• this is india sauna in india

This is India! (twenty)

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Hippie in Heels.

What I was up to other than here:

  • I spent the week hiking around Coorg, jumping in waterfalls, and tracking leopards through the jungle with goMowgli.
  • I wrote an article about Diwali in Goa & the monsters that are lurking at that time for FairyTale Traveler
  • I celebrated one year of blogging this week- woo hoo! Thanks to all of you who read this site!

Now your story,

Based on my page views, it seems like my readers really like awkward massage stories? Well, you’re in luck because here’s another and it’s all about a sauna in India.

I was off to a fairly well known Ayervedic healing center near Baga with a friend. She goes for a special weight control powder massage and I was going to try out the normal Ayurvedic. I have a couple masseuses on speed dial that will come to my house, but this was only 700 and I thought would be a bit more proper.

I put on the paper undies as advised, which yes is very normal in India, and watched as oil was reheated in a big metal pan. It was on a small hot plate. You know how when you deep fry something, there are little bits of crunch in the bottom of the pan?

For some reason, there were little bits in this oil. Now, I don’t think he’d just fried up some cod before I stepped in, but it was mysterious. 

The massage was as I had feared- little bits of grit tearing at my skin. I wasn’t sure if it was purposeful (exfoliating) or not, as most Ayurvedic massages I had were normal oil (minus that one time it was cooking oil).

But here comes the BEST part!

After the massage, per usual, it was time for the sauna to really let that oil sink into the pores while you sweat out. It wasn’t a sauna… it wasn’t even a shower that some places just stick you in… it was a box with a head hole cut out

Once I sat in the box, they put the top on with just a cut-out for my head and I watched as they…

hooked the hose to a pressure cooker and placed the other end in the box.

I had fears of explosion, but actually enjoyed my pressure cooker steam sauna. It was hot as fuck though and I had to get out after about four minutes.


This is India!


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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Justine October 16, 2014 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Haha, this story is weird but hilarious at the same time. This is the exact reason I get freaked out by getting massages from strangers when I don’t know what their qualifications are! I commend you for staying in the box for four minutes! Love this story!

  2. Hannah October 17, 2014 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Haha, Brilliant! I had visions of something a little bit like a box a magician would use.

  3. Tim | UrbanDuniya October 18, 2014 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Bahahahahahaa ohhhh I have soooo many massage and sauna stories from India… Oh God. That pressure cooker contraption sounds terrifying!

    • Rachel Jones October 18, 2014 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      It was, I kept thinking omg what if this explodes?

      • Tim | UrbanDuniya October 19, 2014 at 7:13 am - Reply

        LOL to be fair, I have that thought every time I see a pressure cooker bring used anyway. Needless to say, Indian kitchens are stressful places for me.

  4. Anurag October 19, 2014 at 8:29 am - Reply

    :) nothing that you describe here appears normal. Although your fear of pressure cooker exploding is justified I guess.

  5. Michelle October 20, 2014 at 6:54 am - Reply

    I wish you had a photograph taken. lol.

    • Rachel Jones October 20, 2014 at 9:38 am - Reply

      I knowwwww . a friend of mine had one of her phone but can’t find it. Maybe i’ll go back and do this ALL OVER AGAIN just to get you all a photo lol

  6. Glamourous Traveller October 20, 2014 at 9:26 am - Reply

    Hahaha! Omg, you might want to patent that pressure box steamer and bring it to the US

    • Rachel Jones October 20, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

      lol, I’ll tell people it’s ancient Indian practice..

  7. rebecca October 27, 2014 at 5:54 am - Reply

    hilarious! you are one brave woman for trying this

  8. A NAIR November 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Haha … I was reading your blog for quite sometime and let me tell you, it is really an eye opener for me as an Indian. Things we don;t even care to notice seems to be interesting to the foreigner.
    I had a good laugh about this “sauna” technique because it is the first time I heard a pressure cooker being used for sauna. The steam contraption you mentioned, I have been in one of those before but I don;t remember being subject to a pressure cooker steam. Next time, I should try and see where those pipes are coming from. Haha.

    • Rachel Jones November 12, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

      LOL, well speaking of the sauna, I was just at IVAC in Mysore this really popular Ayurveda place and they had the box as well but this time it wasn’t a pressure cooked it was something more legit. So I think I was in a bad place!

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