Tuesday, June 8, 2004

There's a lot of body-work floating around Mysore---chiropractic work and massage of all types. That's part of the reason I ended up buck-naked and face-down on a vinyl mat in a spare room at the Three Sisters.

Harini, one of the Three Sisters, provides Ayurvedic massage, for "women only," as the Three Sisters' card says. Her guru, Vijay, is in town, however, and they're both tag-teaming yoga students, male and female.

I'd heard rave reviews about Vijay and his foot from another long-time ashtangi, so I had to check it out, if only for the novelty. It's a whole-body massage administered with the foot, and I was told that Vijay's is incredibly dextrous, and can even put yoga students into lotus.

When I showed up at the Three Sisters' house, Vijay handed me a length of string and a cheese-cloth napkin. "Yogi clothes!" he joked. Vijay is always joking. The string goes around the waist, the cheese-cloth is tucked into the front, encapsulates the fundamentals, flosses the ischial tuberosities, and is tucked in the back.

Vijay and Harini poured oil onto my body and then got to work. A rope stretched across the ceiling, and both used it for balance as their feet kneaded my back.

It was more than a massage, however. It had to be among the most profound bodywork I've ever had---part massage, part chiropractic adjustment, part physical therapy.

They worked my back, my sides, and my front; my legs, my arms, my torso, my neck, my feet, my hands. There was movement and adjustment. My spine popped, and I swear those gifts from an office job, the almond-sized lumps behind my shoulder blades, dissipitated with a crunching noise.

The whole thing lasted an hour-and-a-half. Vijay sang slokas, made jokes, and harassed Harini. The two went back and forth like an old married couple.

The "India moment"? Moments before Vijay and Harini got to business, I was alone in the room. My head was cocked to the side, and I stared at the wall. It was dirty. The floor was dirty. I was covered in oil and spread-eagled, bait and tackle folded in the barest of materials. All of the above---the dirt, the oil, my nudity, and the fact that India is an overwelming assault on the senses---flashed throuh my mind. What in the hell was I doing?

Those are the "India moments." It's when you ask yourself, "What in the hell am I doing here?" And it happens quite a bit.