Beware of “Instant” Ayurveda
I recently contacted an ayurvedic day spa in America, hoping to get the owner to be my resource person for a magazine article I was writing.
The pleasant, peppy-voiced owner of the spa spoke to me at length over the phone about how she had set up and built her business, despite the pressures of bringing up two children, keeping house, and adjusting to a different culture (she is from India).
It was all wonderful to know, until she said, “I added ‘Ayurvedic’ to my spa name, and that’s when the business really took off. People here are quite taken with that word, you know. Frankly, I didn’t even know Ayurveda had all these deep principles!”
I listened in stunned silence as she went on to tell me how the Americans stumped her with their questions about the doshas and chakras and such, until she was forced to Google search, make notes and at least demonstrate some verbal knowledge of the subject. Based on her study of similar spas, she downloaded a “What’s Your Dosha?” form and now hands out the pop-quiz to those who walk in.
This, from the owner of a spa that promised an entire buffet of ayurvedic therapies, including “Shirodhara,” which is a profound and sacred therapy requiring extensive training. By the time she let on, quite cheerfully, that she did that too herself, “with the help of my assistants, of course,” I was too shock-numbed to react.
Now the interesting thing here is, this lady genuinely doesn’t think she is shortchanging anyone. That’s because even in India, the birthplace of Ayurveda, this wonderful holistic system of healing has been reduced to what people vaguely call “herbal massage.” Worse, most of this massage isn’t even actually “herbal”: almost anyone in need of a job is taught how to knead tired bodies, applying dubious lubes and pastes squeezed out of “herbal” oil and lotion bottles. This is, of course, big business, bringing in big bucks.
Mind you, there isn’t any harm done by treating yourself to a good massage at a day spa. For the time-strapped, just the me-time and the temporary relaxation it brings is very welcome. I only wish some of these so called “Ayurveda Spas” would stop disguising simple feel-good massage as something that makes a major difference to your doshas and chakras. I wish they would stop cashing in on a word that embodies an entire ocean of healing…