I woke up this morning feeling refreshed and excited for the day. I unfortunately did not rise in time for yoga, but I plan to do so tomorrow. Traveling overnight without sleep isn’t as easy as it used to be.
As I prepared myself for breakfast I could not help but feel enthusiastic about the rest of our stay at Ayurveda Bhavan. I was so exhausted from our travels, the previous day that I could not fully appreciate the wonderful gift of experience that we have received.
From the moment we were picked up from the airport we were taken care of by friendly, caring staff members who have gone out of their way to make sure we were happy. Upon arrival to the center we were warmly welcomed by all staff members, and asked consistently if there was anything they could do to make our stay better.
My consultation the previous day with Dr. Ragupati Pandey and Dr. Vidya Rani Joshi had been a unique experience of its own. Dr. Ragupati Pandey has been practicing Ayurvedic medicine for over 50 years and is known locally as the best Ayurvedi doctor in Rishikesh. Both doctors use pulse diagnostics to help determine a treatment regimen.
Both doctors decided a very specific and special treatment package for me, due to some sleep issues and other underlying health concerns I prefer not to share. Javier on the other hand will be sticking more closely to the regular Panchakarma package.
Panchakarma refers to a system of treatment that includes five powerful methods to detox and purify the mind and body. These treatment methods restore balance in the physiology of the body by eliminating toxins that have accumulated due to unbalanced lifestyle habits, disease or a poor immune system.
After a refreshing breakfast consisting of fresh papaya and rice meal cereal, I was ready for my next body treatment. Today I would be experiencing Abhyanga, Shirodhara and Navara Kiri.
Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic oil massage with two therapists (or the 4 hand massage as I mentioned in my post from Day 1), where the movements of both therapists are synchronized. I learned that Abhyanga can heal a great deal of mind, body, skin and immune issues. Shirodhara is a technique that focuses on the head, and combines head massage with a slow pouring of warm oils for an incredibly relaxing treatment. Navara Kiri is a massage technique where warm rice balls are infused with special Ayurvedic herbs, and used to massage and exfoliate the skin.
The feeling of these treatments is almost indescribable. I have never felt the hands of two different people massaging my body, and experienced instant relaxation as soon as the therapists began their work. My treatment yesterday and today included the Shirodhara techinique, which is an experience all in itself. The warm healing oil was slowly poured over my forehead, sending me into a deep relaxation I had never experienced before in a massage. I was so relaxed in fact that I fell asleep, both times I had the treatment.
After the first day of treatments, I was exhausted from travel and had some of the best sleep I’ve had in awhile. The next morning, I was refreshed and ready for another day of new experiences. Breakfast was well balanced and very flavorful. The center seems to serve plenty of papaya because of its medicinal properties.
The second round of treatment, Abhyanga, included more of the four hand sycronized massage I had received the previous day. It has numerious benefits such as mitigating fatigue, reducing obesity, improving skin quality, promoting longevity and many others. In addition, I was administered Patra potali. This is when heated oil and herbal compresses are applied to the body. It targets joint pain, back pain and stiffness in the body. All the treatments left me feeling rejuvenated and ready for some more food.
Lunch was delicious and I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between what was being served and Mexican food. Although the preparation and nutrition diverges greatly, the use of cilantro and tomatillos reminded me of the flavor profiles I grew up eating. Being a chef, my biggest connection to different cultures is always food. It’s important to celebrate our differences and unique cultures but I love seeing how much we are all the same across this beautiful world.
I spent most of the remainder of the day exploring the grounds and talking to some of the staff about local activities nearby. The manager, Yashwant Rana, has been so helpful and welcoming since our arrival. He never fails to ask if we need anything and has a genuine good nature that immediately put us at ease. He told us of a nearby mountain top that is the perfect place to see sunrise and was good enough to arrange transport. We will need to be ready by 4am to make it in time, but I can’t wait to see what we hear is an epic view of the Himalayas.
As of yet, the only thing that has eluded me is a connection with my fellow guest. For the exception of Briana and myself, everyone we’ve encountered is Russian and there has been a language barrier that has made everyone reluctant to engage with us. Luckily, this evening a lovely Indian couple from Delhi checked in to Ayurveda Bhavan and we hit it off. Its always nice meeting people from different walks of life and we were happy to discover that we had a ton in common.
I continue to be impressed with the treatments offered and the friendly staff. Ayurveda Bhavan takes away the stress of everyday life so that you can focus on healing.