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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

Advice

4 Ways To Keep To Your Fitness Regime While Traveling

While traveling is an amazing endeavor by itself, those who do it often know it’s not always sunshine and roses. It’s a disruption of a routine, which is especially painful if you’ve just mastered your meal prep game and going to the gym regularly. As any disruption, it comes with issues not that easy to solve: what are you going to be eating? Will you be able to track your macros like you do at home? And what about exercise? You surely don’t want to return to the gym after a week and discover that all your PR’s are gone. But worry not – there are tips and tricks that can help you stay your fittest you on the road! Here are my four tips to keep your fitness regime while traveling.

Make Room For Exercise

If you’re staying in a hotel, chances are it will have a gym. What can also be true, though, as that it can sadly consist of a few cardio machines, dumbbells and a few other things you never use anyway. If you’re a powerlifter, ask the hotel whether they have a barbell stored away. If that fails, you can always get creative with bodyweight exercises. Push ups, pull ups, crunches, bench dips, and a little HIIT, will definitely make your heart pump heard.

In case the hotel doesn’t have a gym, or you’re staying somewhere else, all of these exercises you can do in your room as well. When it comes to HIIT, 20 minutes is all it takes. Do it in the morning for the fresh, accomplished feeling throughout the day, or before evening shower for falling asleep like a baby.

Walking can also be a form of working out. Hands-down the best way to experience a new area is on foot. You’ll see and discover so much more than you would have if you just opted for seeing the main sights. Doing this in comfy shoes can be an amazing workout experience in itself. If, on the other hand, you’re traveling for work and have meetings to attend, if you have time, try allocating an hour or half an hour to walking to the venue. If this sounds extreme because of the great distances, catch the public transport or Uber but get off a bit earlier.

Make Healthier Food Choices

There’s a recipe for eating healthy but not boring until the rest of your life, and it says: let 80% of your food be healthy, and the rest is up to you to choose. That is the best nutrition advice you can get, not just when it comes to travel. It means that you should prioritize lean protein, dairy, good fats, grains, vegetables, fresh fruits, and these should be the staple of your diet. However, it does not mean that donuts are banned forever. They are just banned from being an everyday dessert.

Yes, travels are a bit different and you will likely want to try local delicacies and sweets. Go for it! But do pick grilled meat, veggies and salads, and then have a little something that’s calorie dense and oh, so delicious.

If you’re on the go most of the time, which you are when traveling, don’t forget to pack simple healthy snacks to get you through the day. Having a bag of nuts, a pack of plain crackers, an apple or a protein shake, is much better than entering a patisserie shop every time you need a lift-me-up.

Pack Workout Gear

Just like you don’t pack your entire wardrobe when traveling, you can definitely do with just one pair of leggings and one or two sports tanks. Don’t forget the sports bra and a hairband. When packing shoes, opt for those that can double as walking shoes for discovering the city, as all the other shoes will make your feet sore and painful after 10 miles of wandering. What you shouldn’t pack, though, are the dumbbells, as it truly is the dumbest way to fill your suitcase. But you can pack a resistance band, which is portable, small, and multi-functional, as you can use it instead of a good chunk of machines.

You can also pack your swimming suit: it’s small and doesn’t take a lot of space in the suitcase. If your hotel has a pool, you can do a few laps before going to bed. It will work all the muscles and get you in the mood for heavenly sleep.

Get Enough Sleep

You might wonder why this is such a crucial advice in a piece about maintaining fitness, but all the professional athletes know how important sleep is. If you’re cutting on sleep for several nights in a row, you’ll feel tired, which is a shame when traveling. But more than that, lack of sleep will actually make you weaker than you normally are, you won’t be able to work out like you normally do, and your muscles won’t be getting the necessary time to rest. Seize the day, yes – but make sure to also seize the 7-8 hours of sleep.

Have fun traveling! But don’t let your fitness regime take over your trip. It’s wonderful to have goals and work on achieving them. Sometimes, though, you just need to stop a bit and enjoy the sunset right in front of you, instead of clocking your new PR in running 5k.

Advice Insider Tips Journal

8 Ways To Maintain A Healthy Travel Routine

Staying healthy while traveling is not always easy. From dining out to lack of sleep and everything in between, people’s bodies can go into total shock when making changes to their typical routine. The tips below are my healthy habits to keep my body moving, feeling nourished, motivated and right on track when on vacation. Here are 8 ways to maintain a healthy travel routine.

