Wellness

Mass(age) Tourism: Ayurvedic therapy for anxiety in India

Top of the list of the things that I wanted to do on my trip to Goa was to immerse myself in the traditions of ayurvedic therapy during a lazy week on Palolem Beach.

I went online to find a practitioner, and as soon as I saw ‘psychosomatic massage’ I knew that I had to go outside my comfort zone and give this authentically Indian experience a try.

Ayurveda is a system of medicine that originated in the Indian subcontinent, often referred to as the ‘science of life,’ based on its translation from Sanskrit of Ayu (life) and Veda (science or knowledge). This method is over 3000 years old and it focuses on full-body healing.

Pain before pleasure

I booked my massage with a man named Ranjeet, who was described as a healer on TripAdvisor by the many travellers who swore by his methods. I was fascinated by the techniques he must use – especially as one woman said that the ‘relief was worthy of the pain’. How painful was this therapy going to be?

As a highly anxious person, I’m always looking for ways to unwind and reduce the intrusive thoughts in my mind, so I was prepared to experience a little pain…

Always check the reviews

For safety reasons, it’s important to always check the reviews before you book a massage as sexual assault does happen in rogue clinics in Goa. As I was a solo woman traveller I wanted to keep myself quite literally, in safe hands!

A small dark room

I had a degree of trepidation as I approached the hut, the place I was going to get my mind, body and spirit back in balance. I entered the small dark room, containing only a chair and hard bed not knowing what to expect. However, Ranjeet completely put me at ease – very important when you’re a woman in a room alone! He had a great sense of humour and I quickly realised mid-treatment that you have to have that to be an Ayurvedic therapist.

I do consider myself a ‘massage tourist’ as I’ve tried therapies all over the world – from Balinese massage to cupping therapy so I love to contrast different styles. Psychosomatic massage is certainly different to anything I’ve tried before – a few elements were similar to getting a seeing hands massage in Nepal – but it’s a whole different genre.

For a start, it was very long – 90 minutes and he asks you about what you want to get out of it, with the aim to release the tense emotions (blockages) that have built up in your body. It’s important not to eat for a couple of hours beforehand, as if you have, and they work on your stomach then your breakfast may make a reappearance.

‘Emotional Blockages’

A part of the job as an Ayurvedic healer is to analyse the tension that they feel in your body. He told me that the left side of the neck represents pain caused by a woman and the right is for men. The female pain was older than 10 years and the masculine tension was very fresh and much more pronounced.

I hadn’t had an argument with a female friend since my early twenties but my partner had inadvertently caused me grief on the trip. He’d been very ill during and after we trekked to Everest Base Camp and then again in India where he had his bag stolen. So yes, his theory was right but it could be a lucky guess, based on my age and sexuality.

Another diagnosis was that my lymphatic drainage system wasn’t working as I didn’t drink enough water. Apparently, dehydration makes skin more sensitive so that was something that I didn’t know.

‘Healing’ hands

Once the treatment began, it was incredibly vigorous as it’s a deliberate attempt to create heat from friction to make your muscles more malleable. The peak of the pain came when he stuck his finger under my armpit which was like nothing I’d ever experienced before or since. Although if I’d experienced childbirth, I probably wouldn’t be saying that! Helpfully, Ranjeet warns you when pain is imminent.

He surmised that I’d suffered from depression in the past and he identified the pressure points for stress, anxiety and anger, which he then pressed – hard. It took me through the gamut of negative emotions and then back to relief when he stopped let go after what felt like an incredible length of time.

Ranjeet refers to the agony of the massage as ‘sweet pain’ and encourages you to laugh and cry to let go of your feelings. As a deeply repressed British person who is wound pretty tight, I could do neither of those things! It took all of my willpower not to walk out the door.

The Aftermath

You do need a few sessions to work out the various knots and embrace the intensity of the treatment. Apparently, it hurts less a second time, and I would love to try it again to see if I could learn to accept the pain and release it more successfully! That evening I felt slightly weepy and light-headed but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

He told me that I would be in pain the next day and I certainly was – I also had small circular bruise marks on my skin due to the amount of pressure on my blood vessels. The bruises were a sign that he’d really worked hard on my ‘blockages’, so I wore them as a badge of honour.

Treat Yourself

Even though I felt like I was a long way from absorbing the spirituality that pervades everyday life in India, embracing Ayurvedic medicine felt like a big step toward it. I’d only been in India for two months at this point, so I was just an infant traveller in this mammoth country.

