Healing heritage: a guide to Sri Lankan Ayurveda

Healing heritage: a guide to Sri Lankan Ayurveda

If you have been researching Sri Lanka holidays, chances are you have come across the term Ayurveda. It is a core part of the country’s cultural heritage: but what exactly is Ayurveda? Use this guide to discover all you need to know about Sri Lankan Ayurveda, from its origins to its place in the island’s modern-day society.

The history of Ayurveda

What is Ayurveda?

A Sanskrit word translating as ‘The Science of Life’, Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It is based on ancient directives for holistic healing using only that which is natural.

Ill health is thought to be caused by the mismanagement of your prakruki – your unique physical constitution that is linked to your dominant dosha – which causes an imbalance in either the mind or the body. Restoration of health is therefore achieved by reinstating harmony such as by reducing stress, eliminating physical impurities, and increasing your ability to resist illness.

The origins of Ayurveda

Ayurveda originated in India over 3,000 years ago, and remains a widespread medical practice throughout the Indian Subcontinent. The concept of internal imbalances causing ill health was a popular one at the time, echoed in the ancient Western medical idea of Humourism.

Ayurvedic in practice

How does Ayurveda work?

The practice of Ayurveda seeks both to identify and treat problems with your unique constitution.

Firstly, a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor will reveal you your particular dosha and shed light on any underlying issues, both mental and physical. After that, a comprehensive plan of holistic healing is put together, personalised to you. It encompasses diet, fitness, and a range of treatments designed to relax the mind and revitalise the body.

Popular Ayurvedic treatments

Following a dosha-related diet is growing in popularity as a way to detox the body of impurities. This is grounded in the idea of opposites: for example, those ruled by fire should eat cooling foods such as cucumber and water melon. It also follows the general rule of avoiding processed foods and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Also popular are the authentic Ayurvedic wellness treatments. From stress-relieving head massages to full-body wraps and steam baths, these treatments simultaneously soothe and stimulate. A special oil infused with spices and exotic plants such as cinnamon underpins each treatment. Most unique is shirodhara, a process where warm oil is poured slowly onto the centre of the forehead to remove tension and bring clarity.

Adding Ayurveda to your holiday

There are several ways that you can incorporate Ayurveda into your Sri Lanka holiday, whether you want to try a treatment or two or have a full consultation and intensive wellness experience.

Many of the best mid-range and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka offer Ayurvedic massages so you can have a taste of this part of the island’s ancient heritage without a full focus on wellbeing. Alternatively, you can choose to stay at an Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka for a more in-depth experience that can last anywhere from 2 nights to 3 weeks. The wellness retreats vary from rustic wattle-and-daub accommodation in spectacular remote locations to utterly opulent spas with the latest luxury facilities. Several are award-winning such as the staggering Santani Resort in the Kandyan hills, and most offer additional wellness activities including guided yoga and meditation.