‘Yoga’ is one of the highly practiced forms of exercise around the world. It helps one not just to heal externally but internally as well. It soothes the mind and calms the cycle of thoughts going on in our mind continuously. It involves ‘Dhyaan,’ which means concentration to remove all the ‘Ama’ toxins not just from our body but also from the brain.
Just like a flower seems incomplete without an alluring fragrance, in the same manner, yoga is incomplete without a few forms of Massages. Yoga consists of many types of massages; one of the highly practiced ones is ‘Abhyanga’ massage.
What is Ayurvedic Abhyanga Massage?
An Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage traditionally means an oil massage all over the body. It can be done by own self or either with the help of a professional Ayurvedic masseuse. This practice helps one to heal the obvious pain of the body along with internal relaxation of mind. It involves swift and specific movements that help one to hit the helpful joints of the body.
The oil involved in an Abhyanga massage is herb fused, which penetrates the body and helps to nourish the painful tissues. The massage is performed in a peaceful and calm environment. An Abhyanga massage helps to correct the Dosha of the body. It repairs the damaged tissues and cells of the body and strengthens it externally. The massage heals one internally without the intake of anxiety or depression pills.
Hence various benefits of an Abhyanga massage are recorded. Sesame oil is preferred one for the massage, and the herbs infused in it heals the body in multiple forms—this step preparation for Panchakarma Therapy. Therefore Abhyanga massage is termed as ‘Overall Healer’ to repair the ins and outs of our body.
How to perform Abhyanga? What is Self-Abhyanga?
A professional masseuse can perform an Abhyanga massage, or one can also play it by one own self. It feels more relaxing and soothing when done by an occupational therapist. The massage is done just before the bath so that the excess oil washes off.
To perform an Abhyanga massage, one needs to brush out the whole body gently. This step helps to remove the dead skin from the surface and make it smooth and perfect for the massage. This step also aids in the easy application of the herbal oil onto the body. One needs to warm the fat a bit but make sure the oil should not be too hot, or else it might burn the skin of the sensitive areas of the body. After the oil is slightly warm, one needs to take a few drops of the oil into the palms and rub it generously.
Then apply this herb-infused oil all over the body. Apply the oil generously on all the joints, tissues, and parts of the body. One should not forget to apply it to the neglected parts like fingertips and sole of the feet. These parts should also be massaged generously with the help of the oil. After the application of oil all over the body, one needs to relax for a few minutes.
It helps the oil to penetrate deeply in the tissues and cells of the body and help them to repair. During this time, one can practice breathing exercises or even read a book. Later one needs to take a refreshing shower to wash off the excess oil from the body. One can use an Ayurvedic soap or body wash for a wholly natural and Ayurvedic experience.
How is an Abhyanga massage done?
Abhyanga massage is a self-relaxation massage done to heal and cure our mind and body. It involves various steps to be performed so that the benefits of massage are observed. These steps, if followed precisely, then the massage seems to be more relaxing and soothing.
The massage begins by scrubbing the body gently to ensure the removal of dead skin. Dead skin leads to an uneven skin texture, which might obstruct a relaxing massage. Hence its gentle removal is necessary. After the skin, even tones, unique oil is prepared for Abhyanga. The oil’s base is made up of sesame oil, which is considered the best one for an Abhyanga. This oil is then infused with various herbs to make the massage more soothing and relaxing. These herbs penetrate our body with the help of swift motions practiced on the body during the massage. The oil is warmed up a bit before applying it to the body.
After the application of oil generously over the whole body, one needs to keep themselves calm and composed. It helps in lowering the stress of the mind as well as nerves. The slow and swift massage movements help one to get rid of joint or bone issues too. Hence it is a natural way to cure the problems faced in times of joint pain or arthritis.
After the massage, one needs to lie down for a few minutes to allow the herbal oil to penetrate deep in the body and perform its function. The more one lies down calmly; the more beneficial massage proves to be. After the relaxation hour, one can take a refreshing and rejuvenating bath. A bath helps in the removal of excess oil, which is not absorbed by the tissues. The tub can also be made a natural one by using an Ayurvedic soap or body wash.
What are the benefits of the Abhyanga massage?
An Abhyanga massage has various benefits. It helps one to get rid of any form of joint or bone pain. It is also helpful to get rid of various skin disorders. There are many other benefits of this Ayurvedic massage. Let us put some limelight at a few of them:
- Reduces Stress
Abhyanga helps to lower the stress. It helps to normalize the excited heart rate, which helps to calm down the nerves and amount of pressure the person faces in various conditions. Regular Abhyanga, or at least once a week, is helpful for those who have to deal with pressured or nerve-racking. The aromatic and herb oil used for the massage calms down the mind and eliminates stress gradually. Hence popping anti-depressant pills can be replaced by practicing Ayurvedic massage. Therefore this massage is also helpful for the students who have to face various competitive situations or who have to deal with the pressure to excel in their respective fields.