Anyone that backpacks around India deserves a massage – journeys are long and sometimes uncomfortable, at times you have very little personal space and sometimes figuring everything out can be stressful at times.

It’s a wonderful reward after long days that it takes to absorb the overwhelming and intriguing sights of India. You might even inadvertently heal something along the way. Ayurvedic massage is a uniquely painful bodily experience that your mind and muscles will never forget

Lifestyle Shopping

Where in The World to Find The Best Jewelry

Jewelry is not only beautiful and can carry a special meaning for its wearer, but the story of where the products come from and how they came to be make them even more incredible. There are different specialties for jewelry all around the world depending on what is available and produced locally. For example, there are some cities that have jewels as their specialty and where you can go only there to get the most beautiful pieces of jewelry in the world.

Here are a few places around the world where you can find beautiful jewelry:

Milan

Italy is well-known for its high-quality 100% Made in Italy items. It also has beautiful gold that you can find used to create some beautiful jewelry pieces throughout the country. At a luxury store such as Pisa Orologeria, a watch and jewelry store in Milano, for example you can find luxury watches and accessories. In addition to gold, you’ll find precious jewels, including diamonds and colored stones.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is a city that is home to a blend of Native American and Hispanic cultures. Some of the most incredible jewelry that you can find and purchase here is turquoise jewelry. It has a special significance in Native American culture, representing life, and it is more precious than gold. You can find beautiful pieces of turquoise jewelry here, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and more.

Paris

Paris a historic city that is well-known for its blend of the old and of the new. For trendy pieces head to 3rd Arrondissment, but for pieces that are pre-loved and still beautiful, check out flea markets across the city. From gold to sapphires, you can find a whole range of incredible jewelry in the city. Would you expect anything less than the city of fashion?

New York City

New York City is another fashion hub with plenty of luxury items, and you can find beautiful precious metal jewelry here in the famous Diamond District. For example, you can find gold (yellow, white, etc.) and platinum jewelry in accessory types of your choosing.

Hong Kong

Yellow and white diamonds, pearls and more are amongst the beautiful jewelry you’ll find in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is known for having high quality jewelry that is unique and reasonably priced, and recently there are more designers that are coming out with distinct designs that honor the pieces’ origins.

Overall, if you want to buy high-quality gold pieces, Hong Kong is one of the most affordable places to do it.

These are all cities where you find pieces unlike anything else thanks to their unique aesthetics and design talent. Knowing where your jewelry is sourced from as well as designed and created gives an even greater appreciation into the beautiful pieces you use and love.

Travel Planning Trips

Traveling On a Tight Budget: How Next Vacay Can Take You Places

Taking a vacation is the perfect way to disconnect from your busy schedule and reconnect with the world around you. However, if your budget is tight, finding the funds for a lavish trip might feel impossible. Enter Next Vacay, your go-to resource for finding the best flight deals and putting your vacation within reach.

The Breakdown: What Next Vacay Is

Next Vacay is a subscription-based service that gives you access to the best deals on flights to just about anywhere in the world. It’s different from other flight deal service providers in several key ways. First, you only see deals on flights leaving from your nearest airport(s). No more sifting through pages of flights that don’t apply because they’re departing from other states. Your flight deals are customized for your location, allowing you to see where you could travel to for a great price.

Another difference is that Next Vacay’s powerful and innovative system uses advanced technology to search thousands of flight databases. You’re not limited to a single airline or flight site. Instead, you get the best possible deals as soon as they pop up, sent directly to your email. All deals are verified by the Next Vacay team before they are sent, ensuring that you have accurate information to help you make a decision about when to book.

Airlines often sell discounted tickets to fill flights, but those seats tend to go quickly. If you don’t know where to look or you don’t have the time to spend hours sifting through options, you could end up paying more than you have to for a flight. Next Vacay simplifies the process, connecting you with the best possible prices on flights to a wide range of destinations.

Another key difference between Next Vacay and other flight providers is the fact that Next Vacay is not a third-party booking agent. You book directly with the airline via the link sent in the email from Next Vacay. By booking directly, you can eliminate the middleman and ensure that you’re connected to the airline in the event of a flight change or delay.

Who Is Next Vacay For?

Anyone who loves to travel and save money is a prime candidate for Next Vacay. Flexible travelers tend to get the most value out of the subscription, as the deals that pop up may include dates that fall outside your planned vacation time. If you can adjust your departure or return date, even by a few days, you may be able to score a lower price for the flight.

