Touch is an important healing factor, wait, let me rephrase that- I believe that it is the most important healing factor. Recently, I read an article about a baby that was born dead but was brought back to life after the mother cuddled it for an hour. The energetic exchange between one person to another creates a powerful circuit of healing and a happy release of endorphins. Ayurveda recommends it own type of powerful massage called abhyanga. It is apart of pancha karma or detox and even as a daily routine given by ones self.
When I was trained in abhyanga it was also at the same time I was learning about nada therapy or sound, Ayurvedic color therapy and ayurvedic aromatherapy. In this way, ayurveda offers a complete whole-istic chance for healing by stimulating not just the body with nutrition (taste) but the often overlooked or ignored aspects of the senses sight, sound, smell and touch.
Abhyanga stimulates health through the sense of touch. But, abhyanga doesn’t mean massage it implies applying oil to the body. A more familiar abhyanga method is shiro dhara which is hot oil poured on the third eye of the forehead. But just as important is meridian cleansing or marma balancing both of which are utilized with abhyanga. Marma points and meridians are vedic acupunture and dosha (constitution) points on the body. There are only 107 marma points on the body as compared to Chinese acupuncture points.
It was believed in ancient India that applying oils to the body both healed and prevented disease. Oil can also be applied to the ears (karna parana), nose (nasya) and feet (pada bhyanga). Through the abhyanga body massage one stimulates the lymphatic system which is ruled by kapha (water element). It also helps insomnia, fights aging, reduces stress, strengthens the nervous system and electromagnetic field and helps the immune system by aiding anti-body production and reducing the histamine response. Not to mention- aids in weight loss by releasing excess ama (toxins) and kapha (water).
The dosha specific oil is what makes the ayurvedic massage so unique. The oil is nourishing to the dhatus (tissues). Abhyanga loosens ama or toxins that are accumulated in the tissues so that they can be eliminated- a very important and overlooked aspect of detoxing.
Dosha Specific Abhyanga:
- Can be done at least one hour after eating and before yoga/exercise/sauna.
- Given by six (traditionally), two or one persons and even the self.
- Oils should be warmed, never cold
- TImes for different ages varies from 15 minutes for infants to 45 for adults
- Use of medicated oils for not only different doshas but disorders.
The oils are Utilized in this way:
Vayu/air dosha: Develop nerve and bone disorders from dryness. Oils restore moisture to skin and nourishes the nervous system.
Sesame oil is the best for vata. Benefit from light, gentle massages.
Mix with cinnamon, myrrh, rose, sandalwood, ginger, lavender and sage, bala or dashmula.
Pitta/fire dosha: Develop illness from too much heat. Skin rashes, inflammation, heart, etc. Oils cool the skin and organ inflammatory responses.
Almond or avocado oil is a cooling oil for pitta. Need a moderate touch.
Mix with Rose, jasmine, geranium, lemongrass, bhringraj and musta.
Kapha/water dosha: retain too much water and suffer from weight, edema, mucus and congestion.
Sesame and mustard seed oils are best for kapha-if severely excessed, no oils at all but powders and spices. Need a deep massage.
Mix with: Patchouli, cedar, cinnamon, cardamom, myrrh, ginger, frankincense, sage and licorice and bala.
All doshas benefit from a triphala oil massage-which is tri-dosha! : )
*Persons with low blood pressure should only receive foot/pada abhyanga.
I cannot always have time to get my abhyanga done professionally. That’s why I do pada on my feet with ginger oil and sesame before bed, nasya or karna occasionally- when I can. I also use a bhringraj and rosemary abhyanga on my scalp once a week. I hope this article inspires you to start using more oils in your life, not just on the inside but on the outside!
For more information read my books “Beyond Natural Cures” and “Beyond Natural Skincare & Weightloss”
Ayurveda Holistic Center Press. NY
Dr. Aurore does specialized Aurore-Vedic detox and body/mind natural health. Would you like to schedule an appoint or web consult? Contact Dr. Aurore below