I am currently staying at a yoga retreat deep in the jungles of Sri Lanka. For five days now I have embraced the Ayurvedic lifestyle: I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol or caffeine, smoked a cigarette, consumed any meat or fish or tasted anything with added sugar. My diet has been pure and vegetarian and I’m supposed to do yoga every day but I pulled a muscle trying to do a too complicated pose last week so I’m having to rest. I’m not sure how I’m feeling, I think I might be having ‘life’ withdrawal symptoms; my back aches and I get headaches. The thought of a large latte and a big hunk of Fruit & Nut make my mouth water.
Last week, at my beachside yoga retreat I had my first Ayurvedic experience, good practice for where I am now. It came via a lovely elderly lady called Maggie, a Scot living in Australia, who told me about this wonderful young male ayurvedic masseur she’d been to see; he’d given her the best massage she’d ever had and she couldn’t recommend him more highly. Naturally I thought I must visit him too, given the glowing praise, so I made an appointment and zipped over to his house in a tuk-tuk.
It was, as my elderly Edinburgh companion had promised, very good. When he massaged my breasts I didn’t over think it, as I knew it was Ayurvedic practice to include breast massage so that was fine. What did make my inner antennae shoot up was when he began to circle his fingers slowly around my areolae in ever decreasing circles, before tweaking both my nipples as a final flourish. My inner antennae went on full alert. All sorts of thoughts tumbled around inside my head as I lay motionless like a corpse on a stone slab: is nipple tweaking normal, or is this man a pervert? Not knowing what to do, I opted to just lie still and keep my eyes tightly shut for fear of what I might see if I opened them. Thankfully the massage finished soon after and he was all smiles. It was all very disconcerting and I left wondering if nipple tweaking was actually OK and maybe I was just being a neurotic westerner making a big deal out of nothing.
When I got back Maggie asked me enthusiastically how I’d enjoyed it, her face a picture of sparkling eagerness. I replied that he had been very thorough, I then asked her, with a tinge of embarrassment, if she’d had her nipples tweaked. Maggie looked aghast, no, she hadn’t! I asked her if she knew if that was part of Ayurvedic practice and she responded, still agog, that she had no idea.
Maggie told me firmly, as I said goodbye to her at the weekend, that she would find out if this was orthodox practice and let me know. I’ve had a few more Ayurvedic massages since then and not one has involved nipple tweaking, so I think I will just have to remember him as the ayurvedic nipple tweaker.
I have three days left before my flight home, I’m excited to be heading homewards but sad too that this amazing adventure is coming to an end. There might be time to squeeze in one more blog in between meditation, yoga and massage…and imagining what sugar-laden, bottom-bulging goodies I might feast on at Colombo airport.