by Neelam Toprani, Padmashri Naturals
According to Ayurveda, the holistic tradition from India, Abhayanga or Ayurvedic massage is an integral part of the daily routine recommended for overall health and well being. It is a unique technique from India in which comparatively large amounts of medicated oils are applied to the body. Such massage helps to remove the accumulated stress and toxins in the mind and body, increases circulation to the nerve endings and promotes increased stamina through- out the day. It increases mental alertness and tones muscles and lubricates the joints.
One important benefit from Abhayanga is the stimulation of the lymphatic system. Lymph provides the nerves with receiving and transmitting signals. It also helps develop antibodies that are important for the immune system. By rubbing the joints in a circular motion, circulation is enhanced and rubbing the joints in a circular motion secretes fluid secreted from the lymph nodes. This causes more protein, glucose, minerals oxygen, and antibodies, involved with the lymphatic system, to circulate in the blood.
Unlike massage oils used in the West, Ayurvedic oils are specially crafted medicinal substances that can be used both internally and externally. The traditional procedure to make such oils is labor intensive process and requires the skill of a master Ayurvedic pharmacist, who slowly decocts medicinal plants and other natural substances into heat-stable oils at low temperatures. Ayurvedic herbs and botanical extracts recommended for skin and muscle-toning are selected and blended into a pure cold-pressed sesame oil base according to age-old methods using special clay fire places and pure copper vessels. The resultant oil is then filtered and transferred to another copper vessel for settlement. Once it is settled and cooled by natural method, the oil is packed and has a shelf life 5-10 years without any addition of chemical preservatives.
These traditional oils are a striking contrast to what many companies in the West currently market as “Ayurvedic oils”, which are nothing more than carrier oils that feature various essential oil blends.
Traditionally sesame oil is used as base oil in a majority of the Ayurvedic preparations due to its anti oxidant properties. It also has the property to penetrate through the subtle channels of the body At times coconut oil is substituted due to its palatability. However coconut oil is mostly used for external application oils meant for children as it is comparatively light.
How does one us Ayurvedic oils in their daily self care routine?
Dip your fingertips into the warm oil and apply it lightly to the entire body. Wait for few minutes and then apply even pressure with the whole palm and fingers to massage with circular motions over rounded areas such as head or joints and straight strokes on straight areas as your arms and legs. Do not apply heavy pressure on sensitive areas such as abdomen or heart. Relax for 10 – 15 minutes after the massage and then follow with warm bath or shower.
What medicinal oil to use for self massage?
It is important to pay a special attention to the current state of health, one is experiencing in deciding what oil to use for daily self massage. According to Ayurveda the health of the body is dependent upon the activity of three psycho-physiological principles or Doshascalled Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Vata dosha pertains to all movement in the mind and body and represents the element of air and ether. Vata is considered the leader of all three doshas so it is important to keep Vata in balance.
Vata is responsible for neurological system and motor functions. Imbalance is commonly expressed as mental and physical agitation: dryness of skin, sensitivity to weather and weakened digestion.
Ayurvedic Vata oil prepared with herbs like ginger, Calamus, Costus nourishes, calm and pacify the body and alleviate symptoms of dryness sensitivity and pain.
Pitta pertains to metabolism and transformation in the mind and body. Pitta represents the element of Fire and water.
Pitta is responsible for metabolic process in the organ and tissue systems, in addition to the cellular metabolism. Imbalance is expressed as: skin sensitivity, anger issues, excess heat, irritation and inflammation
Pitta Ayurvedic oil has a cooling effect to let excessive heat out of the body.
The last type of dosha is Kapha. Kapha pertains to structure and lubrication in the mind and body. Kapha represents element of Water and Earth. The body form and structure, inclusive of fluids, fats, muscles, bones etc. come under Kapha.
The imbalance is expressed as weakened circulation, body pain, weight issues, nasal and other congestions. Respiratory system is more prone to Kapha imbalances, which results into phlegmatic disorders.
Kapha Ayurvedic oil with herbs Bishop’s Weed, Arjuna, cardamom and Camphor help healing these disorders.
For the individuals with more balanced health could use Tridosha oil to maintain good health. Ayurvedic treatments seek to balance our constitution with prevention and awareness of self.
Let us all take the intelligence of the universe and match it with the intelligence of our own body for a healthy life.