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Discover the Healing Art of Ayurveda Abhyanga: An Ayurvedic Self Massage for Wellness & Balance



In a world where self-care is often overlooked, Abhyangam, an ancient Ayurvedic practice, offers a powerful method to prioritize our well-being.

Here are the key takeaways from this rejuvenating therapy:
  1. Self-Love and Wellness: Abhyangam is an embodiment of self-love. By treating ourselves with kindness, respect, and nurturing our growth and well-being, we embark on a journey towards holistic wellness.

  2. Ancient Wisdom, Modern Practice: Rooted in Ayurvedic tradition, Abhyangam has stood the test of time. This simple yet profound practice has been hailed by ancient sages and modern practitioners alike for its transformative benefits.

  3. The Essence of Abhyangam: Abhyangam, derived from Sanskrit, translates to "applying oil" and involves gently massaging the body with warm, medicated oil. This process not only nourishes the skin but also calms the mind and balances the doshas.

  4. Benefits Beyond the Surface: Abhyangam offers a plethora of benefits, from promoting better sleep and relieving stress to improving circulation and digestion. It's a holistic therapy that addresses both physical and mental well-being.

  5. Tailored Approach: The choice of oil and massage technique can be tailored to individual needs and doshas. Sesame oil is often recommended for its soothing properties, but other oils like coconut or herbal blends can also be used based on one's constitution.

  6. Practical Tips for Practice: Starting your day with Abhyangam sets a positive tone for overall well-being. Consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner can help tailor the practice to your specific needs, ensuring maximum benefits.

  7. Incorporating Abhyangam into Daily Routine: While daily practice is ideal, even doing Abhyangam twice a week can yield significant benefits. The key is consistency and mindfulness in the practice.

  8. Who Can Benefit: Abhyangam is suitable for people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. Whether you lead an active lifestyle, suffer from chronic pain, or seek postpartum recovery, Abhyangam can be tailored to meet your needs.

  9. Precautions and Considerations: While Abhyangam is generally safe for most individuals, there are certain precautions to keep in mind. Consulting a healthcare provider, especially if you have specific medical conditions, is crucial.

  10. Holistic Approach: Beyond the physical benefits, Abhyangam nourishes the mind, body, and spirit. By incorporating localized massages like scalp, ear, and foot massages, one can further enhance the holistic benefits of this practice.


In essence, Abhyangam is not just a massage; it's a ritual of self-care, a journey towards inner harmony, and a celebration of holistic wellness. By embracing this ancient practice, we embark on a path of self-love, rejuvenation, and vitality.

 

We have often heard every one saying “take care of yourselves”

But do we really do that to ourselves  ?

Yes I can hear many no’s because we actually don’t .

Theres a lot of talk these days about self-love. It sounds  amazing , but what does it actually mean? How do we love ourselves and why does it matter?

Self-love means that you accept yourself fully, treat yourself with kindness and respect, and nurture your growth and wellbeing.This nurturing of your own well being can be only achieved when you prioritise you .Its only then you can care for others .

Its easy to say, but difficult in this modern day life to get that into a practise. But  how do we implement this into a practise ?Its not that we cant .We jus need to take a step forward to be conscious about our health .Yes lets start our day with a gentle massage known as Abhyanga .

Ayurveda science deals with ‘swasthya swastha samrakshanam  - athurasya vikara prasamanam cha’ which is nothing but to maintain health of healthy person and cures the disease of the patient. Nowadays, due to loaded stress ,life has devastating effect on every individual that it can lead to the manifestation of many diseases.

Ayurveda explains certain techniques to maintain health and solutions in everyday activities to be followed which is referred to Dinacharya or daily regimen

Amongst that ,the primary procedure is Abhyanga (Oil massage ) which can alleviate many diseases and maintain the health of the individual .In short abhyangam is the only treatment which can control vata dosha which is the prime cause for various diseases.

Now lets dive into the marvellous benefits of abhyanga

Abhyangam is a part of dinacharya ,a simple procedure though but such a powerful act which can give both instant and long term benefits .


What is an Ayurvedic Abhyanga?

Every single Acharyas has mentioned about benefits of Abhyanga in our sasthras as an essential part of dinacharya for a healthy life.

Dinacharya also explains other regimens like waking up in brahma muhurtham ,nasyam,karnapoornam ,gandoosham etc

Massage is not a new concept though ,we come across that in almost all culture including Egyptians ,Japanese,Chinese etc , But the oldest and most scientific scripture was always only in Ayurveda.

 

Abhyanga is said to be an external therapy described  in our sasthras and also in Sneha Vicharana i.e. roots of administration of unctuousness or lubrication . The Sanskrit word Sneha means both “oil” and “love,” and the effects of Abhyanga are similar to the effect of saturation with love. Both experiences can give a deep feeling of stability, warmth and comfort.

