Recently I took a trip down to Kerala to explore the Indian state known best for its incredible natural beauty, its delicious food and tea and as being one of the spiritual homes of the Ayurvedic massage.
I soaked up the stunning scenery, ate plenty of dosas and drank copious amounts of tea. I’m not much of a massage person, in fact, the last one that I experienced was in Cambodia with an ex-boyfriend of mine, who was insistent that we enjoyed a couples massage. The experience put me off a bit as it made me feel quite uncomfortable and not particularly relaxed.
This, however, as many people pointed out to me afterwards was the result of a bad masseuse and not what all massages were like. So, I booked myself an ayurvedic massage, you know, when in Kerala and all that… Now, I know that everywhere does things differently, but this wasn’t quite what I had expected.
From past experience, I knew the beauty therapists in India have a far less reserved attitude when it comes to nudity than we do at home. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from an ayurvedic massage, so when my tiny, yet incredibly strong, masseuse started to apply quick short burst of pressure (almost slap-like) on my head I was pretty surprised.
I now know that a huge part of an ayurvedic massage focuses on the ‘marma points’ which are similar to pressure points in reflexology, which explains why my massage started the way it did, but I really wish that I’d known that at the time.
The tugging of my hair, followed by more concentrated pressure on my head, this was followed by a largely relaxing head massage. Once the full body massage began I thought that I’d become accustomed to this high-pressure massage, but the full body massage was amazing, again, there was quite a lot of concentrated pressure but by this point I had got used to it, and as I was stretched in various directions I started to feel the effects of this age-old massage technique.
At the end of my hour-long session, I was covered in oil, The effects of an Ayurvedic massage supposedly last up to six months, I certainly felt the effects for the next few days a least. As we had done a fair bit of walking around Periyar National Park my knees had been protesting against my completely useless sandals and had been hurting for a few days, after the massage the aches and pains had vanished and I was left feeling lighter and bouncier than before.
If I could get more comfortable with receiving a massage and focus on the way I felt after this experience, then maybe I could actually involve a regular ayurvedic massage into my life somehow. I think that ayurvedic massages are more suited for people who feel comfortable with massage in general, but I do however recommend trying this popular form of massage out for yourself as it’s certainly an unusual experience which, undeniably, has positive impacts on your body and maybe even your mind too.
By India Letcher
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