Make the Most of Next Vacay

It’s helpful to have some flexibility in your departure and arrival location. Driving a few hours to a nearby airport could help you save, as could traveling through a larger hub airport and connecting to your final destination on another flight. Successful Next Vacay users also tend to act quickly, which means staying connected to their email. When an alert comes through, you may need to jump on it to get that price. Flight prices change quickly, depending on demand.

How to Find Cheap Flights With Next Vacay

The first step is signing up with Next Vacay, which authorizes the company to start sending you email alerts about cheap flights. The company offers a free trial period of 30 days, allowing you to start your search at no cost. After the trial period ends, the service only costs $25 per year, so it’s an affordable way to save on flights in the long term. During the signup process, you’ll enter your home airport location. If any airports are within a few hundred miles of that location, Next Vacay will include deals leaving from those airports as well.

Get Started 

After you sign up, Next Vacay’s system will begin scanning the databases for flights departing from your nearest airport(s). When any lower-priced tickets pop up in this search, the flight deals team at Next Vacay will verify to determine whether they should be included. You’ll then receive an instant alert after the verification process is successful, which will include details around the ticket price, the range of dates for which that price is available, and the destination. If it looks good to you, click the included link and book your ticket at that affordable rate.

Pros and Cons

Using Next Vacay provides a number of benefits to those who want to score discounts on travel. You can use the system to find flights to destinations all over the globe, including within your home country and to places across Europe, Australia, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. The deals provided via the emailed instant alerts will typically include flights available immediately as well as those up to 10 months out, with a range of dates that allow for some travel flexibility.

If you travel from many different locations and don’t necessarily have a home base, Next Vacay may not be as helpful for you. The system works by searching for deals from your home airport location and other airports within a few hours’ drive, so if you don’t have a location to enter, it won’t be able to perform the database searches. On the bright side, if you have multiple airports you travel out of frequently, you can set up an alert for several, you’ll just need to get in touch with their support team for them to customize your account.

Next Vacay is the most effective if you have some flexibility with your destination and travel dates. If you have firmly set travel plans, Next Vacay can’t guarantee that they’ll find a deal for you to that specific place, within that specific time frame. But, to offer the most flexibility, the team sends deals that are valid up to 10 months away. If you’re able to book quickly, this should still allow you plenty of time to make vacation arrangements at your job. Those who have to request time off and receive approval before booking may also have trouble making the most of Next Vacay, but to offer the most flexibility, the team sends deals that are valid up to 10 months away. If you’re able to book quickly, this should still allow you plenty of time to make vacation arrangements at your job.

No matter your travel budget or where you want to go on your next trip, Next Vacay can help you find affordable flights that make it possible to take that vacation you want to experience. Get started with your free trial and start scoping out the best prices on flights from your nearest airport.

North America Outdoors

13 National Parks Worth Visiting

With travel put on hold indefinitely due to COVID-19, National Parks have been the perfect refuge for local road trips. These are a few of the 62 National Parks worth making the trek for, and to help temporarily fulfill our wanderlust.

Arches

When you think of a landscape in the American Southwest, Moab, Utah, easily fills that image. With over 2,000 arches to explore, this sandstone saturated setting is an adventurer’s dream. Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock, Double Arch, and Park Avenue are just a few of the many recommended sights that will awe you in the desert.

Badlands



It might feel like you landed on a different planet when visiting Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The built-in walking paths spill out into expansive contours of unique rock formations. Take in the impressive spires and spend the day feeling out of this world. There’s a good chance you might even run into Bighorn Sheep, but hopefully from a distance.

Bryce Canyon


Walking among the hoodoos on the Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail is a surreal experience. You will be thrust into the thick depths of the orange canyon, all while taking in the up close and mesmerizing perspectives of the crusted compositions. It all culminates to a jaw-dropping view of Thor’s hammer.

Canyonlands


It’s all about the dramatic views. “Island in the Sky” is a very suitable name for an area of this park. Overlooks will have you peering into the cores of craters that look like huge imprints left behind from something extraterrestrial. For one of the most epic settings in the National Park System, make sure to take in the scene of Mesa Arch, an easy 0.7 mile trail.

Grand Canyon

When you ask someone where they want to travel, one of the answers will likely be, “The Grand Canyon.” As you amble towards one of the rims, you will take in one of the most monumental panoramas you’ll ever see. The first thing one does when seeing the Grand Canyon is to simply stare and marvel at this wonder. Take things to the next level with a rafting trip on the Colorado River.

