When the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve to symbolize the start of 2022, I was already sound asleep. Quarantining with COVID meant that all the big plans I had had been canceled, which was fine with me since there wasn’t really much to celebrate. Ongoing concerns about the virus meant that the “fresh start” so many of us had been hoping for was postponed until further notice, and the languor I had been feeling for two years was just going to…continue.
But a few days (and several negative tests) later, my fresh antibodies and I took a trip to Small island with palm trees, a luxury resort located on a private island off the Florida Keys. While I was there, I soaked up the sunshine and experienced exactly the type of reset I dreamed of, thanks to a royal Ayurvedic treatment.
“In Ayurveda, health comes from a balanced state, and the release of this massage helps reset energy and bring the body back to an optimal state of balance,” says Rooshy Roy, co-founder and CEO of Aavrani, an Ayurvedic skincare brand. “The type of practice that works best for each individual should be tailored to the needs of their unique makeup, known as the constitution, or dosha, in Ayurveda.”
There are three doshas – vata (wind), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth) – and knowing yours can help you determine the best way to focus your self-care practices. (Vatas can benefit from grounding practices; Kaphas benefit from movement; and Pittas benefit from energy and stimulation). A recent reading with an Ayurvedic specialist Mary A. Whitlock determined that I am a vata (you can determine your own dosha with this quiz), and confirmed that the type of rooting energy that the Royal Treatment is exactly what I needed to get the type of reset I was looking for.
Although I was lucky enough to discover the energy-restoring benefits of Ayurveda in the hands of a professional, it is incredibly easy to recreate it at home. Keep reading to find out exactly how it happened and how you can try it out for yourself without having to hop on a plane to Key West.
1. Abhyanga massage
After unwinding with a cup of ginger tea in the spa’s waiting room, my royal treatment began with an Abhyanga massage during which a practitioner used hot oil to administer rapid strokes all over my body to stimulate circulation and release toxins. “Abhyanga massage is an important ritual to help promote overall well-being,” says Roy. “It stimulates the lymphatic system, soothes the mind and body and allows the body to release toxins. Practicing Abhyanga and oiling your body is a form of self-love. Quite literally, because in Sanskrit the word oil – sneba – means love.”
According to Kimberly Snyder, CN, abhyanga massage is especially useful during colder months when we don’t move as much (hi, COVID quarantine!), as it can help relieve fatigue, provide stamina, improve sleep and soothe the nervous system. . In one 2011 study done on 20 participants, researchers found that an hour-long Abhyanga massage lowered their heart rate and subjective stress levels – and having experienced it for myself, I can definitely attest that they were on something thing.
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Roy recommends tailoring your treatment to your dosha. “Vatas would benefit from quick hits and more frequent treatments, especially during the cold, dry months; kaphas would benefit from firmer blows to stimulate the body; and pittas would benefit from using a cooling oil, like coconut,” she says.
To enjoy the mind and body benefits of Abhyanga at home, all you really need is a bottle of body oil and a few free minutes. Shel pinkbeauty pro and founder of SpaRitualrecommends doing the following:
- Start by massaging the oil into your feet with the open part of your hand, working your body up in circular motions around your ankles and knees, and long, quick strokes down the rest of your legs.
- Do your best to touch the points on the back of your body with up and down movements (spinal massage, in particular, can be great for restoring energy).
- Massage your sternum using up and down strokes, clockwise strokes across your stomach, then use a counter-clockwise stroke with additional light pressure on your core and your lungs.
- Massage your arms, focusing on circular motions around your shoulders and elbows and up and down motions on your arms.
- Use an open palm to massage your neck (front and back!) with enough pressure to create friction, and use your fingers to loosen any knots.
- Gently massage your face and ears, spending more time on your temples and jawline.
2. Full body exfoliation
Next comes a full body exfoliation, another practice that has important roots in Ayurveda. “Your body naturally builds up toxicity over time, and regular detox helps flush out these toxins. When your lymphatic system is congested, you experience toxic buildup,” says Roy. “Exfoliation helps the skin eliminate toxins more efficiently by removing dead skin cells and also stimulates lymphatic drainage.”
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For best exfoliating effects, Roy recommends using a natural, non-abrasive physical exfoliator. This one contains Ayurvedic-inspired ingredients like honey, neem, and turmeric, which gently exfoliate to brighten your complexion and even out your skin tone.
Once that step was complete, I stepped into the shower and watched my dead skin peel off me like a snake, which felt like an all-too-obvious metaphor for exactly how I was feeling at the moment. I felt like the negative energy that tormented me was literally go down the drain, and I can’t say I was sad to see it go.
3. Soak everything
Finally, I spent 20 minutes lounging in the most beautiful bathtub I have ever seen. This part of the process also offered Ayurvedic benefits. “Frequent and even daily baths are strongly encouraged in Ayurveda,” says Roy. “Baths remove toxins and excess dirt from the skin while helping to restore physical energy to the body. There are also mental and emotional benefits as baths help to relax and center the mind, promoting calm and balance.”
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These rose and geranium infused bath salts are the exact ones used in the Royal Treatment at SpaTerre in Little Palm Island. According to Tracy McClellan, the property’s spa manager, they offer a “rejuvenating and hydrating blend” intended to bring a “soothing balance” to the skin.
“Balanced” was exactly how I felt when I reappeared in sunny South Florida. The treatment gave me a chance to reset my energy, and the renewed sense of well-being it gave me is something I have continued to carry with me over the month and a half that followed. What if I ever lose this feeling? Getting it back is just a self-massage and 20 minutes of bathing.
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