If you’re taking the Tube to the Ayurveda Pura spa, do allow yourself 15 minutes to walk from through the south-of-the-river industrial wasteland that lies between it and North Greenwich Station. As a guide, you’re about halfway there when you reach the lorry park.
Being my usual disorganised self, I didn’t allow enough time and arrived late, stressed and guilty for my full-body massage. But the spa manager, Colette Park, couldn’t have been lovelier and gave me a glass of water and a form to fill in without reproach.
Having established that I didn’t have any special needs or medical complaints beyond being really, really pregnant, Colette took me into a treatment room and briefly explained the first principles ayurvedic treatment. In this Indian approach to healthcare and relaxation, the focus is on three different elements, or doshas: vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth). You are born with these elements in different quantities, and it is important to maintain that balance, whatever it is, throughout your life. Pregnancy is a kapha state, so my treatment would be tweaked to focus on that.
What it all means I have no idea, but in practice I was left to undress and then arranged on my side on the massage table with a towel supporting my bump. Applying sesame oil (I could smell what it was but it wasn’t really strong, like something you’d cook a stir-fry with), Colette used long, gentle strokes to massage first my back and neck, then my legs, feet, arms and hands while gentle music played in the background.
This was really blissful and as a bonus I managed to avoid the twin pregnancy pitfalls of either falling asleep or breaking wind. I did however lose track of time, and was surprised to discover when the treatment was finished that it had taken well over an hour. Colette invited me to shower off the sesame in the immaculately clean bathroom next door, and when I emerged I was presented with a cup of herbal tea to sip before re-entering the world. The best part was waking up the next day and realising I’d had my best night’s sleep in months.
I’ve marked Ayurveda Pura down for the location, a large shop-front the aforementioned mile away from North Greenwich. Given that it’s branded as a spa, there are not many facilities; it doesn’t look particularly luxurious from the outside and it seems a little odd that the reception and waiting area are sharing space with a café. This isn’t somewhere you’d go with a friend to spend the day.
But if you’re looking for a great treatment rather than a polished and luxurious venue, I would definitely recommend it. The team are lovely, the price is reasonable (it’s £60 for an hour’s full-body massage) and the treatment will leave you floating back to the underground station.