If you’ve been wondering what an Ayurveda massage is, hopefully this post will give you all the basic information you need. Ayurvedic massage is a big part of Ayurveda, so you’ll definitely want to read more about it!
Ah, the humble massage. Widely renowned for being one of the best stress-relievers and muscle-relaxants out there, it’s no wonder that numerous different options are available. You’ve heard of aromatherapy, shiatsu and Swedish massage, but you may be new to Ayurvedic massage.
So, what is Ayurvedic massage, and what makes it so special? It’s highly likely that you’ve not experienced abhyanga before (the official term for Ayurvedic massage), so if you’re looking to discover the ins and outs of this Ayurvedic practice, read ahead!
What is an Ayurvedic massage?
An Ayurvedic massage is essentially an efficient way of administering medicinal herbs through the skin. Oils of different potencies are utilised to balance the body, and a spiritual element is usually employed if you’re visiting both an Ayurvedic masseuse and practitioner. Seen as one of the most devotional acts of self-care within the Ayurvedic medicinal world, it’s a much more personal and catered massage than some traditional massages, as it’s specifically designed to address the energy of the individual.
The abhyanga is particularly unique, as it relieves muscular tension whilst acting as a detoxifier. Employing sattvic pressure (balance of strokes and intensity) that help the individual reach an ideal state, Ayurvedic massage helps to improve circulation, fluid drainage and bring a profound quietness to the mind.
What makes an Ayurvedic massage different?
What differentiates Ayurvedic massage from regular massage is found both within the intention of the massage and its use of oils and movement.
In Ayurveda, there is an inherent focus on the five elements of space, air, fire, water and earth that are considered to be the building blocks of life. During an Ayurvedic massage, organic oils are infused with specialist herbs in order to encourage detoxification and promote a general sense of wellness.
If you’re familiar with the Ayurvedic doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), oils can be chosen to balance your dominant dosha and bring balance back to the body. It is generally believed that the use of oil binds to the ama (toxins) in the body, and that these are released through Ayurvedic massage to detoxify it. With ancient Ayurvedic treatises stating that “Ayurvedic oils strengthen the metabolic fires, purify the intestines, remove toxins from tissues, rejuvenate the body, prevent ageing and bestow the user with a lifespan of 100 years”, it’s not difficult to see why the art of Ayurvedic massage is so greatly appreciated amongst those who partake in it!
Ayurvedic massage strokes tend to vary from very deep to superficial, and specialist masseurs will follow energy channels and nerve pathways to reap the greatest benefits. Unlike other forms of massage, Ayurvedic masseurs will focus your energy with a brief balancing meditation beforehand, followed by a quick synchronisation of the therapist and patient’s respective breathing.
What should you expect?
Ayurvedic massages are generally full body focused, so tend to include work on the hands, feet, torso, neck, head, arms and legs. As the oils used are varied, make sure you alert your practitioner before-hand of any allergies to prevent any flare-ups or reactions! Also, be aware that oils may make their way into your hair, so if it’s a hands-off situation for your locks, make sure you make your therapist aware of this beforehand. A great plus to Ayurvedic massage that should be part of your expectation going in is that you will likely have a brief health history taken, which will include your goals, needs as a client and hopes for the session.
As with many massages, make sure to stay well hydrated afterwards, as the release of toxins may leave you feeling slightly dehydrated. Though you can’t expect instant results, it’s suggested that you’ll see healthier skin, better vision and eye health as well as improved circulation with long-term Ayurvedic massage treatment.
The bottom line…
With many Ayurvedic massage fans claiming to leave with a less cluttered mind and an improved sense of self, any sceptics out there should absolutely give this a try. You don’t have to be a full-on fanatic to enjoy an abhyanga massage, but you should be open-minded going in.
It’s not intended to be a deep tissue massage, nor work to get every kink out of your back, but it will realign you in ways that you may not initially realise. Touted by many believers as a practice that leaves you changed from the inside out, if you’re looking for something new on your next pampering session, give Ayurvedic massage a shot.