(Last Updated on : 31/10/2012)
Ayurveda is the ancient form of medical science in India that originated in the highly developed Vedic civilization and was practiced over thousands of years. Ancient Ayurvedic texts describe a rich heritage of treatments for maintaining and promoting good health by creating inner balance and re-establishing connection with the body`s inner self. Ayurveda is also related to various kinds of massage therapy that has its own identity in the history of Ayurveda.
Regular massage is the key to good health, and is necessary both for prevention and cure of diseases. Hippocrates (around 400 BCE) described massage as an important addition to healing. Medical studies continue to emphasize the importance of this therapy to good health. Massage promotes rapid recovery from workouts with less soreness, and delivers some of the benefits of exercise. It tones muscles, increases circulation, relieves blockage that interferes with nutrition to tissues, stimulates capillaries, releases endorphins and eases tension. In Ayurvedic treatment procedure also message indeed plays a vital role. Also known as Abhyanga, Ayurvedic message is a type of passive exercise. Abhyanga, is done before the morning shower or bath and is one of the commonest practices of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic massage is an important part of daily life in India. A traditional technique, Ayurvedic message or the Abhyanga is used for balancing body and mind. The origin of Ayurvedic message dates back 3,000 years and is used to promote the importance of health and well-being to all generations within the family, especially to the younger members.
An Ayurvedic massage is the part of the traditional detoxification and rejuvenation program of India called Panchkarma, in which the entire body is energetically massaged with large amounts of warm oil and herbs to remove toxins from the system. Oil is also poured into the ears, between the eyebrows and at specific chakras, or energy points, during techniques known respectively as Karna Purana, Shirodhara, and Marma Chikitsa. These treatments have been modified to meet the needs of the West and have been powerful in their effects upon the mind and nervous system - calming, balancing, and bringing both a heightened sense of awareness and deep inner peace. The techniques can be done either as stand-alone treatments or in conjunction with the Ayurvedic body massage.
Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic message is an easy method that can be incorporated in one`s daily routine without much complication. It has many positive effects and therefore none wants to miss its beneficiary sides. In Samhita, which stands as one of the most ancient and most reliable Ayurvedic texts the technique of Abhyanga or Ayurvedic message is mentioned. It is especially good for weak people, who are unable to exercise. Abhyanga makes one strong and smooth skinned and helps to fight against the exhaustion and exertion.
Ayurvedic massage or the Abhyanga incorporates the usage of warm oils and herbs along with stimulating the specific energy points to help restoring balance to the body. Massage strokes, oils and herbs are selected based on individual`s need. Application and messaging warm oil regularly on head which is a part of Abhyanga prevents headache, baldness and greying of hair. The person who regularly performs oil-massage has his sense organs working properly. It also brightens the skin of face and the body. It is said that regular oil message on head maintains the muscle, tissues and joints properly and this lubrication increase their flexibility. Application of oil on head causes sound sleep and great happiness.
The Abhyanga or the Ayurvedic message can be performed in both standing and sitting postures. The method is as follows: The oil should be slightly warmer than body temperature. One has to start from massaging the head. Small amount of oil is vigorously messaged in the scalp. The open palms of the hand and the flat surfaces of the fingers should be used for the scalp massage rather than the tips of fingers. The strokes for the scalp massage should be circular, describing small circles over the total area of the head. Mostly the oil massage should be done on the head rather than other zones as the points of `Marmas` are situated in the head and thereby it stimulates the whole body.
After the head massage, face message and messaging the outer part of earlobes using the fingertips is done. Ear massaging is also thought to influence the whole body, so it should have some extra time. But ear massaging should not be done vigorously. Now it is the time to smear oil on the rest of the body, which will give the oil the maximum time to penetrate the skin.
The front and back of the neck and the upper part of the back is to be messaged by using the open palm and the surface of the fingers but certainly not by the fingertips. The next step is to massage the arms vigorously. For joints circular motion is recommended and for the long bones straight motion message therapy is used. Then Abhyanga is performed in chest and stomach. One should be careful about being not too vigorous in these parts. A gentle vertical motion over the breastbones and solar plexus and circular motion over the pectoral areas are used. The massage over the abdomen should follow a clockwise movement.
The backside and the spine should be massaged vigorously. Massaging the legs should be with the same force as it was applied on arms. The soles of the feet also have marma points that are connected with the rest of the body, so extra time and attention is to be given while massaging the soles of the feet. The palm or the flat surfaces of the fingers are to be used for messaging this part of the body.
The ideal time length for daily Abhyanga or ayurvedic massage should be ten to twenty minutes but even only two to three minutes everyday is also beneficial, priorities should be given for head and feet. If someone has cold or flu or indigestion problem, Abhyanga should be avoided. After the Ayurvedic massage a shower or bath should be taken. The basis for effectively performing all of the various ayurvedic massage techniques is a thorough understanding of the primordial energies of the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth) and of Vata
, and Kapha
- the three basic constitutional types (similar to the ancient Greek method of mind/body classification). This knowledge allows the therapist to determine not only which Ayurvedic massage techniques to use, but also how to customize treatments by selecting the proper oils and herbs and the rate and pressure of massage strokes to maximize the benefits for each client.