Ayurvedic massage – sounds exotic and mysterious, right? In today’s blog, I’m going to talk a bit about Ayurvedic massage and hopefully demystify it for you! First of all…let’s take a trip to India!
The roots of Ayurveda
Simply translated, Ayurveda means the “science of life” and is a traditional system of medicine originating in India. An holistic form of healing, Ayurveda is one of the oldest systems in the world – it was first documented nearly 4,000 years ago (1,500 BCE)! It is even said in the South Indian Keralan tradition that Ayurveda began over 6,000 years ago, when Lord Brahma remembered it! Ayurveda includes medicinal compounds, spiritual and mental practices, philosophy, mythology, diet, yoga, and massage. It’s the massage part that I’m going to blog about today.
Ayurvedic massage involves a variety of techniques that are suggested to:
- Stimulate and enhance skin tone.
- Detoxify and revitalise the body.
- Induce relaxation.
- Reduce stress.
- Improve blood circulation.
- Increase energy reserves.
- Improve sleep quality.
- Enhance the immune system.
- Help chronic pain management.
A key feature of Ayurvedic massage is its long, gentle strokes which are so amazing! I absolutely love Ayurvedic massage! So, what is it about Ayurvedic massage (apart from all these suggested benefits) that make it so special?
The special nature of Ayurvedic massage – discovering your dosha
For me, the most amazing thing about Ayurvedic massage is the wonderful herb-infused oils. These oils are carefully selected for your individual constitution – an Ayurvedic massage is tailor made! Secondly these oils are warm which allows the massage to be very relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time. If you’ve never tried a warm oil massage, I can highly recommend them. Before I float away imagining a massage, let’s quickly go back to the “tailor-made” bit!
The oils used in an Ayurvedic massage are selected based on a consultation to discover your constitution (dosha). Within Ayurveda, there are three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We all contain these doshas in varying degrees. To go into detail about these doshas would take another few blog posts, so I will come back to these another time. However, to put it simply, these doshas represent the elements in the body; Vata is primarily air, Pitta – fire, and Kapha – water. We are composed of all three doshas, but one or two are often dominant. The consultation before an Ayurvedic massage shows how your doshas are now. This is called your vikriti (imbalance). It’s worth pointing out here, to discover the dosha you were born with (prakriti), it is necessary to see an Ayurvedic practitioner who will be able to give you a more detailed picture and recommend herbs to take to correct an imbalance. In Ayurvedic massage, insights are gained as to why doshas may be aggravated but a massage therapist will not give a diagnosis or assess your prakriti. However, the massage therapist will choose a specific oil and massage techniques suitable for your vikriti.
The theory behind Ayurvedic massage
The aim of Ayurvedic massage is to remove toxins (ama) from the body. In Ayurvedic theory, ama is said to be fat soluble, which is why Ayurveda aims to saturate cells with oil. However, some doshas (such as kapha) can benefit from dry, friction massages. It is thought that Ayurvedic massage cleanses the skin and opens the pores. As dead skin cells are removed during the process, skin tone and texture is improved and rejuvenation is encouraged. In addition, ayurvedic massage is believed to enhance the elasticity and strength of the skin, aid the functioning of organs like the large intestine, kidneys and lungs, and stimulate blood circulation and flow of the lymph. At its most simple, Ayurvedic massage is nurturing and relaxing.
Giving an Ayurvedic massage
An Ayurvedic massage is fabulous to receive but I find them wonderful to give – they feel like such an amazing gift. The process can be meditative due to the long, rhythmic massage techniques and I like to use silent mantras to focus entirely on the client. I also use my reiki techniques to channel prana during the session. In April (2018), I was so excited to fully qualify for Abhyanga (full-body) massage. I am currently practising on my marma back, head, and facial massage and hope to sit my exams for these later this year – so watch this space!
If you would like to book an Abhyanga (full body) massage, please get in touch – I’m honouring my reduced prices until I fully qualify for all four techniques…why not treat yourself to an Ayurvedic massage?