Kerala is not just about backwaters, tea plantations, delicious seafood and its friendly people but also well known for Ayurveda, meaning ‘science of long life’ which is part of Kerala’s cultural heritage. For me the best place to go for an ayurvedic massage is Kerala and since I was at the Kumarakom Lake Resort, I went to the well-known Ayurmana Spa Retreat which is situated within the compounds of the resort. About 200 meters away from the spa, I got the waft of the herbal oil and aromatic smell of the incense sticks.
The Ayurmana Spa Retreat is sited in the original 200-year-old mansion which was transported to this location from distant places in parts and assembled. The place is run by renowned ayurvedic practitioners. Yoga and meditations classes are conducted here for free for the residents of the Kumarakom Lake Resort.
Before the massage, the in-house Ayurvedic Practitioner analyzed my body type before proceeding further. The excerpt below from the Kumarakom Lake Resort website best describes what Ayurveda is all about:
Basic Concepts of Ayurveda
The three basic biological pillars of Ayurveda are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These biological elements originated from the Panchamahabhutas and are commonly called “Triguna” in health and “Tridosha” in diseased states of the body. Arbitrarily they are referred to as Tridosha”. Vata element is produced by combination of “Akasha” and “Vayu” and in the human body it represents “Control”, its propulsive effects affect all parts of the body and is brought about through the agency of neuro-musculo-hormonal mechanisms.
Smooth co-ordinated movements, functioning of central, autonomic and peripheral nervous systems are identified with functions of vata. An abnormal vata can lead to neuro-muscular disorders and hormonal problems. Pitta element is produced from Teja and Jala and constitutes the transfer and flow of energy within the body. Pitta element controlled by vata brings about the breakdown of food during digestion and food elements within the body to provide the bio-energy. Various catabolic enzymes and hormone systems form part of this element. Abnormal pitta can lead to thermal disorders, breakdowns and catabolic disorders.
Kapha element is produced from Prithvi and Jala mahabhutas and constitutes the formation of solid and fluid constituents of various body elements such as cells, tissues, muscles etc., controlled by vata it induces growth, development and healing of wounds. Kapha element also maintains fluid balance of the body, within it’s various organs and organ spaces. Abnormal kapha may lead to accumulative disorders leading to clot formation, stone and tumour formation etc. Increased kapha encourages and sustains infective processes.
Vata, Pitta and Kapha within the body are nourished by the food ingredients and they react to changes in environment and mental states. The Vata, Pitta, and Kapha bring about the formation of the 7 dhatus and their tissues in the body, namely: Rasa (body fluids), Rakta (blood elements), Mamsa (Muscles, tendons etc.) Meda (adipose tissues), Majja (nerves), Asthi (bones), Shukra (sperm, ova, regenerative tissues).
According to Ayurveda each dhatu is formed from its preceding dhatu. Each dhatu has its metabolism and waste products (Malas). The malas are catabolic aspects of tridoshas for example, gaseous wastes such as Carbon dioxide are malas of vayu, Stercoblin and Uroblin are malas of Pitta and Urea and Uric acid are malas of Kapha. Thus we see that the three doshas, the seven dhatus and the three malas constitute the integral part of the living body, when they are in a balanced state, health reigns supreme in the body. When they are vitiated and unbalanced, disease and ageing process predominate.
After the body analysis, I was recommended the abhyanga oil massage that would calm the nervous system, lubricate and rejuvenate the tissue and promote healthy circulation of blood throughout my body. Two trained sari clad ayurvedic masseuses simultaneously oiled me from head to toe and massaged me thoroughly. I like the tandem massage and since the masseuse were good, I did not even know that there were two people rubbing the blended oil on my body and massaging.
The oil blend was slightly warm and aromatic and I could feel myself relaxing in the expert hands of the two masseuses as they massage the oil to infuse it into the skin. Unlike other types of massages, in Ayurveda the focus is on clearing the energy channels in the body and dislodging toxins and balancing the chakras or energy centres. Tapping, kneading, squeezing and stroking my oiled body was all that they did and I was assured that although these methods were not as vigorous as the Thai or Swedish massages, they would certainly increase blood circulation, boost the immune systems and relax the body and mind.
After the rejuvenating massage, I was told not to “rub off” the oil. Instead I was asked to keep the oil on my body for a few hours before showering. It was truly a great spa experience for me at this resort. The ambience, the professional staff, the nice aroma and all contributed to the experience. At the spa, the massage was bliss and a must!!
I thank the management of Kumarakom Lake Resort for sponsoring my massage.
AYURMANA SPA RETREAT
Kumarakom Lake Resort
Kumarakom North Post – Kottayam:
686 563, Kerala, India.
Tel: +91 481 2524900
Fax: +91 481 2524987