I recently got back from India where I traveled around Kerala for a couple weeks. I have traveled to other parts of India, but Kerala was always a dream of mine. It is unlike any other part of India that I have visited. It is vast and green. From tea plantations to backwaters it is truly a beautiful place. Kerala is also the birthplace of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a system of preventative medicine and health care that was developed over 5000 years ago. People study Ayurvedic medicine for years, so going through all categories of it in a blog post is not going to happen. However, I can go into a small (and I mean small) part of it. Traditional Ayurvedic abhyanga massages are considered some of the best massages to get to heal and balance the body. The body is saturated with oil and the entire body is massaged in a certain manner. These massages have so many benefits that it would be annoying to post them all here, but some of them include lubricating the joints, better sleep, and detoxifying the body. While in India, my mom and I knew we had to get a traditional abhyanga massage, and I want to tell you all about my first experience.
My mom is a very picky woman. She wanted a clean, sanitized place that resembled the spas she is used to here in Toronto. And, that may be just a little too much to ask for in India. We also wanted a real massage and not the ones they give to foreigners in hotels (yes, they are different). We checked out about 3 places that she vetoed immediately, but before we knew it we were in our last city before we would have to head back so it was now or never. Our driver took us to a place that he recommended and we knew whether she liked it or not, we were getting a massage.
We walked into the dimly lit spa and were met with a guy and two tiny women. Seriously, they must have weighed 90 pounds at the most. We asked to look at the rooms which had a pleather-like bed and a shelf with all the oils and towels. Each room also had a washroom, which by Indian standards was fairly clean (In my experience, all bathrooms in India have a distinct odour, that for some reason, never goes away). There was no sheet or towel or anything on the bed so we asked them to clean the bed in front of us, even though we were assured that they were already cleaned. After haggling on the price (my mom speaks Hindi, which definitely helps with not getting ripped off), we were led to our respective massage rooms.
My masseuse handed me a disposable panty that resembled a pad with strings, and told me to get naked. I walked out the bathroom trying to cover all my bits with my hands, but that was not doing anything except making me look even stupider. I lay face down on the bed and soon realized that I don’t get covered with anything. She’s going to be staring at everything and I have to deal with it. She started on my back and I immediately realized that this woman is freakin’ strong. This lady was amazing. She touched pressure points I didn’t even know existed (and have yet to find again). I hadn’t even realized how tense I had been and how much stress my body was holding. She massaged from my neck right down to my toes (wait, did I shave my legs?). After about 30 minutes on my stomach, I was asked to turn over. Yup, my boobs were naked and free, and staring right at this women. My embarrassment soon disappeared when she started massaging my stomach. My stomach muscles have never felt so much joy. Again, she massaged my arms, legs and neck. At the end of the massage she told me to relax and that she would prepare my bath. I didn’t really want to have a bath in a strange place with questionable cleanliness, but when I looked at my body, I looked like I just went swimming in oil. There was no way I was going to put my clothes on like that. Bath, here I come! Then came a knock at the door, Being naked and all, I hid while my masseuse opened the door. Apparently, my mom didn’t want the bath (shocker!), which meant that I didn’t want one either. Being the awesome person she was, my masseuse wet a towel and let me wipe off all the oil. I walked out of that room feeling like a million bucks.
That was one of the best massages that I have ever had. Once I got past my surroundings, and naked body, I was able to enjoy the massage for what it was supposed to be. For all those who get to visit the beautiful region of Kerala, do yourself a favour and get an abhayanga massage. Your body will thank you.