Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Ayurvedic Treatment

“India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition.”  -- Mark Twain

As the Earth's oldest largest continuing civilization,  India has contributed more than it’s fair share toward global culture.   Among its many achievements,  Chess, Buddhism, Navigation and even Hockey were all invented here.  
So it’s not surprising the first school of medicine, Ayurveda,  was borne of India.  I failed to understand this fact before Becky and I spent a weekend at an Ayurvedic Spa a few weeks back.    When I think Spa,  I think relaxation.  Nice massages, inviting hot tubs, a few saunas and perhaps a swimming pool next to a bar.   
With this in mind,  we checked in on a Friday evening.  After being led to our spartan room,  we were invited to dinner at the restaurant and given a Doctor’s appointment in the morning.  Dinner started with hot Cumin Tea and moved onto a buffet of Vegan specialities.  It wasn’t exactly bland,  but we’re not coming back for takeout either.  The were shocked when we asked if they had beer or wine.  Alcohol is strictly prohibited anywhere at the Spa.  This was true health food. 
The Yoga Room
In the morning, we hit the 7am Yoga,  got breakfast (no coffee, no eggs, more Vegan) and went to see the Doctor.  He prescribed a hot oil massage and a steam bath for us both.  Perfect.  I’d been looking forward to a nice massage all month.  Over we went to the treatment facility.
I was led to the massage room, given a changing closet and a napkin with a long string on it.  Without using any English,  the masseur made it clear this napkin was to be worn and nothing else.  Okay.  Dressed like a Kalahari Bushman, I mounted the massage table and the hot oil treatment began.  Two guys with gorilla sized forearms aggressively rubbing in HOT oil.  Three quarts of hot oil and they were determined to force it into my skin.  Each guy worked a side with counterbalancing force.   If it wasn’t balanced,  I would have shot off the vinyl table like a wet bar of soap.  This wasn’t pleasure,  this was treatment.  After a half hour of this abuse,  they threw me into the steam bath to really give me the deep fried effect.  Once I was near to losing consciousness, they knew I was done.  

The Steam Bath:  Your head sticks out of the top.
I thought these only existed in 3-Stooges movies. 

Becky and I compared notes over lunch.  This did not meet expectations.  We needed to talk with this Doctor and see if we could get another package for tomorrow.  Perhaps a Swedish deep tissue or a Shiatsu massage.   Exhausted from treatment,  we returned to our room and slept for the next 20 hours. 
After morning Yoga and vegan Breakfast (I would have killed for Eggs Benedict at this point),  we met with the Doctor to express our concerns.  He just stared at us.  It was as if he prescribed antibiotics,  but we didn’t like the taste and could we just eat jelly beans instead.  He called over to the treatment center and had them make a few adjustments. 
If anything,  they turned it up a notch.  The oil was hotter,  the gorillas pressed harder and the steam bath was more intense.  We were going to be healthy if it killed us. 
After two days of Yoga, Hot Oil treatment,  I was sore everywhere.  Years of toxins and preservatives deeply buried within my body were getting knocked loose by all the health food resulting in a massive headache.  It felt like I had the flu.   We hobbled to lunch and after another vegan meal and decided we had to escape.
There were lasting side effects.  The oil was sweetly scented, so we smelled like French Toast for a week.  Even now,  when I sweat, it smells like the pancake house.   Two days later,  we felt fantastic -- rested, energetic, happy, relaxed.  The treatment works,  if you can survive.