Ayurveda, today, is known as 'Alternative Medicine' but in the ancient India, it was the way of life. The original scriptures of Ayurveda have recommended the right ways of doing all the life activities. One of the important part of Ayurveda is Massage. Apart from the everyday massage, Ayurveda also recommends many special types of massages such as Abhyanga, Garshana, Shirodhara etc.
Basic Principle Behind Ayurvedic Massage
The Ayurvedic massage techniques has certain basic theories of Ayurveda.One of such theories is that of Panchkarma- the five types of therapeutic measures. Ayurveda believes that any problem occuring to human body is the result of imbalance among the three toxins or “doshas”- Vaata, Pitta and Kapha. Panchakarma consists of five basic types of advanced treatment for balancing the vitiated Dosha from the body. Snehana or Massage is one of the subsidiary of Panchakarma. It includes other Ayurvedic therapies such as Swedana or fomentation/sweating, Basti or medicated enemas, Virechana or purging through herbs, Vamana or vomiting with the help of herbs, Nasya or nasal administration of oils etc.
Special types of massages
Abhyanga Ayurvedic Massage
Abhyanga massage is very relaxing. It harmonizes, detoxifies, strengthens and revitalizes the entire body apart from stimulating the immune system. It also calms and strengthens the nervous system. Abhyanga is the real rejuvenator.
Snehana or Abhyanga means Oleation (oiling up). It is full body massage which is recommended to be done daily. The body is massaged with various Ayurvedic warm oils which moves the toxins towards the gastro –intestinal tract. It is nourishing, pacifies the doshas, 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.
Gharsana Ayurvedic Massage
Gharshana literally means “rubbing”. The Gharsana massage, basically is, a dry lymphatic skin brushing having an exfoliating effect on skin. When body is rubbed during Gharshana, heat is generated which improves circulation thereby eliminating wastes from body. The gentle strokes in upward direction activate the lymphatic flow. If gharshana is done on a regular basis, it helps in breaking down fat deposits by enhancing blood and lymphatic circulation. It cleans and exfoliates the skin, making it more receptive to herbs and therapeutic oils. Gharshana produces exfoiliating effect due to the usage of wool or raw silk. Both of them are fairly abrasive but soothing to the skin. It is followed by bathing or oil massage.
Shirodhara Ayurvedic Massage
Shiro means head and dhara means to flow. Shirodhara involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead, more specifically stated- on the ‘third eye’. Shirodhara is used to treat various diseases including eye diseases, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, greying of hair, neurological disorders, memory loss, insomnia, hearing impairment, tinnitus, vertigo, Ménière's disease and certain skin diseases such as psoriasis. The liquids used in shirodhara can include oil, milk, buttermilk, coconut water, or even plain water according to the various treatments for different benefits. These days, shirodhara is mostly used non-medicinally at spas for its relaxing properties. The person wanting shirodhara is made to lie on his/her back and head is positioned under a metal bottle with a slow-flowing spout from which the oils streams gently onto the forehead. It has amazing quality of gently releasing stress and tension from the mind and body.
Udvartana Ayurvedic Massage
Udvartana is deeply penetrating herbal paste lymphatic massage. Udvartana helps to eliminate lymphatic toxins out of the body and also improves sluggish circulation and digestion. It balances Kapha dosha and cleans the skin. It increases the metabolic rate of the body and activates the rasa dhatu (lymph), which in turn enables the vayus (gases) to flow and make the nadi system more efficient. This full body massage uses a paste prepared from ground grains to cleanse the skin, improve circulation, and help weight loss. It is particularly good for skin care as its powerful exfoliating effect magically conditions the skin. Udvartana massage is particularly used for people having Kapha dosha.
Vishesh Ayurvedic Massage
Vishesh means special. It is a special deep muscular massage which breaks up adhesions and improves circulation deep within the muscles. The style and flow of the Vishesha massage is determined by the body type. Focus is placed on 'Marma' points. This type of massage dissolves and cleanses ama (toxins) from the tissues and stimulates the lymphatic flow. The techniques used in Vishesh massage include tapping, kneading and squeezing apart from the more traditional massage strokes that are gentle in nature. Vishesh massage removes blockages to increase blood flow, improve digestion, and awaken the energy sources and deeper levels of consciousness. This deep tissue massage is especially helpful for soothing sore, tired or aching muscles.
Recommended Massages for Weight Loss
Gharsana Ayurvedic Massage & Udvartana Ayurvedic Massage