Improves the skin texture
One of the vital advantages of an Abhyanga massage is it helps to improve the skin texture. The oil helps to nourish the skin deeply. Massaging helps to improve the blood flow in our body, helping to stay at a bay from various skin issues like acne, pimple, pigmentation, and many more. Abhyanga helps to nourish our skin profoundly and do not let it rash or get dry.
Various skin disorders like eczema or leprosy lead to the formation of a thick dry layer of skin over the body. Hence under such conditions practicing Abhyanga helps to nourish the skin and resolve disorder in the earliest possible time. It is also considered an Ayurvedic way to treat the skin issue.
- Helpful to cure Joint pain and Improved Flexibility
Abyanga helps one to heal the joint or muscle pain caused due to various reasons. It involves slow and relaxing massage movements to calm down the stressed nerves. Hence it is helpful to cure joint issues like arthritis, osteoporosis, and many other joint problems. It also helps to unlock the locked muscles and improve flexibility. People suffering from strained muscles or face difficulty in natural movements like walking or picking up things can be relieved with the help of Abhyanga. The herbal and aromatic oils used for the massage helps one to strengthen the joints and keep them healthy and active.
Which oil is best for the Abhyanga massage?
Various forms of oil used while performing Abhyanga affect the body in their ways. They help one to relieve the body from multiple forms of disorders. Any type of oil has its proficiency and hence is beneficial for the body in numerous ways. The herbs added in the oil are like a cherry on the cake for the massage. The herbs absorbed by our body prove to heal and cool down our body too. Hence they also have an essential role for the Abhyanga massage. Let us have a look at some of the preferred oils for Abhyanga massage:
- Coconut oil
Coconut oil a cooling agent for our bodies. People with high body temperature should use coconut oil to relax and soothe their nerves. It helps to cool down the body temperature and relax the tensed tissues. It is also useful to improve the texture of the skin. The oil helps Dry, rough, and patchy skin. It helps to get rid of spasms and a muscle pull or catch.
- Sesame oil
Sesame oil is high in temperature and is helpful in winters. It is useful for people with low body temperature. It is also an excellent absorber; hence it is highly used in various forms of massages. It relaxes the tensed nerves and heals the stiffness of the muscles. Therefore many people prefer to use sesame oil for their massage. Sesame oil is a powerhouse of zinc and copper. Hence it is helpful for the people to reduce their rheumatic pain, and pain occurred because of arthritis. It also helps to strengthen the bones. Because of its anti-oxidant properties, the oil is also helpful for that natural glow to the skin.
When should one not perform an Abhyanga Massage?
Though there are numerous benefits of Abhyanga massage, there are also times when one should avoid it. Let us have a look at the inappropriate times of performing this Ayurvedic massage:
- After meals or during constipation
Perform an Abhyanga massage before bathing. But one should not perform it immediately after having a meal. The meal does not quickly digest in our bodies. It needs the proper time to get absorbed into our system. The strokes performed while massaging the body with warm oil may pressurize our belly and other parts. It may misplace the food consumed by us and cause harm to the body. Hence it is advised to avoid the massage right after a meal consumed. Indigestion is a process when the body throws unwanted waste out of its system. The pressure applied during the Abhyanga massage may not help out the situation and, on the contrary, may worsen it. Hence it is advised to avoid such practices during constipation.
- While menstrual cycles and pregnancy
Menstruation is a time when a woman has to face the cleaning process of the body. It is the time when toxins leave out of the body. Therefore a woman might feel weak and may wish to take some rest. Hence at such times, a rigorous Abhyanga massage is advised to be avoided.
Pregnancy is a time when a woman carries a fetus in her body. Abhyanga massage eliminates toxins or Ama from one’s body; hence it may affect the child within. Therefore such forms of massages or exercises are advised to avoid.
How long after a massage one can shower?
After an Abhyanga or any form of massage, our body releases Ama. Hence many people prefer to take a bath immediately. On the other hand, some people prefer to allow the aromatic or therapeutic oil to penetrate deeper into the tissues by relaxing for a few minutes. There are many assumptions, but there is also one concrete advice.
After a massage, one should allow the herbal oils to penetrate deeper into the body for at least 30 to 60 minutes. During this period, one can relax in a comfortable position or can have a quick nap. One can also read a book or just listen to soothing music. After the massage, avoid work that may exhaust you. After an hour, one can have a refreshing bath and flush out the toxins stuck on our skin during the Abhyanga massage.