I’m skeptical of alternative medicine, but ayurveda has such a long history and so many practitioners that it’d be folly to completely dismiss it. With over 3500 years of practice, refinement and experience, ayurveda’s tenets are certainly well-tested. Much of it is common-sense and impossible to refute — healthy living, hygiene, balanced diet — but other aspects are more peculiar.
Ayurveda teaches that there are three basic types of people: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata-types are delicate and easily excitable. Pitta are sensitive people with an average build, who can easily maintain their weight, and have sharp, yellow teeth (?!) The Kapha are large, oily people with a strong constitution. Depending on your type, you must concentrate on various areas of health and watch out for diseases to which you’re especially susceptible. For example, I was told that I’m a Pitta, and so must limit the amount of salt I eat, and avoid over-heating.
I received my diagnosis from an authority: the resident doctor at the Wedamedura Clinic in Kandy. Aching and exhausted from our busy first few weeks in Sri Lanka, we decided to award ourselves with Wedamedura’s “Full Treatment”. For two and a half blissful hours, our bodies were poked, rubbed, prodded and dripped upon.
It began with an extremely thorough full-body massage; head, face, feet, toes, arms, back, shoulders, chest and stomach (you might be thinking to yourself that a “stomach massage” sounds awful; you’d be right). Afterwards, we were set in front of large bowls of hot water and oil and, with towels draped on our heads, made to inhale the steam. This was rough, but my face and throat felt great afterwards.