Ayurvedic massage is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress, slow down the skin"s aging process, improve blood circulation and remove toxins from the cells. Using ancient Ayurvedic herbs mixed with oils, it works to purify, nourish and tone the skin on a deep cellular level. It promotes lymphatic drainage, reduces free-radical activity and detoxifies. The herbs used have natural anti-oxidants and have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.|
Massage is prescribed in Ayurveda as it is one of the keys to longevity. It helps to pacify the Vata dosha and it is this dosha that dries us out as we age, causing everything from wrinkled skin to constipation. Bob Hope credited his long life to a live in masseuse and daily massages. Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson and pioneer of alternative health says that he is a firm believer that massage stimulates the body"s own healing response, and he frequently recommends massage therapy. "A growing body of research shows that massage offers health benefits throughout the life cycle: It promotes weight gain and motor development in babies, boosts respiratory function in children with asthma. It also increases blood circulation, reduces stress hormones, increases range of motion, reduces depression, and enhances immune function."
Vital to Health
Massage relaxes and tones the muscles, stimulates glands under the skin to produce hormones, including serotonin that calms the mind and emotions and promotes drainage of the lymphatic system. Lymphatic fluid delivers nutrients to the cells and then carries away cellular debris and toxic particles. As the fluid passes through the lymph nodes, the waste products are flushed out. Unfortunately, unlike the blood system, the lymph system does not have a pump, but depends on muscular contractions to move about the bodies" network of lymph vessels. When muscles are inactive, the unfiltered fluid stagnates and becomes "ama" which can precipitate genetic breakdown and disease. Massage stimulates the nodes and drains the toxic fluids, which is vital to good health.
The Ayurvedic oils used enhance this purification process, by penetrating the skin and balancing the doshas, they have anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Designed to penetrate the skin, their nutrients do directly into the blood capillaries, loosens attached toxins and carries them to the digestive tract for elimination. The herbal oils improve blood circulation, digestive system, feeds the skin and works to balance the emotions and relax the mind.
Ayurvedic Pressure Points
Ayurvedic massage is unique in that in incorporates a healing technique called "marma" therapy. Ayurveda describes these marma points as junctions of matter and consciousness, the body is crisscrossed like irrigation channels with meridians or nadis, a closed interconnecting system through which prana flows in the body. There are 107 major marma points in the body, seven of which are also identified with the 7 chakras of the body. The navel, which is the seat of the second chakra, is particularly rich in nadis, 72,000 in all, said to be the life-giving channel from mother to unborn child. The marma are located over the lymph nodes, at joints where five anatomical structures intersect: blood vessels, ligaments, muscles, nerves and bone. They therefore play a vital role in balancing the endocrine system, the three circulatory systems of lymph, blood and nerves, as well as the three doshas or subtle constitutions of the body and mind. Marma points boost the prana each time it flows through, resulting in a stronger life force energy. Like acupressure points, care should be taken when massaging, as certain points when struck, can cause a negative effect, rather than a positive one.
Abhayanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage
According to Ayurveda, full-body warm oil self-massage, done each morning (or as often as you can), is relaxing and revitalizing for mind and body. Usually before morning Yoga and bathing so that the oil can be absorbed through the skin by the heat generated by the Yoga. Using oils specific to doshas can bring each of the doshas into alignment. It is nourishing, pacifies Vata and Kapha, relieves fatigue, provides stamina, pleasure and perfect sleep, enhances the complexion and the luster of the skin, promotes longevity and nourishes all parts of the body. For very oily skin use chickpea flour or a body brush.
The Ayurvedic warm oil self-massage (abhyanga)
- helps improve circulation and lubrication
- helps strengthen and tone the muscles and joints
- helps release deep-seated toxins for elimination from the body
- helps keep skin supple, moisturized and nourished
- helps balance the emotions and keep the mind calm yet focused and alert
- helps increase energy through the day and promotes sound sleep at night
How to do Abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage)
Materials: 2-3 oz massage oil suited to your needs for balance, plastic squeeze bottle, pot of very warm water, old cotton towel or mat, paper towels.
Step 1. Pour the oil into the squeeze bottle and shut bottle tightly.
Step 2. Place the bottle in the warm water for 5 minutes or until the oil heats up to comfortably warm.
Step 3. Stand on your towel or mat in a comfortably warm, draft-free room.
Step 4. Squeeze the oil a little at a time into your palm and apply the oil to your body, working systematically down until your entire body is anointed with oil.
Step 5. Next, massage the oil into your skin, giving each part of your body adequate attention. Use up and down strokes over limbs and circular strokes over joints, chest and abdomen. Apply lighter pressure over chest and abdomen than over extremities. This process should take about 10-12 minutes.
Step 6. If massaging your scalp, apply oil to the crown of the head and then work the oil into your scalp with your fingers in outward circles.
Step 7. Sit quietly with eyes closed for 5 minutes, breathing deeply.
Step 8. Pat any excess oil with paper towels.
Step 9. Take a warm bath or shower, being very careful not to slip. Wipe excess oil off your feet before stepping off the towel or mat. Use a very gentle, non-soap cleanser and a gentle shampoo.
Step 10. Pat your skin with a towel and apply moisturizing lotion or a gentle natural dusting powder.
Note: The towels and mats you stand on for abhyanga will get stained and eventually oil-saturated, so use old ones and do not put them in washing machines or dryers. They should be periodically thrown away and replaced.
Author Bio :
Written by Jennifer Beckman of the Vedic Cultural Fellowship, where you can study or apply the sciences of natural Ayurvedic Medicine, Hatha Yoga (including the 8 steps of ashtanga), and gem therapy to achieve spiritual well-being. You can also learn to meditate, obtain your horoscope based on Vedic astrology signs, or practice other arts that have their origin in the Vedas. http://www.vedicworld.org/ Balaji Natural Gems www.planetaryjewels.com
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