The Abhyanga massage is one of the most famous and popular massages originating in the Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Nowadays it is offered in Spas, Wellness Clubs and Massage Centers, but it has not always been a Spa treatment. Learn about the origins and evolution of the Abhyanga massage!
Massage and Ayurveda
Massage has a central role in the Indian Ayurvedic culture during the entire lifespan of an individual. Starting from the day of birth infants are given soft massages to stimulate the circulation as well as the release of toxins. As the babies grow older they are given massages on a daily basis that help in strengthening their bodies and maintaining overall health by balancing the doshas (bodily humors or energies). Around the age of six, the children start to give massages to the elderly family members, apart from receiving themselves. Massage has thus been an integral part of the health culture especially in Southern India, and it continues to be so, although maybe to a lesser extent today.
Traditional Abhyanga Massage or Oilation
Abhyanga, also called Ayurvedic or Indian Oil Massage, means oilation, or application of oil. Traditionally, Ayurveda recommends us to apply oil over the entire body before bathing or taking a shower, in order to hydrate and improve the texture of the skin, lubricate the joints, increase circulation, balance the doshas, etc. So what we today know as the Abhyanga massage actually has its origins in a type of self-massage that has been practiced for centuries in India. The oil playes a very important part in both the traditional Abhyanga massage and its modern version, and usually the oil is chosen based on the prakriti or the bodily constitution of the receiver, and/or a possible disorder, depending on if the massage is done for preventive or curative purposes.
The Modern Abhyanga Treatment
Today the Abhyanga massage can be found on the treatment menu of Spas and Wellness Centers around the world. Although it is obviously different from the traditional self-massage, the similarities lie in the importance given to the oil and its healing effects, as well as the soft and rhythmic massage strokes. The modern Abhyanga massage consists of a bigger variety of strokes and is often applied by two therapists who perform the soothing massage in a perfectly synchronized manner. But of course there are differences in the technique depending on where the Abhyanga massage is offered and to which target group.
I find it wonderful that a tradition such as the Abhyanga has evolved into a treatment that can improve the health and well-being of thousands of individuals across the globe, and I believe that, together with the underlying Ayurvedic philosophy, it can enrich the lives of many people.
Have you had any experience with the Abhyanga massage, either giving or receiving it? Please feel free to share your comments below!
Wishing you a beautiful day ahead,
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