A transformational treatment for body, mind and Spirit
What is Ayurveda? More and more people today are discovering, or more precisely, re-discovering, the ancient healing system of Ayurveda. Ayurveda (ayur meaning “life,” and veda meaning “knowledge”) was developed in ancient India thousands of years ago as a method of self-healing.
The Ayurvedic philosophy is based on the concepts and workings of the elements within and around us. Through Ayurveda, we reconnect with the earth, the heavens, one another and ourselves in a way that is deeply enriching, empowering and healing. Health in Ayurveda is defined as a movement towards svasthaÂ (sva meaning “Self,” and stha meaning “established in”) — to be established and centered in Oneself.
But even as people are becoming aware of and seeking out this healing tradition, many are just now becoming aware of the long-standing practice of massage available within the Ayurvedic system. While there are many methods of hands-on healing techniques, the most sacred is the abhyanga, or hot-oil massage.
Abhyanga is a massage in the traditional sense in that it is a hands-on therapeutic treatment with the use of proper draping within a tranquil environment. But there is much more to it!
AbhyangaÂ means loving hands, and as such it is the quality of touch that is of foremost importance. It’s understood that gentle, human touch in and of itself is therapeutic. The hands of the practitioner become the conduit of prana (life-force healing energy) from the Divine.
The strokes of abhyanga are light and rhythmic. The particular sequence has been preserved, given and taught the same way for thousands of years. The massage strokes follow and awaken the energy body (chakras, meridians), which allows for prana to flow. The result is an experience of well-being that is deep and long-lasting.
Oil and herbs
Abhyanga utilizes warm, herbalized oil, traditionally sesame oil, but can be coconut, almond, olive, sunflower, or ghee, depending on a person’s constitution and/or imbalances.
While in traditional massage oil is used as a lubricant, in abhyanga the oil itself is part of the healing and is applied liberally from head to toe. The qualities inherent in the oil gently assist the body in its return to homeostasis (balance).
Herbs are an essential ingredient in abhyanga. They embody a natural intelligence and energy that the body understands and responds to. The particular herbs chosen for the abhyanga oil further assist the body and mind in healing. Many work on the level of mind, helping it to clear and calm, while other herbs are famous for their luminous effect on skin and hair. Through the application of the herbalized oil, these herbs travel deep into the body and mind, directly bypassing the digestive tract, for a wonderful calming effect.
Transformation of Self
At the onset of an abhyanga, sacred space is opened and an intention is created and stated. Through the session, you are guided gently from position to position. With each turn, you are letting go of all that is holding you back from experiencing your intention fully and completely. At the same time, each turn represents an opportunity to step more fully into who you are. In this way, abhyanga holds great potential for true, lasting transformation!
According to traditional Ayurvedic texts, this oil massage is nourishing, pacifies the doshas, relieves fatigue, provides stamina, pleasures the senses and improves sleep, enhances the complexion and the luster of the skin, promotes longevity and nourishes all parts of the body.
An abhyanga massage provides many of the same benefits of traditional massage, such as relaxation and release of toxins. But it does so by creating an environment in which the body releases at its own pace and in its own time.Â Abhyanga is not something done to you, but something done with you.
Ayurvedic massage leaves you with a tremendous sense of clarity and peace. Even after the massage, the effects continue as the herbs and oils reach deeper and subtler tissues of body and mind. In today’s fast-paced world, there is no greater tonic than an abhyanga massage for health, healing and balance!