The day had finally come for my first ayurvedic massage treatment… an Abhyanga, as it’s called. This treatment, in Lilavati’s words, is “a warm herbal oil massage therapy that deeply nourishes the body, mind and spirit and begins to create an internal environment for deep healing.” It was a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon. The treatment lasts about 80 minutes, but I cleared my schedule for the entire evening. It’s important not to be out and about socializing after such a treatment… the mind, body, and spirit need a calm, quiet atmosphere to begin the healing process.
I entered the treatment room in Temple of the Lotus. Lilavati and I had a small chat as I sipped on some of her homemade Kali nectar, and then it was time to begin.
In the small, beautifully-adorned room, with walls painted the color of red wine, I lay face up on a bed, with nothing but a sheet and towel on top of my skin. I closed my eyes. Immediately my senses were awoken by the most gorgeous scents… a mixture that I’m sure she must have created herself.
Lilavati began to massage my head and hair with warm, homemade hair oil. This seemed to go on forever, and I certainly did not want it to end. She massaged my entire body with herbal oils, using some incredible techniques that I had never before experienced. I could feel that everything she did was with a purpose. Everything felt like it was exactly what I needed, inside and out. She applied a cleansing oil wash to my face, which was followed with the warmth of a heated towel. Skin issues are something I’ve dealt with for most of my life, and I could immediately feel a sense of relief as she did this.
After turning over on the bed from my back to my belly and then to my back again, the treatment finally came to an end. Lilavati left the room and I laid for a few minutes more, with my eyes closed, in one of the most relaxed states I have ever experienced. I must have drifted to sleep for a moment… when I woke up, there was a darling little dish that held a delicious light snack. A few crisp apple slices with grated coconut and I believe another fruit, in what seemed to be a natural juice. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it was perfect.
After dressing myself, I left the room and chatted with Lilavati once more. She gave me some extremely insightful information about myself, some of which I should have known, but absolutely did not. I’m very dehydrated, she told me, and this dehydration is the main cause of my skin issues. I have to make sure that I hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, all day, every day – and that I shield my skin from the cold, dry air of the winter.
She also told me that I have a lot of tension in my body – and that I hold a lot of it in my gut. To get myself on the road to recovery, I need to make sure to breathe. I must make sure to have long, full exhales – and once she said that, it dawned on me. I never fully exhale. What is it that I’m holding inside? What can’t I let go of? From that moment on, I vowed to pay more attention to my breathing than ever.
She then sat on the floor with me and demonstrated how to massage myself (with a homemade oil that she had given me during my first visit)… daily abhyanga is an extremely important part of Ayurveda. Before I left, she put me on a skincare regimen for my face, gifting me with two more of her homemade products – as well as my very own bottle of her infamous Kali nectar drink.
I went home, skin soft as ever, hair soaked in oil, feeling incredibly relaxed… and incredibly blessed. I spent the evening doing not much at all.
I lit candles, laid in bed, listened to music, and got to work on this personal project that I previously hadn’t had a chance to get around to…
I’m so grateful to have had this experience, and recommend an abhyanga to anyone and everyone. Since the treatment, I’ve been keeping records of everything I’m eating — and when I’m eating it — because… next stop: ayurvedic consultation.
I’ll be back next week with another entry. :)
You can find a detailed description of the treatment I received here.
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