The capital of Sri Lanka has an abundance of spas. There are only a few you need to know exist. Yana Spencer is a well-seasoned traveller. She works hard and plays hard. Finding the perfect resting place to rejuvenate and gain distance from the day-to-day grind is an art form she is well on her way to perfecting. We caught up with her and she graciously offered to share her insights and tips to navigating Colombo’s complex world of Ayurvedic offerings.
Unwinding in Colombo: Top Ayurvedic Spas
How an Ayurvedic Spa Leads to a Healthier You–I have travelled the world a fair bit and have lived in a few countries. When asked what my most memorable experience in Sri Lanka was, the hands-down winner is the island’s many Ayurvedicspas.
Diving into History: What is an Ayurvedic Spa?
This millennia-old traditional medicine is widely practised on the island and uses many of its indigenous plants for medicinal purposes. Locals and a growing number of tourists find Ayurveda’s holistic approach beneficial and preferable enough, they return annually to Sri Lanka for additional treatments, making it part of their health and travel regime. When you find yourself in the island’s capital, I recommend these as the top places worth visiting.
One of the most famous Ayurvedic treatments is Shirodhara. It involves pouring warm herbal oil in a thin, steady stream directly onto the ‘third eye’ area of the forehead. To experience Shirodhara in Colombo, head to one of the most traditional spas, Siddhalepa or WijeramaMawatha. I went to the former.
When there, to further purify the mind and body, you choose from a variety of massages, including full body oil, powder, or hot poultice. Other specialist treatments includePichu (for ailments which affect the area above the neck), vashpaswedha (anherbal steam bath), and Shiroabhyanga (a nourishing application of oil on the head, which eliminates hair loss and premature greying).
From all my visits to Siddhalepa, my absolute favourite way to be pampered was the padaabhyangafoot massage –bathing those tired feet in a seaweed concoction, followed by a relaxing massage, is pure heaven after a day exploring Colombo!
The spa is also a home to a shop where both foreigners and locals buy all kinds of Ayurvedic teas, oils, soaps, gifts to take back home, all for very reasonable prices. Additionally, this famous Lankan Ayurvedic brand runs a hospital in nearby Mount Lavinia, where you can have a consultation for more complex health problems and stock up on Triphala or Evecare.
This is the best spa in the capital without a doubt. Hidden away in the heart of bustling Colombian streets, walking into the tranquil surroundings ofKemara is bliss. The ambience, friendly service, and pre-treatment consultation (which takes into account all the ins and outs of your health) set it apart from the rest, plus the opportunity to choose the aromas of the products used for your spa, and the delicious tea to finish make it my top pick.
All Kemara’sluscious treatments (such as the blossom detox programme, Indian head massage, green tea acupressure facial, and warming spice body scrub) are used exclusively to their in-house products, which you can buy to take home from their beautiful display.
My personal recommendation is the avocado and green tea facial. The gorgeous aromas will linger for many hours after a visit. And don’t forget to order some oil blends if you suffer from eczema, insomnia, or just want to get a unique present for a spa lover. Next door to Kemara you have the famous organic grocery The Good Market and healthyKumbuk Kitchen, so a triple win for a nourishing day out.
Thusare Talking Hands
This is not your usual massage salon. Thusare Talking Hands is an acupressure therapy and training centre where the masseurs are all partially or fully visually impaired. Anyone who has ever visited Colombo’s Good Market at the Racecourse on Saturday will have witnessed the long lines of those queuing to be massaged by these amazing guys.
Feeling modest about getting massaged in the middle of a busy market? Don’t worry! All treatments are done with clothes on and without oils. Head to their centre onDharmapalaMawathaif you prefer quieter surroundings. That way you can fully experience the mantra of communicating through one’s hands instead of speaking.
Yana Spencer is a journalist and women’s rights activist, currently based in the Middle East. She runs Tamu Bakery, a social enterprise which empowers women survivors of gender-based violence through the power of baking. Hundreds of women around the world have benefited from her innovative baking therapy sessions. Find out more at www.tamubakery.org