Abhyanga massage or oil massage is a classic and very ancient Ayurvedic procedure. The Sanskrit abhyanga consists of two words – abhy (rub) and anga (finiteness), which implies the very meaning of the technique. The practice was initially used to soak the body with healing oils through Ayurvedic massage. Through the use of this technique, one can achieve a balance of the system of subtle bodies, including doshas, srot, chakras, vayi, Nadi. There are many variations of abhyanga massage, but they all serve the same purpose.
This Ayurvedic procedure heals all organ systems, works out different muscle groups, relaxes the body, relieves the mind of obsessive thoughts and fuss, helps get rid of psycho-emotional stress. That is why Abhyanga massage is called the most popular type of Indian massage in Ayurveda.
What is the effect of abhyanga massage
Ayurvedic abhyanga massage is invaluable not only for the physical but also for the subtle body, which is confirmed by traditional Ayurvedic texts. The effect of the massage is astounding (assuming time is taken daily):
- The body regains a healthy tone.
- Toxins and other harmful substances, which are often the cause of various ailments, are actively eliminated.
- The body becomes strong and flexible thanks to the deep workout of the muscles.
- The blood supply to all organs improves, which is why they receive much more oxygen and nutrients necessary for their full work.
- The feeling of constant fatigue goes away. Every morning, performing a massage ritual, a person is charged with energy, due to which his performance and endurance during the day will be high.
- All worries leave the mind, peace and tranquility come. If we say in modern psychological language, stress resistance increases. In addition, sleep is normalized.
- The condition of joints and tendons improves, pains of various kinds are eliminated.
- The aging process is significantly slowed down, thanks to which a person will look and feel young for as long as possible.
- Visual acuity improves.
- The work of the mind is accelerated, attention, memory improves.
- The skin becomes taut and elastic. Wrinkles are smoothed out, the healthy color of the skin returns, and its dryness is eliminated.
Oils used in abhyanga
Indian abhyanga massage is necessarily carried out with the use of various oils, which can significantly enhance the effect of the procedure. These can be vegetable oils (for example, sesame or olive), massage oils with plant extracts, or aromatic essential oils.
Ayurveda attaches great importance to medicinal herbs. It is believed that if you add herbal extracts to massage oil, you can get a double or even triple effect.
It is known that each plant has certain properties. So, round-leaved mallow has a beneficial effect on the condition of the skin, actively nourishing it with useful substances.
Shy mimosa helps to stabilize the emotional balance, strengthen the nervous system. Physalis acts on the body as an adaptogen, thereby increasing stress resistance.
Massage oils are no less popular for performing abhyanga massage, which contain various combinations of aromatic essences of essential oils. Depending on which dosha is not balanced, different compositions are suggested. For example, coconut oil has a cooling effect.
If you add essences of a relaxing effect (mint, lemon balm, lavender) to it, then thanks to Indian massage with such components, a person will receive physical and emotional relaxation, his mind will get rid of hotness.
But, if it is necessary to achieve the opposite effect, that is, to cheer up, tone the body, basil, and rosemary oil will do . But the oils of geranium and sweet orange represent the “golden mean”, as they give exactly what is lacking, regulating the balance of doshas. In addition, they exude a “delicious” aroma that awakens imagination and creativity.
Don’t limit yourself. You can create an oil composition that’s right for you. You can use jojoba oil, olive oil, or almond oil as a base, to which you should add 5-10 drops of your chosen aromatic oil.
How Abhyanga massage is performed
We have already figured out which oils can be used for Ayurvedic massage. Abhyanga should be done in the morning. Before starting the procedure, the oil must be prepared so that the abhyanga is more effective. This is not difficult. The container in which the oil or oil composition is stored (a plastic bottle is well suited for this) must be heated for several minutes under a stream of very warm or even hot water.
So, you need to dip your fingers in warm oil and distribute it with light movements in a thin layer throughout the body. You should wait a few minutes for some of the oil to be absorbed.
Rubbing movements are performed with slight pressure in the direction from the heart (this is necessary so that arterial blood rushes to the internal organs and muscles). Special movements are made along the joints, spiral movements along the chest and abdomen, rectilinear movements in the arms and legs. By the way, in the area of the heart, abdomen, as well as other sensitive areas of the body, the pressure with the fingers should be slightly less.
Head massage deserves special attention. This is incredible bliss! The scalp, face, neck, and shoulder girdle are carefully worked out. Thanks to the abhyanga of the head, neurological disorders, migraines, and insomnia are effectively eliminated.
Also, a separate procedure should include massage of the feet and palms, in which many vital reflex points are concentrated. That is why the massage is performed using the point technique.
Paying attention to such a procedure is especially recommended after a hard day. By massaging the feet and palms, you can relax and eliminate severe fatigue.
The following oil rubbing techniques can be used in abhyanga massage:
- “Water lily leaf”. This technique is used to distribute oil over the massaged area of the body. Slightly chaotic but careful circular strokes are performed, for example, on the buttocks, back or chest.
- “Wave”. Use for the trunk and back. It is long stroking that resembles the movement of a wave. Pressing force should be sufficient, but not intense. The movements are predominantly zigzag, which can be both longitudinal and transverse.
- “Crescent”. Fingers dipped in oil lead along the back, buttocks, and abdomen, creating a semicircle shape.
- “Peacock”. When performing this technique, the fingers are kept wide apart, the movements are performed in a fan-like manner, mainly in the area of the joints, abdomen, buttocks.
During Indian massage, the skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscles, and even tissues of internal organs are deeply worked out. Energy lines are also influenced. Thanks to the influence on the Kundalini, the energy of shakti is distributed throughout every cell of the body, therefore, abhyanga massage is also compared to the process of meditation.
You can feel how shakti is concentrated in the second chakra, and then moves through the body in a hot and gradual stream. Because of this, amazing sensations and emotions arise.
Both before and after the massage, you should perform ablution, as well as give your body the opportunity to stay relaxed for another 10-15 minutes.
You should know that during the massage toxins, pollution and slags will be actively removed. Because of this, rashes on the skin may appear, and some reactions from the gastrointestinal tract are also possible. If they do not cause severe discomfort, then everything is in order.
Abhyanga VS. Deep tissue massage and Swedish massage
In Western massage, deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, and other types that consider them as our modern massage, that we get at spas or that we get at the chiropractor that we get through our local practitioner, we are looking often at getting specific treatments for specific stiffness or ailments that you are having. If you have pain in your back, hips, or shoulders, we apply a massage to treat these areas.
But when it comes to abhyanga massage, we don’t look for specific stiffness or knots in our client’s body. We look at them as a whole. Therefore, we treat their muscles and provide massage therapy that is specifically designed for them.
If you come to get a Swedish massage, you would be getting massage therapy for your back pain, just for your back pain. However, in abhyanga massage, we are focusing on your constitutions.
We start by choosing the right oil for you, which would be the best for your skin type and all of the systems in your body. We are going to focus on what blocks the energy in your energy flows and causes pain in your body. And in this case, the therapy session is focused on bringing balance, stimulation, grounding, harmony which depends on what the energy imbalance is actually correlated to the physical health problem that you’re having.