“The thorough knowledge and practice of a way of life which leads to the establishment of prime health, physically, mentally and spiritually”.
Sri Lankan Ayurveda has been practiced on the island for over a thousand years, with Ayurveda still being the predominant medical system on the island nation today. Sri Lanka has also become a popular destination for foreign guests seeking Ayurveda during the last 15-20 years. Many are attracted by the holistic perspective of Ayurveda – the very broad approach to health, incorporating physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Many also are appreciative of a medical system which does not rely so heavily on medications, turning instead to changes to one’s diet and lifestyle to effect better health. The warm tropical climate found along the southern coast of Sri Lanka is an added advantage. This warmth assists in opening the skin’s pores, intensifying the deep cleansing and the disposal of toxins from the body. Psychologically the calming effect of a stay near a tropical beach also aids in the overall effectiveness of Ayurveda. It provides the ideal setting to take time out, to recharge and assess one’s priorities in life.
Originating in ancient India, Ayurveda is one of the oldest scientific medical systems in the world. Ayurveda focuses on two main considerations:
Health in Ayurveda is understood in the holistic sense of incorporating one’s body, mind and soul/spirit. Therefore, Ayurveda describes a way of life: Yoga, meditation, lifestyle practices, behaviour, diet, detoxification and rejuvenation procedures (Panchakarma) etc which will satisfy the basic instinct to keep fit, stay healthy and to live a long, fulfilling life. This holistic view of health sets it apart from ‘conventional’ systems of medicine which seek to treat the symptoms of an illness and don’t attach as much importance to the role of diet and lifestyle in curing illness and maintaing good health.
The underlying theoretical basis of Ayurveda lies in the five basic material elements that exist in the universe (macrocosm) and in man (microcosm): space/ether (Akasha), air (Vayu), fire (Tejas), water (Apa) and Earth (Prithvi). In various combinations these five great elements form the three doshas or bio energies – Vata, Pitta, Kapha – which are unique to every human being. This basic constitution or essential nature is termed Prakriti, and regulates all physical, mental and spiritual processes. It also determines specific strengths and weaknesses, susceptibility to disease and characteristics of every individual.
When these three doshas are in balance we are healthy. When they become misaligned the way is paved for the onset of disease. This loss of balance can take place due to many factors such as:
In the short term, the body may be able to compensate or correct the imbalance by self healing. However, if this does not occur, toxic metabolic products called ama will accumulate causing the immune system to weaken and the life energy to be depleted – the onset of illness.