The benefits of Ayurveda are aplenty, and at one centre, they aim to educate people on how to keep one’s mind, body and spirit in harmony with nature.
At some point in time, most of us would have tried a massage, whether it’s Shiatsu, Thai, Balinese, Lomi-Lomi, you name it. Massages may be rejuvenating, painful or painless. Likewise, the environment may be dingy, sleazy or posh.
But when you walk into Samkkya Naturo-Ayur centre, housed in a bungalow in the city, you feel like you’ve walked into a cosy and classy home with friendly people and warm smiles.
The centre prides itself as a “wellness place”, and has an in-house ayurvedic doctor who provides consultation.
“A lot of people come here as a last resort for their problems without knowing that Ayurveda could also help them if they had come earlier. But most people I’ve talked to seem to have had bad experiences when it comes to massages, so my plan is to take Ayurveda to the mainstream and let people know that they have choices when it comes to treatment,” says Samkkya’s managing director P. Jeythevan, 34.
The centre was opened by Jeythevan’s father in 2005.
“My dad has a PhD in traditional medicine and would always tell his kids that ‘this was the medicine of the future’. I came here to help out in the marketing area and eventually decided to stick around,” says Jeythevan, formerly a trader in buying and selling machinery.
Ayurveda, the world’s oldest healing tradition, originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. The basic philosophy of Ayurveda asserts that a person’s health depends on harmony of mind, body and spirit with nature. Where there is imbalance, there is disease.
“These imbalances are caused by wrong food combinations, unhealthy lifestyles, stress and toxins,” says Dr Shiv Kumar Vats, the centre’s ayurvedic doctor.
Inspired by nature, ayurvedic wisdom uses time-tested, clinically-proven natural formulation derived from plants, together with cleansing therapies, to achieve well-being.
Clients who walk in have to consult Dr Shiv Kumar before they can opt for a massage or treatment.
“Massage is only a healing modality because the body has the power to self-heal, but you have to eliminate the problem from the root. My interpretation of Ayurveda is: Are you understanding the real value of exercise and abstinence? I have to explain to the clients what Ayurveda is before we can proceed so that they can understand better,” says Dr Shiv Kumar.
“Many people have the misconception that we are just a massage centre but they’re wrong. We give you a constitutional chart and advise on a diet you can follow. In many cases, diet alone can make a difference,” Dr Shiv Kumar asserts.
Ayurveda describes the five elements that form the universe: space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements combine to form three bio-energies or dosha known as vata (that governs bodily functions concerned with movement), pitta (that governs heat, metabolism and energy production) and kapha (that governs physical structure and fluid balance).
My hour-long consultation revealed me to be a combination of vata and pitta (air and fire), but leaning towards vata. Basically in Dr Shiv Kumar words, I have no “dominant dosha but am hyperactive, creative yet logical, practical yet emotional, and have a weak digestive system.”
Apparently, I’m already doing 70% of things right (hooray!) but I have to work on the other 30% to be totally in balance. Dr Shiv Kumar recommended that I try a male therapist.
Initially, I was not comfortable with the idea because I would only be clad in disposable underwear. Jeythevan, however, assuaged my fears, and along came Bhakeesh Kumar, my therapist. He was respectful and had such a pleasant demeanour that I was put at ease almost immediately.
All the therapists here are certified and — just as with the oils and herbs — come from Kerala, India, the birthplace of Ayurveda.
Bhakeesh explained what he was going to do and asked for my preferred pressure level. He then applied the blended oil (nourishing and anti-inflammatory) Dr Shiv Kumar had suggested.
Using firm strokes, Bhakeesh kneaded and helped remove the various knots on my back, paying extra attention to my shoulder because I had a soft tissue injury there.
“Your body seems very tired. Are you not getting enough rest or sleep?” he queried, and I guiltily admitted I wasn’t.
“Doing all the exercises in the world and eating right isn’t going to make you healthy. You need time to rejuvenate, too,” he advised, and I nodded.
Bhakeesh, 38, has been a therapist for the past 17 years. He learnt the art from his father, who was a traditional doctor in Kerala. Having worked in many countries, he is now senior therapist at Samkkya. I would highly recommend him.
Once the massage was over, he applied kidzhi (hot pouch comprising a blend of herbs) all over my body, concentrating on my shoulder. After my session was over, Bhakeesh advised me to keep the oil on for at least two hours before showering. I was then ushered into a cosy lounge to relax with hot ginger tea and biscuits. If it were not for the interviews I had to conduct, I would have dozed off.
While massage is the main item on the menu, Samkkya also offers treatments for back pain, arthritis, diabetes management, weight loss and detoxification programmes. And you don’t necessarily have to have ailments to try out the massages. The impressive list of Samkkya’s clientele includes royals and dignitaries, all of whom speak highly of the therapeutic sessions.
Former government chief psychiatrist Tan Sri Dr M. Mahadevan spent 42 days at the centre after he was kidnapped and beaten with rods in 2009. A former polo player and avid horseman, he could barely walk without experiencing excruciating pain in his back and legs. His spine was so badly injured that doctors recommended surgery but he chose to go for alternative treatment.
“I can walk a lot better now and can even manage short distances without the walker. The massages have definitely improved my circulation and I’m pleased with the results. I’m already in my 80s and, at my age, I don’t think I want to go for spinal surgery,” Mahadevan says.
Another client is Prakash Nagarajan, 29, who discovered the centre after family members told him about it.
“I’ve been going through a rough patch at work and the environment here is very soothing and welcoming. I felt far more relaxed than with other massages I’ve tried,” says the general manager of a publishing company.
“I’ve cancelled a lot of appointment to be here, so yes, I must really like it, and I’m coming in for more!” he adds.
For Sumitra D. Raman, 32, massages are a way for her to rejuvenate, and she tries to go for one every month.
“This is the first time I’m trying out an ayurvedic massage in Malaysia, and it’s the best I’ve had so far because I can really connect to it. After consulting the doctor, I have a much deeper understanding of the science, whereas with the other massages, the masseurs do not explain things to you.
“I was so relaxed and had to fight from falling asleep because I wanted to go back and sleep in my own bed!
Samkkya has also recently opened an ayurvedic reflexology centre in Brickfields. What exactly is that?
“Our feet have 62 nerve endings which are connected to our body. Stimulating these points increases blood flow to the various parts of the body to promote overall well-being. The therapist then massages the leg using ayurvedic strokes before a hot poultice is applied on the shoulder,” explains Jeythevan.
Most of the reflexologists at the centre are blind, hence they have a heightened level of sensitivity to clients. When I made a visit, my therapist could tell immediately I was not relaxed just because my head was upright and not leaning back on the sofa. If I clenched my fingers, she could detect the stress from my feet!
The ambience here is soothing, the lighting is dim and strains of the sitar fill the air.
Like its sister outlet, it has a swanky feel. You’re given a cup of tea when you start your session and the therapist will explain if she finds “problematic” areas on the foot.
As I left the premises, the receptionist handed me a flyer of their new outlet which read: “The path to good health starts with self knowledge.” – By Revathi Murugappan
1, Jalan Abdullah
Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (03) 2287 2111
2nd Floor, Wisma LPS
Little India, Brickfields
Tel: (03) 2260 2243