Abhyanga Body Massage is an ayurvedic therapy that involves massaging the body with medicated oils in an orderly way. The name of this Ayurvedic Body Massage has Sanskrit roots as“Abhyanga”in Sanskrit stands for “oil” and large volume of warm oils, infused with various ayurvedic herbs, are used in this massage therapy. As mentioned in old ayurvedic scriptures, Abhyanga or oil body massage is a conventional treatment that promotes our physical, emotional and psychological well being and can be used as a cure for various health related issues.
Stress has become part and parcel of today’s urban lifestyle. Relentless work pressure, irregular sleeping patterns and weird food habits together take heavy toll on our mental and physical health. In our pursuit of meeting professional and personal deadlines, the only thing we often neglect is the rest and sleep that our body needs that eventually results in many lifestyle disorders like hypertension, hormonal issues, cardio vascular problems, blood sugar issues etc. Resorting to medicines puts us into the vicious circle as they come with multiple side effects and we end up taking more medicines in their treatment.
Opt for Ayurvedic therapies and treatments instead which come with several health benefits sans any side effect. Massaging your body from head to toe with medicated oils (often warm) is also one such therapy that not only relaxes and cleanses your body but also nourishes it from within. Besides being an awesome way to pamper yourself, Ayurvedic Body Massages are also recommended for healthy joints and tissues (dhatus), getting well-nourished and glowing skin, promoting better sleep, removing negativity and toxins and for overall healthy functioning of the body.
Ayurvedic Body Massage with Oil
Abhyanga Ayurvedic Body Massage is a part of daily practices (dinacharya) prescribed in ayurveda to attain complete health. This full body massage can be done as a pre-treatment of other ayurvedic treatments and also as a therapy on its own. You can perform this on your own or you may also get it done by trained massage therapists. However simple as it may sound, to gain maximum benefits from this massage therapy you require perfect blend of oils and carefully selected ayurvedic herbs along with proper massage movements with accurate amount of pressure.
Which Oil is best for Abhyanga Body Massage
Various herbal oils are used in abhyanga body massage but sesame oil is generally the one which is most preferred because of its warm effect. For the same reason almond oil is also used in this massage therapy. Other base oils that can be used in this ayurvedic body massage are sunflower oil, olive oil and coconut oils. Besides these, various herbal oils are also used in this therapy like Ashwagandha/ bala oil for increasing stamina and strength, Brahmi oil to stimulate the nervous system, Bhringaraj oil to treat hair-loss problems and Mahanarayana oil to ease out the pain in joints and muscles.
The selection of the right oil from this wide variety depends upon a lot of factors and your therapist may infuse the selected oil with a few more herbs as per the special needs of your body and health. If at home you want to indulge in this full body massage just for personal care then it is best to opt for coconut or sunflower oil as they come handy. It is important to use warm oil in this ayurvedic massage therapy.
Always use low heat to warm up the massage oil, as the oils are not only highly inflammable but also the herbs cannot withstand high temperature. It is also advisable to heat the oil in small fractions as they cool down early. You may use a candle and a small bowl for heating up the oil or place the oil in a small bowl and keep that bowl in a bigger bowl filled with hot water.
Massage Correct Procedure
Equally important is to follow the correct procedure of massage. This Ayuvedic Body Massage involves brisk and vigorous movements that generate heat and energy so that the nourishment of the formulated oil can reach even to the deepest layer of body tissues (referred as dhatus in ayurveda). If you want to perform this body massage at home then make yourself comfortable in a closed room where you remain protected from the wind. Now sit on a large towel and follow the procedure as below.
How To Perform Abhyanga Body Massage
Start with a head massage. Pour a small amount of oil on your palm and rub your palms together. Use your fingertips in circular motion to massage the oil into your scalp starting from the crown of your head and going down towards the neck. Keep pulling your hair strands gently near the roots. Pour in some more oil as and when required.
Next massage your face starting from the centre of your forehead. Use your fingertips to massage every part of your face, the forehead, temples, cheeks, nose, upper-lip, jaw and chin. Use upwards movements and circular strokes to massage your face. Never massage your face in the downward direction.
As you massage your face, move over to the ears also. Use circular strokes in upward direction for ear massage. After covering the outer ear, use your little finger to massage the ear canals too.
Neck and shoulder massage
Move downwards towards the neck. Use long and firm strokes to massage your neck. Here you must massage using your entire hand and not just the fingertips. Work onto the front of the neck and collar bone at first, and then proceed towards the back of the neck and cover the shoulders too.
Massage The Arms
Move ahead to the arms now. Apply the oil on your arms using long and firm strokes in upward direction i.e. from palms to the shoulder as this will promote the blood circulation in the area. After that massage your arm in circular motion focussing more on the joints i.e. elbow, wrist, and knuckles. Also pay special attention on massaging the palms of your hand and each finger exclusively. Massage the armpits also going from the hands towards the centre of the body. It is recommended to massage one arm at first and then proceed towards the other.
Massage your torso
First massage the chest using long, circular strokes. The middle of the chest should be massaged using up and down movements and then go down on abdomen. For abdomen always start from the bottom right corner and move slowly in clockwise direction, around the navel, to cover the entire abdominal area. Massaging in this way supports the bowel movements and promotes healthy digestive system. Massage under your ribcage also as vital organs like liver, spleen and pancreas are located there. Once you are done with massaging the front of the torso, massage the entire back (from upper ribcage to the hips) as far as you can reach and the sides using long and firm strokes. Use circular motions to massage the hip area.
