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What to Expect During Your First 5,000 year-old Ayurvedic Massage

 

Oil. Lots of it. And getting naked. Almost.

Ayurveda

We’re talking about the oldest form of healthcare in the world, folks! My research tells me that ayurveda dates back an estimated 5,000-10,000 years. In Sanskrit, ayu means life and veda, science or wisdom. This wisdom was initially passed down orally through generations, and then written down in the Vedas, the oldest writings in the world, in Sanskrit language. The tale of how it truly began is spellbinding and as old as the cosmos, interweaving fact and fantasy, myth and matter, science and sagas.

During those ancient times, ayurvedic clinics did not normally just offer massage because everybody knew how to give one. It was only when someone needed a particular treatment did the clinics offer consultations with specialists, who then used appropriate ayurvedic techniques.

In modern day India, however, there are countless practitioners that give head and body massage for a few rupees; even that barber at the tiny shop around the corner will offer you a shoulder massage to de-stress those sore muscles. It’s ayurveda, he’ll claim. They may have little knowledge of ayurveda, but they do know how to work and sooth the muscles.

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Certified practitioners of ayurveda use special techniques and oils which are designed for individual doshas, or body types, and marmas, or pressure points. Ayurvedic massage practitioners can keep the body in a balanced state of homeostasis that allows the immune system to function properly and is therapeutic for the entire body.

You can’t achieve this blissful state of homeostasis in one session, however. It usually costs a lot because normally they’d suggest a complete massage therapy session that spans 5 to 15 days. And each session costs approximately USD 40-50.

Ayurvedic massage is basically tailored to your body’s specific needs. The style and the flow of the massage is determined by who you are, and what your body needs for it to be balanced. There are four main kinds of massage offered by ayurvedic massage therapists, each with a specific purpose in hand. The massage can either be performed with the intention to eliminate toxins though purification, relax the body, strengthen the muscle tone or rejuvenate the body.

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Despite my great curiosity and interest on experiencing this traditional, ancient massage firsthand, I chickened out at the last moment. The thought of exposing my fats to another person, albeit a female, makes me shudder. But I’ve managed to convince Masood. I made him realize how stressed out he is from all the responsibilities, his work obligations, the traveling…

The man who has hated oil since he was a fetus finally agrees to have an ayurvedic massage!

It takes me an entire day of coaxing and cajoling, so by the time he says yes, it is almost dinner time, and the ayurveda consultant has left. So we really don’t know his doshas and such, but the masseur agreed to give him abhyangam, an exotic-sounding word that promises a relaxing treatment meant to quiet the nervous system, produce a feeling of deep relaxation, and aid sleep.

The massage is offered at the resort we’re staying at. I stay back in our room and watch lions kill a buffalo on Animal Planet, while Masood leaves for his massage treatment. The entire process takes 60 to 75 minutes.

The masseur first takes out three or four bottles containing different types of oil, takes out a measured quantity of oil from each of them, then heats the oil until it’s warm. He asks Masood to undress and wear a langot, something that probably resembled a diaper. I wouldn’t know since I am not there during the massage process. Then he pours a generous amount of oil on Masood’s head.

“This is water, not oil. This is water, not oil. This is pure, clear, odorless water,” Masood repeats to himself as the viscous oil—the composition of which has been carefully formulated thousands of years ago—glides gracefully from his head to his shoulders, and down his body. The masseur works on massaging the head first.

Masood is then asked to lay on a wooden bed, facing down; the masseur starts massaging his shoulder, arms, and back. In finely coordinated strokes he would do this swiping movement on a muscle area with a fair amount of pressure but not painful. Then he turns to lay on his back so that the masseur works on the chest and thigh muscles.

He then shows Masood into a room that has a steam/sauna box. He sits in it with his head sticking out of the box, a towel wrapped around his neck. He detects a hint of menthol in the steam. He stays in there until his pores open up and release all the toxins from his body.

He then proceeds to take a warm shower. He finishes two bars of soap and a bottle of shampoo. And yet the oil still clings on faithfully.

He takes another shower upon reaching our room.

Then it rains heavily. It’s 11 PM and we’re sitting in the front porch enjoying the cool breeze and the freshness of our surroundings.

He sleeps like a log. And wakes up completely refreshed and rejuvenated the next day.

ayurveda

Have you ever experienced an ayurvedic massage? How did it work for you?

Oh, and by the way, you can also indulge yourself in ayurvedic self-massage by following these simple steps.

36 comments

  1. very powerful opening lines as usual .. oils and lots of it !! loved it ….

    poor Masood bhai … i also hate the thought of oil trickling down from head to toe so hats off to him for going on this adventure ….

    finishing 2 bars of soaps and a bottle of shampoo !!! LOLZ thats additional expense by the way .. :))

    sounds very tempting for relaxing muscles and all … i surely wanna try my hand BUT …. still a little skeptical about clothes thing .. 😉

    1. Thanks, Joveria!

      The soap and shampoo came as part of the package 😀

      Yeah, all you’ll get is a thin diaper-like thing for your lower half part.