The word Abhyanga is derived from Abhi+Anjana Abhyanjana.

Abhi- towards

Anjana - to smear,

So Abhyanga means applying oil and lightly massaging the body. Often medicated and warm oil  which is can be beneficial for maintaining the health and use for certain clinical conditions are  used.  

 

Abhyanga predates the Vedic period. All the Ayurvedic classics have described the various benefits of Abhyanga along with its contra indications. There is no such description about the particular  procedure of Abhyanga except the commentary  Dalhana, who mentioned that Abhyanga should be applied in Anuloma (downward) direction.

In  later period, the specific movements of Abhyanga in limbs and joints has been described. In limbs ,the direction of massage should be practised in direction of hair growth because hair may be delicate .

In regions of joints its always advised for a circular movements .This is to improve the presence of lymph nodes and to improve the lymphatic and venous drainage .

Abhyangam’s effect may vary according to the season and climatic changes on skin texture and layers

Abhyangam assists the development of the healthy body by improving the circulation ,removing the toxins  and relieves physical and mental fatigue, improves the functioning of musculoskeletal system, clears stiffness and heaviness of the body and leads to feeling of lightness.

It helps in improvement of body figure, recuperates the body tissues and reduces body weight as well as fat.


A regular  practice  of abhyanga keeps insomnia at a bay .It can bring back a state of balance of your mind  


May help to relieve stress 

 Another major benefit of abhyangam is  one can have a balanced state of mental health ,since it can control vata ,mind harmony can be very well preserved on practising abhyangam regularly . Abhyanga helps soothe and calm the nervous system.


May Improve Circulation

The touch in massage stimulates your circulation, and conventional massage therapy has been shown to lower blood pressure levels.


Tackles the digestive issues 

It has a very well proven effect on improving the digestion and metabolism and to regularise the channels and lubricating the whole system

 

Increases the stamina and keeps you energised

It overall improves the bone and joint health and improves the vitality and vigour and makes you to feel energised and activated whole day


May Aid Skin and Hair Health

It maintains the skin complexion , texture and tone .It improves the elasticity of skin thus stopping the early ageing . Oil may nourish your skin to make it soft, elastic, and strong. Likewise, regular applications of oil to your scalp may boost the health of the skin  as well as the hair follicles, improving scalp dryness, itching, and even dandruff. The act of massaging this oil onto skin is believed to dilate small blood vessels to increase circulation, which may deliver nutrients to skin and hair follicles


Improves  regularity & ease  menstrual

Since vata and pitta are responsible for the PMS ,cramps and pain ,bloatedness,undergoing abhyangam keeps the above symptoms at a bay


Indications of Abhyanga 

1.     Abhyanga in different diseases:

When abhyangam is rightly done along with swedanam ,it brings the main dosa vata under complete control.

Vagbhata says that proper Snehana and Swedana given to an inanimate dry stick will help to regain its original condition, then what to say about the living body.

The body becomes resistant to any exertion and exhaustion by regular practise of abhyangam .Just like how we oil the wheel of the cart for its smooth functioning ,the whole body needs the oil for its smooth functioning .Just like how we water the root of the tree for its nourishment,bodys dhatus are nourished by regular abhyangam 

 

2.     Abhyanga in dinacharya

 Abhyanga is included in the daily routines to promote the health in hale and healthy. Regular practice of Abhyanga is advised to maintain the physical fitness


3.     Abhyanga in clearing the srothas  

Abhyanga is advised for treatment of symptoms caused by holding or suppressing the urges of Adhovata, Shakrit, Mutra, Shukra etc.


4.     Abhyanga in different seasons:

Abhyanga is advised to protect the body from the coldness  of Hemant Ritu. Abhyanga is beneficial in this season to counteract the detrimental effect of the cold weather and to safeguard the skin

 

Some of the diseases in which Abhyanga is indicated in Ayurveda are as follows:

1. Vata Vyadhi

2. Shwayathu

3. Kushta

4.Vata Rakta

5. Switra

6.Hidma


Which is oil suits you ? 

Application of Tila Taila (Sesame oil) on the head daily prevents headaches, greying of the hairs and induces a sound sleep. It has a very soothing effect on the nervous system, which is controlled by Vata Dosha. Hence it is of utmost importance for those people in stressful job situations, to perform Abhyanga daily. In most situations, Tila Taila (Sesame oil) is recommended, as it can be applied to all Prakriti persons and it is one of the best Taila mentioned in Ayurvedic texts.