Grand Teton


If you are seeking solitude and yearning for the mountains, Grand Teton might be the perfect escape. The Teton mountain range naturally shows off its snow-capped stunning beauty via mirror reflections in its many majestic lakes. Close to Jackson Hole and adjacent to Yellowstone, it’s a park for all seasons but is particularly striking in the Fall. You might even experience a chance encounter with a moose, and where better to do that than in Moose, WY, where the Tetons are located.

Joshua Tree


These famous trees dot the desert landscape in southern California. It gets hot in this arid climate so it’s always most pleasant to visit in the winter, or spring, which is a notably great time to wander about as wild flowers are in full bloom. The Cholla Cactus Garden makes for a memorable sunset site while Barker Dam, Skull Rock, and Wall Street Mill are other hotspots to uncover.

Rocky Mountain


The Rockies are a quick ride from Denver, and makes a perfect day trip. There are bounds of nature sights, impressive lakes, and mountains to seek out. Elk will be plentiful and like to take their time crossing the streets in nearby Estes Park. It starts snowing early in Colorado so if you don’t feel like snowshoeing on the sometimes ice-covered trails, it’s recommended to visit before winter arrives.

Sequoia


Easily accessible from Los Angeles or San Francisco, this is where to go if you want to be wowed by huge trees. The impressive giant Redwoods will make one feel teeny-tiny when taking in the scope of their size. If a change of scenery from trees is needed, there are endless meadows to discover. Home to the world’s largest tree by volume, this is where the famous General Sherman tree lives. Crescent Meadow, Tokopah Falls, and the Congress Trail, are other must-see spots.

Shenandoah


One of the only accessible National Parks to east coasters, Shenandoah is an underrated gem. Popular with those who live in Washington, DC, a drive on Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge mountains is a necessity when visiting this park. It’s also perfect for leaf peeping, where one can enjoy the changing autumn colors. From easy to challenging, there are some great hiking options. Old Rag is the summit to ascend, which at 10.2 miles, will take a full day. Stony Man and Dark Hollow Falls are easier ones to climb, and should be added to your list.

Yellowstone


There’s a reason why Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872. It’s beauty, diversity, and vast landscapes easily makes this park a one-of-a-kind experience. Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful might be famous geysers, but there are 500 hot springs in total. Waterfalls and wildlife are in abundance and the best spot to get your bison fix (from a distance) is in Hayden Valley.

Yosemite




In the land of waterfalls, there seems to be an impressive one in every direction. Some of the most famous viewpoints in the National Park System call Yosemite home such as Tunnel View, and Glacier Point. There’s a lot of ground and distance to cover in this park so a few days spent exploring is recommended, especially if you want to see past Yosemite Valley in the picturesque but less busy area of Tuolumne Meadows, and the many alpine lakes peppered throughout the park.

Zion


Visiting Zion feels like you were suddenly transported back in time to the Mesozoic Era. The spectacular overlooks commonly have astounding canyons that include varied red sedimentary rocks. Less commonly known, are the ample water features ranging from waterfalls, rivers, and creeks. This is a park for thrill-seekers as the two most popular hikes are Angel’s Landing and The Narrows, though there really is something for everyone.

There are so many amazing National Parks that are worth your time and these are just a few that will impress and bring some much-needed solace to your inner travel itch. With Fall quickly approaching and leaves soon to change, it’s the perfect time to jump in the car, hit the road, and surround yourself in nature amongst sensational surroundings.

Featured Lifestyle

Items Bringing Us Joy During Social Distancing: Autumn Edition

As we continued to navigate this “new normal” way of life, we’re making the most of the little things that bring joy and we’d love to share those with you as we continue on into the fall season. We do feel that it’s important to continue to stay safe and to find adventures and things to fuel the traveler’s soul within our own hometowns, cities and destinations nearby that don’t require a lot of travel. Now, more than ever it is important to work together during this pandemic so we can all move forward to a brighter future. I’ve been using this time I have in New York City to become more in touch spiritually, in search of healing,  helping others, making my home cozy and treating myself to the little things I’ll be sharing in the post below. I hope they bring you joy too!

Calhoun & Co. Butterfly And Moth Woven Throw Blanket

My mom always used to call me butterfly because she said I’m fragile yet resilient and although I’m always flying away, I eventually come back so it’s no wonder my heart exploded when I found this blanket! Brooklyn based Calhoun & Co. is a gift and home decor line with a mission to bring joy and they do it well. Their inspiration comes from community, friendly faces, interesting places, and spending Saturday morning cozied up with a cup of coffee and their dog, Slug!

