Lifestyle Travel

Can Ayurvedic massage solve emotional problems?

I have many emotional problems, many of which have existed since I can remember. I’m not generally swayed by so-called alternative medicine but I do think there is merit in taking a holistic approach to your health.

While in India, I wanted to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible as it is world famous for the spirituality which pervades the daily life of its huge population.

There are Ayurvedic pharmacies and hospitals everywhere in India and the philosophy is based on a whole body healing approach which is 3,000 old. It is essentially about balancing the mind, body and spirit but I am not an expert so this is a massive oversimplification.

During my research about Palolem Beach in Goa, I came across a man who garnered rave reviews from the traveller community for his ‘psychosomatic massage’. Of course, I had to try this. I booked an appointment straightaway for a 90 minute session to remove my ’emotional blockages’. This man did not know what he was in for and I was interested to see how much progress he would make as I am wound pretty damn tight.

I personally would not go to someone who didn’t have such great reviews, just for safety reasons and I would advise other women to do the same.

The massage took place in a small room on the beach, the therapist was friendly from the outset and I felt comfortable with him which is so important. I sat on a chair to start with and he worked on the sides of my neck. This is when the talk of what my body was saying about my mind began.

The left side of the neck represents woman and the right side is the tension caused by men. The right side was much tenser than the left. Whilst travelling in Asia my partner has been ill several times including during the Everest Base Camp trek and his bag was stolen on a bus to Shimla. Looking after him has been tiring and I have a lot of men in my life that can be difficult so maybe there’s some truth in that.

He said the female pain on my left was 10-12 years old. I did have problems with a close group of female friends in my early twenties and it did cause me a lot of pain. I haven’t had any real issues with women since but I do have a lot of male friends who occasionally cause my grief.

After those revelations it was time to get on the bed and I can tell you that there was some serious pain in store for me.

He worked on my legs first and told me that he could see my lymphatic system wasn’t working properly as I wasn’t drinking enough water. He said that if my feet swell after flying then that is why. I’d flown the day before and my legs were puffy afterward so maybe he was right on that one. I bruise very easily and he said that drinking more water would help that as dehydration makes the skin more sensitive. I am constantly bruised so I am actually going to try drinking more water to see if it helps.

He couldn’t do my stomach as I’d eaten too recently and you need to wait one and a half hours after eating, presumably so it doesn’t make a reappearance. Once he’d done my upper chest it was time to turn and get my back done. This is where the real pain began.

The back ‘massage’ involved rubbing my skin vigorously to create heat from friction and jamming his thumbs and elbows into certain emotional pressure points. A particularly painful moment was when he stuck his fingers under my armpits but he would generally warn me when pain was imminent.

I’m not very experienced in deep tissue massage so I find it difficult to accept the pain and I try to resist it. This may be why I ended up with bruises in some of the pressure points. He told me I would be in pain the next day and I certainly was.

The diagnosis continued and he asked me if I’d suffered from depression in the past, I said yes because that was accurate. He worked that as well as the pressure points for stress, anxiety and anger. They made me feel stressed, anxious and angry but I think that’s the power of suggestion. All perfectly valid responses to Ayurvedic massage for a beginner as well.

There are clues on my body that suggest poor mental health in the past so it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out when someone is unclothed before you.

He couldn’t go as deeply as he wanted to and while he wanted me to unleash my emotions and enjoy the ‘sweet pain’ I could not. If you laugh or cry then that’s good for healing but I’m deeply repressed and I can’t do that stuff.

He told me to come back for another session but I’m not sure if I can take it. Towards the end of the 90 minutes I wasn’t sure if I could carry on. It was only the sheer force of embarrassment that stopped me from ending the session. When it was over, it was a massive relief. At the time it made me wonder if the intense pain was comparable to parts of childbirth but perhaps I’m overdramatising.

I haven’t yet decided whether to return, he promised that it hurts less a second time but you need a few sessions to release all the knots which makes sense.

I drank a lot of water afterwards, and chilled out in my room. I felt a bit light-headed and slightly weepy but not as bad as I thought I would feel. My sleep was slightly disturbed but that was partly due to the monkeys jumping on my roof.

The next day I did a cooking class and I felt tired so it would have made more sense to have a rest day but it was fine. I slept quite well that night despite my hard bed and he did tell me that I would.

I think I would do it again, especially as travelling is so uncomfortable in India so it helps to unwind your muscles. Has anyone else had any experience with Ayurvedic massage for mental healing? I’d love to hear your stories! 😘

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