For the massage, Saini chose dhanwantram oil for me to help balance the vata and pitta doshas. It promises antioxidant benefits through its blend of roots, flowers, herbs, oils and spices, and milk. My therapist, Constance Nicolas, uses confident, medium-strength massage to infuse the oil and press oiled elakizhi bundles into my back. My elakhizi consists of a cooked mixture of fresh moringa and fenugreek leaves, lemon slices, turmeric, rock salt and grated coconut, neatly served in a Crock-Pot where they are heated in dhanwantram oil. The aromatic ambiance is more like an Indian restaurant than a spa, and I felt warm and soft when they were pressed against my skin. They’re subdued, and frankly feel a little unappealing, but work almost immediately. I float in that space between sleep and waking, and I stay there until my therapy is over. My muscles feel less tense and the soreness in my shoulders is gone, so you won’t find me concerned about smelling a little fenugreek when I’m out and about.
The Well New York
Let me start off by saying The Well is the complete opposite of a traditional Ayurvedic spa – a minimalist modern resort in New York Manhattan’s Union Square is an oasis of luxury that offers all manner of wellness. The treatment I got was not strictly Ayurvedic either. Actually, it’s a Swedish massage, but what caught my eye was the Marma Point Scalp Treatment, a minute experience that can be added to any body treatment. Similar to acupuncture points, 107 Marma points are key points on the body, and Ayurvedic medicine believes that activating them can benefit the mind and body. Head massages, with or without oil, are important treatments in the South Asian beauty and wellness canon, and I wanted to see how The Well would interpret them.
Turns out, really good. My therapist Krystel Laudante started with a Swedish massage using sesame oil and by the time my time was over I had stiff hunched shoulders near my ears Has been lowered to an anatomically correct position. A head massage is like recovery. Laudante gently massaged my head with warm coconut oil and massaged a few points on my forehead, face, and scalp. It was a gentle touch, no more pressure than a caress, but by the end of 10 just a few minutes, I was levitating. My experience here may not have been truly Ayurvedic in practice, but it was definitely spiritual.