Some oils are Ksheerbala Taila,  Narayana Taila, himasagara thailam  and Chandanadi Taila are used for ShiroAbhyanga

 

Tips for Getting Started With Abhyanga


Consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner

Ideally, before you start a new ayurvedic practice, especially if you’re planning to use it longer term, please seek guidance from an ayurvedic practitioner. He  can help you identify your individual constitution to formulate an ayurvedic wellness routine that’s designed for your specific needs.


Identify Your Dosha, or Constitution

In ayurveda, your constitution is the balance of the three doshas in your body, A dosha is believed to be an energy that makes up your unique mind and body, based on pancha  mahabhootas According to ayurveda, the three doshas are vata ,pitta and kapha  

Consulting an ayurvedic practitioner can help you identify  our dosha and which oil suits you the best.


Choose Your Oil

The oil component of abhyanga is believed to be especially important. In particular, sesame oil is generally considered one of the better oils for the body

Coconut oil can be another option, especially during times of heat, as it’s a cooling oil.

Kapha dosha types may be prone to oily skin, so some light potencied oil can be used .


Begin by Massaging the scalp

Warm up the oil with your own body temperature by rubbing it in between your hands. Do not heat up the oil directly  on the stove or with any electric device, to avoid the risk of burning the skin.

Initially, one should start commencing the procedure by doing a head massage  and then continue doing a gentle strokes on the body

According to our acharyas abhyangam should be done from upward till downward direction

The oil which is used for the abhyangam should be of optimal temperature .It should be applied on head first and then to whole scalp .Then oil is applied on ears ,cheeks ,palms and foot .The heated oil should be applied uniformly to the body, by the two therapists standing on both sides of the treatment  table.

Then, massage of the scalp, head is done and subsequently moves down to the neck, upper back, shoulders, upper arms, forearms, hands, chest, abdomen, lower back and lower limbs. The proper procedure of Abhyanga should be performed in seven postures which are: sitting, supine, left lateral, prone, right lateral, supine and sitting.

Prone positioning should be avoided in patients heart ailments , lungs and GIT.


Use Circular Strokes on Tender Spots

As you approach a joint, like knees or elbows, move your hand in a soft circular motion around the joint.Apply a gentle rounded motion to your belly, butt, and breasts or chest as well.


Wipe Down and Rinse Off

Let the oil sit on your body for at least 40 minutes.Later  you can wipe yourself off with a towel and then rinse yourself in lukewarm water.


Time and duration- each posture takes approximately five minutes. So, the whole procedure should take place in approximately 35 to 45 minutes.


Post therapy procedures

Oil is wiped off with a soft towel. Patient is advised to take rest for at least fifteen minutes. Patient is advised to take bath with warm water followed by application of  Rasandi Churna on head  .


Dusting Powders for Abhyanga—Optional

Dusting is an optional step to abhyanga, but some people find it to be highly beneficial. For vata and kapha individuals, you can  chickpea flour Make a paste with the flour and water, gently apply a small amount to the body in the shower, and let it rinse off with the oil.

You can use ubtan or green gram dhal for rinsing effect

After bath ,He is asked to lie down not getting exposed to wind or sunlight to avoid complications

 

how does the Abhyanga actually work?

According to Ayurveda, oil etc. used for massage does not have stop  their actions  to skin layer  alone. The herbs boiled in oil is said to penetrate into deeper tissues of the body and tend to cleanse the toxins  from  deeper tissues .

When vata gets aggravated due to various reasons like not following the dietary regime ,over exerting mind and body , vata  it contracts the minute channels all over the body. This means that Rasa dhatu  gets depleted and dries up which indicates that our body lacks the vital nutrients.When rasa dhatu of lymph fluid is depleted ,it obviously affect the free flow of raktha dhatu  .

So when both are depleted ,one may feels exhausted ,depressed and fatigued

In such conditions , abhyanga works by trapping excess vayu (air) from the skin. As you massage the oil into the body, it helps trap vayu along with dead cells  through the skin. The trapped vata dosha is slowly released from the body and helps it leave the body through sweat generated after a act of  abhyanga. As  abhyangam oil is warm, unctuous, and penetrating, it is the opposite of vata dosha which is cold, rough and light. The Antagonistic properties of vata and oil helps to restore balance in the body .

 

 

Who can be  benefited  from Abhyanga ?

An Abhyanga can extensively benefit many age groups like

1.    For the  person with active life style or who involves in sports 

Abhyangam helps to relax the stiff muscles and prevents  damage caused by external  injuries .It can equally regenerate the worn out tissues 

 

2.    Aged and persons from degenerative or debilitating disorders  

medicated oil abhyangam can slow down the degeneration and bring vata to balance as vata is predominant in old age group

 

3. For the infant 

Abhyanga helps to support bodys development .It can help to strengthen bones and joints and nourish the baby hence supporting the proper development

 

4      For the over stressed and over exerted

It heps to relax the mind and body thus calming down the pittha  

5      For the post partum mother, the abhyanga specifically helps build the body’s immunity, and removes tiredness and exhaustion caused by childbirth and baby care.

