Some of the world’s most popular massage therapies originated in our island destinations – gentle Balinese massage, vigorous… Keep Reading
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As well as its wealth of historic temples and rich culture, Sri Lanka’s wellness traditions are a feast to discover on a trip to its picturesque shores. Among them is the ancient healing system of Ayurveda, which is still practiced widely in Sri Lanka and neighbouring India.
Ayurvedic traditions are thousands of years old; some estimate they have been passed from master to disciple for more than 5,000 years and that Ayurveda is the oldest healing methodology in the world. The beliefs and practices central to Ayurveda have given birth to other natural healing methods, such as homeopathy and polarity therapy, while Sri Lankan massage therapies use the age-old healing techniques of Ayurveda to restore the body and balance the mind.
Indeed, Ayurveda means ‘knowledge of life’, and the core philosophy of the Ayurvedic system is that the key to health is a balance of your three doshas – energies we all have in our bodies, known as Vata, Pitta and Kappa.
As a form of traditional medicine, Ayurveda uses plant-based treatments to heal and boost physical and mental strength to prevent illness. For many locals in Sri Lanka, Ayurveda is a total way of life that incorporates diet, daily yoga practice and regular meditation. But you don’t have to go the whole hog to appreciate the benefits of Ayurveda. Massage therapies are an important part of Ayurvedic medicine, and as well as having many reputed health benefits, they are also deeply relaxing.
We’ve got the low down on ayurvedic massage treatments and what to expect.
Ayurvedic Body Massage
Ayurvedic massage is a great introduction to the ancient practice of Ayurveda. Aficionados believe massage plays an important role in healthcare, helping to detoxify the skin and body, and improve digestion. Hard-core Ayurveda purists will have a full body massage – known as abhyana in Sanskrit – everyday, for general mind/body support.
We’re not saying a daily massage is de rigueur (although there’s no reason why you shouldn’t –you’re on holiday after all, so why not treat yourself?). One will be enough to give you a taste of the traditions that are interwoven in Sri Lankan culture, plus it’s a wonderful way to relax on vacation. That said, once you’ve tried it, chances are you’ll soon be booking another.
WHAT TO EXPECT: You may start with a consultation about your health,
Want some tips on what to read this summer? To keep you company in the airport lounge or by the pool, here is our pick of new book releases for summer 2017, plus some classic reads that bring to life the island paradise in Bali, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy
The writer’s eagerly anticipated second novel comes 20 years after her breathtaking first, award-winning The God Of Small Things. It’s a sprawling story; its various settings across India, from the hubbub of Old Delhi to turbulent Kashmir, serve as backdrop to a vast cast of unique characters. It deals with issues from the personal – abandonment, transgender issues – to the social – partition, Kashmir independence – vividly brought to life in Roy’s superlative lyrical prose.
Standard Deviation – Katherine Heiny
Described by the Washington Post as a “blissful summer novel”, Standard Deviation tells the story of Graham and his inimitable second wife Audra, a kind of 21st Century, sexually liberated version of Jane Austen’s Emma – curious, well-meaning, and an insatiable gossip. The novel is a brilliantly funny look at mid-life, marriage, and raising children with learning difficulties (their son has Asperger’s and is a prodigal talent at origami).
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
Who doesn’t love a mystery seen through the eyes of curious children? The Trouble With Goats and Sheep follows two 10-year-olds’ mission to uncover the bewildering disappearance of their neighbour in the searingly hot English summer of 1976 (seriously – ask any Brit over the age of 50 and they’ll tell you about the summer of ’76). Equally heartwarming and gripping, it’s also a wonderful window into the idiosyncrasies of small town British life in the 1970s – and the Brits’ obsession with weather.
All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg
The story of 39-year-old Andrea – single, child-free and living in New York City – may sound like tired chick-lit you’ve read before, but Jami Attenberg’s fifth novel is anything but. In Andrea, Attenberg has created a brilliantly nuanced heroine – flawed, human, and likeable. This wry commentary on how the grass isn’t really greener on the other side is sharply funny, and sometimes raw and tragic. The Guardian rates this as the author’s best novel yet.
White Tears – Hari Kunzru
A sharp satire of cultural appropriation and the urban white privileged youth,
Phuket is known for its hedonistic holiday pleasures – beach club parties, sunset cocktails, luxury yacht cruises, seafood feasts and the like. Alongside these carefree pursuits there are a growing number of places for self-care, where travellers can heal their bodies and revive their souls while on a Phuket holiday. Yoga studios, intensive martial arts training, detox/diet centres, fitness boot camps and meditation retreats are just some of the restorative activities on offer. None is as prevalent in Phuket as the age-old healing art of traditional Thai massage.
Traditional Thai massage
Thai massage (also called assisted yoga massage) is a vigorous treatment by which your body is moved and manipulated in a series of bends, stretches, lifts and acupressure compressions to stimulate energy flow and restore balance.
TRADITIONAL MATS AT VILLA BEYOND – BANG TAO BEACH, PHUKET
WHAT TO EXPECT: During a Thai massage, no massage oils or lotions are used. Loose-fitting clothing is worn during the treatment, which was traditionally carried out on a low bed or mattress on the floor. These days, however, massage atop a massage table, spa bed or sun lounger is more common throughout Thailand.
