Abhyanga is a Sanskrit word that describes a panchakarma procedure of applying warm oil to the whole body and massaging the body for about a fixed time. The massage strokes do not have any irregular patterns. There is a fixed regular balanced pattern for massaging, which ensures that equal pressure and oil are distributed to each point of the body. Simple daily abhyanga is different from therapeutic abhyanga. Ayurveda advises both are good for our body and mind. Daily abhyanga is what we do before taking bath, at home. And therapeutic abhyanga is one which we do at treatment centers by expert therapists focusing on particular diseases.
First, let’s talk about simple daily abhyanga we practice at home. Ayurveda advises daily oil massage as a dinacharya or daily routine, which helps improve digestive fir, sleep, muscle strength, skin texture, and acts as nourishment to the whole body. Applying oil on the ears, sole of the foot, and the head is specifically highlighted by Ayurveda. These help in stimulating the nervous system. Take a sufficient quantity of the oil that suits your body, apply it gently all over and give massage to joints and muscles for about 10 minutes, leave it for 20 minutes and then take bath in warm water. Daily practice can make you feel changes.
Now comes therapeutic abhyanga. This is disease-specific. Oil is chosen based on patient condition. The patient is made to lie on a specially designed wooden table or Droni, masseurs do prayer before beginning and then start applying oil over the whole body, and massage is carried on by making the patient lie in 7 postures Sitting, Supine, right lateral, Prone, Left lateral Supine and then again Sitting. After the procedure patient is made to take a steam bath with herbal water followed by a hot shower.
The therapeutic abhyanga lasts 45-60minutes.
Benefits of Abhyanga
- Abhyanga is advised as a daily routine.
- It improves strength
- Improves sleep
- Helps in stimulating nerves
- Strengthens and lubricates muscles and joints
- Penetrates deep into body channels and helps in cleansing them, and nourishing them.
- Provides resistance by improving immunity
- Pacifies Vata dosha
- Brings mental calmness