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For centuries, herbal bathtubs of Sri Lanka have been a place to connect and to heal – and are even considered sacred by many Sri Lankans.
It was going to be a warm Sunday, I felt it as the first sunrays kissing the earth around us. It was the season known as “Eesana Mosam” or North-east monsoon, that occurs from November to April. As the name suggests, during this period, Sri Lanka’s eastern and northern parts are heavily battered by monsoon wind and subjected to heavy rain. But, a large part of Sri Lanka including south, west, north-west and the mountains have fair weather during this period. 6 months period from November to April considered being the best time to travel in Sri Lanka due to the good weather.
Where to find a steam bath?
There are many possibilities to get a steam bath treatment in Sri Lanka. The best and most sought after method for it is stepping into an Ayurveda resort that can be found on the beach areas as well as many places in the interior of Sri Lanka. Ther is a large number of Ayurveda beach resort dotted along Sri Lanka’s west and south coast.
I’m at the Ayurveda treatment centre, with Jorge, who is getting ready to feel the healing effect of Ayurveda herbal bath. He is undergoing an Ayurveda treatment package for a few days now but without any particular illness. According to Ayurveda, you should not essentially be a patient to take Ayurveda treatment package. There are many benefits that you can reap from by taking regular Ayurveda healing sessions such as get rid of elimination of toxins accumulated in the body.
Jorge was lauding this traditional Sri Lankan Ayurveda treatments experience for days, telling me how wonderful he feels after the session.
The day of the guests, who are venturing on an Ayurveda treatment is divided into several sessions such as Shirodara, body massage, head massage, herbal bath etc. Usually, the day at the Ayurveda hotels kickoff with meditation program and later starts the all good works involved with treatments. The herbal bath is an important part of the Ayurveda treatment package, which believed to bring you many health benefits.
Ayurveda healing centre is located adjoining the beach resort, basically, it is a part of the resort, which dedicated to serving the inhouse guests. The beach resort and the Ayurveda centre share the pristine beaches of Bentota and you are just a few feet away from the warm waters of the Indian ocean.
The Ayurveda centre is consisting of the Consultation room, herbal massage centre, Shirodara rooms, herbal bathroom, Yoga & meditation rooms and washroom and you will spend few hours each day in the Ayurveda centre while moving between different places.
Dr Sunil, the chief Ayurvedic consultant, working at the Ayurveda centre is overlooking the operation every day. He is just sitting and overlooking the herbs going to the steam box. “There is no thermostat in the steam box, but the temperature is hovering around 90°C, which is average for a Sri Lankan Ayurveda steam box”, said Sunil. “The heat is balanced with moisture that creep into the steam box and, when the humidity level increases in the box, you start to sweat, and which is the culmination of steam box treatment”, explained Sunil.
Steam Bath Procedure
The steam bath session lasts around 30 minutes, but duration differs depending on each patient and it is decided by the doctor. End of the herbal bath session, most guests looks as red as a beetroot, most tourist, which practice Ayurveda treatments here are from Europe countries, they tend to change the colour more easily than dark-skinned people. Immediately after the steam bath the guests move to the bathroom and clean themselves with warm water.
The steam box is divided into 2 parts horizontally right in the middle with a wooden platform panel. The panel contains small holes allowing the steam to reach the upper part of the chamber from the lower compartment. The lower compartment has a blend of herbs and medicinal leaves. Usually, a person sits in the steam bath box, which is filled with herb-infused steam, between 10 minutes to 3 minutes.
Benefits of steam bath treatment
This herbal bath treatment session helps to push the herbal oil more profoundly through the layers of the skin. The sweating helps to remove toxins.
“We are using the skin as the doorway to get toxins out of the body in this method”, said Sunil. “When you are sitting in the steam box, the heat generated by steam induces the chemical processes inside the body to expel the toxins out of the body that accumulated in the body. We have millions of sweat glands in our skin that can be used as an opening to get metabolic and other wastes out of the body. All this makes Steam Bath therapy an effective ayurvedic therapy that helps kidneys and liver in detoxification of the body” the treatment is further elaborated Sunil.
Ayurveda steam bath session is truly enjoyable, apart from releasing toxins from your body, it also rejuvenates your mind and body. It makes your body more relaxed with the release of endorphins. Endorphin is a hormone that makes individual relax absolutely in an untroubled and blissful state of being. The steam bath treatments increase your blood circulation within the healthy level and soften your muscles.
Ayurveda healing system
Ayurveda is one of the oldest healing practices in the world and which is the most ancient healing method in Sri Lanka. It is handed down generation after generation for more than 2 thousand years. Ayurveda practitioners emphasize more on preventing ailments rather than treating patients. The herbal bath is one such method that enables you to get rid of toxins that accumulate within the body and keeps you healthy.
In the medieval era, Ayurveda was widely practised on the old and patronaged by the Sri Lankan kings such as King Buddhadasa who wrote the book on Ayurveda “Sarathi sangraha“. Doctors became the empire’s experts when it came to such matters, and they began running studies looking at the Ayurveda and its health benefits. Today, Ayurveda is officially considered as a healing system and certified practitioners are allowed to treat the patients.
After independence in 1948, there had been many researchers attempted to give scientific backing to claims about the significance of Ayurveda for health and hygiene. Many new books and articles were published about the use of Ayurveda and its benefits. Chronic muscle pain, dysentery, haemorrhoids, influenza, emphysema, obesity, skin diseases, rheumatism, scabies, scrofula, syphilis, typhus and typhoid fever were just a few of the diseases that doctors believed could be treated or prevented by using Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda steam bath?
It is a small steam-filled room made of wood, it is a little bit bigger than a human body and it can be enclosed. When a person is enclosed in the herbal steam box, his or her head remains out of the box while the rest of the body remains inside. The body that remains inside emitting lot of sweat along with toxins and cleanses your body.
Steam bath healing system is in practice all over the world for many centuries. Finnish Saunas, Japanese steam rooms, and Turkish baths some of the popular traditional steam bath healing systems.
Although Ayurveda healing system with herbal steam bath has been around for many centuries, only the local people have been able to benefit from its magical healing effects. The healing effect of Ayurveda healing method only became popular among the foreign travellers during the last decade, with the branching out of leisure tourism to other sectors such as adventure tourism, nature tourism, and medical tourism.
According to some foreign travellers, visiting Ayurveda treatment centre is more beneficial than visiting a western medical practitioner. Ayurveda healing system is equipped with a large array of healing practices and medicines and capable of handling most ailments very effectively.
Therapeutic benefits of Steam Therapy
The steam bath is purely a natural treatment method based on herbal leaves dissolved in the water, and most importantly it creates no side effects. Steam, which is one of the purest forms of water and the medium of cleansing. “Water is a universal solvent, has the capacity to clean our body inside out making way for a healthier and happier us. It will help us to rejuvenate and revitalize our mind, body, and soul” said Sunil.
Removal Of Toxins
Steam bath treatment is one of the very effective ways of eliminating impurities from the body and it improves the tone of the body. Steam bath treatment takes out the toxins trapped in deep tissues. The treatment induces the sweating, the toxins present in the body move out through the skin with it.
It Clears the body channels and Eliminates toxins through the pores of the skin along with sweat. It plays a very good role in maintaining the balance of Vata and Kapha doshas.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ayurveda healing system was given a prominent place in Sri Lanka and corona patients were treated with Ayurveda medicines, which believed to be the main reason for Sri Lanka’s success in the fight against coronavirus. Ayurveda helped to register one of the lowest fatality rates in the world due to COVID-19, which stands at just 0.3%.