Ayurveda Retreat in Sri Lanka - Top 10 Tips

There is no better place to enjoy an Ayurveda Retreat than the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. With its lush tropical weather, warm open-hearted people, unspoiled sandy beaches, ancient forests, lush tea estates, timeless ruins, colourful history, amazing wildlife, and distinctive cuisine, no wonder it’s known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. If you are interested in enjoying an authentic Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka, continue reading for more information. 

Over millennia, Sri Lanka has developed its own authentic school of Ayurveda that builds upon the Indian school of Ayurveda based on the use of locally grown herbs and other practices. Many travel to Sri Lanka each year to enjoy authentic Ayurveda treatments such as Abhyanga, Shirodhara and Panchakarma (Ayurveda cleanse) for detoxification, rejuvenation and weight loss. Like neighbouring India, Sri Lanka boasts a longstanding history of Ayurvedic and Yoga practice. Originating in India more than 5,000 years ago, Ayurveda is considered by many to be the world’s oldest healing science. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “The Science of Life” and is often called the “Mother of All Healing”. This ancient healing modality emphasises the promotion of vitality and understands that health is not merely the absence of disease. Health is maintained by preserving the delicate balance between mind, body and spirit through paying close attention to one’s thoughts, lifestyle, and diet. 

Shirodhara Treatment
Table of Contents

How to choose the best Luxury Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka?

How to choose the best Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka?

Steeped in rich Buddhist history, Sri Lanka is one of the best places to enjoy an authentic Ayurveda retreat. While Ayurveda existed long before the arrival of Buddhism, the contribution of Buddhist thought to this ancient healing modality has been invaluable. The Buddha was also called Maha Bhishak (Great physician), focusing his teachings on the issue of existential suffering in the mind and how to alleviate it through meditation. The science of Ayurveda primarily focuses more on the wellbeing of the body. When these two powerful modalities are combined together, they act synergistically, helping one achieve inner balance and sustainable benefits long after the end of a retreat. 

There are many Ayurveda retreat centres located in stunning locations across this beautiful island, each offering unique healing packages and complementary services catering to different clientele and budgets. The best retreat centres offer a unique package where individuals can experience the benefits of Ayurveda treatments in conjunction with Yoga and Meditation.

10 Tips to Consider

Here is an expanded list of considerations when researching for an authentic Ayurveda retreat experience in Sri Lanka:

Ayurveda Retreat Si Lanka
Personalised Yoga Classes

What treatments can I expect in an Ayurveda retreat?

Ayurveda Retreat in Sri Lanka
Ayurveda Herbal Bath

Ayurvedic treatment begins with an in-depth consultation, where an Ayurvedic Doctor learns more about your current health status, discomforts and areas that you would like to address. To determine your Dosha, your pulse is taken and questions are asked about your digestion and outlook on life. This initial consultation provides the Ayurveda Doctor with information to begin your treatment protocol.

Ayurvedic treatment is informed by the understanding that everything in the universe is composed of five elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. These elements combine in the human body to form three life forces (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) known as Doshas, which determine the functioning of the human body. Each individual inherits a unique mix of these three Doshas, with one usually being predominant, and it is believed that health issues are experienced due to an imbalance of the Doshas. 

A treatment plan will be specially designed for you, taking into consideration your unique mental, emotional, and physical make up, and the balance between your Doshas. 

Examples of Ayurveda Treatments

Panchakarma

A key pillar of Ayurvedic treatment is Panchakarma; a detoxification process designed to resolve your ailments and bring restoration and balance to your entire being. Traditionally, Panchakarma is an intensive and demanding programme comprising the following five classical elements: herbal oil enemas, nasal irrigation, therapeutic vomiting, purgation (enemas/laxatives) and bloodletting. If you come from the West, we would recommend staying at a retreat centre that offers modified Panchakarma protocols specially designed to suit your constitution as traditional Panchakarma programmes may not suit a modern lifestyle and Western constitutions. 

Abhyanga

In addition to Panchakarma protocols, you can also expect to enjoy Ayurvedic massage therapy, known as Abyanga where warmed oils like sesame and coconut are medicated with special herbs best suited to your Dosha. Skilled therapists apply special strokes on the body, promoting relaxation, encouraging lymphatic drainage for detoxification, and focus on nerve endings of essential organs and energetic points to release blockages and energise your body. 

Vasthi

During Vasthi, a special paste is made using gram flour that is used to create a boundary on a particular part of the body where warmed medicated oil can be poured to be absorbed by the skin. Vasthi treatment can be applied on different parts of the body to alleviate problems associated with the Vata Dosha such as sciatica, herniation, and muscular tension. 