Daily Routine Tips To Keep You Sane During Your Travels

Healthy Snacks

I used to think my mom was crazy for doing this, but I now understand the method to her madness. I love to stock up on healthy snacks before I leave. Some examples of my current favorites are: Health Warrior Bars, Larabars, RX Bars. Trail mix with lots of fruit and nuts will also do the trick. Keeping these snacks on deck for the plane or when out and about will save you those inevitable “hangry” moments, when you may otherwise be enticed to buy a junk food treat. This also will save you a few bucks opposed to buying food every time you’re hungry. Check out local grocery stores and find some healthy snacks to keep with you when you explore.

Move Your Body

Although you probably have a jam-packed schedule, waking up ten to fifteen minutes early to get in a meditation, quick flow or walk will make you feel that much better the rest of the day. There’s something about waking up early to explore before the rest of the world wakes up that is so invigorating.

Stretch!

Have a full day ahead?  Dedicate at least 5-10 minutes every morning to stretch before you start your day of adventure.  Stretch your arms, legs, neck, shoulders, and back – you’ll feel so refreshed.  It’s easy to sneak in simple neck and shoulder stretches throughout the day while you’re waiting for your food, the bathroom, transportation, etc.  I also stretch right before bedtime because it relaxes my muscles and gives me a better night sleep.

Stick To Your Morning Routine

Morning routines are key to staying on track when traveling. You are on vacation- give yourself thirty to forty minutes extra in the morning to relax and get ready for the day. It might be a little different than your routine, but that’s okay! We are creatures of habit so it’s great to change things up a bit. By setting time aside for yourself in the morning you are doing yourself a huge favor. You might even find the time to add in something you never thought of doing at home.

Remember, you’re on vacation so have fun! Incorporating a few or all of these habits will set you up for success and keep you right on track. If you can’t find time in the morning, winding down after a long day with a hot bath, a good book or meditation will make you feel right at home.

Hydrate

Carry a water bottle with you at all times.  Drink enough water even though it may not be convenient to find public restrooms on the road.  It’s the foundation of your livelihood. Drink alcohol and consume sugar in moderation to prevent dehydration.

Cut Down On Alcohol

Alcohol and non-alcoholic sweet drinks are packed with calories.  Keep your calorie count and sugar intake lower by drinking water instead.  Not to mention, alcohol also disrupts your sleep.  Of course, you’re away from work and want to enjoy a drink or two on your vacation; yes, that’s fine – the key here is to consume in moderation.

Order Veggies, Cut The Meat

Eat veggies when you can!  Pick healthier options when dining out.  Choose a vegetarian dish or add a salad to balance your meal.  You can also buy your own veggies or ready-made salad from the grocery store. Just make sure that you understand the water quality in the country you’re visiting before doing so.

Take Your Vitamins

It can be difficult to eat a healthy balanced meal with all the essential vitamins when traveling, so taking your daily multi-vitamins to supplement your meals is a must.

Advice

Traveling With A Medical Condition: It Can Be Done!

First of all.­ it can be done! As with all travel it’s how you go about it. My love of experiencing the world has always trumped the limits my chronic medical conditions place on me. But these are a few things I have learnt along the way that greatly help in my endeavor to wander the world.

1.) ­ Do it your way
Both my younger brothers have backpacked around South­east Asia, and the amazing stories of their adventures made me crave to do the same. I was unable to follow in their backpacking footsteps, but having never been to Asia I was determined to find a way. A cruise was my answer! I found my perfect cruise that started in Singapore, cruised up Thailand’s coast stopping in Koh Samui and Bangkok, on to Cambodia’s Sihanoukville, around to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, along with the charming Hoi An and Na Trang, and finally departing in Hong Kong. With a few days in Singapore and Hong Kong at either end, it gave me a wonderful taster of Asia.

2.) ­ Take a mate
The cruise would never have been possible had I not asked my parents if they would like to come along too. With the dates fitting, their gracious support, and our shared love of travel, we were off. They were amazing. Always accommodating, encouraging and supportive; they helped me every step of the way, from holding my bag to figuring out which train line we needed when I was too tired to. We were also able to get to know each other as adults, and with our shared experiences, now have a better relationship.

