By Deena Campbell

Sure I’d been to The Dream hotel in midtown Manhattan before, but I never ventured to the basement to visit the Chopra Center & Spa. Known for their dedication to the marriage of balance and nourishment of the mind-body, the spa uses Ayurveda, one of the oldest systems of natural health care from the ancient traditions of India, to awaken, heal and transform individuals according to their needs.

And they didn’t let me down.

I began my adventure with a quick survey to discover my mind-body constitution; otherwise known as dosha. Through dosha, Ayurveda believes individuals can be categorized into three sections: Vata, Pitta or Kapha. Twenty minutes and a cup of warm tea later, I learned I was a combination on Vata and Pitta. One who is a mix of creativity, intellect and (sadly) irregular digestion. Based on my findings, my therapist used Abhy oil – a combination of coconut, sweet almond, jojoba seed and safflower oils – to begin my Shiroabhyanga treatment.

Chopra boasts an array of treatments, but its newest services are Shiroabhyanga, a therapeutic massage focused on the marma points (places of union for mind & body) throughout the head, and Padabhyanga, the process of applying herbalized oil to the lower legs and feet to thoroughly relax the body.

“The intention of Shiroabyanga is not only to reduce stress and relax the body, but also it aims at stimulating the body to heal itself and to prevent forthcoming diseases,” says Dr. Thara Kodandaramachandra of Chopra Center & Spa.

As the herbal aroma filled my nostrils, my therapists told me Shiroabhyanga is a great treatment for fighting fatigue and headaches, nourishing dry scalps, stimulating hair growth and relieving mental and muscle tension. She couldn’t have been more correct. My body never felt more relaxed and healed as she drizzled the warm oil over my tired skin. I instantly felt energized.

Shortly thereafter, I enjoyed the Padabhyanga treatment that combined customized rhythmic massage to heal, detoxify, and balance my entire being, both inside and out.

Needless to say, after my massages it was time for a nap and I wasted no time. I laid on the heated bed for an additional 20 minutes and simply marveled in the moment.

When I finally realized I had other things to do, I sluggishly got dressed. Why couldn’t life just be one big spa treatment? Before leaving, I did however snag a bottle of Abhy oil to conduct a self-massage (known as Abhyanga) to achieve longevity, happiness and success on my own. I’ll give it a whirl, but something tells me I’ll more than likely return.

Chopra Center & Spa at Dream
1710 Broadway
New York, New York 10019
(212) 246-7600

Originally published April 2009
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