Modern lifestyle can be stressful and chaotic, causing toxins or ‘ama’ to accumulate in the body. Abhyangam is a warm oil massage for the whole body, and it can help you detox, and uplift your spirits.
The patient is made to lie on a bed, and a profuse quantity of warm oil is applied over the whole body. The massage includes firm, long strokes in the direction of arterial blood movement. Ancient Ayurvedic texts recommend this to be followed daily for optimal well-being. It is also performed just before Panchakarma therapy.
Every patient at CGAC is prescribed a personalized Abhyangam treatment regimen depending on their individual constitution and health issues. The specific oils to be used also depend on the individual ‘prakriti’. Once the massage is concluded, the patient’s body is wiped off with towels, and they can opt for a steam bath or a wash with hot water. The steam bath performs a deep detox and completely relaxes your body.
According to Ayurveda, stress is the root cause of most of our problems – physical, mental, or even economic. At CGAC, we work with each patient to establish the reason for the stress, and motivate them to de-stress through educating them about how stress affects health. We guide them to respect their bodies and to appreciate every good thing that happens. Combined with regular Abhyangam massage, we can help alleviate stress significantly and promote relaxation. It helps to re-adjust your mental and physical equilibriums.
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure can damage your kidneys, and cause strokes or heart attacks when you are older. Hypertension is almost completely due to stress and poor lifestyle choices, and to manage it properly, the holistic approach of Ayurveda works best. When you practice Yoga and get Abhyangam massages, you can get excellent relief, and not worry about damaging your health.
Improves skin health
Healthy, glowing skin is an indication of good health and wellness, not just appearance. Abhyangam detoxifies your body from within and promotes circulation, improving skin health. The warm oils used in the massage penetrate the skin and tissues, cleansing and hydrating the tissues, nourishing and rejuvenating the skin. Abhyangam massage also helps to reduce skin discolouration caused by hyperpigmentation, and decrease cellulite, scars, and wrinkles, rendering the skin absolutely soft and smooth.
Reduce muscle ache and stiffness
In Ayurveda, we believe that when ‘Vata’ accumulates in the body, it causes hypersensitivity, giving rise to aches and pain in the body, and muscle tenderness. Abhyangam helps to soothe the Vata, removing the accumulated ama, alleviating muscular pain. You can also experience improved mobility and flexibility of joints and muscles.
Promotes lymphatic drainage
A network of organs and tissues carrying lymphatic fluid throughout the body make up the lymphatic system. This fluid sometimes accumulates, causing lymphedema (swelling); this mostly happens either due to an illness, or after surgery. The Abhyangam massage involves massaging warm oil in rhythmic strokes, in the direction of the lymphatic fluid flow. The lymphatic system is an important part of the body’s immune system. It is responsible for collecting toxins and disease-causing organisms and filtering them out of the body. Abhyangam massage, performed with healing herbal oils that are warmed, helps to improve lymphatic drainage and alleviate the swelling. It is an enjoyable way of detoxing your body and doing a deep cleaning.
- Helps improve vision
- Promotes physical strength
- Boosts energy and helps you stay alert
- Delays the onset of ageing
The basic method of Abhyangam is massaging the body with generous quantities of warm herbal oils, to ensure that it penetrates the skin and enters the body. It is rubbed into the skin so that it can go deep into the tissue to nourish it.
This practice of applying medicated oil is called ‘Snehana’ in Ayurveda; there are different types of Snehana therapy. They are primarily used to soothe damaging doshas, helping speed up their elimination from the body.
Normally, two therapists perform the Abhyangam, working the oil into the body in a synchronized pattern of firm, deep strokes.
When the body tissues and muscles are saturated with oil, the tissue and cell channels open, releasing toxins and preventing them from flowing into the inner channels. Often, internal tissue saturation is performed by giving the patient some ghee to consume, as part of Abhyangam therapy.
It is very important that the right oil is chosen for your Abhyangam massage. There are certain norms that we follow before we prescribe a particular oil.
If your body has an excess of any specific dosha, we prescribe oils that help soothe that dosha.
Each individual has an underlying dominant dosha, regardless of whether the doshas are in balance presently. For a healthy person who comes in for Abhyanga for general wellness, the oils that soothe their dominant dosha, are prescribed.
The season and weather also impact your doshas: Pitta is dominant in the summer, with Vata coming to the fore in autumn to early winter. From late winter to spring, it is the time of Kapha. It is imperative to maintain a balance of your doshas in the seasons they are dominant. One way of doing it is to have massage with the right oil.
Vata is dry, cool, mobile, and light. When Vata dosha is in excess, the patient feels cold and dry, and may become anxious and nervous. The oils to be used in the Abhyangam therapy to soothe Vata are:
- Sesame seed oil made from plain, untoasted sesame seeds. It is an important oil in Ayurveda
- Ashwagandha oil helps improve health and muscular strength
- Mahanarayan oil is a mixture of many herbs; it promotes joint movement
Oils used in Abhyanga for reducing Vata have calming properties, and normally have a blend of Shatavari, Bala, and Ashwagandha, in sesame seed oil as the carrier oil.
The characteristics of Pitta are hot, sharp, oily, fleshy-smelling, and liquid. Oils used:
- Neem oil in sesame oil base
- Brahmi oil mixed with coconut for maximum coolness
- Bhringaraj oil for scalp massage and improving relaxation
Herbs like Manjishtha, Shatavari, Brahim, and Guduchi, are added to the oils.
Static, oily, soft, and cool – this is how Kapha is characterized. Light carrier oils with herbs that are invigorating and with heating characteristics are used in Abhyangam for Kapha dosha.
- Untoasted sesame seed oil
- Corn oil
- Almond oil
Abhyangam is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that promotes general health and wellness in addition to providing specific benefits like stress relief, promoting healthy sleep, nourishment for the body, and soothing doshas. We do not however recommend this for pregnant women, people with fractures, and chronic illnesses.