TECHNIQUES: Experienced therapists have incredibly strong hands, and they also use their elbows and knees to apply pressure at various points along your body. A Thai massage session can also include cracking of the joints and neck and pulling the limbs.
BENEFITS: By the end of a one- or two-hour treatment, you’ll feel completely invigorated from head to toe. Given that some of the techniques can be rather forceful, be sure to talk with the therapist first, especially if you have any injuries or chronic pains that need to be handled with extra care.
MASSAGE AREA AT VILLA NAPALAI – SURIN BEACH, PHUKET
The principle behind Thai massage is that life is sustained by a vital force, ‘lom’, that is circulated through the body along invisible pathways called ‘sen’. When these pathways are blocked it leads to illness, fatigue and imbalance. Thai massage is believed to help unblock the pathways and stimulate the flow of lom, thus restoring the body back to health and vitality.
Thai massage is an integral part of traditional Thai medicine,
Dreaming of a tropical holiday to cleanse your mind and body from stress, chemicals and environmental toxins? Thanks to the runaway success of ‘Eat Pray Love’, everyone associates Bali with yoga retreats, soul-searching and D.I.Y. detox.
But what about its more secluded neighbor island Lombok? In many ways, this lush evergreen landscape with its pristine white-sand beaches are even better! Crack open a coconut and drink to healthy holiday paradise found.
Take a look at these tips for choosing the right accommodation, nutrition program, fitness activities and spa treatments to create your unique wellness vacation in Lombok.
Located on picture-perfect Sira Beach on the north shore of Lombok, The Anandita has all the elements for a healthy holiday. This private sea-front villa has four luxurious bedroom suites, sprawling grounds, private swimming pool, a deserted white-sand beach and attentive staff at your service.
Hydration is key. Drink a half liter of water when you wake up and at least three liters throughout the day. The heat and humidity can easily dehydrate you – especially when you’re active.
Try Jamu, a traditional Indonesian healing and detoxifying drink used to cure everything from weight gain to flu. All you need is a shot-glass-sized serving. The main ingredient is turmeric, whose powerful healing properties include helping your liver with the detoxifying process. Make a trip to the attractive Tanjung Traditional Market to buy some fresh or powdered turmeric to add to any drink.
Avocado-banana juice is an excellent power boost. The healthy fats in avocado help you to slim down while banana fights against bloating. Remember to order your fresh fruit juice without sugar, as it’s normally added.
Sip on a young coconut while watching the sunset. It goes without saying, fruity cocktails are a no-go during detox. Coconut water is a delicious refreshing drink packed with vitamins and minerals.
Good news! You don’t have to restrict yourself to a juice-only fast during your healthy tropical getaway.
As any D.I.Y. detox-er already knows, short-term low-calorie cleanses are not successful programs for detoxification and long-term weight loss, as they can rob your body of vital nutrients and cause you to lose weight through fluid rather than fat loss.
Before Phuket, Thailand earned its reputation as a world-class beach holiday destination, for centuries it called to fortune-seekers, workers and traders from Asia, Arabia and Europe. This interesting convergence of cultures is reflected in the island’s architecture. We take a look at how luxury villa design has evolved in Phuket over the last 150 years or so.
PHUKET TOWN OLD GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE
Back in Phuket’s booming tin-mining days in the late 1800s to early 1900s, the island’s emerging wealthy class built luxury mansions of Sino-Colonial design, in a fashion that reflected the tastes of the tin-mine barons of the time, who were largely descendants of Hokkien Chinese immigrants with family ties stretching from Phuket to Penang, Malacca and Singapore.
A handful of these mansions still stand today in Phuket Town, including the old governor’s residence, now home to the Blue Elephant restaurant (pictured above), and next door Baan Chinpracha mansion (below), which is now part family home, part museum.
INSIDE BAAN CHINPRACHA MANSION
European influences are seen in the homes’ elaborate porticos (arched windows and doorways), neo-classical pillars and Italian marble floor tiles with intricate designs. Thick walls and inner courtyards helped protect the mansions’ residents from the sweltering heat, and air circulated through rows of elegantly arched louvered windows.
These luxury villas of the past were largely found in the island’s interior near Phuket’s commercial centres – all the fabulous beaches lining its coast were not considered desirable places to live for anyone but fisher-folk. But once travellers discovered the beaches and tourism replaced tin mining as the economic driving force in the 1980s, visions of luxury living shifted to the coastlines.
AMANPURI PHUKET (IMAGE FROM TRIPADVISOR)
In 1988, a coconut plantation on a headland near Surin Beach became home to the Amanpuri, an exclusive resort built to a level of luxury unheard of at the time on Phuket. Designed by architect Edward Tuttle as a collection of elegant pavilions spilling over the hillside, it was a ground-breaking style that came about after his extensive travels around Thailand.
CITY OF AYUTTHAYA (IMAGE BY UNESCO)
His main inspiration was the ancient Ayutthaya architecture of central Thailand (above),