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21 days of monastic seclusion: inside an Ayurvedic boot camp in search of the ultimate reboot

Written by Travel Adventures

Even the treatments are confrontational. I’m handed a langoti (a loin cloth-G-string hybrid) to put on and emerge from behind the curtain, bare-breasted, hyper-conscious of my softer layers. My team of therapists, Devi, Reshma and Sruthi, chant prayers while I sit on a stool. Devi spreads herbal paste reeking of mothballs over my forehead to relieve my sinuses, and I clamber onto the wooden Ayurvedic massage table, known as a droni. A massage-like pizhichil, which is a mesmerising delight at spas, becomes uncomfortable gymnastics here. You slither into one of five positions – sitting up, lying on your back, your front and each side – while every centimetre of skin is slathered in oil. Breasts, buttocks, nostrils, ears, eyelids: almost nothing is off limits.

Kalari Raysana Kerala India

Healing by a serene lake at Kalari Raysana in Kerala, India

The yoga, by contrast, is a serene delight. The practice is precise and pure, from the Bihar school. Everyone starts with individual lessons before joining group classes. It is the antithesis of power yoga. I become entranced by a different joint each day. There’s as much emphasis on pranayama and meditation as on asana, and I can almost feel my nadis (energy channels) clearing, and my chakras starting to glow.

There are no decisions to make, other than which bench to sit on to watch the lake. Every day a freshly laundered uniform of white cotton kurta-style pajamas appears. My blood pressure lowers, and my mind stops churning. The food comes in tiny portions of pleasure, albeit bland (spices are kept to a minimum to avoid aggravating the gut).

Kalari Raysana Kerala India

Lilypad pond at Kalari Raysana in Kerala, IndiaSudhith Xavier


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