Pressure is good, except when it’s bad.
Let me explain: pressure on your back – like a massage – is beneficial. Pressure in your ears – caused by watersports or flying – is uncomfortable. I decided to tackle both during a recent stay at The BodyHoliday at LeSport in Castries, St. Lucia with their unique Ayurvedic treatments.
After being closed over the summer for a $20 million renovation, this destination spa resort is open again to the public. But this time, there are significant improvements to public spaces, including a new infinity-edge swimming pool and expansive boardwalk for eating, hanging out and taking morning yoga classes. There’s also an expanded water sports center where guests take free, daily water-skiing, windsurfing, and scuba lessons for a little outdoorsy, fitness action.
The resort’s 30,000 square-foot wellness center is the reason to visit, including its new India-inspired Ayurvedic Temple. Because pressure was my focus, I chose to experiment with three treatments based on Ayurveda – the ancient Indian philosophy of health, wellbeing and living wisely. As a result, Ayurvedic spa treatments are holistic and provide special attention to problem areas from the inside out. They are designed to help one relax and improve how the mind and body feel. Ayurveda is about individuality, and sometimes, stepping outside of your comfort zone and opening your mind to new thinking.
The following three treatments might not be for everyone, but each has its own benefits. Next time you’re at the spa, be brave and try something you’ve never done before! You never know how it could change you…
Bolus Bag Massage
This unusual treatment involves using essential oil-soaked muslin bags filled with healing herbs and oats to work out muscles in strokes and pounding motions. Two therapists synchronize movements on both sides of your body to ensure equal pressure. The technique not only works out kinks but is aimed at relieving joint and arthritic ailments. Warning: this is not a relaxing massage where you would likely fall asleep. Instead, it has a specific healing purpose.
Pressure is just half the equation in a Thai massage – stretching is the other.
I was laying on a foam mat in an outdoor gazebo, where nearby other guests were enjoying back, neck and shoulders massages in the resort’s open-air spa temple. But in my little corner, I was getting pulled, pushed and kneaded. It sounds violent, but was actually quite therapeutic.
A thai massage is also great for people who don’t like getting covered in oil or want to keep their clothes on. The movements are designed to detoxify your body and stretch and massage muscles we don’t usually use, like lying on your tummy while the therapist pulls your arms into a King Cobra-like pose, or lying face up with a right foot on the left knee (in a triangle pose), whilst she presses on the hips to widen and stretch them. At times I was asked to roll on each side while the therapist pressed firmly on my shoulders, the tensest part of my body. In that moment, many might be uncomfortable, but I was in heaven. My favorite position was sitting straight up while the therapist sat behind me, grabbed my arms and pressed my back with her feet as if she were walking on it. The experience is like a massage and light yoga session in one, except your therapist does all the work.
Hopi Ear Candling
Ear candling is a process in which a candle is placed inside a cardboard tube, that is safely placed in the ear. When lit for 10 to 15 minutes, the candle is meant to relieve ear pressure and sinuses (I am a scuba diver with a history of ear infections), and subsequently draws out dirt and wax that may have been burrowing inside the canal. Oh yea, and it also includes a head and ear massage (when’s the last time you ever had an ear massage? It is delightful).
Lying on a table inside the resort’s Ayurvedic temple, I was not sure what to expect. I knew it wouldn’t hurt, so I just relaxed. I had felt slight stuffiness in my nose prior to the treatment that went away. The soft crackling sound the candle makes in your ear is somewhat soothing and somewhat disorienting, but its warmth feels good.