Four months ago I hit the Amazon Prime Buy Now button and soon after cracked opened my first book on Ayurveda, The Science of Self Healing, by Vasant Lad. Three books later I have had at least four Ayurveda consultations, a three night stay at an Ayurveda resort and a total lifestyle change. What is Ayurveda? It is one of the oldest holistic practices, approximately 5000 years old, and is considered to be the science of life.
I ventured to Sri Lanka specifically to see the Buddhist sites and to explore the Ayurvedic treatments at the Siddhalepa Ayurveda Spa. My short stay of three nights was beyond remarkable, but I was the only American and person staying for less than five days; reinforcing the negative American stereotype that we DON”T know how to vacation! The ideal length is six days to a month. In order to truly detox and heal, a longer stay is encouraged. The resort was practical, nothing too fancy. No internet in my room, which was nice! My only room requirement was a bathtub for my nightly soaks. To my surprise, the bathroom instantly became my happy place. Hardwood floors, skylight, garden tub and room to prep for my Abyhyanga (self-massage); it was as if I had my very own spa experience in the room. But that was only the beginning of the spoilation and spa-tacular experience I was about to embark on.
On my first day I went to the front desk with childish curiosity and said: “Excuse me sir, what activities are included in my package? Tea tasking,-sign me up please. Oh….. tour of the Buddhist temple, Yup that too. Yoga class AND meditation, I’ll be there; THANKS!” If it was free and a part of the package I was the first one to show up with with my BFF travel mat/blankie in one arm and pen and journal dangling from the opposite. I was soaking it all in, this is where I belonged.
Every morning started with a short consultation with an Ayurveda doctor who on the first day determined my Ayurveda constitution/mind-body type/dosha. Once my dosha was determined the doctor provided a meal plan for the day and the various recommend treatments. My two hour treatments included daily oil body massages and were followed by one or two of the following: facials, oil head massages, herbal bath, herbal foot soak, body scrubs, a chakra cleansing, or a shirodhara (third-eye cleanse). This experience is only for the open-minded! It’s NOT like ANY spa experience you have ever had, it’s different to say the least. But let me say this….the daily massages, body scrubs and head massages has taken my spa experience to the next level. I am officially an international spa snob. As I have been on a journey to truly embrace self-care, we all know massages and scrubs are top of the list of incorporating self-care into your life. Self-care = spa time, with oils, for Kenya.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 6am yoga classes. Me and my travel yoga blankie were always there ready to take on the morning stretches. Namaste! The yoga classes by the pool was where I met my now dear friend from Israel. You can read about our bonding experience on the previous post, Talk to Strangers.
One of my short term Ayurveda goals is to rise before the sun to pray, meditate and practice yoga. The yoga instructor, shown below, was the perfect yogi, he made my daily morning routine seamless. He incorporated both yoga and meditation into every class.
Out of all the holistic practices I have experimented with Ayurveda seems to align nicely with my lifestyle of mindfulness, yoga, meditation and healthy living. You probably already do things that are rooted in Ayurveda and just don’t know. What has changed in my life since studying Ayurveda? Instead of giving myself only thirty minutes to get ready in the morning I give myself two hours. My morning routine includes waking up with prayer, then cleansing my eyes and face with cold water (I even have lavender washcloths chilled in the fridge like at the yoga studio), brushing my teeth (that’s not new!), scraping my tongue, use of the neti pot on some mornings, and releasing whatever has to be released. I do my Abyhyanga (oil self massage) and while the oils are marinating on my skin I head to the kitchen to drink alkaline water from my copper pitcher and to get the tea kettle ready for the matcha tea. Next I roll out my yoga mat and begin practicing my pranayamas and/or meditation and asanas. Once I am finished I write in my journal while sipping on matcha tea in my great granny’s antique teacup! Finally I take a shower and eat breakfast. At this point I have about seven minutes to get dressed! Yeah, I might need to add an additional 15 minutes to the schedule, I didn’t say my routine was perfect…………..
In short, the practice of Ayurveda has helped me feel more grounded and as a result I am more in tune with my mind-body. It’s been the ultimate practice of self-care and self-love, to take care of ME before heading into the world where it’s not always given that others will love, consider and care for me the same.