6      For a pregnant lady

Abhyangam locally can help to relieve the pelvic tensions  as per advise of physician

 

Do I need to heat Abhyanga oil for Self-massage

In Ayurveda, we do not reheat oil which has already gone through the Tila Paka process. However, warm oil does soothe vata and penetrates quickly. Hence, when you apply oil for abhyanga, apply the oil after warming the oil between your palms. 

 Can I use my body  oil for my hair too?

No. As the head and body have different requirements of paaka vidhi

  • If you apply your hair oil to your body, you could aggravate vata dosha further and could also upset Kapha dosha.

  • If you apply your Abhyanga oil to your head, you could increase Pitta and heat in the body, which is the very thing we are trying to control in this area which is already very Pitta prone.

 

What can I do if I don’t have much time to do  abhyagam on a daily basis ?

In that case you can just warm the mediacted oil and apply only to the painful parts or required parts atleast


When should Abhyanga be done?

An Abhyanga should be done in the morning, as early as possible, on an empty stomach, and then followed with a Snana using warm water


When should you not do abhyanga?

Abhyanga should not be done if you are unwell, have a fever, after a meal, after exposure to the hot sun, if you are feeling very tired, or during your periods.


How often should you do abhyanga?

Ayurveda suggests the application of oil into your body daily, before bath. This is why it is called a Dinacharya. In case if you have no time for that , doing a full abhyanga atleast twice a week is recommended.


Who should not do abhyanga massage?

Patients, physically very ill, those who have any current bone and joint issue or fracture, and pregnant women,mensurating lady  should not do an abhyanga, unless getting a proper advise form your doctor

 

 

Can we do abhyanga after eating?

An abhyanga should only be done on an empty stomach. If done after eating, it could disturb digestion of the contents of the stomach and lead to Ama formation in the body.


Should abhyanga be done before or after shower?

The application of oil onto skin before bath reduces skin dryness and improves skin health. It brings down the drying effect of water and keeps skin in good health.Therefore an abyanga should only done before a shower / bath.


Is Abhyanga suitable for all body types?

Abhyanga is generally suitable for all body types. However, it’s essential to consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the optimal treatment plan and herbal oils for your specific body type and needs.


What should I wear for an Abhyanga massage?

It is recommended to wear comfortable, loose-fitting cotton  clothing that can be easily removed. Most people choose to wear disposable undergarments provided by massage therapist.


Can Abhyanga massage help with chronic pain?

Yes, Abhyanga massage can help with chronic pain by improving circulation, reducing muscle tension, and releasing endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers


Other localized massages

Scalp Massage

also known as murdha taila- its  a deeply relaxing experience that  benefits a lot like

  • Luxurious, thick, soft, and glossy hair

  • Soothing and invigorating the sense organs

  • Naturally and gently reducing facial wrinkles

  • Some prescribed oils are

Bhringaraj OilBrahmi Oil, and neelibringadi oil,kayyunyadi oil are especially well suited for scalp massage.


Ear Massage

Due to their constant intake of sounds and stimuli, ears can become easily imbalanced by the vata dosha. Also known as karnapoornam ,it  offers the following benefits:

  • Balancing all three doshas (especially vata) in the ears for enhanced tranquility

  • Promoting comfort in the neck and jaw muscles

  • Helping the body produce and maintain a healthy amount of earwax

This involves using more oil in each ear, about 3–6 drops, and resting with your head tilted for about 10 minutes before draining out the oil.


Foot Massage

Also known as pada bahyangam ,its beneficial  especially when performed along with a scalp massage at night before bed. Some of the benefits of foot massage include:

  • Providing comfort to sore, aching feet

  • Strengthening the feet

  • Enhancing vision

  • Balancing vata

  • Promoting healthy local tissues, veins and ligaments

Sesame oil or coconut oil,ghee  is a great choice for winding down for the evening as well.


Face Massage with Marma Points

Massaging your face with oil can help relieve tension in the face and promote a healthy complexion. consider paying attention to the marma points of your face when practicing abhyanga.


How should I prepare for the abhyangam ?

Stick on to the food routine

Avoid excess use of perfume ,lotions which may interfere with treatments


Do I need to tell about my medical conditions ?

Yes, of course. It may help the vaidgya to decide the best ayurvedic oil, especially when you are a diabetic and having any skin issues, the oil may vary widely.

Is abhyangam suitable for children ?

Yes ,it can strengthen their bones and makes the skin looks better as well 

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