Do you know what that is? It’s two women, and you. They are in charge of massaging you in tandem and you are in charge of receiving. (Oh heaven!) Tears started streaming down my eyes before the massage even began. They stand on either side of you just holding your hands before they commence with massaging. I was so moved just knowing that both of these ladies were here for me and my healing that I began to cry. Two people! One me.
It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced before. The two of them work in unison. I thought it would mean that they were both massaging an arm at the same time and so forth, but it was so much more. It actually felt like a dance all the way across my body, with warm oil. At times I couldn’t tell how many hands were on me. Two? Four? I was frequently amazed at how synchronized they were. One hand would finish its slide down my leg and another would begin, almost at the same time. It was like a constant play on your body. And, did I mention they slathered me in hot oil!?
Even in my eyes and ears! It sounds weird, and well, the nose bit did feel a little weird. But it was also wonderful. It felt like receiving nourishment in all parts– nothing left out. The oil is a warm sesame oil base that nourishes the nerves that lie just below the skin’s surface. It acts as a carrier so that the healing herbs (within it) can penetrate deep into the cells.
Meadow Heart Ayurveda where I went, describes the Abhyanga massage this way, “Warm, herbal oil is liberally applied to the body in a flowing rhythm. Special attention is paid to marma (vital energy) points that increase energy to the organs and subtle channels.” I felt that. Occasionally they would stop at certain points and just hold or gently press those positions.
After the massage I lay on the table soothed and relaxed while my practitioner, Ronly Blau, got the oil set up for the next treatment. This part is called Shirodhara. Doing both massage and this together is what I called the “full meal deal”. Of course I couldn’t remember the Sanskrit names anyway. During this second part you lay there with hot oil dripping on your third eye, for I don’t even know how long.
And that was an experience. Divine really. It was just so supremely relaxing. Apparently the location at the forehead is used because the head region absorbs oil best and that particular spot allows for the oil to flow into the pituitary gland located in the brain, therefore helping to regulate the endocrine system (responsible for hormone secretion). Shirodhara has even been shown to change the frequency of brain waves altering it to those that show up during deep states of meditation. I can confirm! My mind was transformed in the best way after that treatment! I felt deeply present and without all the mind-shuffle that usually runs through.
The whole thing felt like a deep and healing practice. Not the kind of thing I would get regularly when my body needed a little muscle tension relief, but the kind of thing I would use (and recommend) for those times when you need a deep replenishing. (Oh to get this quarterly or even once or twice a year!) Even my skin was different afterward. And I don’t mean just that day. I mean I noticed it had a glow the following days that it hadn’t before I lay on her table. Also, my allergies (which I developed during my first pregnancy) have hardly bothered me at all since (several weeks ago now).
I was thanking Ronly afterward when she said, “There’s something so righteous about giving this treatment to a woman who has just completed birthing and nursing.” This particular massage is intended for times when we feel depleted or stressed out. Which pregnancy, birth, and nursing does naturally to the body.
The whole thing was wonderful. When I think back on it now I can still hardly describe the depth of it. Imagine the feeling of a perfect soft warm cozy blanket curling around you and then its softness penetrates you, going beyond just your skin to offer its comfort and nourishment inside.
It feels so good to finally be in the space in my body where I feel as though I am replenishing the light, not filling it up so it can pour out the sieve of my breasts again to nourish another a few hours later!