  2. Back a few years ago in the Friday magazine of Gulf News, there was an article of a couple that went in for an ayurvedic massage…I have always wanted to get one since reading that article but have yet to do so. Awww, I wish that you would not have chickened out and would have been able to write about your experience, LOL 🙂 maybe then I wouldn’t be so chicken to try it myself, hehehe 🙂

  3. Wow, this sounds crazy good! I got a massage at a massage therapy clinic recently, and while they were really good, I’m sure it was no comparison to being massaged by oils and in steam and all that other good stuff. I would gladly take your husband’s place! 😛
    Misha recently posted..Algonquin Park: Setting Up

  4. I have always wanted to give ayuverdic a go . I am such a massage girl but never tried, I am so going to after reading how relaxing it sounds , too bad you chicken out Nadia Im sure you would have enjoyed yourself, the way I look at it is the masseus would have seen all sorts of body shapes they are totally immuned .
    adla recently posted..Arabic books

    1. ‘liya, physio after an accident would be entirely different than a rejuvenating ayurvedic massage. OK, will try to be brave next time 😀

  5. Why didn’t you follow Masood,Nadia! You too must have tensed muscles esp around your eyes and hands 😀 Not that the lion killing a buffalo isn’t interesting….

    I’m a sensitive freak esp around foot massages.The only times I had full body massage was during my confinement and massage ladies use lots of oil,and I can’t even take a bath after that! Imagine that! Yucks!:)
    I’m so in the mood for a massage myself.Sigh…..

  6. Hmm… your post got me intrigued. However, I have some questions for Masood though:

    1. How tight was the langot ? Did it prevent oil from getting inside? (Men are very picky about what drips where)
    2. Did all the oil wash off after the second shower?
    3. Can we see some before and after pictures? 🙂
    Behbood recently posted..Chilling Conversation…

    1. Behbood, Masood is pretty busy these days, so I’m taking the liberty to answer on his behalf:

      1. He said the langot was tight enough to not come off at any point during the massage. No oil got in.
      2. The oil washed off completely after the third shower.
      3. There are only after pictures 😀

  7. I love having massages! Its very relaxing and I feel pampered having someone massage me. Once I tried traditional Thai massage. It was nice but also painful when the lady kept kneading at my shoulder claiming its “stiff”! But the feeling after a good massage always is worth it 🙂 Ayurveda….I have heard of it but never tried. Maybe someday….
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  8. hello, nadia.

    hmm… ayurveda seems like the traditional hilot in the philippines… although i’d say that ayurveda is older.

    hey, the green fruit above in the flower cluster is the young fruit of coconut, ‘no?

    and why didn’t you go for a massage, you silly woman!?! masarap magpamasahe, pramis. it’s very relaxing. never mind the oil or whatever it is they put on your body – usually, it has a very good scant or aroma.

    you should go, get massage the next time, no question about that. this is your older sister speaking. pay attention, huh. 🙂

    btw, i’ve tried being massaged with nothing on. hindi naman naasiwa ang nagmamasahe. maski ako, ahaha. 🙂
    doon po sa amin recently posted..Dantay

    1. Hello, San.

      I did experience the traditional hilot once; I had twisted my ankle then. And boy, was it a painful experience! But I had a friend who regularly had hilot sessions after giving birth, and she said it helped her a lot.

      Yes, it’s a young coconut. Very young, in fact. It’s still pretty much premature. The poor thing fell off from its branch and got separated from its family.

      Sige na nga, pag-iisipan ko! I’ll try to be bolder next time around 😀

  9. Nadia, I made the time for an Ayurvedic massage during a trip to Cochin in Kerala state in India. Amazing! Now back in USA and I have to soothe my dominant Pitta! It is summer! By the way I buy Nature’s Formulary Cooling Ayurvedic Massage Oil and take it with my for my massage every 4 weeks. Here is where I buy it: http://www.naturesformulary.com/Products/58-cooling-ayurvedic-massage-oil.aspx
    Also have you ever tried Chavutti Thirumal massage? It is an amazing experience.

  10. 🙂 you should really write professionally! Lol it’ll be so nice to get paid for what u love and so talented at!!! And enjoy doing!! Reading this makes me feel the need for a good rub down massage too!! My back is aching like mad can’t wait to do it after delivery 🙂 by the way I love the peacock thingy that held the oil I think?? So unique and traditional… Beautiful!

    1. Why, thank you, Mrs Umer! Maybe I should consider approaching an editor for a writing gig. The idea of getting paid to travel and write is a dream 😀

      Yeah, you go for a massage! Maybe you can ask Jus who gave hers…I remember reading about her having a massage sometime back.

      Oh, that peacock lamp thing is so cool! When we arrived at the resort, we were asked to lit the lamp as a welcome gesture. I loved it!

  11. …. finally it was all tested and done !! true – ayurvedic treatment is the best way to heal …. physically n spritually (i m sure it helps spritually as well).

    p.s. if it’s water – why did it take some much of soap to wash it off :)-

    1. Sharmila, it takes a lot more than a massage to heal spiritually, but physically, yes, the ayurvedic massage helps tremendously.

      It’s ayurvedic water, not your ordinary H2O, hence the need for that much soap and shampoo 😉

    1. Welcome back, Pervisha! LOL @ mighty and young … It’s too late to go back now – both to the spa and at being mighty and young 😀

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