Namaste, (“I bow to the divine in you”)
The Abhyanga massage is believed to generate harmony between the body, mind and spirit, in addition to relaxing the muscles and hydrating the skin because of the high amount of oil that is used. Abhyanga, also called Oil massage, is the most important Ayurvedic massage, that can be either applied as its own therapy, or as a part of the Panchakarma (a therapeutic way of eliminating toxic elements from the body).
THE ORIGIN: AYURVEDA
The Abhyanga massage derives from the Indian traditional medicine and life philosophy, Ayurveda. This ancient discipline has a holistic perspective of the human being and takes into account aspects such as physical constitution, mental condition, external environment, climate, dietary habits, etc. in its diagnosis. Its aim is to avoid the appearance of disease through preventive treatments and healthy lifestyle rather than only treating the disorders. Massage is an important part of the Ayurvedic and Indian culture and is practiced commonly in order to maintain harmony between the body, mind and spirit. You can read about Ayurveda more in detail in our previous post “Human Health according to Ayrveda”.
The massage can be applied on all healthy individuals, although the frequency depends on the bodily constitution (dosha) of each person. In Abhyanga the aim is to achieve a balance between the body, mind and spirit through stimulating the energy channels (nadis),energy points (marma) and energy centers (chakras) by the application of certain massage strokes and specific oils.
The oil, essences, pressure, number of repetitions and temperature applied during the massage is determined by the constitution (dosha) of each receiver of massage. Commonly used oils include: sesame, coconut, sunflower, mustard and almond.
The main strokes used in the Abhyanga massage are: effleurage, gliding, friction, press, kneading/petrissage, percussion, manipulation and traction. However, the technique applied may differ depending on the Ayurveda school as there are no established international standards.
ABHYANGA MASSAGE SESSION
The massage can be performed either by an individual therapist or by two therapists. The duration of an Abhyanga massage session depends on the effects that you want to achieve, the constitution (dosha) of the massage receiver, the rhythm and repetitions of the massage strokes and the number of therapists performing the massage. Generally speaking it ranges from thirty to sixty minutes. After the massage it is recommended to let the oil get absorbed by the skin so that the receiver fully benefits of its effect.
This post of course only gives you an idea about the Abhyanga massage technique but we hope it awoke your curiosity for the multiple healing methods that are practiced within the Ayurvedic tradition, in which massage plays a very important role!
Wishing you all a meaningful day ahead,
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