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Written by Shalu Chandran,
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.” – Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89.
Abhyanga, the Sanskrit term for oil massage is an Ayurvedic treatment method that comprises of a body massage with warm oil. Often, the oil may be infused with herbs in order to treat specific conditions. The oil used in a massage may vary depending upon one’s constitution and the season, but sesame, coconut, sunflower, mustard and almond tend to be used most commonly.
Ayurvedic practitioners recommend the inclusion of Abhyanga as a part of one’s daily routine for good health and well-being. The science behind Abhyanga is to encourage absorption of oils used in the massage to various layers of the skin, which aids and improves the functions of the skins, such as release of toxins, or absorption of nutrition.
In Ayurveda, an Abhyanga massage is often likened to the effects of love, and thus the Sanskrit word “sneha” meaning love, is often used to mean oil. It is believed that having an Abhyanga massage can lead to feelings of warmth and stability, akin to love. This method allows the oil to penetrate deep into the body and each layer of tissue and is thus, far more beneficial than usual massages. It is believed, in the practice of Ayurvedic medicine that the human body contains seven layers of tissue, each of which is more vital than the one above. In order to ensure that the oil permeates the deepest layer, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine believe that it must be five minutes of self-massage would be beneficial.
PROCEDURE FOR ABHYANGA:
A qualified Ayurveda physician selects the oil according to your body type and health needs. A well-trained therapist carries out the procedure, usually for the duration of 45 – 60 minutes in a room which is calm and quite. The room should be devoid of direct sunlight, breeze and cold wind. A light soothing music may be played in the treatment room.
The most important benefits of Abhyanga, among others, are as follows:
According to Sushruta, “The deranged vayu [vata] of the body is restored to its normal condition by the help of Udvartana (massage).”— (Sushruta Vol.2, 24:28)
Ashwagandha taila, Bala taila, Mahanarayana Taila, Ksheerabala Taila, Dhanwantaram taila, Dashamoola Taila are some of the oils that are commonly used for abhyanga.
Though Abhyanga has a lot of benefits yet there are a few contraindications.
Abhyanga is one treatment that can be done at home, by one’s self. Daily Abhyanga will keep the body strong and firm. It not only boosts your energy but also keeps one looking young.
With inputs by Dr Ashwini V Konnur, BAMS, YIC, CFN
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