Upon arrival, you'll probably be interviewed or asked to fill out a short questionnaire about your diet, sleep, and, er, elimination patterns. This information helps a therapist determine your vikriti, or current imbalance, which is vital for
an effective treatment. Your vikriti will influence the therapist's choice of oil (one infused with herbs that pacify the specific dosha that's out of balance), pressure (light for vata, medium for pitta, strong and vigorous for kapha), body region on which to focus, even the duration of your treatment. For example, if you're in the midst of a
vata imbalance, a hot steam bath will be healing. But if you're pitta is up, too much time in the heat could leave you feeling stifled.
Be Spoiled by the Oil
In the ayurveda">Ayurvedic system, oil is considered crucial to the healing process. It heals dryness and is thought to nourish the body, calm the nervous system, and seal in the subtle energies of the body, replenishing your vital essence, known as ojas. When the oil is infused with herbs—turmeric, licorice, and
ginger are commonly used—it acts as a carrying agent to introduce the plants' medicinal properties into the body.
Find the Right Balance
Unless you're following the advice of a reputable practitioner, plan for no more than two treatments in a day, and be sure they complement each another. Pairing a vigorous, energizing treatment with a soothing one could leave you more out of balance than when you started. In winter, blend any of the treatments described on these pages; they all work well together and are ideal during vata season. But play it safe and check with the spa director to ensure you've got a good combo going.
"These treatments are designed to change the energy of the body," says Sachs. "So allow yourself time to gently experience that change." That means not making lunch or dinner plans for just after your treatment ends. If possible, spend a few hours in the spa's napping room, terrace, or other quiet spot, letting yourself fully integrate the subtle shifts in your energy.