Ayurveda is known as the mother of all medicine, and as I rang Martha’s doorbell, I would soon find out why. Surya Spa is a discrete Ayurvedic rejuvenation center in a fancy neighborhood in L.A. I chose this spot to do an ancient form of physical, mental and spiritual purification known as pancha karma, because it was easier than booking a plane ticket and traveling to India. My intention was to heal from several years of nearly endless touring and traveling and the toll this work had on my body. As many modern humans, I suffered from fairly mild symptoms of over-work and under-calm.
Martha, an adorable Columbian woman, greeted me at the door with her black lab and led me to into an open room with a shrine to Ganesh and a simple sofa shoved up against the wall. Within a few moments of sitting down a young woman opened a side door and entered to room with a huge copper bowl of what seemed to be herbal oil. The smells in Martha’s home were undeniable – deep roots, ground leaves, fresh-split coconuts and yes, baking bread.
After reading my pulses, Martha was easily able to determine my imbalances. Even as a student and practitioner of Ayurveda, I was pretty surprised with how much she knew about me only from reading my pulses.
The program basically consisted of eating an easily-digestible “mono-diet” of lentils (mung beans to be exact), white basmati rice and cooked veggies. I ate this the week prior and the week following the 7-day treatment.
My days went mostly like this:
Wake up and drink hot lemon water or herbal tea (cry because I miss green tea)
Receive 4 hours of cleansing and rejuvenation therapy (cry because the practitioners were so loving, and cry because the emotions stored in the tissues finally have permission to melt out)
Rest, reflect, read, swim in the ocean, take a light hike and yes, cry.
Basically, I did a lot of crying during my P.K. but then again I’m a softie. The treatments at Surya Spa are mind-blowing and I can assure you, 100% authentic. No corners are cut here with Martha, an Ayurvedic practitioner with nearly 25 years of experience behind her.
Here are some examples of the treatments I received at Surya:
Abhyanga – 90 minute hot herbal gentle lymphatic massage with 4 hands (yes, thats TWO goddesses)
Shirodhara – a 30 minute warm herbal stream pours steadily onto your forehead. This process relieves mental stress and promotes the opening of the third eye (as well as about 100 other health benefits from relieving insomnia to treating hysteria). On one of the days, I had this treatment with fresh coconut water. Yes, 30 minutes of continual cool and freshly opened coconut water to the head. Intensity immediately leaves you!
Svedhana – an herbal sweat box
Pizhichil – hot soft cloth bags of herbs, oil and rice are quickly placed on different key marma points along the body. My particular hot rice oily bag was soaked in milk. Yes, for one hour I was literally covered in hot oily pink (from the herbs) milk. This process similatiously removes heat and inflammation from the body while increasing circulation and rejuvenating all the tissues from the skin to the bone marrow.
Chakra therapy – Crystal and focused light were placed over my entire body. I was left for an hour with the sound of prayers. Hard to explain but incredibly powerful and subtle.
Bhasti – a dam made out of chickpea flour is formed around an area of the body. My was around the heart area. The dam is then filled with medicated oils. Martha added crystals to the oil and left me there with mantras for an hour.
Enemas – the enemas were actually one of the best parts of the treatment. Martha uses everything to help purify and rejuvenate the colon and liver. My enemas included sesame oil, ghee, castor oil, bone marrow, coffee and chlorophyll.
Urdvartana – a.k.a. Ayurevedic cellulite killer. This was my all-time favorite therapy. The girls whipped up a batch of brown sugar, herbal oil and chickpea flower and scrubbed me down for 45 minutes. It was pure bliss. I felt 14 years old and my skin was truly glowing.
Nasya – oil is poured into the nasal cavity, moistening and healing the sinuses and even penetrating the brain.
Warm pastes to the forehead – calms the mind
There were a few more, but I think this gives an overview of the beauty, complexity and rejuvenating power of an Ayurvedic Pancha Karma. I felt the health benefits immediately – dramatically improved digestion and radiant skin, calm, clear mind and just a sense that everything was back where it needed to be. I plan on doing this treatment once yearly. I’ll warn you, its pricey even if you go to India but I can’t even begin to tell you how “worth it” it felt to me. That level of love and care is 100% absent from our modern health care system. Pancha Karma has been scientifically proven to be the most effective system in treating chronic conditions -especially those related to digestion, skin, the emotions, as well as those conditions Western medicine doesn’t understand such as flibromyalgia and I.B.S.
Check out Surya Spa and tell them Katie sent you for the complete Goddess treatment!