The science of longevity

MOST City folk would probably not include traditional Indian homeopathy in their daily list of considerations. Yet ayurveda – which comes from the Sanskrit words for “longevity” (ayus) and “related to knowledge” (veda) – is quietly playing an increasing role in the lives of health-seekers – urban and otherwise. Madonna, Jennifer Aniston and Cindy Crawford are among its most famous adherents – fans of yoga and a special diet based on body type. But with an increasing selection of beauty products, massage and diet plans that use ayurvedic wisdom, more and more people are jumping on board.

With that in mind, and with a feeling of stagnation in mind and body, I went along to meet Loretta Heywood (pictured), an Ayurvedic healer. Her speciality is massage but she has recently produced food detox packages designed around your “type”. These include “vata” (people with thin, long faces, dull skin and small lips and eyes and prone to worry. Short end of the stick, in other words); “pitta” (medium physique, sharp appetites, easily angered), and “kapha” (short, stout folk who have a tendency towards greed). Each one has different digestive, menstrual and temperamental profiles. The detox is the ultimate in bespoke: a food package designed in consideration of your most intimate sensitivities – kaphas may need more lentils or fruit than vatas, say. Followed alongside two massages and a colonic (offered as part of the detox), it can not fail to leave you feeling lighter and better.

But I was in the market for a massage – and a detox massage sounded just the thing. Loretta first decided I was mostly “pitta” with a dab of “kapha” – and thus gave me an invigorating deep tissue going-over designed to both calm by temperamental spirit and enliven my sluggish system. It was an hour and a half of vigorous bliss – and a total body workout for Loretta. At the end, she remarked that there had been something “bored” in my body – something understimulated, and she had tweaked her massage to correct this.

My toxins awakened after that pummelling, I was expecting to feel a bit out of it. You’re meant to go and sit in a park after an ayurvedic treatment but I had to return to a stressful situation at work. A park would have been nice but actually I found myself alert and calm when faced with challenges back at the office.

Round two: Loretta wanted to see me again to check up on my body composition, my vibe, and my general wellbeing. This time I had a massage that lasted near two hours and left no part of my body unattended to. Chest, stomach, legs, back, face, head, toes – all kneaded and kneaded as we sought to unleash toxins, invigorate digestion and create a shift in energy field. Again, Loretta had an uncanny sixth sense: she could feel my state of adrenaline, my alertness, my overactivity of mind. Rather than trying to soothe me, she went at me with athleticism, harnessing and strengthening my dispersed energies.

When I left I was walking on air, happy and clear-eyed, despite having been short of sleep the night before. Ayurveda is a simple idea – but ingenious. Work with your body, listen closely to it, and you’ll love longer. Amen to that. For more info on massages and detox, contact Loretta Heywood on 07973120331 or go to