Ayurvedic massage is one of the oldest and highly evolved massage techniques. Owing to its effectiveness and simplicity, massage has been incorporated into the ideal daily routine or Dinacharya in Ayurveda (routines followed every day to ensure optimum health). Ayurvedic massages are trending fast and getting widely popular across the globe. Although we are being introduced to massage as merely a means for relaxation, de-stressing, occasional self-pampering or even a recreational therapy; there is a lot more to this versatile, intricate and one of the most effective Ayurvedic therapies!
Ayurvedic massage is a broad name given to several intricate therapies which involve massaging, rubbing, pooling or pouring of medicated oils, ghee, herbal pastes, rice bolus dipped in milk etc.
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What is Ayurvedic Massage?
Skin being the largest organ of our body, employing techniques to enhance health via the skin-route seems logical. Skin is not merely a sheath covering us, but an organ which affects our health status more than any other organ. Not only is skin receptive to the therapies that are applied or massaged on to it; effects are achieved faster, better and in a more profound manner. Blood circulation, state of mind, fertility, digestion, sleep, tissue metabolism, immunity and detoxification are some of the functions that can be directly affected by our skin.
Ayurvedic massage is a broad name given to several intricate therapies which involve massaging, rubbing, pooling or pouring of medicated oils, ghee, herbal pastes, rice bolus dipped in milk etc. The commonly practiced Ayurvedic massage is a type of external oleation or Bahya Snehana. Some Ayurvedic massages are called Gharshana/udvartana in which herb pastes or dry herb powders are massaged over the body. The modern day Ayurvedic massage also includes some methods of fomentation or external sudations in which hot decoctions; bolus of wild rice or herb pastes is massaged over the body in a specialized manner.
Why should you consider Ayurvedic Massage therapy?
Ayurvedic massage helps in balancing all the three doshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It also promotes the flow of life energy or prana through the body. Massage in form of Abhyanga has been mentioned as a must do regimen in Ayurveda’s daily routine guidelines (Dinacharya) for maintaining health. It has also been incorporated as an essential therapy in various health conditions ranging from psychological disturbances to obesity.
Ayurveda advises daily massage and oil application especially for head, ears and feet. It improves circulation of blood and lymph. Also, Ayurvedic massage helps the skin and the entire body to eliminate toxins and metabolic waste out of the body. Regular practice of massage has a milieu of benefits like
- Improves the vitality of all the body tissues,
- Preserves youth
- Promotes good lifespan
- Strengthens immunity
- Promotes good sleep
- Improves skin Health
- Promotes good eyesight
- Takes away fatigue, tiredness and emotional stress 1, 2
Ayurvedic massage is also a must post-partum or post-delivery routine in Indian culture for the mother as well as the newborn baby. Ayurvedic massage after delivery helps mothers to cope with the physical strain and stress of labor and birthing. It helps to tone up muscles and brings back the balance of Vata dosha (which is often imbalanced and aggravated after the labor process). In babies, massage promotes good sleep, digestion, optimum growth and development.
Apart from its benefits for maintaining health, Ayurvedic Massages are useful in the therapy of many health conditions. It is especially beneficial for improving mobility and quality of life in patients with disorders of nervous system. Disorders with imbalance of Vata e.g. joint and muscle pains, sprains, myalgia, paralysis, weakness in limbs, low back pain, neck pain, lack of sleep, degenerative disorders of the nervous system 3, premature aging, stress related imbalances, Vata dominant depression etc. are benefitted by Ayurvedic Massage. It is ideal in skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis etc. for soothing itching and dryness.
Disorders like obesity, chronic inflammatory disorders (e.g. PCOS), heart diseases, hair loss, premature graying of hair, asthma etc. have been advised Ayurvedic massage as a therapy. In children Ayurvedic massage is beneficial in promoting growth and development in children with delayed growth and development. It also helps in reducing spasticity, muscle stiffness and improves mobility in children with CNS disorders like cerebral palsy. Ayurvedic massages have also been used successful in reducing hyperactivity (ADHD) and in helping children cope with various learning disabilities.
What should we look for while going in for a massage?
Choosing the right kind of massage for your body type (Prakriti) and health conditions is the key to the success of this therapy. Haphazardly done massage can lead to many adverse effects like worsening of symptoms, muscle and soft tissue injury or no benefits at all. Also, assessing your physical state and status of digestion during each massage is essential. It is ideal to consult a trained and qualified Ayurvedic physician for choosing the right kind of Ayurvedic massage suitable for you. Massage has been advised only after you have felt hungry- a sign that your previously eaten meal has been digested well and no undigested toxic metabolites/Ama are present in the body.Early morning hours and late evening hours are ideal for taking Ayurvedic massage. Afternoon time should be avoided, unless specifically advised by your physician.
Self- massage is the cheapest and ideal way to go when you are looking at adopting Ayurvedic massage as a part of your daily routine. There are a number of good books which explain the fundamental and techniques of Ayurvedic self-massage. However, it is best to get a demo of a customized Ayurvedic self- massage by a qualified Ayurvedic physician before you kick-start your massage routine. This way not only does the physician analyze whether or not you are fit for massage, he/she may also advise you about the right oil/medicated oil which suits your body type and the simple self- massage techniques which will help you.
While choosing the massage center for an Ayurvedic massage, always make sure that the massage therapists have been professionally trained in Ayurvedic massage therapy. Also, if the massage is for a child, enquire about the therapist’s experience in massaging children. This is very important especially when you or your child have been advised to get specialized massage therapies for specific health conditions. It is ideal to have a qualified Ayurvedic physician associated with the massage center to supervise the massage sessions and to monitor your progress.
Who should not take Ayurvedic massage?
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