Abhyanga - Holistic Approach in Ayurveda

Abhyanga is a type of bahya snehan used for relaxation as well as for giving tone to the muscles promoting blood circulation and treating various disorders especially vataj. Touch can bring about dramatic changes in body and mind. Like any other panchakarma measures abhyanga is also used for shodhan karma as purva karma while for shaman karma as a pradhan karma. Abhyanga is not just appling oil on the body but every one must know the systemic way of abhyanga to obtain its full benefit.

Abhyanga can be done regularly to a person for prevention of several diseases; maintains of health; rejuvenating the body to prevent aging process. That’s why Abhyanga is the most popular and most used process in ayurvedic practise. The main emphasis is on feeding the skin. Rather than massage technique. Oil penetrate the skin & all the tissues are fed and the toxins containing within the tissue are released. Oil takes five minutes to penetrate the skin completely. Then it spreads through seven dhatus i.e. tissues. Oil moves through each dhatu in less than two minutes.

Every practitioner has different techniques and different style to practise the abhyanga. But every one has practice following techniques such as rubbing i.e. gharshan; kneading i.e peedan; twisting i.e udvartan; stroking i.e trasan; percussion i.e prahara; vibration i.e kampan; joint movement i.e sandhi chalan and touch i.e sparsh.

Rubbing i.e. gharshan:
In this technique pressure is given on muscular part and gentle pressure on bony part. Due to this technique blood circulation is improved. This process can be done towards the heart and away from it ; round , circular or zigzag.

Kneading i.e peedan:
This technique is of two types avpeedan and prapeedan. The superficial process is named as avapeedan while that of deep is named as prapeedan. This technique is used to improve superficial and deep circulation.

Twisting i.e udvartan:
In this technique rolling and twiting ations are carried out.

Stroking i.e trasan:
In this technique more or less pressure is given on head back chest and abdomen.

Percussion i.e prahara:
In this technique stroking is done to improve metabolism and local temperature of body.

Vibration i.e kampan:
This technique is used to remove obstruction from channels.

Joint movement i.e sandhi chalan :
In this technique massage is done with gradual increase in joint movements to improve flexibility.

Touch i.e sparsh :
At the end of the massage patient is given gentle touchfor soothing effects.

Every practitioner has developd his own style of abhyang. But most used and popular technique is keralian padhati. Mostly in keralian padhati two peoples do the massage. In this one-person works on one side i.e. leg head and torso, while the other one works with corresponding body part with identical movements and pressure. Apart from the receiving harmonium or balancing session the feeling is most pleasurable and pampering. In this two person abhyang padhati one person determines the style speed and pressure while the second practitioner morrorthese movements and amount of pressure.

When oil is applied and rubbed in toxins are dislodged from the tissues and returned to the blood system. Certain strokes of abhyang match the movements of the five types of the vayu like

1. Stroke that begins with head and move toward the navel removes excess pran vayu and improve the senses.
2. Stroke that begins with navel and end at the head removes excess udan vayu carbon dioxide, mucus and saliva.
3. Clockwise strokes around the navel balances saman vayu improving digestion metabolism; the small intestine and liver.
4. The stroke that moves from the heart to the periphery and back, balances vyan vayu improving blood circulation and lymphatic system.
5. Moving the hands from the navel to the anus and urethra balances apan vayu improving discharge of urine, feces and menstrual fluid and improving parturatin in woman.

The sequence of abhyang may be as follows

1. sitting
2. lie on back
3. lie on left side
4. lie on right side
5. lie on abdomen
6. sitting again
7. lie on back again

Alternative stroke sequence may be as follows

1. Stroke begins from navel and ends at head
2. Stroke begins from head and ends at navel
3. Stroke begins from navel and ends at feet
4. Stroke begins from feet and ends at navel

This process is repeated three times on the front, back and the sides of the body.

Positions for the abhyanga sequence:

1.Feet - Prone        4. Arms- Prone   7. Hips- Prone    10.Neck-sitting
2.Legs – Prone       5. Chest- Prone   8. Head-sitting
3.Abdomen- Prone 6.Back – Prone   9. Face-sitting

Steam therapy is employed immediately after abhyanga to sweat the toxins out through the skin. For healthy persons abhyanga begins at the feet and ends at the head. Some people suggest that for high blood pressure abhyanga is done on the head for 20 minutes. It is useful to place a cool towel on the head and heart during abhyanga. Abhyanga moving from the sole of the feet and working towards heart to move impure blood to the heart for better functioning.

Dravyas used in Abhyanga-
Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic external therapy where one or two therapists (signature therapy) use aromatic herbal oils. It is a holistic treatment also meant to nourish the body with healing touch and warmed oil, and certainly promotes healthy circulation and joints. This treatment is very balancing and is excellent for detoxifying toxins in your body. Every oil therapy uses USDA organic oils and herbs which are carefully selected and customized for you. These herbal infused oils focus on detoxifying your body and eliminating the stored-up cellular waste which precipitate disease.

If you choose sesame oil, look for cold-pressed, chemical-free organic sesame oil for the best results from your massage therapy. To cure or purify the sesame oil, heat the oil to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat once this temperature is reached, cool and store for use as needed. Up to a quart of oil can be cured at a time. Of course, you should observe safety precautions when curing oil. All oils are highly flammable. Use low heat, and don't leave the oil on heat unattended. You can look for professionally cured sesame oil at stores that sell Ayurvedic products if you'd rather not do the curing yourself.

Ayurveda massage therapy is NOT only a muscle work but the approach is CELLULAR. Warm oils deeply penetrate cells and release physical, mental and spiritual toxins, hence it is detoxifying as well as healing CELLULAR therapy. Hence the stress is removed from the root place thus it promotes self healing of cells.

Benefits of Abhyanga-

  • Nourishes mind and body
  • Rejuvenates the whole body
  • Increases longevity
  • Delays aging, Relives fatigue, Builds stamina
  • Promotes deeper sleep
  • Enhances complexion and luster of skin.
  • Cleans your body (detoxify)
  • Helps you avoid stress and enjoy a brightness of the senses (Balance body, mind and soul.)
  • Prevents stiffness of muscles
  • Corrects digestion and blood pressure and enjoy better sleep
  • Mind (Avoid bad thoughts and feel happy)
  • Soul (Only a sound body can bear a good soul


More by :  Dr. Bhushan Mhaiskar

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