Ayurveda in Ulpotha
Ulpotha has recently introduced an exciting programme of Ayurveda treatments since it possesses the ideal climate and environment for the practise of this deeply traditional art. Until recently, Ulpotha had offered non-specific and general native treatments such as steam and infused water baths. The main reason for the absence of Ayurveda in Ulpotha was that the founders wanted to wait until the right person crossed their path to carry out what is a very specialised therapeutic practise. Ayurveda does not rely purely on knowledge, but includes the spiritual and the intangible in a holistic approach to good health and healing.
Hence, when the founders of Ulpotha met Dr. Srilal Mudunkothge B.A.M.S., they believed they had found the person in whom they could place their confidence and trust in to establish an Ayurvedic practise in Ulpotha. They felt that his qualifications and credentials, combined with his understanding of the profound importance that a healthy and natural environment has to the process of healing, make him the ideal practitioner to re-introduce Ayurveda to Ulpotha.
As an integral part of the arrangements made with Dr. Srilal, a local Ayurvedaic clinic was established in August, 2005, to treat local villagers free of charge. This initiative, which includes free medicines, takes us back to the traditional way Ayurveda was dispensed, where patients rarely if ever paid in cash for the medical care they received. Instead they would make a symbolic offering of betel leaves to the doctor at the time of consultation and make their own services in kind available to the doctor.
Ayurveda Treatment Programmes
The primary aim of Ayurveda is to balance the body’s energies and thus restore one’s health and vitality. Ulpotha is a particularly suitable place in which to undergo Ayurvedic treatment, as the food and the environment complement the therapies and serve to underscore the holistic approach of Ayurveda itself.
Subject to availability, all guests may consult Dr. Srilal, Ulpotha’s resident Ayurvedic doctor, to learn about their state of health from an Ayurvedic perspective or to simply satisfy their curiosity. This first consultation is free.
If a treatment programme is desired, Dr. Srilal will prepare a personalized detoxification and rejuvenation treatment plan for each individual. Central to the drawing up of a programme is the consultation. Through this the doctor will get a sense of what imbalances are present,and which one of the seven different type of body types is involved. Once a treatment programme is chosen, the doctor will then vary the use of treatment ingredients and mediciines accordingly. and administer one of the therapies below:
All of tThe Ayurveda programmes begin with detoxification therapies, which consist of preparatory and specialized elimination treatments. Preparatory treatments are called oleation and fomentation.
Oleation therapies consist of the following:
• Abyanga, which is an oil application for the first layer of the body
• Angamarda Abyanga, which is a deeper oil application for the second layer of the body
• Pattu, which is the application of a detoxifying herbal paste on the body – though this does not involve oil, it is an important step in the process of opening the pores of the body to facilitate detoxification
• Shirodara, which is the dripping of oil on the third eye to detoxify, relax and still the mind
• Sarvangadara, which involves the dripping of oil on the whole body
• Pindasweda, which is the application of oil with a milk rice poultice
All of the above oleation therapies are administered with the intent of dislodging toxins from the body’s tissues and moving them towards the pores. These toxins are extracted through the fomentation therapies, which consist in turn of herbal baths, steam baths and herbal saunas.
The specialised elimination therapies on the other hand consist of inhalation, purgation and emesis treatments among others. All of these are used to bring the body’s energies into balance, though not all of them will be necessary in all cases.
Once a balance is achieved, nourishing therapies are administered to maintain that balance. These rejuvenation treatments consist of traditional Aayurvedic oral remedies using organic ingredients.
There are six treatment programmes on offer. These are:
• Ashinsanaya (Benediction) – 5 days
• Sanasuma (Satisfaction) – 7 days
• Namskaraya (Salutation) – 10 days
• Aswesilla (Solace) – 14 days
• Samadhiya (Profound) – 21 days
• Mokshaya (Redemption)– 28 days
In order to experience all of the prepatory and elimination treatments, it is necessary to choose the Namaskaraya (10 day) or longer programme.
Please note that you need to be in Ulpotha for at least two days before starting an Ayurveda treatment if you have arrived directly from overseas.
What You Can Expect...
All treatments, regardless of the personalized elements of a treatment that stem from a personal consultation, contain preparatory and elimination therapies. The preparatory therapies are the ones everyone likes and most Ayurveda is known for - massages, oil applications, steam baths, saunas and herbal baths. Elimination therapies on the other hand, are the ones that some - if not most - people will find a little bit more challenging to accept. They consist of what is more commonly known as Panchakarma (ie. the five specialized elimination therapies): inhalation, purgation, emesis (vomiting), enemas and blood-letting. The latter three are very rarely carried out in Ulpotha.
If a treatment is short in length, say the five day Ashinsanaya or one week Sanasuma programmes, then you only have enough time for preparatory treatments that would support inhalation as an elimination therapy. If you have time for the ten day Namaskaraya or two week Samadhiya programmes, then you can also undergo purgation. However, the consultation is critical to determine which of the elimination therapies are required. If someone is particularly weak, then they will be subject to much more of the preparatory treatments and very little of the elimination therapies regardless of how long a programme they have chosen. In other words, while you need to be on a long programme to undergo elimination therapies, it's not necessarily the case that you will definitely be subject to them.
For the one week long Sanasuma (Satisfaction) and ten day Namaskaraya (Salutation) programmes, guests will receive treatments every day. Each day will consist of roughly two hours of treatments. The two week long Aswesilla (Solace) programme will have one or two rest days, while the three week long Samadhiya (Profound) programme will have two or three rest days and the four week Mokshaya (Redemption) programme will have three or four rest days.