Ayurvedic Herbal Baths

According to ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, bathing has always been considered to be a sacred, healing ritual as well as a form of holistic therapy. Ancient Ayurvedic texts speak of luxurious therapeutic baths with honey, rose petals, milk, and turmeric, followed by skin treatments where the body is coated in rich herbal pastes and floral waters. These herbal baths were specially designed to restore balance to the mind, body, and spirit. 

Shirodhara

Shirodhara is an ancient Ayurvedic healing technique that helps to induce a profound state of relaxation through the rhythmic flow of warmed medicated oil applied over specific energetic points on the forehead. It is often combined with a scalp, head, or body massage.  Shirodhara is an excellent treatment for calming the nervous system, nourishing the hair and scalp, and correcting sleep disorders by activating the pituitary and pineal glands, amongst other benefits.

Ayurvedic Diet

Ayurveda is a holistic medical science that considers the energetic and medicinal impact of food. An Ayurvedic diet is prepared in such a way that balances the three Doshas in order to help bring harmony and balance to the mind, body, and spirit.  A cornerstone of Ayurvedic cuisine is employing the 6 different tastes in every meal (sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, pungent, astringent). These tastes have different functions and help to activate various aspects of digestion to optimise digestive function.  The aforementioned are just some treatments you can expect when visiting an Ayurvedic retreat centre.

Top 3 Benefits of an Ayurveda Retreat

1. Offers a holistic approach to health
Ayurveda emphasises the cultivation of optimum health and empowers individuals with the information and tools to stay healthy. Unlike conventional Western medicine, it does not treat symptoms in isolation but instead looks at the wider picture to understand how mental, emotional, and physical imbalances can lead to symptoms of ill health such as lethargy, anxiety, and other more chronic ailments such as high blood pressure. Equipped with these tools, individuals are able to live in accordance with timeless principles and enjoy a life filled with health and vitality.

2. Complete Philosophy
Ayurveda is an ancient science with more than 5,000 years of history. It is informed by an ancient philosophy which reminds us that we are more than skin deep and that our thoughts and emotions have a palpable impact on our physical health and wellbeing. Coupled with Yoga and Meditation, Ayurveda provides individuals with all the tools they need to live a healthy, balanced life. 

3. Greater sense of Wellbeing
Ayurvedic philosophy tells us that we are all unique and on our own journeys. It encourages us to find the love within ourselves instead of comparing ourselves with others. By encouraging us to approach our individual lives in the most personalised way possible, it encourages us to discover our individual needs and work with our body with patience and loving kindness.

Ayurveda Retreat in Sri Lanka

Sen Wellness Sanctuary - Award-Winning Ayurveda Retreat in Sri Lanka

Sen Wellness Sanctuary

Sen Wellness Sanctuary is one of the best places to enjoy a luxury Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka. We are a multi-award winning wellness centre, having been featured as ’One of 20 Best Yoga Retreats in the World’ by The Times, ’10 Yoga Retreats in Beautiful Destinations Around the World’ by Travel + Leisure,  ‘Best or a Great Deal’ by Condé Nast Traveller Spa Guide, and were honoured to grace the cover of TASCHEN magazine’s ‘Great Escapes Yoga: The Retreat Book’, just to share a few examples. 

Founded by Sam Kankanamge, an exceptional, world renowned healthcare professional based in London’s prestigious Harley Street Medical District with over 30 years-experience in transforming patients’ health and who has been called ‘the best back specialist in the country’ by The Times (2014), the Sanctuary is the result of Sam’s dream to support people in an even deeper way. Combining his experience working in the West with his Sri Lankan heritage, rooted in Ayurvedic traditions, Sam’s sensitive understanding of these different cultures, mindsets, challenges and needs is reflected in our authentic offerings at the Sanctuary.

Yoga and Meditation Classes
Ayurvedic Treatments

Ayurveda at Sen Wellness - Bespoke and Signature Retreats 

At the Sanctuary, guests have the choice between Bespoke and Signature Retreats. Both Bespoke and Signature retreats are tailored to your personal constitution with the difference being that Signature Retreats incorporate group ceremonies and transformational healing workshops for those looking to immerse themselves on a deeper healing journey with an intimate group of like minded individuals. 

Bespoke Retreats are available all year round and are inclusive of daily sunrise and sunset yoga sessions with our experienced yoga teachers, Ayurvedically balanced meals and treatments, as well as meditation, gong baths, and spiritual concierge sessions with our visiting Buddhist Monk. 

