Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ayurveda Massage

Herewith, I intend to discuss the matter which has suddenly caught the attention of whole world.


The word massage comes from the Greek language, and it has nothing to do with Ayurveda in fact. The term used in Ayurveda for this procedure is Abhyangam. And this procedure has been recommended to be followed on daily basis by everyone. Vagabhatta clearly narrates that, “Abhyangam nityam achareta” i. e. one should practice oil application daily.


Ayurveda, being an observational science it is very descriptive. History of massage is very ancient and probably present in our life since the inception of the universe itself. As we see around us, air keeps on massaging the surroundings constantly and the effect of this massage can be seen practically over the see shores. Coconut trees, which are rubbed continuously by the air, over the time they tend to change their direction in the flow of air, and if air is not blowing their direction remains static and they don’t come back to their original state. Such is the effect of massage on the anatomy of this tree, Charaka, wisely utters, ‘ if hardest of the wood can be bent with the massage, human body is comparatively very easy to manipulate.’


The word abhyangam, is self explanatory and explains most of the intricacies of massage in itself. Its made up of three words as follows:-
Abhi – Anja – Anga
Abhi – this word tends to explain the anatomical movement of the hand during the massage. It means, to go into the direction of body. This concept have been explained by Charka as Anuloma, i. e. massage should be done in the direction of growth of the body hair. This rule is ominously accepted by all the leading Ayurveda sages and people undertaking massage on client, should always keep this point in mind. It has two effects,
By following the direction of hair, you will not be hurting your client and will avoid any case of hair pulling and inflammations due to that.
You also avoid any case of muscle strangulation.
Anja – anja means anointment or application. Smearing of oil/ fat is next most important part of ayurvedic Abhyangam. So, oil remains an integral part of this precious treatment. If at all, massage is being given without oil/ fat, it can not be called as Abhyangam, though there are treatments available in Ayurveda, where massage is given without fat as well, but they have different names.
Anga – it means body.

So, if we join these three words, it states that, Abhyangam is a procedure in which oil/ fat is smeared over the body in the direction of body hair/ body parts.

Benefits of Abhyangam

Benefits of abhyangam are an exhaustive list. Vagabhatta narrates all these benefits in one verse,
Abhayngam nityam achareta, sa jara shrama vataha !
Drishti Prasad pushti ayu, swapna sutvakatvaa dadarya krita !!

One should take abhyangam everyday, its benefits are as followings:-
Jara hara- it keeps old age away
Shrama hara- it takes away fatigue
Vata hara- it checks vata
Drishti Prasad- it improves vision/ eyesight
Pushti ayu- it induces longevity
Swapna kara- induces sleep
sutvakatva krita- improves skin texture and makes it smooth
Dadrya krita- increases physical strength.

Application of oil has innumerable effects on the body and it performs its actions depending upon multiple factors. The procedure may have customised approach and material of the massage is picked upon the condition of individual factor.

Material required

Room sizing 10× 10 feet.
Abhyanga table.
Oil/ fat (as per the condition & choice) – App. 100 Ml.
Expert masseurs – 2 for a better execution.
Gas stove or a coil heater.
Towel – 1.
Abhyangam dress for the client.
Apron – 2 for masseurs.
Soaking tissues – 4.
Temperature of the room should be optimum, neither too hot, nor too cold.
Steam chamber – 1.
A bathroom with hot water facility.
A changing room.
Chair – 1.
Light music in the background.

Method of execution

Traditionally speaking, massage is executed in seven different postures. They are as following:-
Lying over the back – supine.
Lying in right lateral position.
Lying over the stomach - prone.
Lying in left lateral position.
Lying over the back.

Though different institutions have different methodologies, one should not get confused over this point, as the end product remains the most important and which is Relaxation.
After stimulating all the major marma spots and offering prayers massage is started from the head, following whole body. As per the word Abhyangam, position of body hair and muscles is kept in mind and steps are executed in the direction of same.


Assessment of the client is most important part and it should thoroughly be examined at the time of consultation. Though there are no grave side effects are there but yet it should not be executed in following conditions:-
Ama- in the state of indigestion
Kapha disorders- conditions like obesity, water retentions, over sleepiness etc.
Amavata- in the conditions of rheumatism or rheumatoid arthritis.
Agnimandya- in the state of diminished digestive fire, i. e. dyspepsia, aversion to the food.

Other factors, in case of fractures, dislocations, muscular and tendon tears, Abhyangam should not be executed else under the supervision.

Duration of the treatment

Classically, for a healthy person it should be executed for 45 minutes. Old people should be taken care of and it can be executed on alternative days to avoid any kind of exertion.

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