Baby's First Vasti (this is graphic if you prefer not to read about unpleasantries)
Undergoing 25 days of Ayurvedic treatments at the beginning of a new year is a wonderful way to quite literally be reborn into the world as a shiny, unsoiled, brand new human being. The entire process requires you to retreat and surrender to the vulnerability and assumed incapability of a baby. Also it just so happened that a man I met on Tinder for New Year’s Eve insisted upon shaving all my pubes off saying that I had a case of “Sasquatch in my pants” (I disagree, but thought it would be an interesting experience), which furthered the sensation of feeling child-like in the treatment space. Over the course of 25 days’ treatment, I returned back to normal (but better than my previous normal).
Dr. Unni and three to four attendant practitioners see to your every need so much so that you are taken out of the equation. It’s all about feeling instead of thinking which is somewhat unsettling to me in stressful situations such as treatments from a doctor. I told Dr. Unni my issues, he looked me over pensively, and then wrote a couple of notes and off I went to be partially pampered/partially cleansed of my ailments.
Pampering includes daily full body medicated oil massage wherein the practitioner uses their feet and leverages themselves with a rope hanging from the ceiling. Laal has been my masseuse and he is amazing!! Excellent pressure, technique and use of the perfect amount of oil. He will be missed in times when I just need a massage. Another luxurious experience was having warm, medicated water poured over my entire body for an hour by two practitioners. There’s also one where balls of cheesecloth filled with fermented rice are rubbed over my body until the rice squeezes out into a medicated rice/jelly paste that is then skimmed from the body with palm fronds. Then I’m rubbed down with a thin coat of medicated oil to avoid being sticky. Pictured you will see a treatment where my head is covered in amla paste which is something like a gooseberry that is supposed to have many beneficial properties, among them a cooling effect. Then my head is wrapped in a banana leaf to keep the paste on and moist. It’s all pretty luxurious to me, although I imagine if you don’t surrender yourself, there’d be a lot of just trying to make it through.
Then comes the more cleansing Ayurvedic techniques, one of which is called a “vasti”. It is a procedure where about a half gallon of medicated ghee (clarified butter) is inserted into the rectum as a major enema.
As it was going in, I could feel the heaviness of the fat swimming around in my abdominal cavity. I had to hold the lot of it in for about five minutes or so. Dr. Unni left immediately following the insertion, then it was time to let it out. I slowly waddled to the toilet where three female attendants were waiting to help make the process as comfortable as could be. One young woman was pouring warm water on my lower back, another was feeding me a watery mixture of rice and lentils and another was there to hand me a hot water bottle in case I felt cramping or discomfort.
Mostly, I wanted to be alone. It’s my “I don’t need help, I can do this without relying on anyone” attitude I typically cling to in times of personal strife, the times I probably should reach out to those around me for a helping hand. I feel as though the entirety of treatments up until this point have been preparing me for this level of vulnerability. At the end of the day, it is easiest just to surrender your inner self so that your corporal self can get on with the process of coming to the best state possible. At Dr. Unni’s treatment center, you don’t do anything for yourself. You are constantly guided by at least one attendant practitioner even when you need to use the toilet. They wait for you outside.
The mixture was coming out in a stream with some globs and loud juicy spray farts every now and again…and, as you might imagine, it wasn’t super comfortable. At one point my feet fell asleep and I had to stand up and walk around. After the whole thing finished, I actually felt pretty good. I walked over to an Ayurvedic restaurant for boiled vegetables, plain rice and vegetable broth which made me feel awesome.
Now, two days later, nearing the end of my treatment, I am feeling like a brand new version of myself: tanned from the sun, glowing from the treatments and excited to carry on in this trend heading deeper into 2019.