3.) ­ Ask for help
I don’t often ask for help, even when I really need it. I’d get lost instead of asking for directions. But it was actually a very important lesson I learnt ­ people are helpful and understanding. It might sound so simple, but the kindness and understanding I was shown when I needed help really touched me. I asked people if I might take their seat as I was in pain, the answer was always yes. People would always take the time to help you out with directions, some even asking if we needed help when we were looking very confused. I asked the hotel and cruise staff if they could carry my bags for me. Any time I asked for help I was answered with understanding, kindness and consideration, and it made my trip all the easier and better for asking. Which brings us to­…

­4.) Accepting help
I like to be quite independent, especially when traveling, and sometimes find it difficult to accept help from others. But often it is the best thing you can do. I organized a wheelchair to help get me around the airports, knowing that the energy I was saving could be used for sightseeing instead. And although it challenged me, it was the best thing I could have done. My parents would carry my things for me, remind me to have more water and my medications, and plan out our day. Sometimes this was an easy exchange, while others were; let’s say more of a challenge. But in accepting their help it was always in my best interests and made my day much easier and a whole lot more enjoyable.

5.) ­ Don’t be afraid to be pushy
Usually I am the person at the back of the line, letting everyone go ahead of me, I’ll take the broken uncomfortable seat, and will pass on things if I know there isn’t enough to go around. But to get the best out of my trip I had to learn to be more forceful. My dad is very good at this when he’s trying to help someone out ­ like me. So I learnt to squeeze through to the front of the line, rush to the bus so I could get a front seat (I get motion sickness), take someone else’s seat if they haven’t left items there, insist on getting on the plane first, not always waiting my turn to get a photo and a whole heap of other things. Yes sometimes people were a bit miffed, but for the sake of my health and the experience, I’m glad I did it.

So never believe that your medical issues or conditions mean that you are unable to go out and explore this incredible planet. It might take a bit more ingenuity and patience, but like the old saying goes ­ where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Advice

4 Tips For Hassle-Free Travel For People With Disabilities

There’s no doubt that travel can be a stressful experience for people of all ranges of ability. And while traveling may present a unique set of challenges for people living with disability, most of these challenges can be overcome by planning ahead, using the right kind of equipment, and packing accordingly. Here are four tips for hassle-free travel for people with disabilities.

1. Plan Ahead

There’s no such thing as too much planning when it comes to travel arrangements. The more planning you do now, the less headaches you’ll have later, so be sure to call the airline, hotel, and your travel agent to talk about accessibility and how you’ll be accommodated at all stages of your trip.

Don’t have a travel agent? You might consider investing in a travel agent who specializes in travel for people with disabilities. The money you’ll spend is well worth the time and energy you’ll save by getting your agent to do a bulk of the planning for you.

2. Shop for Hassle-Free Luggage

Having the right kind of luggage can make traveling with disability much easier. While you’ll likely want to look for lightweight luggage with wheels, choosing the right luggage will depend on your needs and range of ability. Consider investing in protective locks for all your bags and don’t forget to choose luggage sturdy enough to carry your medical equipment safely.

3. Pack Medications and Medical Information

Pack all your medications with you in your carry-on bag so you can access them in a moment’s notice.

Do you know the best way to contact your doctor in case of emergency? Carry a printout of your doctor’s address, fax and phone numbers. You should also carry contact information for the nearest American Embassy and for hospitals close to where you’ll be staying. Keep print outs of this information with copies of all your important travel documents in your carry-on bag.

4. Use Your Own Equipment

Your next vacation or business trip is not the ideal time to test out new medical equipment. Traveling with the wheelchair, cane, or walker you’re comfortable with and that you already know how to operate efficiently will make your travel plans run more smoothly.

Additionally, taking your own equipment with you on your trip will save you from having to rent equipment, a process that can be costly and time-consuming.

Be sure to read ahead on TSA guidelines for traveling with disabilities and other medical conditions so that you know what to expect at the airport’s security checkpoint.

Whether it’s for business or for pleasure, traveling with disability doesn’t have to be a burdensome experience. By planning and preparing ahead of time, you can help ensure that your next trip memorable, relaxing, and hassle-free.

 

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