Massage is an important daily or weekly practice and also has its special therapeutic value. Proper massage removes fatigue, increases muscular tone and flexibility of joints, alleviates Vata, improves circulation to the organs and the skin, eliminates waste products through the skin, stimulates the nervous system, prevents aging and increases longevity.
Oil massage is an important Ayurvedic treatment. It is relaxing to the body and mind, nourishes the skin, and improves the circulation and removes toxins. Oil massage is known in Sanskrit as Abhyanga. Medicated oil should be massaged on the whole body, including the head and feet. Regular oil massage removes excess fat from the skin, and makes the skin glossy, soft and strong. It protects the skin from dryness, cracking and roughness.
Persons of Vata constitution should use medicated oils prepared from demulcent herbs like shatavari, ashwagandha, or bala (like Narayana oil) and it should be applied while the oil is warm. Simple sesame oil can also be used. Regular massage is essential for keeping Vata under control. Persons of Pitta constitution should apply medicated oils using sandalwood or vetivert (like Chandabalalakshadi). Simple coconut oil can’ also be used. Those of Kapha constitution should use mustard or other light oils. As a result of oil massage, health is preserved, disease is prevented, and immunity increased.
Regular oil massage to the head inhibits premature hair loss or graying of the hair and promotes sound sleep. By massaging the soles of the feet and the legs, the eyesight is improved, cracks to the skin of the feet are prevented, and the reproductive system is strengthened.
Other Types of Ayurvedic Massage
Different alternative’ health-care systems use various substances for massage, including medicated oils, herbal pastes or powders, pieces of brick, wood, metal balls, or sand. In addition to oil massage, Ayurveda specifies four types of massage each utilizing different substances to enhance its beneficial effects.
- UDVARTANA MASSAGE – Uses different ointments and powders that remove the excess oils left over on the body from oil massage. Powders of horse gram, garbanzo, or mung flour are used for this. It is a routine procedure done after Abhyanga or regular oil massage.
- UDGHARSHANA MASSAGE – Uses the dry powder of herbs that provoke heat and open the pores of the sweat glands on the skin. It can also be done by using sand. Powders of calamus, lodhra, and shikai are used. Calamus is best for small children. This massage also helps to remove excess fat under the skin and reduces excess Kapha. It is one of the main treatment measures for obesity.
- UTSADANA MASSAGE – Uses pieces of brick, small cuttle-fish bones, or wood sticks and has a scraping action on the skin. It is also used for removing excess oil from the skin after Abhyanga or. oil massage, but has a stronger or harsher action.
- Pizhichili is a massage treatment developed in Kerala in southern India. In this treatment, thick, warm herbalized oils are applied all over the body by two trained therapists in a special rhythmic way continuously for 60 minutes. Traditionally, it is given daily for a period of 5 to 21 days. This treatment is done on a special table made from cherry tree heartwood. This treatment is very useful for rheumatic diseases like arthritis, tendonitis, low back strain, Parkinson’s disease, sexual debility, nervous exhaustion and breathing disorders.
- ANNALEPANA MASSAGE – Is done with medicated boiled rice. First the rice is cooked along with its husks. Then some milk is boiled along with the herbal formula Dashamula and small ,balls of cooked rice are put into it. These are then taken out. and put in a cloth bag, with about two hands full of rice in each bag. First oil massage is done and then massage is done with rice in a downward direction, starting below the head. Massage is done on the chest, back, hands, and legs. Then the rice paste is removed and hot oil is applied again. After removing the excess oil, a hot water bath is taken.
- Ayurvedic Head Massage – This is an ancient technique to relax and relieve mental fatigue and confusion. It helps to create more clarity and regenerate the mind and brain activity for better functioning. The oils used for this massage contain herbs that are calming to the mind, and stimulant to the brain, nerves and sensory organs.
- Lepana (Herbalized Mud Treatment) – This is a treatment in which a medicated herbal paste is applied over the entire body and allowed to dry. It is then removed using a special deep tissue technique which leaves the muscles and fascia revitalized and flexible. This treatment is traditionally given for obesity as well as various types of inflammatory conditions, skin diseases, arthritis, gout, muscular strains, and circulatory imbalances.
Benefits of Ayurvedic Massage
Massage stimulates the internal functions of the body and provides nourishment to various body tissues. It helps in cleansing the toxins from channels. Massaging with oil provides lubrication to various body mechanisms. It stimulates the different agni (enzymes), increases assimilation of food and increases the vital body fluid called the Ojas. It works at both mental and physical levels of the body. It is beneficial in the case of insomnia, weakness of nerves, laziness, exhaustion, general debility, dry and unhealthy skin.