Simplify Your Cookware with Just One Magical Do-It All Pan

We don’t know about you but ever since the world went into lock down, cooking has kind of been our new thing and the experience has been enhanced by the brilliant Always Pan by Our Place. Living in New York City comes with its challenges- like not having enough cabinet space but the Always Pan is designed to replace EIGHT traditional pieces of cookware! It acts as fry pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest. It’s also GORGEOUS. Our Place also offers stylish and really well made dinnerware and glassware.

We also greatly admire the founder, Shiza Shahid who is also the co-founder of the Malala Fund.

Relax with Hemp CBD

We all know 2020 has not been easy for majority of us. heck, we wouldn’t even be sitting here writing this post right now if it weren’t for all of the drastic changes happening in the world! We would probably be relaxing on a beach in Greece but here we are in our home city of New York, anxiously waiting for better days. One way I’ve been able to stay as relaxed and chill as I can be is by taking KindUrth™ Organic Hemp CBD gummies. They have been a lifesaver! I’e tried many other brands but they just didn’t do it for me until I tried KindUrth™.  Organically grown in the USA  and are non-gmo, vegan, gluten free and 3rd Party Lab tested for purity and quality. My favorites are the 1500 mg Premium CBD Gummies (THC Free).

Cozy Jacket by Heartloom

For those quick runs to the grocery store or outdoor dining with friends, we love the super cool Patrice Jacket by Heartloom.

Olive & June The Nailfie Ready Box

We are huge fans of Olive & June, based  and now even more so with these gorgeous fall colors! The box includes an 8-piece mani system of tools and products to help you achieve the prettiest mani from home.  It doesn’t hurt that their branding and packaging are absolutely brilliant, fully quipped with even a holder to prop your phone so you can have FT manis with friends!

Silk Masks by Claire & Clara

Being in New York City during the entire lockdown and witnessing everything we did during those few months has made us huge advocates of wearing masks as evidenced by the way New Yorkers truly flatted the curve and it has stayed that way because majority of us wear masks. With that being said, finding fashionable masks with filters has become a fun hunt! We discovered these gorgeous satin masks by Claire & Clara and were so excite to see that they also include a PM2.5 Filter. *Disclaimer via website: – This is NOT a medical device. This product should NOT be used as a replacement for conventional and approved Personal Protective Equipment (surgical or N-95 masks). The product has not been industry-tested nor has it been NIOSH approved.*

Fresh Work Out Gear by Outdoor Voices to Get You Motivated to Stay Active

I just recently discovered Outdoor Voices for new workout gear and I am in love! I pretty much live in the TechSweat 7/8 Leggings. They’re incredibly comfortable and I love switching it up from the usual Black with their gorgeous Evergreen color. I pair it with the TechSweat Cami Tank Top which has a built-in shelf bra, removable pads, and adjustable straps.

Stay Safe, Sanitized and Give Back with Clean Beauty VIVI Naturals

We’re loving the VIVI Naturals hand sanitizer that comes in a gel or spray form with a blend of Vitamin E, Peppermint Oil, Aloe Vera, Lavender and Ethyl Alochol. All of their products are Vegan and natural: Sulfate, Paraben, Silicon and Phthalate free and are created using clean, feel-good ingredients and packaged using recycled glass, paper and materials that meet the highest environmental standards. I also love their mission of giving back by partnering with Hunger in America & the internationally recognized World Vision Organization.

Get Inspired for Future Trips with Dame Traveler: Live the Spirit of Adventure Coffee Table Book!

Our dream is that the Dame Traveler book transports you to every corner of our beautiful planet. We hope you sift through each page and imagine yourself there, soaking in cultural experiences, scaling mountaintops, learning from locals, discovering new, untouched European towns or road tripping through America.

Even if your travel plans have halted, the world is still your oyster. And we hope each and every page keeps that fire to adventure glowing until the right time comes to hop on that plane. Available at @westelmdumbo, @westelmbroadway, @strandbookstore@mcnallyjackson @rizzolibookstore in nyc and @barnesandnoble @target @blackwellbooks @powellsbooks and more.

Get Cozy at Home with Custom Designs by Sasha Hayatt Designs

We have been living in these gorgeous lounge wear pieces, custom made by Dame Traveler, Sasha Yakoub herself! She’s constantly updating her website and Instagram with new designs so be sure to follow along to stock up on all of the cute coziness for this fall season!

 

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