Spa (February, 2003)
Exactly where you’d last expect it, one of the country’s foremost centers of Ayurveda healthcare sits primly in Iowa. The Raj appealingly calls itself a health enhancement center and seamlessly combines modern medicine with this ancient Indian science of wellness. The Maharishi Ayurveda system used here is a version developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the guru behind Transcendental Meditation (TM).
Three-Day Ayurveda Purification
The program sets out to cleanse impurities imbedded by fatigue, stress, diet, and other unhealthy circumstances through a systematic combination of rejuvenating spa treatments, yoga, meditation, diet, herbal supplements, and enlightening lectures referred to as Knowledge Talks.
The process begins even before guests arrive. After evaluating a list of medical questions, doctors recommend simple home procedures to begin purifying ahead of time. On arrival, there’s an individual 50-minute session with a Raj physician that includes vedic practices like pulse diagnosis and dosha evaluation to device an effective, healthful program for restoring physiological balance.
Vigorous exercise is not recommended during a purification program, making its gentle style of Maharishi Vedic asanas the ideal choice. Many of the Raj’s 18 guests use free time to hike on the trails that wind throughout the 100-acre property or to simply sit and reflect.
Each day of the program includes 2.5 to 3 hours of luxurious spa treatments that are part of the balancing process. Customized to meet individual needs, the first massage is abhyanga (rhythmic pouring of warm oil over the forehead to relax the nervous system), and then an optional, though highly recommended, basti (gentle herbal enema.)
Food is strictly vegetarian with emphasize on Indian flavors. An abundance of grains and vegetables are flavored with saffron, ginger, cumin, and other gentle spices. All ingredients are organic and cooked in accordance with Ayurveda principles to aid digestion. Cooking classes are held throughout the week for anyone interested in taking the basics of this cuisine home. Guests also receive a cookbook as real life inspiration.
Meditation is encouraged, allowing attention to move inward to help realize the mind/body connection. Traditionally, TM is practiced two times a day, morning and night, for 20 minutes. Though learning TM is not included in the Purification package, instruction is available for anyone who wants to try.
After dinner, guests gather in second floor library overlooking the grounds for the evening lecture on subjects ranging from medical (such as how to detect trouble spots in the body through pulse diagnosis) to practical (the health benefits of cooking with certain herbs and spices).
Packages from $680/day.