Lastly massage your legs in the same way as you have massaged your arms. Use long and firm strokes directed towards the centre of the body and then use circular stroke to massage the joints on the knees, ankles and the smaller joints on toes. Also give a little more attention and time to massage the sole of your foot and toes. Use your thumbs and fingertips in circular stroke for working on that part. We have many acupuncture points on our feet that stimulate various organs of our body so apply extra pressure while massaging your feet.
This completes the self abhyanga body massage. Be patient during this massage therapy and give at least 5 minutes to each of the above mentioned seven steps so that the oils reaches to the deepest layer of your skin.
Also be mindful of applying correct amount of pressure during the massage as neither we need to overexert nor do we need to be extra gentle. Ideally the whole procedure would take 15-20 minutes. Leave the oil on your skin for another 15 minutes, so that body can absorb as much oil as it can. Thereafter bathe with warm water. It would be favourable if you can avoid soap and bathe with natural ingredients. Once you are done with bathing, do not rub your body with towel, try patting instead.
Traditionally one should perform this Ayurvedic Body Massage in the morning as a part of daily practices. This simple massage is one of the easiest ways to protect your self from many lifestyle disorders and to cure various unwanted health conditions.
Let’s have a look on various benefits of Abhyanga Ayurvedic Body Massage.
Benefits Of Abhyanga Body Massage
Skin & hair benefits
These are the most obvious and immediate benefits you can have from abhyanga Ayurvedic Body Massage. Skin is the largest organ of our body and it mostly remains exposed to the various harmful environmental factors. This oil massage cleanses the toxins out of your skin and nourishes it from within.
It helps you to ward off various signs of ageing like dryness, wrinkles and dullness by providing deep hydration and lubrication to the skin. Regular massage improves the elasticity of the skin as well. Making it a part of your schedule can help you achieve soft, supple, bright and glowing skin that you always dream of. Similarly massaging the scalp with medicated oils is a good way to nourish the roots of your hair and to get rid of impurities. Over a period of time, this massage surely uplifts the quality, volume, lustre and texture of your hair locks and overall looks.
Improves blood circulation
This full body massage is done with oils and herbs that are carefully chosen with respect to the needs and constitution of your body. These medicated oils along with brisk and vigorous massage strokes improve the overall blood circulation and stimulate the internal organs to function better. Further it promotes healthy digestion by aiding in removal of the metabolic waste.
Promotes better sleep
Abhyana body massage calms down your nervous system and nourishes your brain cells. You may call it a stress release massage as it just melts away all your stress and anxiety. It creates an ambience of calmness and contentment, which helps you sleep better and longer. With better sleep at night you remain fresh and active throughout the day.
Body weight has become a universal concern in modern times. Almost everyone is involved in some kind of weight loss program/ practices and spending quite a fortune on that. We recommend you to couple your weight loss program with this warm oil massage to get early results. It stimulates the stubborn excess fat stored up in the body and helps in its removal.
Removes the toxins
It is believed in ayurveda that there are 3 types of body constitution namely vata, pitaa and kapha. In this massage therapy the oil and herbs are specially chosen to pacify the vata doshas. Moreover warm oil that deeply penetrates into the cells and tissues, flushes out all kind of accumulated toxins from your body.
Joint and muscles
The imbalance in vata dosha, over a period of time can hamper the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food. This weakens the bone tissues and dries out the natural lubrication fluid in the joints. As a result we have painful and stiff joints. Abhyanga being the best massage therapy to pacify the aggravated vata dosha, is good for your bone health. It lubricates the joints, strengthens the muscles and improves blood circulation.
There are few other benefits of this Ayurvedic Body Massage like the ear massage in abhyanga therapy can cure the ear disorders due to aggravated vata dosha like hearing loss and ringing in the ear. The neck massage and shoulder massage protect you from stiff neck or stiff shoulder, which are common issues in today’s lifestyle. Additionally, it improves the vision and mental alertness. It leaves you with positive feeling and keeps you energetic throughout the day. Overall this is the best type of ayurvedic body massage that you can practice daily to rejuvenate your body from within.
To enjoy all these benefits of the massage, you must take note of the conditions when it is not advisable to go for abhyanga therapy.
- Avoid this therapy when you are down with cold or flu.
- It is also not recommended for anyone who is undergoing chemotherapy
- Women should avoid this body massage during their periods.
- Pregnant women must consult with their health care providers before opting for abhyanga massage.
- Avoid it in case of any wounds and injuries especially when you have swelling and pain in your body.
- If you have any serious medical conditions then practice this massage therapy only if your physician permits you for that.
- Normally you do not get any bad effects from this massage therapy, but in case you experience any, then it is better to consult some ayurvedic practitioner.
Your health is your biggest asset and you must take care of that. Abhyanga is common body massage therapy from ayurveda and certainly it is one of the best and easiest ways to take care of yourself. Incorporate this simple ayurvedic practice into your daily routine and enjoy its positive effects on your body and mind.
Aafiya is a health and wellness enthusiast. She utilizes her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to.
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