Oil Massage: keeps young, both body and mind

Oil massage: keeps young, both body and mind
Dr.Divya Siju B.A.M.S., MD
Sreepathy Ayurveda (A specialty Center for Autoimmune  Disorders and NeuroMusculoSkeletal Care)
Would you like to flow through life with greater ease, contentment, mental clarity, and physical health?
Would you like to feel a sense of empowerment and understanding when it comes to your overall well-being?
Are you interested in preventing disease before it develops, knocks you down, or becomes life-threatening?
If so, Ayurveda is for you. Ayurveda addresses the vitality of your entire being—body, mind, and life-force energy—for a life of balance,sustainable health, and longevity.
In modern world, many of us find ourselves in a near constant state of stress.So stress is at the root of most of the  health concerns. It sets off hormonal imbalance and causes “praana”(the life force) to stagnate. Thus most of the health problems are rooted in hormonal imbalance.
Here is a simple technique called ayurvedic oil massage ( Abhyanga).
Importance of abhyanga:
“ Abhyangamaacharetnityamsajaraashramavaataha |
Drushtiprasaada pushti aayususvapnatwakdaardhyakrut || –“Ashtangasangrahasootrasthana.
“ Thebody of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much, even if subjected to accidental injuries or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts, and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age. — Charaka Samhita: Sutrasthana: V: 88-89”
“ Abhyanga should be resorted to daily. It wards off old age, exertion and aggravation of vata. — AshtangaHrdayam: Sutrasthana: II: 8-9”
Abhyanga is the anointing of the body with oil. Often infused with herbs and usually warm, the oil is massaged into the entire body before bathing. Ayurvedic oil massage has good effect over all the body systems, rather than just a local effect on skin. For this very reason, in many diseases, especially having Vata imbalance, such as Arthrits (Sandhivata)  Abhyanga is highly recommended as per Ayurvedic principles.
The Sanskrit word sneha means both “oil” and “love,” and the effects of abhyanga are similar to being saturated with love. Both experiences can give a deep feeling of stability, warmth and comfort. Sneha—oil and love—is sukshma, or “subtle.” This allows it to pass through minute channels in the body and penetrate deep layers of tissue. It is like oiling the engine of your car — if you do it regularly, your engine will be in peak condition, and give you years and years of trouble-free performance.
Ayurveda teaches that there are seven dhatus, or layers of tissue in the body. Each is successively more concentrated and life-giving. It is taught that for the effects of sneha to reach to the deepest layer, it should be massaged into the body for 800 matras, roughly five minutes. If we consider that the entire body needs this kind of attention, a 15-minute massage is the suggested minimum amount of time.
Benefits of External Oleation
(Outlined in: Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and AshtangaHrdayam, the great three Classical Ayurvedic Texts)
Benefits of applying oil to the body (abhyanga):

  • Imparts softness, strength and color to the body
  • Decreases the effects of aging
  • Bestows good vision
  • Nourishes the body
  • Increases longevity
  • Benefits sleep patterns
  • Benefits skin
  • Strengthens the body’s tolerance
  • Imparts a firmness to the limbs
  • Imparts tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
  • Stimulates the internal organs of the body, increasing circulation
  • Pacifies vata and pitta

There are many benefits to abhyanga; some may even surprise you! Here is a list of some of our favorite benefits from a long-term abhyanga practice:

  • Calms the nerves

Abhyanga is great for calming and soothing the entire nervous system. The more often you do it, the greater the effect will be. You may notice a general sense of peace and tranquility, even amid the hectic goings-on of day-to-day life. Abhyanga can help us maintain more clarity and calmness if faced with difficult situations or decisions.

  • Increases levels of stamina and alertness throughout the day

A great and often unsung benefit of self-massage with herbal massage oils is increased energy and stamina throughout the day. This results because the massaging action boosts the metabolism, helps nourish and replenish skin tone and muscles, tunes up the functioning of internal organs and optimizes the body’s ability to flush and remove toxins; and, if that weren’t enough right there, also revitalizes and energizes the cells of the body. Whew! I’m energized just thinking about it.

  • Better, deeper sleep at night

If you’re having trouble sleeping, abhyanga is great to do shortly before bed. Grab your favorite aromatic massage oil, and take some extra time in the evening to wind down and luxuriate in a warm-oil massage followed by a warm bath.

