That healing touch!
PINK frangipani flowers float in terracotta bowls, their sweet fragrance a counterpoint to the earthy herbal notes of the oil being gently massaged into your feet and body.
Working together in silent partnership, two masseuses transport you to that elusive state where body and mind are in complete harmony, the only reminder of the outside world being the soft sigh of the Indian Ocean in the background. Could anything so utterly blissful also be good for you?
It certainly could, if you are enjoying one of the world’s oldest forms of healing. Ayurveda – derived from the Sanskrit words for life (ayuh) and knowledge or science (veda) — originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and soon spread to Sri Lanka, where Sinhalese kings established ayurvedic treatment centres in the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.
Today’s luxurious ayurvedic spas are a far cry from the medical treatment centres of the past, yet the principles remain the same. A combination of native herbs, diet, massage, hydrotherapy and oil treatment is used to treat everything from stress to diabetes, migraine, asthma, arthritis and high blood pressure. Ayurvedic specialists will tell you that this form of treatment also helps boost the immune system, promote a general sense of well-being and even helps delay the ageing process.
With promises like this, it’s no wonder that almost every self-respecting luxurious resort or hotel in Sri Lanka has some form of spa or ayurvedic massage centre.
With many in the West turning from the sort of medicine which treats only the body towards a more holistic approach, the ayurvedic principle that body, mind and soul are inextricably linked strikes a responsive chord. What’s more, followers of traditional Chinese medicine find the stress on balance inherent in ayurveda perfectly rational.