As I lay on the desk on the VLCC Wellness Heart in Hua Hin, Thailand, a therapeutic massage therapist plastered my pores and skin with a concoction of rubbing oil and natural powders. She massaged my again with upward strokes, shifting her fingers in the wrong way of my hair. As she labored her magic, I inhaled acquainted smells—amla, black pepper, and Bibhitaki—all of which have been mainstays rising up in my South Asian family. After my complete physique was coated in paste, I sat in a steam chamber and allowed my pores to open as the mixture of natural oils and powder helped my physique shed extra water and lifeless pores and skin cells.
The seasoned therapist was treating me to an Udwarthanam therapeutic massage (Urdhwa which means upward and Varthanam which means transfer in Sanskrit). This Ayurvedic therapeutic deep-tissue therapeutic massage has a variety of purported advantages, together with treating lymphatic congestion, managing weight, and exfoliating pores and skin to depart it comfortable and radiant.
The irony was not misplaced on me: Right here I used to be in Thailand, and as an alternative of receiving one of many conventional Thai massages that the nation is revered for, I opted for Ayurvedic therapy. Rising up, I discovered the way to make the most of Ayurvedic drugs and strategies as a part of my each day routine—my mother would put together a potion of turmeric, almonds, saffron, and scorching water (or milk) to deal with dangerous coughs and sore throats, or grind up cardamom seeds with ginger to remedy an upset abdomen. As Ayurvedic drugs continues to grow to be mainstream, I’ve struggled with the wonderful line between what I do know to be “genuine” versus fashionable diversifications. So, when offered with a full menu of therapy choices at this Thai wellness facility, I used to be inclined to strive one thing most acquainted to me.
Seems, the therapy was much more acquainted to me than I noticed—and regardless of being hundreds of miles from house, it related me to my household and my roots. After getting back from my journey, I discovered that my late grandmother repeatedly obtained Udwarthanam massages to handle her weight and help with being pregnant issues associated to her polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a situation I even have.
In India, PCOS was as soon as thought-about taboo, and the discourse round it was restricted, if not nonexistent. My grandmother was so embarrassed and ashamed of her PCOS that she hid it from my grandfather as a result of she was fearful her marriage suitability, within the period of organized marriages, would lower if he knew the reality. As a substitute, she secretly started receiving weekly Udwarthanam massages, which she mentioned helped cut back ache and take away blockages.
“In accordance with Ayurveda, a situation like PCOS is triggered when minute channels within the physique are blocked by toxins or undigested waste,” explains Nidhi Pandya, an NYC-based Ayurvedic practitioner. “This slows down total circulation and prevents nourishment from reaching all of the tissues. Because the internal surroundings will get affected, the reproductive tissues get broken and PCOS can come up. Udwarthanam works to mobilize blockages, open up channels and get issues shifting so the physique can restore its perform.”
As soon as again in New York, I thought of how the therapeutic massage was a method to ease a few of the PCOS signs and ache my grandmother routinely felt. Coupled with a weight loss program that averted extreme bitter meals and dairy merchandise, however included ghee, rice, and high-fiber fruit and veggies, she was capable of handle her signs over time. I acknowledged how the massages might assist me take care of my very own PCOS, or on the very least, supply symptom reduction for a situation I struggled with. Later in my grandmother’s life, she continued to obtain Udwarthanam massages after having my mother and my uncle, because it helped to strengthen her stomach and different muscle tissues after childbirth. This preventive strategy even appeased my very own fears associated to future childbirth; if she might get by way of it, so can I.
I’m lucky that in my world, PCOS doesn’t carry fairly the identical stigma for me because it did for my grandmother, and that there’s now a deeper understanding of the way to deal with the situation with hormonal and way of life modifications than there was. Even so, the 60 minutes I spent experiencing the Udwarthanam therapeutic massage taught me about being open-minded to holistic options, which I may need beforehand dismissed. The therapeutic massage not solely made me really feel related to my grandmother and our Ayurvedic heritage, but it surely additionally jogged my memory that I’m not alone—there’s a whole group of girls who’re in the identical boat, and none of us ought to must undergo in silence.