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Abhyanga, an Ayurvedic oil massage, is a centuries-old healing therapy that originated and is widely practiced in India. It is a full body massage that uses warm, herb-infused body oils that are hand-picked for each person to cater to their dosha or constitution. It is regarded as one of the most essential Ayurvedic medicines.
This traditional healing technique of oil massage is designed and prescribed to induce relaxation and revitalize the flow of energy in the body using gentle and rhythmic movements administered with just the right amount of pressure. The masseuse uses long, sweeping strokes and circular movements to massage the warm body oil on the body. Abhyanga or oil massage is best experienced when conducted in a quiet, scented room with ambient lighting and soft music filling the space. The warm body massage oil applied with optimum pressure during the massage helps to calm the nervous system, nourish the skin, and promote relaxation and overall well-being.
It is something that people from all walks of life, of all genders, and of all ages can benefit from. An infant, a new mother, a day laborer, a working professional, and a wrestler, can enjoy the Abhyanga massage alike.
6 Benefits of Ayurvedic Oil Massage
Oil massage enhances blood circulation
There is anecdotal evidence from Ayurvedic practitioners and clients who have reported enhanced circulation post receiving Abhyanga oil massage regularly. The warm body massage oils used in the massage help dilate blood vessels and boost the blood flow to the tissues thus promoting healing and reducing inflammation. An increased blood flow delivers nutrition and oxygen to the cells with better efficiency thereby ensuring their healthy state of being.
This oil massage technique also stimulates certain acupressure points on the body. These pressure points are linked with the body’s energy routes, the meridians. Upon activation, they trigger better blood circulation and help in process of healing.
Oil massage relieves stress and anxiety and promotes sound sleep
Some studies suggest that oil massage brings a significant enhancement in the quality of the sleep. Administering the Ayurvedic oil massage, Abhayanga, shows to have a calming and relaxing effect on the nervous system and the entire body that help to reduce stress and anxiety because of the gentle, rhythmic movements. It helps the mind to slow down.
According to Ayurveda, the body has multiple energy centers or chakras that can become blocked or unbalanced, resulting in stress and other health difficulties. Abhyanga massage can assist to activate these energy centers, balancing the flow of energy in the body, and reducing tension and anxiety.
A 2015 research published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine revealed that Abhyanga massage reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body significantly when 60 healthy volunteers were given the therapy for 7 days consecutively.
Oil massage relaxes muscle tension and pain
Warmed herbal massage oils used in Abhayanga aid in the relaxation of stiff muscles and the relief of pain. The heat from the oils promotes the passage of nutrition and oxygen to the muscles, which aids in the healing process. Ayurvedic oils are frequently infused with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving herbs. Sesame oil, for instance, is often used in Abhayanga and includes natural anti-inflammatory components like sesamin and sesamolin, which can aid to relieve pain and inflammation.
Long, flowing strokes are used in this massage technique to assist relieve tension and promote muscular relaxation. Massage pressure can also assist break up adhesions and knots in the muscles, which can lead to pain and suffering.
Oil Massage Detoxifies The Body
The long flowing strokes of the Abhayanga oil massage are designed to stimulate the body’s lymphatic systems. It is the system in charge of the removal of wastes and toxins from our bodies. Stimulating it enhances its functioning and promotes the detoxification process.
Warm herbal oils used in this Ayurvedic oil massage penetrates the skin and the bloodstream. Several of these massage oils, such as neem oil, have detoxifying properties and have long been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for their cleansing effects.
Oil massage can also aid with relaxation and stress reduction. Stress can inhibit the body's natural detoxification mechanism, hence this can be useful for detoxification.
Oil Massage Boosts The Immune System
People with stress and anxiety issues tend to be more prone to poor immune systems. Chronic stress can have a devastating effect on the body’s defense mechanism. Abhayanga is a proven traditional Ayurvedic oil massage therapy that treats stress and anxiety and helps you sleep better. A good deep sleep is crucial for a healthy immune system.
Detoxification of the body that Abhayanga promotes, by stimulating the lymphatic system plays a key role in boosting the immune system. Several of the Ayurveda herbs and oils used in Abhayanga massage have long been employed for their immune-boosting effects. Turmeric and neem oil, for example, have been demonstrated to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities that can assist improve immunological function.
Massage treatment exhibited an increase in the activity of natural killer cells, a kind of immune cell that aids in the fight against viruses and cancer cells, according to a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience.
Oil Massage improves skin health
The skin-health benefits of the Ayurveda herbs and oils used in Abhayanga massage have long been known. Sesame oil, for instance, is well-known in Ayurveda for its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory effects, while neem oil is well-known for its antibacterial and antifungal characteristics. When massaged, these oils provide deep nourishment and hydration to the skin and keep it soft and supple.
As we have already discussed, Abhayanga, enhanced blood circulation assists the lymphatic system in the detoxification process and reduces stress levels. This cumulatively ensures that skin stays glowing and younger-looking. Improved blood circulation helps the proper distribution of nutrition and oxygen to the skin. Chronic stress can contribute to skin problems such as acne and eczema
Types of massage oils for body massage
1. Coconut oil: It is a versatile oil that is widely used for body massage. It is rich in saturated fat, which gives it a dense, creamy texture that spreads readily over the skin. Coconut oil is a good moisturizer for the skin and can assist to hydrate dry, rough, or flaky skin. It includes anti-inflammatory chemicals that may aid to decrease inflammation and redness in the skin. It is high in lauric acid and has antibacterial effects. This implies it can aid in the fight against bacteria and fungi that cause skin infections. It is widely used in Abhayanga, Aromatherapy, scalp massage, and in making body scrubs.
