Wellness and Ayurveda
Wellness tourism is a fast growing sector of the global tourism industry, with increasingly more visitors looking for wellness experiences to add to their travel itineraries. Wellness does not only include Ayurvedic treatments or spa therapies, but also wholesome food experiences, yoga, meditation, spiritual rejuvenation and a host of other health and wellbeing related activities. The Global Wellness Institute estimates wellness travel at $639 billion, with a growth rate of 6.5% per year.
Here in Sri Lanka, wellness tourism takes on a whole new meaning because of the island’s historic connection to Ayurveda. Visitors who come to Sri Lanka are keen to experience Ayurvedic treatments, go on retreats to remote locations, rest and relax during their time here.
According to Travel Weekly, a trusted voice in the global travel industry, coming out of the Covid-19 crisis has shown us that more travellers are seeking specialized experiences with wellness as a priority.
There are two different kinds of wellness tourism:
- Inner wellness tourism
- Physical wellness tourism
Inner wellness is enhancing one’s emotional, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing. Physical wellness tourism includes visits to a spa, treatments, massages, yoga and detoxification. In Sri Lanka, wellness tourism is a combination of both, a classic example being Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic Practitioner: An Ayurvedic Practitioner is usually a medical doctor who has studied Ayurveda. He/she will possess a wealth of experience and knowledge and would advise an individual in their wellness goals. They may also head a wellness institute.
Yoga Instructor: The main duty of the yoga instructor is to lead a group in yoga sessions and devise curriculums that will lead them through the various levels of yoga. This individual may have to engage in administrative work and may teach individual classes.
Massage Therapist: A Massage Therapist performs therapeutic massages on clients. They may use essential oils and age-old techniques to relieve stress, pain, and other ailments. Ayurvedic Massage Therapists on the other hand use ayurvedic concoctions and methods. Their aim however is the same. Most hotels and resorts have their own spas and employ Massage Therapists.
Meditation Teacher: Although the job title uses the word teacher, a Meditation Teacher is usually an individual who guides a person to achieve mental clarity, stability, a sense of peace and calm through meditative practices.
Pilates Instructor: Like a yoga instructor, a Pilates instructor will lead special classes in exercise, mindful meditation, stretching, and most importantly the Pilates fitness program. As part of their job they will have to devise programs and undertake admin work.
Fitness Instructor: A fitness instructor is also known as a personal trainer. These individuals will help clients achieve their fitness or weight loss goals. They are usually certified, highly skilled and work in gymnasiums in hotels and across other establishments such as resorts.
Nutritionist: A huge part of wellness and wellbeing is based on being healthy. To be healthy one needs to consume nutritious food. A Nutritionist will guide a person in selecting foods that suit their fitness goals. Sometimes a Nutritionist will also be able to diagnose nutritional deficiencies or ailments related to nutrition and offer suitable solutions such as diet plans. Wellness focussed resorts and spas employ Nutritionists to support their clients’ dietary and lifestyle changes.
Unlike most other departments and professions, job roles within the wellness tourism industry are not interchangeable. One cannot be an Ayurvedic Massage Therapist today and a Nutritionist the following week. Each of these job roles have vastly different skills sets, knowledge and experience. Positions such as Fitness Trainers and Ayurvedic Practitioners require certifications and membership in professional bodies.
As mentioned earlier, one does not progress from one job title to another. So, a promotion would merely be from a deputy or assistant position to the main title. For instance, from an Assistant Massage Therapist to the Main Therapist. A promotion such as this would require that the individual learns a new set of skills.
Knowledge and Skills
Ayurvedic Practitioner: Unlike an MBBS, you need to follow BAMS which stands for Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery. It is usually a five year and six month program. Just like medicine, it is a rigorous study. Sri Lanka being a home for Ayurvedic medicine, there are options for a plethora of study on the subject which are accredited nationally and recognized.
- Good knowledge of Ayurveda
- Communication skills
- Soft skills
- Research skills
- Compassionate and caring
- A person who is confident about their treatments
Yoga Instructor: If you are serious about a career as a yoga trainer you will need to complete a training program. A degree in fitness or health sciences will help you, but it’s not an appropriate substitute. A specialized training program or certification in yoga is compulsory. The 200-hour teacher training program developed and accredited by the Yoga Alliance (www.yogaalliance.org) is widely accepted. Graduates of this program can become registered yoga teachers (RYT).
- Speak English confidently
- Be a people person
- Excellent social skills
- Ability to work under pressure
- Team player
- Creative thinker
- Passion for travelling
- Eager to continue learning
Massage Therapist: To become a Massage Therapist you need to complete both theoretical study and practical study. You need to complete a massage therapy program which will teach you medical terminologies, massage ethics, physiology and anatomy. Thereafter, you need to complete practical requirements to make up the number of hours. You will also need to follow a licensing examination to become certified. There are a number of international and professional associations that you can become a member of.
- Be well-groomed
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Judgment and perception
- Good hygiene habits
- Be eager to learn
Meditation Teacher: There is a growing demand for highly trained and accredited Meditation Teachers across the world. But just as there is a demand, it is also highly competitive, and a love for meditation alone is insufficient for you to rise above the rest. Apart from a diploma after school, you will need to follow Meditation Teacher trainer courses and become certified. There are also a series of Meditation Teacher certifications.
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- A people person
- Be able to work to deadlines
- Be understanding with each client and case
- Have in-depth knowledge of meditation practices
- Be eager to learn more
Pilates Instructor: Like a Yoga Instructor, a Pilates Instructor requires certification, having followed a specialized training program. A well known professional association is the Pilates Method Alliance, for Pilates teachers. You will need to gain a Certified Pilates Teacher (CPT) designation from here.
- Great communication skills
- Speak English confidently
- Be able to lead a class easily
- An excellent knowledge of fitness and health
- Pleasant personality and ability to work well under pressure
- Eager to learn more about the craft
Fitness Instructor: Becoming a Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer can be a lucrative career path. Personal training is a flexible occupation and one that you can get into once you’ve completed a basic diploma in health sciences after school. It is becoming more important to have a degree in fitness, or a professional certification in the very least. Some organizations may check if you have first aid and CPR certification.
- Excellent communication skills
- Be a people person and enjoy socializing
- Be able to motivate individuals or groups to reach their potential
- Create plans and arrange exercise
- Be able to use fitness equipment and teach another person
- First aid and CPR
Nutritionist: A certificate in health subjects or a diploma alone is not sufficient to become a Nutritionist. You need to have a Bachelor’s Degree in health, nutrition or a relevant field. After your degree, you can follow an internship program to become specialized in this field.
- Be friendly and approachable
- Organizational skills
- Ability to be non-judgmental
- Keen interest in health matters
- Be eager to learn more
- Ability to motivate others
Like other job opportunities, there is a process through which one is hired to these positions. Because these positions not only require academic qualifications, Human Resource Managers will be keen to see if you have positive references from previous employers, membership in professional associations, and if you are still eager and continuing to upskill.
As mentioned earlier, as these are skilled positions, individuals are well paid and looked after by the employer. The starting salary ranges from Rs.35,000 upwards to Rs.100,000 or more.