Healing Retreats and Spas, July/August 1997
The Royal Pace of The Raj
America's Premier Ayurveda Health Center
The heartland of America is a wonderful place to relax; the pace is slower, the people are calmer, the atmosphere more friendly. I know after my journey through a week of buffing and beautification at The Raj, a Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center located in the heartland of Iowa , not only is my physiology renewed but my heart and soul are renewed, too.
The Home Preparation
My transformation starts before I arrive at The Raj. When I first schedule my seven-day program I am asked some questions which help determine what my "home preparation" is. The process of home preparation is a simple diet and herbal program which helps my physiology slow down and purify in order to get ready for the rejuvenation treatments.
A palace in the country is my first impression of The Raj, which consists of elegant buttercup-yellow, French-country style buildings on 100 acres of meadows and woodlands.
After checking in I am greeted by Kathy of guest services. She gives me my schedule and an orientation tour. I don't have to sign up for special treatments or worry about anything. Kathy is very knowledgeable and answers all of my questions. As I am about to find out, everyone at The Raj can answer my questions or attend to my needs. The staff is very attentive with a staff-to-guest ratio of two-to-one, sometimes more. At The Raj, I check my anxieties at the door.
Determining My Mind/Body Type
My first appointment is with the doctors, Dr. Chris Clark, a Yale-trained M.D. and his consultant, a vaidya from India. The doctor asks questions about my habits, medical history and any emotional issues. Then he takes my pulse via a system called pulse diagnosis. Doctor Clark places three fingers on my wrist and "listens" to my pulse with his fingertips.
The pulse diagnosis is central to Ayurveda medicine. It allows the doctor to determine body types and helps him discover any imbalances that are building up in the physiology. "Most chronic illnesses are the result of imbalances building up over a period of time," Dr. Clark says. "If you can detect those early on you can avoid illness."
After determining what is going on in my physiology, recommendations are made including a special diet I am to follow at home, special herbs, and a routine of exercise and rest.
Touched By Angels
Then the real pampering starts - the treatments. Each person going through The Raj has an individualized treatment schedule based on the doctor's recommendations. Most treatments start with a full herb and warm oil body massage called abhyanga performed in unison by two massage technicians. This massage helps loosen impurities in the tissues and soothes and nourishes the skin.
This is the most wonderful experience my body has ever had, fully oiled and massaged from head-to-toe. I'm sure I've died and gone to heaven. (That is, before the luxury oil treatment the following day.)
After a vegetarian lunch I go to my education class where I learn how to eat and exercise properly for my body type. Guest speakers give small living room type lectures on everything from beauty to avoiding chronic disorders. During my stay at The Raj I gain a lot of self-knowledge.
A Princess At The Palace
The following day one of the more luxurious treatments takes place, a full body herb and warm oil treatment where gallons of sesame oil are poured over my body during a full body massage by two technicians - it's like being enveloped in warm liquid silk. After my body is so relaxed I'm sure I can't walk, I'm escorted to another private area (all the treatments are done in privacy) for a special head and neck massage, plus aroma therapy and sound therapy. After this treatment I can do nothing but smile.
The History of The Raj
In the evenings over dinner I get to know the other guests. Several are return guests who come to The Raj at least twice a year. The Raj owners, Rogers and Candace Badgett, frequently eat dinner with us, filling us in on the history and goals of the exquisite four-star health spa.
The Raj was opened in April of 1993 as America's premier Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center. "It is the only Ayurveda facility outside of India specifically built to offer the traditional rejuvenation treatments of Ayurveda," Rogers says. Ayurveda which translates as "knowledge of life" is a natural approach to creating balance and strengthening the body's healing abilities. "We built The Raj so people can have a comfortable place to rejuvenate naturally."
By the third day I am really into my routine: luxurious pampering in the morning which lasts about 2 to 3 hours. This time after my warm oil massage I have an herbalized steam treatment. Kim, one of my wonderful technicians, explains that the herbalized steam bath opens up the channels of the body and allows the loosened impurities to move into the digestive tract in readiness for their removal by internal cleansing procedures. These gentle internal cleansing procedures follow every treatment and are designed to remove all types of imbalances.
Then the days seem to merge dreamlike into one another. In fact, after several days of treatment I can't tell you what time it is much less what day it is. One day I experience a treatment where a soothing continuous flow of herbalized oil is poured slowly and gently across my forehead. My technician explains to me that this relaxation treatment settles and balances the nervous system.
After the rejuvenation treatments, I opt to have a beauty treatment. Beauty treatments can be done at the end of rejuvenation treatments. Unbelievably, they are even more luxurious. After a full body massage and gentle steam I am slathered in herbalized mud. My technicians tell me that this mud collects on large sloping rock formations after the Indian rainy season, is baked naturally by the sun, and then collected and shipped directly to The Raj from India for beauty treatments. It is used to purify the skin of toxins.
Special attention is also paid to my face: a light soothing facial, applications of milk-based elixirs and special facial mud are applied. The technicians are very attentive to my needs, making sure I am comfortable and warm. Fragrant aromas fill the air.
When the muds are slightly dry, the technicians start washing them off with gallons of warm organic milk - between seven to ten gallons are used. They are very gentle and use soft natural sponges to squeeze the milk on me. Mud and milk run off the specially designed table and are whisked away.
Then I sit up and splash a specially prepared milk on my face, it's fun and I feel like Cleopatra. Actually, the beauty treatments were originally given in ancient times to the royal families of India.
Next the ladies buff my knees and elbows with small lofahs then use flower extracts to scent and soothe my skin. I touch my face and it feels like the softest silk. I am given the sponges and lofahs and told how to use them at home.
The skin experts at The Raj are developing an anti-cellulite treatment which address the permanent removal of cellulite by removing toxins from within the body and by helping improve digestion, assimilation and the metabolism of fat. I am excited about this program and have asked the staff to let me know when it is available.
From Negative To Positive
In the week that I am at The Raj I have made new life-long friends. I have also made friends with my own physiology and I have an understanding of how to maintain the lifestyle which is proper for me. I also have a renewed understanding that if I feel better then the world feels better, too.