  • Detox & healthy weight management

Performing abhyanga on a daily basis is a great way to detoxify. Massaging with warm oil helps loosen toxins from the soft tissues in the body, allowing them to be removed by the elimination systems of our bodies. If we take advantage of this benefit and follow it up with daily exercise, then abhyanga can support healthy weight management in addition to being an effective daily detox. Abhyanga complements a daily workout by toning the muscles and getting the blood circulating.
Mode of action
According to the modern pharmacology,medicines applied over the skin get absorbed unpredictably, or haphazardly. There was a recent report about diclofenac (pain-killer) topical gel that application of this gel may cause even liver failure. The herbal medicinal contents of the oil enters through the pores of the skin, becomes available for absorption at the Srotas (end part of blood vessels) and gets absorbed into blood,  reach the target area and exhibits its action. This theory is quite apt because, the cell membrane is made of lipoproteins (combination of lipids and proteins). Oils being a form of lipid, easily passes through the skin to the targeted area.
Healing effect of abhyanga on Chakras, Nadis and Prana:
Chakras are imaginary spinning wheels which are related to the energy flow in our body and mind. They are spinning in our aura. They are 6 in number (more chakras have been identified by modern day stalwarts) and are placed one above the other from the area of our tailbone to the crown of our head and a few inches above it. if theses chakras are spinning properly a constant energy is kept circulating within us.
Nadis are again a complicated network of fine energy pathways. They maintain the energy levels within the body and are thus responsible for our well being.
Wellness and the ability to heal are dependent upon the unimpeded movement of energy within the body. This movement of energy without interruption is taken care of by Chakras and Nadis when they are functioning in a balanced way.
Apart from this, the body and mind are supplied with a vital life force known as Prana. Prana provides the whole being of ours with the essential energetic nourishment. Abhyanga soothes vayu and removes the blocks in the body, thus enabling a free circulation of prana (the vital life element or energy) all over. Thus we feel energized after a massage.
Abhyanga also soothes the nadis which are energy transmitting pathways all over the body. The mutually connected system of nadis regains a physiological alignment and relaxes the whole body following  massage. The blocks in the aura get released once the mechanism and feeling of well being is conferred all through the body due to the impact of abhyanga. The Shat Chakras regain their normal spin and maintain the energy of our aura.
Indian medicinal scriptures explain that ‘Just as the snakes fear going to a place occupied by eagles, diseases do not go near one who massages his legs and feet before sleeping’
Points of consideration before doing massage
Under the circumstances, massages and anointments of the body with oil or clarified butter should be prescribed by an intelligent person with due regard to one’s habit, congeniality and temperament and to the climate and the season of the year as well as to the preponderance of the deranged dosha or doshas in one’s physical constitution. — Sushruta Samhita, ChikitsaSthanam: XXIV: 29-32
These passages make it clear that we should consider our prakriti (constitution), vikriti (current condition) and our external environment in deciding which oils are best for us and how often we should perform abhyanga.
There are two components in Abhyanga – massage.

  1. The effect of medicated (herbal processed oil) in bringing about its therapeutic effect, such as relieving pain, relaxing the muscle, inducing sleep, relieving anxiety, relaxing the mind and so on. These actions are brought about by the oil and its active herbal medicinal components.
  1. The effect of touch / reflexology – The effect of touch healing therapy definitely helps in improving the benefits of the medicated oil used in massage. The touch, as everyone knows brings with itself a power of healing and reflexology / mild pressure exerted over the particular parts of the body and muscles helps to improve the muscle tone, circulation etc. Hence the effect of touch and the reflexology contributes to the effect of oil.

Basic functions of the ayurvedic massage oils

  • Anti inflammatory
  • Rejuvenating,
  • Anti ageing,
  • Scar tissue relieving,
  • Stress relieving and
  • Anti oxidents

A few examples of such herbs in Ayurvedic oils are –

  1. Mahanarayana oil – a very famous herbal oil used in Ayurvedic treatment of arthritis, paralysis, muscular and joint pain etc. Contains rejuvenating and anti oxidant herbs like
  • Ashwagandha – Indian ginseng – Withaniasomnifera
  • Shatavari – Asparagus racemosus
  • Swadamshtra – Tribulusterrestris
  • Haridra – Turmeric Rhizome – Curcuma longa
  1. Kottamchukkadi oil – an Ayurvedic oil used in the treatment of Vata disorders causing neuro muscular pains, sciatica, spondylosis etc.

