I first heard of Anamaya, a new wellbeing clinic located in the London neighbourhood of Kensington, from a friend of mine who always seem to be au courrant of the latest and most exciting ventures in lifestyle anywhere in the world. Anamaya (which means 'health' in Sanskrit) is the brainchild of Roz Sullivan and Graham Doke, two people with significant experience in managing spas in London who decided to establish a new place that offered treatments such as Pilates, acupuncture, massage, meditation techniques and physiotherapy.
As my friend didn't seem to cease her email narratives constantly waxing lyrical about Anamaya, I thought that I should check the place and undergo one of its treatments so that I could decide for myself. I looked into the treatments available, and faced with my ignorance about healing and ayurvedic practices, I opted for a one-hour massage that blended Ayurveda with Western techniques so that I could be broken gently into the novel treatment.
On the day of my appointment, which was booked for 18:00, I had a stream of stressful and busy professional activities. As I was about to leave work, I felt very tempted to cancel the booking and go home instead. However, out of respect for the practitioners at Anamaya, I stood to the initial plan and braved a chaotic public transport system with delayed and packed underground trains. After a hectic journey, I arrived at the wellbeing centre far from relaxed. However, all my stress dissipated in the calming reception room where I met Loretta Heywood, my scheduled body therapist/practitioner, who offered me some herbal tea and put me at ease with a friendly chat.
After providing my details on an iPad, I was taken up two flights of stairs to a nicely decorated and soothing room. Once in there, Loretta asked me a few more questions about my health and lifestyle and we discussed what I wanted out of the massage: a fusion of Ayurveda techniques with some relaxing and distressing techniques. However, after she finished working my back (the first part of the body to be massaged) and we agreed that the pressure could be harder, I asked if the treatment could include more Ayurveda elements. From that moment on, the massage became absolutely perfect.
Following traditional Ayurvedic massage procedures, heated herbal oils were applied to my limbs immediately before they were massaged in syncopated movements that seemed slightly longer than their Western counterparts. According to Ayurveda, these movements are performed empathetically between the practitioner and the person that receives the massage; so much so, that at some stage even the breathing patterns become almost synchronised between the two. When the massage was finished, I felt very relaxed and glad that I kept my appointment at Anamaya. Furthermore, and as a continuation of the bond created during the massage, Loretta did not rush me out at all; instead, she sat with me for a few minutes and discussed the benefits of massage in general, and Ayurvedic massage in particular, over a cup of herbal tea. I was honestly so relaxed that, as I stood up to leave, I gave her a hug and uttered a sincere "thank you!"
For the rest of the day, I felt as if my body and mind had melted and were completely at ease with what surrounded me. Back at home, I took it easy and enjoyed my relaxed state, but not without dropping an email to the friend who recommended Anamaya describing my positive experience and expressing my gratitude for her suggestion. I can't wait to book further treatments at Anamaya and, come hell or high water, I won't even dream of cancelling any of my future appointments.
Photographs courtesy of Anamaya
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