I have just finished my first massage treatment of the day—herbalized warm oil bath, my very favorite Ayurvedic treatment of them all. It is 11:30 am, and already today I have been on a sunrise walk, taught a yoga class for my retreat guests, and had the most amazing breakfast of dosa, coconut chutney, and the juiciest papaya of my life! It is indeed a glorious day!
I have an hour to rest in my fuzzy aqua bathrobe and allow my oil to soak in before a bunch of us assemble on the lawn for our daily “round-robin,” abs class. Our half hour is playful, hilariously competitive, and actually quite challenging!
We are all determined to keep off the pounds lost here on PK (panchakarma, the full name of the 21-day Ayurvedic cleanse we are participating in on this retreat). Some who are on a weight loss program have lost between 5 and 13 kilos (10-26 lbs)! Most of us have dropped 5-10 pounds without trying and have gotten leaner by walking every day, practicing yoga, hydrating more, adding ghee to the diet, and mostly—I presume—by relaxing the mind and surrendering our stress in this unique mind-body-spirit process of letting go and receiving all the goodness of massage, food made with such love, and this beautiful environment we have called home for the past two and a half weeks. With less than a week to go, many of us are already anticipating the return to “the world.” It is important to remind ourselves to remain present for every moment, as each is a blessing. In the friendships we have grown, we have witnessed our becomings and the goings of things that no longer serve us. I am so grateful for our original group of 13, but also for the handful of others from around the world who have nestled in to our family ❤️
Days are somewhat timeless here. There is structure to each day, but a lot of what we offer in addition to the PK is optional, so each of us can really dive deep and take more personal time if that is what’s needed, or we can allow the offerings to fill our individual well with meditation and yoga, with storytelling, singing, laughter, a tuk tuk ride to town, or a trip to the dentist where you can have your teeth cleaned for all of $20. Oh, this is Velu and his fabulous rickshaw nicknamed the “Lemon.” He always greets me with a humongous smile, and he has a fishbowl in his tuk tuk!
Morning blossoms on the laundry, then pours into the yoga studio in time for savasana; it smiles through the drapes in the treatment rooms where our therapists glide oil over our bodies. By lunch, the sun is high in the sky and hot like our digestive fire, ready to devour a delicious lunch served up by Chagan and Mohan. Sambar soup, freshly-made chapatis, veggies from the garden, and always fresh fruits, like this jackfruit.As the sun passes its zenith, we put our robes back on and begin to take our staggered afternoon treatments: abhyanga massage with herbal infusions, rice bath, steam and bastis; herbal pounding, powder massage, deep tissue and muscle treatments, therapies for the eyes, and so much more! This is me with my eyes full of ghee in a treatment called Netra Tarpana, where a garam dough is made by hand just as I arrive, and while it is still soft, the therapists mold it to my face. It looks a little scary, and it’s a bit uncomfortable to blink for ten minutes into the ghee, but I can assure you, after it’s all over everything looks sharper, and colors are so much more brilliant! I receive six days of this treatment.
And treatments are just part of our daily regimen. Each of us is given a repertoire of daily herbal concoctions, decoctions, pastes, tablets, and tinctures. Guests are here to work with Dr. Mouli on an array of imbalances that give rise to issues such as migraines, Lymes disease, constipation, leaky gut, insomnia, anxiety, psoriasis, and so much more. I am always so mystified and tickled that just the right group of people shows up to share in this 21-day experience. It is nothing short of marvelous!
Afternoon tea time is a favorite, since there is always steaming chai and ginger tea. We gather ’round the table in the garden for check ins and chats, for silliness in a mixture of robes, oil rags on our heads, and clothes purchased here. Jowel and Amaz’jhi are two of my loves here on this retreat ❤️
My afternoon treatment is a butter massage with essential oils, and I smell so yummy after, I want to lick my own skin! Sorry, no butter massage pics.
You might think I’d get tired of 21 days in a row of this… but I don’t! This is my fourth year here with a John de Kadt offering this retreat, and each year I love it even more.
On that note, it’s time for bed. Ayurveda stresses good sleep habits, so… over and out!