Massage therapy has long been an accepted form of relaxation and a way to achieve a healthy balance in life both physically and mentally. Ayurvedic methods take this touch therapy a step further with the use of oils in a practice called abhyanga massage.
The basic concept of holistic health is that if one part of the body is in trouble, then the entire body is as well. Simple fatigue could lead to headaches, an upset stomach or even a lack of concentration which can cause you to have an accident which could lead to more problems. In other words, it is like a domino effect. An abhyanga massage with herbal infused oils can help you achieve a whole body balance so you have a feeling of well-being.
Understanding Abhyanga Massage in Ayurveda
Following the principles of ayurveda, there are three main energy types in your body called doshas. You have vata, pitta and kapha dosha energies which, when in balance, provide you with optimal energy and body healing. A true balance is rarely achieved through daily activities though. This is where abhyanga massage comes in. Through the use of oils and massage, toxins are released in the body and your doshas become realigned.
It is important though that the ayurvedic practitioner understand what your main dosha type is. There are specific oils and herbs that benefit certain dosha types, so if the wrong ones are used during the massage, you will not get the maximum benefit. In fact, your doshas could end up being more misaligned than before.
Abhyanda Massage in Action
For best results, abhyanga massage should be performed in the morning so that you can take advantage of the clarifying properties and mental stimulation throughout the day. The ayurvedic massage therapist will have you lie down on a special table unclothed so they can pour warmed oils infused with herbs on your body. Using their palms, the massage therapist applies gentle, rhythmic strokes onto your body, working in the oils.
The abhyanga massage is not supposed to be hard or deep; rather, the lighter touches work to improve circulation under the skin while promoting healthy muscles and joints. Massage sessions can last up to an hour, depending on the massage therapist as well as your schedule limitations. After an abhyanga massage session, you should take a steamy shower or bath as it promotes the absorption of the oil on your skin. The byproduct of abhyanga massage is soft, healthy skin.
While this type of ayurvedic massage is recommended daily, it is not always feasible to visit a practitioner that often. If you ask your massage therapist what type of herbs and oils are best for your primary dosha type, you can perform some abhyanga massage on a limited basis on yourself. You can oil up your hands, feet and even head and lightly massage them to derive some benefits until you can visit your massage therapist. Indulging in abhyanga massages at least three or four times a week can be quite beneficial for physical relaxation and mental clarity.