Packages range from shorter stays such as 1 to 7 days, up to 2 weeks, and we are also able to curate longer retreats for individuals looking for a deeper time of contemplation and renewal. 

Upon arrival, you will receive a one-on-one consultation with our Resident Ayurvedic Doctor who will take your full case history and understand your personal health and wellness goals for coming on retreat. During your time with us, your meals, medication, and daily Ayurvedic treatments will help you get closer to your goals so that you leave us feeling restored and rejuvenated. 

Based on decades of experience working with western constitutions, our expert team has curated our own updated and modified version of Panchakarma treatments to suit a modern lifestyle and that integrate with other holistic treatment modalities to help you gain the greatest results. 

You will also be able to enjoy Ayurvedic herbal baths, Shirodhara, Abhyanga, Vasthi, and other authentic treatments during your stay at the Sanctuary.

Gong Bath with a Buddhist monk
Signature Retreats

Signature Retreats are the highlight of our calendar at the Sanctuary, and take place four times a year, in harmony with the natural flow of the seasons. Limited to 16 participants, these transformational journeys are hosted by our Founder and renowned healer, Sam Kankanamge, and include personal treatment sessions with him as well as potent group ceremonies and rituals that harness the power of the collective. 

Daily sunrise and sunset yoga led by an experienced yoga teacher, sacred cacao ceremonies, breathwork, group healings, and fire rituals are just some of the experiences you can expect during our Signature Retreats. Alongside group sessions, you will also enjoy personalised Ayurvedic treatments following a one-on-one consultation with our Resident Ayurvedic doctor. 

Gathering a group of special souls for a ten-day journey together, we believe that no group comes together by accident, and that there is always a deeper purpose and intention. Some of the deepest healing can occur when we allow others to be a mirror for ourselves. The group naturally evolves during the retreat; strong connections are made and lasting friendships are formed. 

Located near pristine Rekawa Nature Reserve in the Southern province of Sri Lanka, Sen Wellness Sanctuary is the perfect Indian Ocean destination to enjoy Ayurvedic treatments and immerse yourself in the healing benefits of nature. Designed and built with sensitivity to our natural surroundings and land, our cabanas are reached by a raised wooden walkway to allow for the natural flows of animal migration, and offers glimpses of a rich array of birds and wildlife among the trees.  Encounters with the wild are a daily occurence, with wild monkeys, peacocks, and turtles all in close proximity. 

In fact, Rekawa Nature Reserve is one of the few places in the world where you can observe marine turtles in their natural habitat. Five out of seven of the world’s marine turtle species, many of which are now endangered, are found in Sri Lanka and return to their natal beach here each year to lay their eggs. These include the leatherback, green loggerhead, olive ridley, and hawksbill turtles. Previous guests have bore witness to this spectacular moment where the cycle of life renews itself, and many count it amongst their more magical moments. 

During your stay, you can also enjoy free canoe excursions on Rekawa Lagoon, flanked by majestic emerald mangroves that are rich in wildlife. 

Surroundings at Sen Wellness Sanctuary

At Sen Wellness Sanctuary, we truly care about the environment and supporting our local communities. In November 2019, we launched an exciting initiative to plant 10,000 mangrove trees within Rekawa Nature Reserve. 

Mangroves are particularly effective when it comes to carbon off-setting because they absorb three times as much CO2 from the atmosphere compared to most other trees. They also play a crucial role in promoting biodiversity, offering an ideal habitat and food source for a wide variety of species, from shrimps and fish to water monitors and birds. 

In addition to their role in combating climate change and promoting biodiversity, this project also supports 50 local families who depend on the rich supply of fish and shellfish in the mangroves for a large part of their livelihoods. 

This project is also a collaboration with our local community; Rekawa villagers are paid to run tree nurseries where the young mangroves can be prepared and looked after until they are ready to be planted. After the planting, local farmers look after the trees, helping them to reach maturity. 

People come from all over the world to visit Sri Lanka and we have a responsibility to balance our carbon footprint. We hope that our project will become a model to inspire other small businesses like ours to set up tree planting initiatives in their communities. 

The Final Word

There are many Ayurveda retreats in Sri Lanka to choose from, and a lot to consider depending on time and budgetary constraints. However, if you are looking for an authentic Ayurveda experience set within stunning natural surroundings, with an established reputation for excellence, then one retreat stands out from the rest; Sen Wellness Sanctuary. To find out more or to get a tailored treatment plan for what you need, contact Sen Wellness Sanctuary by clicking here.