Contains rejuvenating and anti oxidant herbs like

  • Shigru – Moringaoliefera
  • Shunti – Ginger
  1. Mahamashataila – powerful Ayurveda oil, widely used in many neurological conditions such as neuralgia, paralysis, etc

Contains rejuvenating and anti oxidant herbs like

  • Ashwagandha – Indian ginseng – Withaniasomnifera
  • Masha – Black gram
  • Gokshura – Tribulusterrestris
  1. BalaswagandhadiTailam – An Ayurvedic oil, used in Ayurvedic treatment of fever, weakness of muscles, bones and joints etc.

Contains rejuvenating herbs like

  • Ashwagandha – Indian ginseng – Withaniasomnifera
  • Bala – Country mallow (root) – Sidacordifoliaetc

This proves that Ayurvedic oils are not only targeted to relieve pain and inflammation but also to rejuvenate muscles and tendon tissues and restore muscle and joint health.
When is  massage done?
It can be done in the morning or in the evening
It is more effective when it is done in the early morning hours (in the kapha period)
Since self Abhyanga is advised to be done on a daily basis for maintenance of good health, it can be done on a daily basis
Contra-indications for abhyanga:
As you can observe, below are the conditions even when oil massage to whole body is contra indicated.

  1. Fever
  2. Cold
  3. Flue
  4. Indigestion
  5. Toxin induced coma
  6. Lymphatic infection
  7. Blood infection (septicaemia)
  8. Thrombosis
  9. hrombo-phlebitis
  10. Acute trauma to any body part (severe bruising, severe sprains and strains, fractures, lacerations, burns etc)
  11. Abnormal skin conditions (weeping eczema, dermatitis, open wounds and sores, inflammatory skin conditions, fungal infections, warts)
  12. Circulatory disorders  (severe varicose veins, inflammatory conditions of the vessels, thrombosis)
  13. During the menstrual cycle

Massage with deep pressure during the menstrual cycle is not advised in Ayurveda, as it can initiate a release of ama (toxins) from deep tissues at a time when the body is already a bit taxed.
Use of Abhyanga
Massage is also used in the Ayurvedic therapy known as Panchakarma. This is a therapy which aids in detoxification. While massage with appropriate oils is only one part of this therapy, the knowledge of its role helps a person understand the effects of massage on their individual body type. During this form of massage, called abyhanga, two practitioners participate in a rhythmic massage. Aided by the oils, the massage liquefies toxins in the body so they can be easily expelled through other processes.
Finally, another area Ayurveda includes which is related to massage is the art of “Marma Point Therapy.” Marmas are special energetic points in the body with relationships to organ function, metabolism and emotional states. They bear similarities to Acupuncture points, and many scholars hold the view that Ayurveda is the foundation of Chinese medicine. Marma points are typically stimulated by hand pressure, massed with special oils, or stimulated with medicated steam.
Sreepathy CVN Kalari Ayurveda is a specialty center which focus more on Marma Therapy and we are getting better result, when we give this special massages based on the Marma points and the flow of prana. – Dr.Siju Muraleedharan BAMS, MD, Chief Medical officer.
Primary benefits of abhyanga are:

  • Keeps the skin moisturized, preventing eczema and rash
  • Supports the lymphatic system, which is how the body collects and removes pollutants
  • Induces the feeling of being supported, balanced, and relaxed

Each of those benefits significantly supports the entire person;psychologically, physically, and energetically.
In particular, oiling the skin has a direct effect on the lymphatic system, which is your body’s way of capturing and removing the pollutants that can lead to allergies, colds, and flu.
The oil penetrates into the deeper tissues, keeping them lubricated and able to support the various functions of the body, including the elimination of waste.
Prevention is better than cure.It can be achieved for sure by using the wisdom of Ayurveda,
One of the best things to begin with is the practice of abhyanga, herbalized-oil massage.YouYou can experience abhyanga in spite of being healthy…it further rejuvenates and fortifies your health…and you are assured to keep many diseases at bay.
On top of having many important health benefits, abhyanga feels luxurious and reverse ageing.
Dr.Divya Siju BAMS, MD
Dr.Siju Muraleedharan BAMS, MD.

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