Aug 22 2022.

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Ayuwanna by Barberyn on offering holistic, ayurvedic treatments that are good for the body, mind, and soul. 

For Sri Lankans suffering from ailments, turning to the holistic science of Ayurveda has been a practice for generations. Meaning the ‘Science of Life’ in Sanskrit, Ayurveda finds its roots in practices dating back 3000 years in South Asia, and Sri Lanka too, has used ayurveda medicinal practices for centuries and the traditional ayurveda medicine today is a trusted practice of its own right in the country’s healthcare system. While western medicine is considered a symptomatic treatment where it aims to treat the symptoms that manifest in an illness, Ayurveda goes to the deeper cause of the illness and sees human beings as a complex whole; exploring the symbiotic relationship among the mind, body, soul and senses and their workings. 

Having pioneered the resort concept of Ayurveda in Sri Lanka in 1984, the Barberyn brand has nearly 40 years of experience and knowledge in traditional Ayurveda practices and medicine. The Barberyn brand runs and operates three Ayurveda resorts in the country and has received many accolades and awards for their wellness programmes and their practice of alternative medicine including the Sri Lanka Presidential Award for ‘Best Exporter of Wellness Services’ and the National Tourism Award inducted to the Hall of Fame.  The brand’s most recent venture finds home in Colombo 7 at Ayuwanna by Barberyn- the brand’s first medical centre for ayurveda treatments for illness, prevention or rejuvenation. 

Ayurveda for the treatment of the Mind & Soul 
The concept of Ayurveda manifests itself in recognising that all intelligence and wisdom flow from one absolute source of nature which impacts our health thus, Ayurveda medicine’s aim is to balance the individual and nature while recognising the unique differences of each individual in its treatment. In Ayurveda, it is not only the body that requires attention but also the manasa (psychology) that needs to be addressed. 

The Tridosas in Ayurveda - Vata, Pitta and Kapha- ultimately govern our physical function and well-being and are responsible for the psychological and physiological processes within our body and mind. In Ayurveda, only a balanced condition of our dosas is considered Arogya (to be in good health) and an imbalance is the cause of any ill-health or disease. 

In urban Colombo, with a population plagued with stress, fatigue, and mental drain, the tridosas are constantly in a state of imbalance and thus manifest themselves in continual illnesses and diseases. 
The Ayuwanna Medical Centre by Barberyn was inspired to open its medical centre as a space specially curated to the urban lifestyle.  It sets itself apart from the many western spas in Colombo by offering treatment based on a physician’s diagnosis. The centre offers two kinds of programmes; curative treatments for those whose illnesses have already manifested and preventive and rejuvenating care for those who want to maintain and enhance their health. Ayuwanna by Barberyn treatments includes Kashaya (decoction of herbs and powders), Arishta(fermented decoction of medicinal herbs), herbal pills and powders, Patthu(herbal paste application), herbal baths, Shirodhara(oil application) and Abhyanga (oil massage).

The Ayuwanna treatment for the Mind 
A treatment at the Ayuwanna Medical Centre starts with a consultation with an ayurvedic doctor who will decide on the best treatment and the necessary herbs and medicines after assessing and understanding a person’s prakurti. The Ayuwanna in-house ayurvedic doctor, Dr. Rashipaba Edirisinghe consulted us for over an hour, in an immersive conversation discussing our lifestyle habits, food intake, stress levels, and mental wellbeing. Ultimately, she concluded that what we manifested was an imbalance in our Pitta and Kapha and discussed what treatment would be best and what lifestyle changes should be adapted to help balance our doshas. Given that much of the imbalance in our doshas was due to stress, bad sleeping, and eating habits, Dr. Edirisinghe recommended a Sharira Abhyanga massage and a Herbal Steam Bath as a treatment. 

The Sharira Abhyanga is a full-body oil massage that included a head and scalp massage (Shiro Abhyanga) and a foot massage (Padabhyanga). What was novel about this oil massage was the careful selection of the oils by the doctor who mixed various oils brewed freshly at Ayuwanna that will aid in our pitta and kapha-related afflictions. While a mix of oils was used, the doctor especially used Thriphala Oil and Nirgundi Oil for the head massage in order to relax our mind and aid in our kapha imbalances. All the oils, powders, and pastes at Ayuwanna are made in-house and curated, brewed, and prepared especially for the client. 

The trained ayurvedic masseuse who did our sharira abhyanga full body massage truly had the most magical hands. Although there are specific massage sequences and techniques associated with the ayurveda abhyanga massages, each session is tailored to the individual and their unique doshas. The idea behind the oil massage is to loosen the body toxins (doshas) that are blocking the energy of an individual and the technique adopted by the masseuse is to identify the blocked energies and direct them to hollow spaces in the body (like the stomach) to ultimately, release it naturally out from the body. While western massages use quick kneading movements, ayurvedic massages go for slow sensations using gentle, rhythmic strokes. The pressure is customized according to the doshas – a gentle touch for vata and a deeper touch for pitta and kapha. As our masseuse worked her magic across our body, the effects of the oils were already doing their work – we dozed in and out of our hour-long massage before we were gently shaken awake for our herbal steam massage. 

The Herbal Steam Bath at first glance is intimidating. It requires one to lie down in a wooden steam bath chamber with just the head out and allow the steam to sweat out the toxins from the body. As we moved from our massage room to the steam bath, the oils well-absorbed into our skin, the hot steam from the bath allowed the doshas to dissolve from our body and flush away through sweating. Because sweating times are rather individualistic, we were monitored throughout by our doctor to ensure that we were helped out from the steam bath as soon as we’ve completely sweated through, so we felt very safe during the process. Once we were done with our treatments, we were advised to avoid showering for a few hours in order for the oils to be completely absorbed.

Does Ayurveda work for mental health? 
Ayurveda has always been linked to mental health and its use in psychotherapy. As an alternative medicine practice that focuses on the body and the mind as a whole, Ayurvedic treatments always benefit the mind and have a holistic effect on one’s mental health. 

It’s difficult to say through one treatment whether the Ayurveda balanced our doshas and treated our identified triggers of imbalance caused by stress and bad sleeping and eating habits. However, the effect of the ayurvedic treatments in comparison to a western massage was very obvious to us. While western massages do make for a quick respite, the ayurvedic treatment we underwent carried its result outside of the treatment room. We felt physically much more relaxed and lither and psychologically unburdened after the treatment and we definitely slept better over the next few days! 

What’s important to understand about Ayurvedic medicine is that it is a lifestyle and not a one-off treatment. The doshas, or rather our energies, can only be balanced and ensure good health if we continuously practice the ayurveda way of life – focusing on proper diet and lifestyle practices. 

Our thoughts
The Ayuwanna Medical Centre was a fantastic and authentic introduction to what an ayurveda lifestyle can offer and how holistic the practice of ayurveda is. With decades of practice in the ayurveda field by the Barberyn brand, it was a trusted space for us to venture into and understand the benefits of ayurveda. Ayuwanna by Barberyn finds its healing sanctuary at the Prana Lounge in Horton Place and creates the most tranquil and serene setting for their treatments.  The space includes consultation rooms, steam room, herbal bath, and ayurveda pharmacy with oils, powders, and concoctions ready for purchase. For those curious about the holistic healing of ayurveda – be it for a physical illness or for mental well-being, Ayuwanna by Barberyn is a wonderful place to start the ayurveda journey.

Pix by Nisal Baduge


Panchali Illankoon

Law Graduate, food and travel enthusiast and full time dog mom..


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