If we take an example of the Sanasuma treatment, which is administered over the course of seven days, the first day will consist of a full head and face and body massage oil application, called Abyanga (a superficial tissue, or relaxing oil application massage that soothes the first layer of the body) followed by a herbal bath. Guests will also be given appropriate remedies to take, starting the first day for each day of their treatment - these remedies are meant to facilitate the treatments being received. The second day may consist of intensive, deep tissue oil application that is meant to penetrate to the second layer of the body, which is called Angamarda Abyanga (no head and face) followed by a sauna or steam bath. The third day will consist of a relaxing body oil application massage followed by Sshirodara oil application on the forehead and head. The fourth day will consist of an inhalation therapy accompanied by a head and face oil application and a face steam. The fifth day will be a Sarvangadara oil treatment (from a layman's terms, this is a Shirodara but one for the whole body) followed by a steam bath. The sixth day will be a full body body massage oil application carried out using poultices made of a special milk rice consisting of medicinal decoctions followed by a warm water bath. The seventh day is a herbal facial treatment consisting of cleansing scrub, face steam, massage and herbal pack.
Treatments will be scheduled either in the morning or in the afternoon. Guests will have the rest of each day to hang out and do other things, including the optional yoga classes. Guests having treatment will be able to attend at least one yoga class a day. Sometimes they may prefer to just relax after treatments which is fine. The doctor says the more relaxing the yoga the better, which means Ashtanga yoga would be better avoided.
On your arrival in Ulpotha you will be introduced to Dr. Srilal, who can book you in for a free consultation. Depending on whether you have pre-booked a programme or, if not, your suitability for treatment and availability, he will administer the programme length of your choice and/or needs. Costs of each programme are below:
• Ashinsanaya (Benediction) – 5 days - $300
• Sanasuma (Satisfaction) – 7 days - $400
• Namskaraya (Salutation) – 10 days - $600
• Aswesilla (Solace) – 14 days - $800
• Samadhiya (Profound) – 21 days - $1,200
• Mokshaya (Redemption)– 28 days - $1,600
A little History of Ayurveda in Sri Lanka
In ancient times, when Sri Lanka was called ‘Thamrapanee’, its inhabitants discovered that there were certain plants which, if boiled with water, crushed, powdered, or used internally or externally, relieved pain or had other beneficial effects on various disorders.
Through time, many other plants with medically useful properties were discovered and incorporated into therapeutic recipes. These properties were used to influence the functioning of various specific internal organs and to cure disease. The practice of this indigenous medicine was based on observation and clarity of recording, rather than theory and symptomology.
In the 6th century BC, Prince Vijaya came to the island from India with a group of people and became its king. He renamed the island Singhaladveepa and ruled for nearly 40 years. He was the first king of the island and was reputed to have been an expert in the Sixty Four Arts (Siwsata Kala), one of which is Ayurveda.
It was Prince Vijaya, together with his personal physician who came with him to the island, who introduced Ayurveda to Sri Lanka. Ayurveda is the codified, indigenous medicine of India that is based on Indian Samkya philosophy. It is a complex therapeutic and medicinal system encompassing philosophy, psychology and spirituality together with a deep understanding of the nature of disease.
Over the centuries, Ayurveda incorporated elements of native treatments indigenous to the island and this knowledge was honed and handed down through the ages.
In 1790, during the reign of the last king of Sri Lanka, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, a son of the king’s personal physician became a monk and built a temple in a village called Neelammahara, where he practised indigenous Ayurvedic medicine. This was the beginning of the now-famous Neelammahara medicinal heritage, which specializes in the treatment of mental illness. Over the next two centuries the tradition was passed from generation to generation as its reputation grew throughout the island.
Our Doctor's Ayurveda Heritage
In 1942, a young boy by the name of Sooriya Arachchige Amaratunga went with his mother and brother to see the island’s leading practitioner of the Neelammahara tradition, Dr. Ven. Dehiwela Dhammaloka Thero, for the treatment of his brother. He was immediately captivated by the art and science of Aayurveda as practised by the Thero. So much so that the Thero decided to take the young man under his wing and to become his mentor. After a long and illustrious period of study under the Thero, he went to study under another famous physician specializing in the Elvitigala tradition, which covers general indigenous medicine.
After obtaining honours in Neelammahara and Elvitigala traditions, Dr. Amaratunga came into his own, practicing the rare combination of the two. Dr. Amaratunga enjoyed a long and illustrious career as both a practicing physician as well as a teacher.
As his life matured, he looked for a suitable candidate to whom he could pass his unique knowledge. In 1997, Dr. Amaratunga anointed a third year student, who was studying indigenous medicine at the University of Colombo at the time, to carry on his rare heritage. That student was Srilal Mudunkothge. Srilal completed his formal studies by obtaining a Bachelors Degree in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery and thereafter registering as a general and special doctor with the Ayurvedic Medical Council of Sri Lanka in 2002 and 2003 respectively. He is also registered as a Pharmacist with the Sri Lanka Medical Council.
After practicing as an Ayurvedic physician in Colombo for four years between 2000 and 2004, Dr. Srilal based himself in Ulpotha. He has established a unique practise in the tradition of his illustrious Ayurvedic forebears, Dr. Ven. Dehiwela Dhammaloka Thero and Dr. Amaratunga. To facilitate him in this, Ulpotha has set up a free Ayurveda clinic where Dr Srilal diagnoses and dispenses free medicines to over 100 local villagers weekly. The cost of this is paid for by the money raised from the Ayurveda treatments paid for by guests to Ulpotha. Guests are encouraged to visit the free clinic during their time at Ulpotha where they can learn about some of the plants that are commonly used in Ayurvedic treatment. Many of the medicinal herbs and plants used in Ayurveda are grown in the compound surrounding the clinic.