Abhyanga Massage or Ayurveda oil massage has many far reaching benefits for the body and mind.
The 3 pillars of health according to Ayurveda are Diet, Lifestyle and Medicine. Proper diet is basically eating the right thing in the right quantity at the right time. Ayurveda stresses a lot on the ‘time’ aspect of diet which we will review in detail under the article on Diet. Lifestyle refers to our daily activities with special emphasis on what is done when. Dinacharya or daily schedule forms the backbone of lifestyle. Sleep, exercise, Yoga, meditation, entertainment, work, social interactions, etc. are part of lifestyle. Most of the times, one can maintain good health just by following a good diet and lifestyle. Ayurveda recommends medicine only when the first 2 pillars have been tried to remedy the situation and failed.
Medicine is further divided into the preventative medicine and the disease / problem specific treatment. Along with proper Diet and lifestyle, if one follows simple Preventative medicine recommendations, one can lead a truly healthy life.
At this point, I would like to stress that Preventative medicine does not involve taking oral medicines but is a combination of certain procedures and some food supplements. Abhyanga or Herbal oil massage is one of the simple procedures recommended as part of preventative medicine.
As one ages, along with other changes, there is an increase in overall dryness in the body. Dry skin leading to wrinkles, dryness in the eyes leading to poor vision, dryness in digestive tract leading to problems like constipation or slow digestion, dryness in the scalp leading to hair loss, dryness in the joints leading to joint pain, dryness in tissues leading to debility and many more such problems arise due to dryness. Ayurveda explains this in terms of increase in Vata Dosha (the life force controlling the movement and which leads to dryness) as we age, which is a natural process. If one compensates for this increase in dryness by moisturizing our bodies, both externally and internally, we can definitely prevent premature aging and to a certain extent, slow down the process of natural aging too.
Let’s take the example of a plant stem. When it is young and moist, it is flexible but if it does not get proper water and nutrition, it starts to dry and lose its flexibility prematurely. It starts bending, becomes weak and breaks easily. That is what happens in our bodies too. Increase in Vata leads to drying of the tissue fluid and as this falls below the optimum level, it adversely affects the physiology of the body leading to bigger problems if some timely corrective action is not taken.
Babies have a very high capability of keeping their bodies moist. As we enter teens this starts reducing and once we cross 30, we start feeling the onslaught of dryness. This is nothing but Vata dosha performing its natural function. Of course, the capability of the body to moisturize itself also depends on the basic constitution of the individual – a Vata person would be more prone to dryness compared to a Pitta person who would in turn be more prone to dryness compared to a Kapha person. To find out more on what is Vata, Pitta and Kapha constitution, please read the article on ‘Prakriti – your Ayurvedic body type’. You can also consult the Herbal Mystique Ayurvedic Lifestyle Coach to find out your constitution and imbalances and ways to correct them.
Another reason why the tissues become dry or slowly lose their ability to keep themselves moist is the formation of blockages in the transportation channels and energy channels. This is due to the accumulation of toxins over a period of time. The blockages slow the movement of nutrients to the tissues and elimination of wastes from the tissues.
So how can we moisturize the body?
To moisturize means maintaining healthy water levels in the tissues so they do not dry up. Applying greasy substances like creams and lotions on the skin can only prevent the loss of moisture from the body and make the external layer of the skin soft for a limited amount of time. But imagine the benefits if we were able to restore the tissue’s natural capability to moisturize itself. This can be achieved by Abhyanga or Herbal Oil body massage. The herbs in the oil penetrate the skin into the tissues and rejuvenate them. They also help in dislodging the toxins and clearing the blockages in the channels of the body.
The act of massaging also improves blood circulation and further helps in improving the tissue physiology and aids in detoxification. I would like to clarify that Massaging does not necessarily have to involve pressing the tissues, which is a difficult and tiring task. One has to just create friction by rubbing the oil on the skin.
How to perform Abhyanga or Self Herbal oil Body Massage?
– Take 25 – 30 ml of a suitable oil for Abhyanga like the Herbal Mystique Body Massage oil (suitable for all constitution types). Heat it to body temperature.
– Start applying to the sacrum, back, abdomen, chest, arms and legs.
– Massage in clockwise circles on the lower back, around the abdomen, and joints. Massage in long strokes in the direction of the hair on the limbs.
– Massage for at least 15 – 20 minutes and ideally, let the oil stay on the body for another 15-20 minutes.
– Shower with warm water (not hot) and rub the oil off the body. Do not use soap. In case you have to remove all traces of oil, use a paste of gram powder or the Herbal Mystique Body scrub with water. The warm shower facilitates deeper penetration of the oil and herbs through the skin.
Benefits of Abhyanga Massage or Ayurveda oil massage
– Moisturizes the skin, making it soft
– Improves blood circulation
– Helps in detoxification leading to rejuvenation of the body
– Improves muscle strength and flexibility of joints
– Helps in reducing or eliminating aches and pains
– Tones tissues and improves strength and immunity
– Improves sleep and alleviates fatigue
When NOT to perform Abhyanga Massage or Ayurveda oil massage
Abhyanga should not be performed in the following conditions –
– if the person is suffering from cold or fever
– if the person is suffering from injuries or bleeding (including menses)
– if the person has little or no appetite
– following a meal (wait for 2-3 hours at least, ideally on empty stomach)
When should one perform Abhyanga Massage or Ayurveda oil massage
– Herbal Oil body massage is recommended in the morning but can be performed anytime in the day before sunset.
– Massage at least twice a week
The Herbal Mystique Body Massage Oil is a general massage oil suitable for all body or dosha types and is recommended for everyone. If you have not done the diagnosis of your dosha imbalances, this would be the oil to use. Herbal Mystique also offers dosha specific oils for Vata, Pitta and Kapha aggravations.
Use the appropriate Herbal Mystique Hair Oil for Head Massage and the Facial Massage Oil for Face Massage.
Feel free to ask questions and we will try to answer them ASAP.
Disclaimer : Recommendations in this article are not a substitute for medical advise where it is required.