website statistics

Wellness Rituals: Across Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka

Traditional Asian healing and wellness practices have fuelled the growth of the global wellness industry as a whole, and Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka are no exception.

By Fabienne Lang
January 5, 2022

Asia is known for being the wellness centre of the world. As the birthplace of healing modalities that focus on prevention, such as Ayurveda, meditation, and natural, healthy eating, Asia is at the forefront of everyone’s mind when thinking of wellness rituals. From India’s Ayurveda therapy to Bhutan’s hot spring therapy, nurturing oneself has been an integral part of many Asian cultures and religions. And it’s easy to see why.


Tiger’s Nest Bhutan | Photo: Kinshuk Bose/Unsplash

Known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan’s serene landscape of lush forests, deep valleys, and snow-capped Himalayan mountains make it an ideal location in which to revive and rejuvenate your body and soul. This small Asian nation has used natural therapies and traditional well-being rituals to keep its population healthy for centuries, including hot spring therapy.

In Bhutan, hot springs are known as Tshachus, which are used widely across the country in winter, and which are known for their medicinal properties to cure many ailments, particularly arthritis, skin diseases, and headaches. According to spiritual belief, these springs originated from the blessings of the Lord Buddha and Bodhisattvas, and are located in sacred sites.

After soaking in a hot spring, Bhutanese typically head to a hot stone bath or Menchu to boost blood circulation and reduce joint pain.


Photo: COMO Resorts & Hotels

In Menchus, mineral-rich river stones are heated for hours in an open fire and are then dipped into a bath which is typically made of cedar for its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. Once in the wooden tub, the stones release their minerals and essential oils, which work together to relieve muscle pain, tiredness, and other conditions such as joint and stomach pain.

The main principle is to get the body used to being in higher temperatures so as to start releasing toxins. Moreover, the meeting of four elements—earth, fire, air, and water—is believed to be soothing and balancing.

Hot stone baths in Bhutan are believed to be a blend of Tibetan Kum Nye medicine and Indian Ayurveda therapy. The earliest use of hot stones for health benefits and relaxation is believed to have originated among the Hindus in India, some 5,000 years ago. These hot, smooth stones were placed on the body to relax muscles and relieve pain—a method still widely used today.


Shirodhara Ayurveda. Source: Ananda in the Himalayas

The name Ayurveda has reached all four corners of the world, and it’s no surprise. The word loosely translates as “the science or knowledge of life” in Sanskrit, and it is a healing method that dates back 5,000 years. It is even regarded by some scholars as the oldest holistic healing system in the world. Its main principle is to create balance in all three different body types: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, through its treatments.

These treatments range from Ayurvedic oil massages that focus on the notion of freeing physical and spiritual channels of energy, to meditation and yoga to calm the mind, lose weight, improve digestion, create glowing skin, improve sleep, and even lower blood sugar levels.

Even though they’re popular around the world, the number of traditional Ayurvedic retreats are limited as their treatments need to be carried out correctly, which require an Ayurvedic doctor to be present, as well as proper ingredients for food and treatments, which are best when sourced directly from India, Nepal or Sri Lanka.

Nowadays, Indian, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Tibetan, and Sri Lankan spas and retreats impeccably balance authentic traditional treatments and modern luxury, enticing travellers from around the world to restore their body and mind in sumptuous surroundings. One of the first luxury spa resorts in India is Ananda in the Himalayas, nestled at the foothills of the majestic Himalayas, next to the flowing and soothing waters of the Ganges in what used to be the Maharaja’s 100-acre Palace Estate. And further along the grand Himalayas you’ll find the luscious Amankora resort in Bhutan, which offers traditional herbal healing and hot-stone baths, as well as meditation and yoga.