2. Sesame oil: Sesame oil is a common Ayurveda massage oil that is frequently used in Abhayanga massage. Sesame oil is a natural oil obtained from the sesame plant's seeds. It has a subtle, nutty scent and a thin, smooth texture, making it perfect for body massage, facial massage or head massage. It is an excellent skin moisturizer. Its high vitamin E content nourishes and protects the skin from free radical damage. The anti-inflammatory ingredients in the sesame oil aid in the treatment of skin inflammation and redness. It also has antibacterial properties and antioxidants that help fight premature signs of aging. It is widely used in Ayurvedic massages, deep tissue massage, and face massage.
3. Almond oil: Almond oil is a natural oil obtained from the almond tree's seeds. It has a smooth, silky texture and a subtle, sweet scent. Almond oil contains vitamin E, antioxidants, and vital fatty acids, all of which nourish and protect the skin. Body Massage with Almond Oil can relieve muscular tension and soreness in addition to deep moisturizing and anti-inflammatory qualities. Almond oil has been observed to enhance skin texture and complexion by minimizing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other aging symptoms. It is used popularly in relaxation massage, aromatherapy, pregnancy massage, and scalp massage.
4. Olive oil: Rich in antioxidants and vital fatty acids, olive oil is a popular massage oil extracted from the fruits of the olive tree/ Its smooth silky texture and mild, pleasant aroma make it a wonderful choice. It deeply moisturizes the driest skin type. The rich contents of fatty acids soften and smoothen the skin texture. Besides, it has anti-inflammatory compounds, anti-aging properties, and properties to relieve muscle tension and pain. It is an excellent choice as a pain relief oil and for relaxation massage, Aromatherapy, deep tissue massage, and sports massage.
How to perform ayurvedic oil massage
The Ayurvedic oil massage, Abhyanga, consists of many stages that promote relaxation, cleansing, and general well-being. The following is a general guide to performing an Ayurveda oil massage:
Step 1: Choose a massage oil
Choose an oil that is suited to your dosha or body type. Place the bottle in hot water for a few minutes to warm the oil. To warm the oil, you may either use an oil warmer or a double boiler.
Step 2: Set up the room
Make the area where the massage will take place warm and inviting. To create a calming atmosphere, utilize dark lighting, quiet music, and aromatherapy.
Step 3: Get the body in the right state
To assist relax the muscles and open the pores, take a warm shower or bath. Before commencing the massage, properly dry off.
Step 5: Concentrate on vital areas
Take extra time massaging tense parts of the body, like the neck, shoulders, and lower back.
Step 6: Work in circular motions.
Circular motions should be used on the joints, with additional pressure applied to places that are particularly painful or stiff.
Step 7: Focus on the scalp.
Finish the oil massage by rubbing the scalp with oil in circular strokes. This can aid in relaxing and increase hair growth.
Step 8: Let the oil soak
Let the oil penetrate the skin for a minimum of 15-20 minutes after the massage is finished. To assist keep your body warm and improve absorption, cover yourself in a warm towel or blanket.
Step 9: Take a long, warm shower
When the oil has had time to soak, rinse it off with a warm shower.
Ayurvedic oil massages should be performed at least once a week. The oil massage should last 30-45 minutes, however, it might be longer or shorter depending on your needs.
Who can benefit from Ayurvedic oil massage
As different as India's traditions are, one custom that you'd undoubtedly witness is every grandmother advocating oil massage and the advantages of oil massage on the body. Be it a newborn, a new mother, a working person exhausted from the drudgery of life, or an akhada wrestler, Ayurvedic literature has encouraged and prescribed body massage oils for everybody given the numerous advantages of oil massage on the body. It promotes the overall health and well-being of a person.
While a seemingly fit person may greatly benefit from regular oil massage, there are some disorders and doshas that can be treated naturally and without any side effects through this therapy. With the rising hustle culture, people suffering from chronic stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, or other sleep disorders must consider taking up this therapy. Athletes, sports persons, and individuals with an active lifestyle can benefit from oil massage for muscle recovery and for preventing or treating injuries. Those with muscle stiffness, joint pain, and arthritis can also be treated using Abhayanga. Women are strongly recommended to take oil massage during pregnancy and postpartum. Not only that but the infants are also massaged for stronger development of their limbs and other benefits.
Precautions to keep in mind
While Abhyanga can be therapeutic for the most part, there are some precautions that you must take to guarantee a safe and beneficial massage therapy. These are some precautions to take:
1. Allergic ingredients: Always remember to check the ingredients of the massage oil to ensure that no ingredient that you’re allergic to is present. When trying a certain product for the first time, it is recommended that you conduct a patch test before using it for an entire body massage
2. High-quality products: It is critical to select high-quality natural products that are pure and devoid of chemicals and synthetic scents.
3. Avoid massage over wounds: In case you have injuries or wounds, avoid massaging the afflicted region until it has completely healed.
4. Avoid if you have serious skin conditions: If you’re someone suffering from serious skin conditions like eczema, it is better not to go through any treatments or therapies without professional consultation
Essentially, Ayurveda oil massage is a comprehensive approach to self-care that may help a wide spectrum of people enhance their overall health and wellness. Ayurvedic oil massage can assist to increase circulation, decreasing stress and anxiety, relieving muscular tension and discomfort, promoting detoxification, enhancing the immune system, and improving skin health by employing high-quality oils and particular massage methods. However, some care should be taken, and professional advice and consultation should be sought if skin issues persist or worsen.
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