It’s been around for over 5,000 years, and judging by its current prevalence on spa menus around the world, Ayurveda is still going strong. Ayurveda can be translated into “the science of life”, this is kind of traditional Indian system of health and wellness aims to treat both the symptoms and the root of a problem by achieving balance at the source, and overall equilibrium in the body. Using a holistic philosophy, natural remedies and time-tested practices, Ayurveda has become a recognized treatment option for medical issues, as well as a relaxing spa favorite.The science itself is broken down into eight specialties—everything from internal medicine and allergies to psychology and beauty is addressed—but the practice always begins with the diagnosing of a client’s dosha, or physical type. These doshas represent the five elements—fire, earth, water, air and ether—and while a bit of each can be found in all of us, most people fall into one of three main categories: Vata, strong in ether and air; Pitta, high in both fire and water; and Kapha, the combination of water and earth. In some cases, a person can be strong in two doshas, and would be classified as a combination of both.
Visitors to an Ayurvedic spa will determine their dosha, which also reflects their skin type, during a detailed consultation with a therapist; once they have this information, therapists are able to treat skin conditions, apply the appropriate oils and herbs, and make recommendations about diet, exercise and lifestyle.
While there are Ayurvedic treatments designed to target everything from problem skin to stress, digestion and more serious conditions, massage is at the core of the practice and is the most popular service to be offered in Western spas. In the traditionally 60- or 90-minute services—typically called abhyanga massage—guests are adorned with herbal oils or poultices (or, in some cases, even wrapped in oil-soaked linens), then rhythmically massaged by one to four therapists with vigorous, push-pull motions. Another Ayurvedic spa staple is Shirodhara, a treatment for headaches, insomnia and tension that involves pouring lukewarm herbal oils in a slow, steady stream on the forehead, while a gentle head massage helps revitalize the body and mind.
For more on Ayurveda, visit www.ayurveda.com.