Taking an Ayurveda course in Sri Lanka is like returning to Paradise. It gives you time to finally find and heal yourself – and be whole. Today, an experience report by myAustrian Fan Julia from the exquisite tropical island in the Indian Ocean.
Life isn’t always nice to us. From illness to bereavement and heartache – there are numerous life situations, unfortunately, that can repeatedly make it difficult to be positive or even happy. For me personally, when I decided to visit Sri Lanka to undergo a course of Ayurveda treatment, I couldn’t help feeling it was something I needed to do to save my life.
My heart and soul had probably come under more sustained fire than anything else in recent months, as I had been forced to endure the loss of not one but two loved ones, one in a bereavement and one in a separation. Only a bit of time out with a significant recovery factor could help me now! Ayurveda, the millennia-old Indian art of holistic healing that means no less than “science of life”, sounded like it could be my proverbial treatment of last resort.
After taking a four-day round trip to Sri Lanka’s most popular tourist attractions, my girlfriend and I arrived at our hotel, the Villa Lanka Pearl, in the south-west of the island, overflowing with wonderful impressions – but completely exhausted. So we were glad to find ourselves back on the terrace at our small but refined Ayurveda paradise, cocktail in hand. Set in a lush garden, and with its swimming pool, tastefully furnished rooms and friendly, smiling staff, the hotel was just a few moments’ walk from a dreamy, palm-lined beach. Listening to the waves breaking nearby and the twitter of the birds of paradise all around us, we enjoyed the intoxicating effect of alcohol for the last time for the next ten days.
We wanted to attend a light version of the notorious Panchakarma course at the Villa Lanka Pearl. This promises to cleanse body, soul and spirit using five purifying actions. And indeed, when we began getting to know other guests at the first communal evening meal, there was an undeniable glow – a tranquility and calm radiating from within like a reassuring, warming light – in the eyes of the guests who had been here for some time. Would we find something similar in ourselves, we wondered? What effect would the Ayurveda course have on us?!
Ayurveda is healing and time out for its own sake. Whether you just want to fast, or deal with more complicated health issues such as problems with your metabolism, allergies, rheumatism, arthritis, digestive or respiratory complaints, sleep disorders, psychological stress or burn-out – this holistic medical approach can help you achieve recovery, no matter what your problem may be. Every Ayurveda therapy consists of a combination of measures designed to bring the body, soul and spirit back into alignment.
I attended my first appointment with the Ayurveda doctor the next morning. She took my pulse, examined my tongue and asked about my complaints and lifestyle. When she asked the simple question, “And how are you feeling?”, it just erupted out of me. I couldn’t control myself, and burst into tears. Crying, crying, crying. Even I couldn’t explain exactly why. All I did know was this: the time had now finally come for me to look after myself, and myself alone. I could do so, had to do so, and dared do so.
After my outburst, I was prescribed plenty of rest to begin with, with a diet adapted to my needs to complement this. Each of the 14 guests on the course there had their very own diet individually and freshly prepared every day. As well as this, of course, we all had to take (usually brown- or green-coloured) pills after the communal meals. The yoga lesson was given by the therapist, Hachi, on the roof terrace of our apartment house – in amongst the palm fronds and exotic foliage – every day before breakfast. For me, though, the loveliest things of all were the massages, massages, massages! At least three times a day, I enjoyed massages either on the stomach, legs, the feet and head, back, shoulders or arms. Apart from the sensitive parts of the body, the powerful brown hands of the skilful Ayurveda therapist left nothing out. Thanks to the oil, which is used in abundance during the course, you feel like a sardine in oil by the time you’ve been here for three days. This isn’t such a bad thing, though: everybody’s in the same boat, and looks exactly the same!
Once I had regained my strength after the “cleansing day” (when you’re given laxative pills), I started going down to the kilometres-long, golden sandy beach before yoga every morning. Here, at what felt like the end of the world, in amongst the waves, sand and palm trees, I greeted the sun every day as it burst skywards from between the palms. In between massages and treatments, I swam in the sea or lay in the shade, read or chatted to the other guests, swam a length of the pool or – for a bit of variety – relaxed in the wood-burning sauna. From five o’clock in the afternoon onwards, we would always go down to the beach, where we could drink a cup of tea and watch the sun sink into the sea. After dinner we would usually just chat awhile, before heading off to bed to sleep by 9.30 pm at the latest. Lovely.
I can’t really remember exactly when it happened. It must have been on the sixth or seventh day. Suddenly, when I woke up and greeted the sun on the beach in the early morning, just like every day, I felt a deep gratitude flow through me. This feeling returns whenever I think back to that moment.
To this day, close to a year after I did my Ayurveda course at the Villa Lanka Pearl hotel, I often think back to this lovely time, and that moment on the beach in particular. The effect of an Ayurveda course is supposed to last for about half a year. For me, it keeps on working to this day.