Ayurveda, the ancient science of perfect health, comes from the highly developed Vedic civilization and has been practised in India for thousands of years. The Ayurvedic texts describe a wealth of treatments for maintaining and promoting good health by creating inner balance and re-establishing connection with the body’s inner intelligence. Abhyanga, a whole-body oil massage done before the morning shower or bath, is regarded as one of the most important one of these procedures.
Abhyanga is not very complicate to perform and easy to integrate into ones daily routine. It produces so many positive effects that soon you will not want to miss it. Charak Samhita, a major Ayurvedic text says that oil massage the human body becomes strong and smooth-skinned; it gains resistance to exhaustion and exertion. One who applies the (sesame) oil on his head regularly does not suffer from headache, baldness, greying of hair. , His sense organs work properly; the skin of his face becomes brightened; applying the oil on the head produces sound sleep and happiness´; traditions also maintains that muscles, tissues and joints are lubricated and flexibility increased.
The abhyanga can be done standing or sitting. The method is as follows:
The oil is taken slightly warmer to the body temperature and then used.
Start by massaging the head. Place a small amount of oil on the scalp and massage the scalp vigorously. Use the open palms of the hands and the flat surfaces of the fingers rather than the fingertips for the whole massage. The stroke should be circular, describing small circles. Spend more time on the head than on other parts of the body, because it has marmas points, which influences all the other parts.
Massage the face and outer part of the ears, using the fingers. Massaging the ears is also said to influence the whole body, so give them some extra time, too, but don’t massage them vigorously. At this point, you may want to smear oil over the rest of the body: This will give the maximum time for the oil to penetrate the skin.
Massage the front and back of the neck, and the upper part of the back. Remember to use the open palm and flat surfaces of the fingers, not the fingertips.
Next, massage the arms vigorously. For the joints use a circular motion, and for the long bones a straight motion.
Now do the chest and stomach. Be less vigorous here. Use a circular motion over the pectoral areas, and a very gentle, vertical motion over the breastbone and solar plexus. Use a very gentle circular motion over the abdomen, moving clockwise, the direction the large intestine move in (top, to the left, bottom, to the right).
Massage the back and spine - or what you can reach of it - vigorously.
Massage with some force on the legs in the same way you did the arms: straight on the bones, circular on the joints.
Last but not least, massage the feet. The soles of the feet are said to have marma points that connect to the rest of the body, so give extra time and attention to them. Once again use the palm or the open flat of the hand, and massage vigorously.
The ideal length of a daily abhyanga is 10 to 20 minutes, but even only 2 or 3 minutes is very beneficial (priorities are head and feet).
Be careful about getting oil over your bathroom floor. If your bathroom is carpeted, we suggest that you protect it with an inexpensive floor mat, or some disposable covering.
If you have a cold or flu or problems with digestion abhyanga is not recommended.
After your massage take a shower or bath.
Friday, 3 August 2007