What is Ayurvedic Abhyanga Massage?
To understand what Ayurvedic Abhyanga Massage is it is first important to understand Ayurveda. Ayurveda was developed over 3,000 years ago and is one of the world’s most ancient medical practices. It takes a holistic approach to healing, meaning that they believe to heal an ailment you need to bring the body into balance so it can heal itself. Abhyanga is a type of Ayurvedic massage that uses warm oil massaged via a certain technique into the body best performed before a shower or bath. Although it can be done through an Ayurvedic massage practitioner, it is also a very easy and beneficial self-massage to do in the privacy of your own home.
Why is Abhyanga Massage considered to be the Fountain of Youth?
Abhyanga massage has so many benefits to restoring youth but one of the main benefits is that it keeps the skin moisturized and supple. Applied before a hot bath or shower, it protects the skin from the drying effects of the hot water while allowing the oil to further penetrate the skin. This provides nourishing benefits to the whole body and lubricates the joints. Applying Abhyanga massage to the scalp and head nourishes, protects, and shines the hair while also helping to reduce facial wrinkles. Applied to the feet, also known as Padabhyanga, it can even help to maintain eyesight and hearing while repairing rough dry feet.
There are so many additional benefits to Ayurvedic Abhyanga Massage:
- Improves blood circulation
- Reduces stress and blood pressure
- Allows the body to get a restful night sleep
- Relaxes the central nervous system
- Improves digestion
- Tones the muscles
- Helps to detox the body through elimination of impurities
- Assists in drainage of the lymphatic system
- Stimulates the internal organs
This article shows 14 Scientific Studies on the additional Benefits of Abhyanga.
*Photo Credit Yastremska/BigStock.com
Abhyanga Massage Technique:
Performing an Abhyanga self-massage at home is really very easy. First start by heating the oil of your choice. I like to heat the oil by placing the bottle in a mug of hot water heated with a kettle.
After undressing, and while sitting or standing over a towel, start by performing a hot oil scalp massage. (You may only want to perform the scalp massage if you will be washing your hair after as your hair will look oily until washed out). To massage the scalp, pour oil into hands then apply about a tablespoon of oil to the crown of the head and start massaging in circular motions. You can then use your fingers to distribute the oil throughout the rest of your hair. Then work the oil into the ears massaging the ear lobes. Apply oil working down the neck, arms and under the armpits.
Continue giving yourself a full body massage by the warm oil directly to your body and massaging in working from your arms and finishing with your feet. Always massage in the direction of your heart. Use long strokes on your legs and arms and apply circular strokes around your joints. When rubbing the abdomen, do so in clockwise circular motion. Finish by massaging the feet with the warm oil (Padabhyanga).
It is best to let the oil sit on the skin for about 10-20 minutes before showering or bathing so it has a chance to absorb. This can be a great time to do meditation or deep breathing.
Although this is ideally done as part of a daily routine before a bath or shower, that may not be practical for everyone. I like to do this at minimum once a week before a hot bath. It is ideal to perform the ritual 2-4 times a week to see more benefits.
Popular Abhyanga oil choices are coconut, sweet almond, sesame (not toasted) and jojoba. To learn about making your own custom Abhyanga oil blend visit this post.
Cautions of doing Abhyanga: Do not do if you are pregnant or have a medical condition without first consulting a qualified medical practitioner. Due to it’s detoxifying effects it is best not to do during menstruation. Do not do if sick, have indigestion or over infected or broken skin. Make sure to wipe off the oil from the bottom of your feet before jumping in the shower so you don’t slip.
Additional Tips: Using oil has the potential to be staining to sheets and towels. You may want to have a towel specifically for Abhyanga. I personally switched to darker colored towels and this has not been a problem for me. To prevent staining your sheets make sure the oil is fully absorbed before going to bed. It is also a good idea to perform a regular drain cleaning with baking soda and vinegar or a natural enzymatic drain cleaner to make sure oil does not build up in the pipes. If you don’t overdo it on the oil none of these things should be much of an issue but they are still items to be aware of.
I hope this post inspires you to make Abhyanga part of your regular routine. The youth restoring benefits of Ayurvedic Abhyanga Massage are truly magical!
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