I had a rude awakening when I looked at the breakfast meal plan for me on day one-vegetable juice, fresh fruit, steamed veggies, whole grain bread and a local specialty of idlis (steamed rice cakes). Ok. Huge reality check from what I was expecting even though I know Dr. Ajitha has put me on a vegetarian menu, based on the weight loss program I requested. I was envisioning eggs, whole grain toast, some South Indian coffee (so good!). I guess one out of three isn't bad?
Although each meal is four courses and the chef does his best to make the presentation of each course help you forget about the portions, it's still slim pickings! After the first meal, I found myself heading back to my room and rummaging through my bag for the protein snacks I was saving for my Sri Lanka hikes. Yup. Ate the whole bag of soy beans, nuts and raisins. No guilt whatsoever. I gradually started getting used to the portions at each sitting until today (Day 4) when I really could NOT eat steamed veggies for breakfast anymore. I attacked my whole grain bread like I had a vengeance this morning, savoring each bite as if it were my last. I came to the realization today that I'M IN INDIA! Why am I torturing myself by not allowing myself to indulge in all the amazing food that's available here? As much as I want to follow the plan, I think I'm going to give myself these last 2 days in India to really take in all the flavors of the country. Diets be damned!
It's All Or Nothing
Perception vs. Reality
Let's talk about the "relaxing massages". First of all, I've learned that when getting massages in India, you need to leave your modesty at the door, which is ironic considering that India is a country where modesty is cherished. You are expected to disrobe completely and no, well almost no, area is off limits. Let's just say I was completely traumatized on day one but by day three, I was owning it!
First there was Shirodhara. A stress-relieving treatment where warm Ayurvedic oils are poured on your forehead (or third eye) from a suspended container with a hole in the base. The gradual stream of warmth gliding from side to side is supposed to ease away stress and lull you to sleep. Well, I should say "most people". I'm not most people. I'm high-strung, overstimulated, and very impatient. So, for me, the first few minutes were fine and somewhat soothing. After that, I started following the stream back and forth wondering when it would be over. It's a matter of personal preference, and for me, this was not something I would repeat.
I next tried the Abhyangam massage. This treatment has two therapists working in unison, using warm Ayurvedic oils to massage you in long wave-like strokes. This is combined with Podikizhy, which involves using pouches filled with herbal mixtures periodically dipped in warm Ayurvedic oil to help facilitate healing. Again, in most cases, it's supposed to be a relaxing treatment. In mine, because I selected the weight loss program, the objective was to break up the fat cells. So, what I envisioned as blissful treatment turned out to be an aggressive, abrasive, fast-paced race to projectile me off the massage table. There were times the table literally shook with the force these two mild but utterly respectful ladies were inflicting on me. I had to remind myself that I had made the selection and it was going to garner wonderful results (as if I expected to drop several dress sizes by the end of the 4 day period!).
This brings me to my fascination with Pranic Healing. I had seen pictures of this "no touch" healing treatment. I went in for my session, but really didn't have any physical issues that needed resolving. I was more curious than anything else. The doctor explained to me that most physical ailments are a manifestation of what's in your mind (stress). This treatment removes your negative energy and replaces it with Pranic (life force) energy to heal your physical and mental issues. The doctor also shared that he's cured people in as little as 40 minutes and as long as 45 days (multiple sessions) based on the severity of the issue. This treatment involves laying down on a massage table, fully clothed. The doctor walks around your body making very fast hand gestures over the affected areas while he chants specific mantras. I was supposed to have my eyes closed and be relaxing, but curiosity got the best of me and I would peak from time to time to see what he was up to. The treatment did involve the doctor taking many short breaths because I could hear the force of the air expelled from his lungs. I did this session twice, the second time I was having the lower back pain and also some tingling in my fingers (too much time on the computer) and I surprisingly did feel relief after the session, although not immediately after he finished.
Of all the treatments I have tried, I would still say that my favorite has been Marma Meditation from my first day. I have never felt so relaxed and so at ease without actually getting a massage. If Dr. Rahul were still in town, I would definitely do this treatment again and again for it's therapeutic benefits for me.