thing because I have five more “treatments” to go.