Head Massages

No sooner had I sat down on a cofy chair in the reception area the attendant said, "It is ready, Madam." Being lead to a small dimmly lite room, I was escorted by Gita, my favourite massage therapist, into the change area.

"Change your dress, mam."

Following these instructions as if I had entered a dream world I hung up my shirt, pants and took off my shoes. Each of the towels had flower-heads arranged on them. I felt a bit funny destroying the presentation, but this is how it was meant to be. Entering the massage room with soft waterfall music playing in the background and Gita standing by is like a dream world far away from many of the things I know of India and life. Inside of these walls there is nothing to do but relax.

Sitting on a chair, Gita chants a short Hindu prayer for healing, restoration and energy before the session started. She then started to apply hot oil with a continual separation of each part of my hair until my entire head was drenched in hot sticky oil.

"Temperature okay?" asks Gita.

So far all is smooth, soft, serene, slow and gentle until we get to the actual head massage. Watch out is my advice because this can be rather non-relaxing. Pulling at the strands from the roots this is suppposed to promote hair growth. Rubbing vigorously on the scalp prevents hair loss and pre-mature greying. Pushing each part of the hair back and forth is understood to promote hair strength. The pressure is firm and Gita doesn´t react to my occasional whinces or wines.

She asks softly, "Pressure okay, mam." Not wanting to look like a wimp I tell her it´s all okay.

"Ah, Eee, Oooo...",the massage continues with my head being pushed forward and backward while she folds my ears over and covers my eyes. This time there is very little hair on the floor from the hair pulling. I comment about it to Gita.

"More protein, mam."

With regular hair oil treatments, shampooing and a bunch of treatments I had in Kolkatta at the Vedic Spa, I have noticed a definite thickness and decrease in the loss of hair. One of the oils that was recommended to me promotes an Indian woman with long thick black hair down to her knees. I asked the doctor at the clinc if I would have such long, lusty hair. His reply was a short laugh. I took that to be a possible ´maybe´ if I used the stuff regularly.

It could be Bollywood time...and I could look like this...In India having long thick wavey hair is the fashion. Most Indian woman despite wearing it in a pony-tail have this fabulous long flowing mane. And talk about THICK! It's like four times the amount of mine.

After the head massage comes the neck and shoulder treatment which is divine. Sort of makes up for the hair pulling! Full head rolls, left and right and shoulder movements backward and forward. I specficially had asked for Gita because she has these long spindle-like fingers that give both great pressure and the tinkles.

"S´okay mam," asks Gita as I nod off during the treatment.

"Hm fine," I say while being jostled out of the dream-world.

The treatment ends with the ritual of hot steamed towels on the back, head and face.

One of them was pretty hot and I have act to confess to being the whimp and yelping in my chair. Gita removed the towel and fanned it around before reapplying it.

The session ends with Om Shanti....I say it along with Gita and go back to the dressing room. Gita had thoughtfully placed a small red flower on top of my shirt as I slowly bring myself back to earth with the mundane task of getting dressed.

To help the scalp and hair absorb the medicated oils it is recommended that you do not take a shower or wash for 24 hours. Gita had braided my hair into a tight pony-tail which helped keep some of the oil on my hair and not my clothes. But during the day most of it was on the back of my shirt.

Back out at the reception area and paying the bill reality was not all that shocking with a cost of $15 for the 30-minute treatment. And just as I prepared to leave a group of white swans with one duck in the middle marched by in a single file. They walked in perfect unison with one another and it was a delightful vision to follow.

Looking amazed the attendant asked me if this is something I would see in my country.

I only laughed as I signed the receipt and left. We all know that swans are not walking around freely even in the best of places.


The Journey So Far

Life is an adventure and yoga is the greatest one of all. Here I share my love of Yoga, travel, practice and becoming a part-time cook. My life adventures have taken me from growing up in Toronto to living and working in South Korea to studying in India, marriage and finally closing my Yoga school of 15 years.

What I can say so far is that I truly believe that it is necessary in life to let go of one dream in order for another to be born. This might be painful to do so but it is the only way to move forward. We often believe that if our original plan does not succeed it is the recipe for failure. But what if it is the door to something new and great? The horizon is wide and life is not a straight line. This is the way I see it and my journey so far. Having also recently given birth to my first child and at 43, it is another new beginning.


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Heather Morton
is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
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