The magic of massage

The magic of massage

Today, an ayurvedic massage is enjoyed by all ages. This form of massage is an organised form of touch therapy, usually performed with medicated oils. It is a kind of physical manipulation which produces sensations from touch, pressure, vibration and rhythmic stimulation. Ayurvedic marma techniques are incorporated into massage routines that provide effective treatment for common ailments associated with our modern, stressful lifestyles.

Principles of an ayurvedic massage

Ayurveda advocates performing a daily self- massage called abhyanga, using natural herbal oils for promoting strength and flexibility, improving skin texture and boosting the immune system. Abhyanga is based on the principles of primordial elements, biological humours or tridoshas — all of which are concepts of agni. The aim is to achieve a balance of energy inside the body and for this, the study of the fundamental concept of prakruti or body constitution is essential. Hence, a  variety of substances like simple oils, powders of food substances like lentils, medicated oils, aromatic oils and powders of various herbs are used.

Benefits

Ayurvedic massage is the manipulation of the body’s soft tissue —skin, fat, muscle and the connective tissue that holds organs and underlying structures in place. It involves a series of movements, mainly using hands. Each movement is applied in a particular way in order to have a specific effect.

Ayurvedic massage relieves localised pain in the muscles and joints; helps in relieving tension such as eye stain, sore feet, headache and backache. Ayurvedic massage boosts the immune system, helping to prevent and fight infections. It allows for better quality of sleep, which in turn leads to improved temperament, general health and wellbeing. It stimulates and boosts blood flow around the body, ensuring a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and generating heat to warm areas such as hands and feet that are prone to cold.

Ayurvedic rhythmic massage aids the removal of waste products and toxins from the body and helps to prevent a buildup of these impurities, which can lead to muscle pain, headaches, dull skin, sinus congestion and fatigue.

Soothing ayurvedic movements produce a general state of relaxation of mind and body, thus easing tension and anxiety, alleviating the cumulative effects of stress and encouraging the body to function more effectively. 

Ayurveda is a traditional Indian form of prescribed medication which places great emphasis on the therapeutic benefits of massage with medicated oils. In India, therapeutic massage has been used for thousands of years to promote general wellbeing and enhance self-esteem, while boosting the circulating and immune system, blood pressure, circulation, muscle tone, digestion and skin tone.

Research

A study at the Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida, used physical and emotional assessment methods to compare stress levels of two groups of adults over a five-week period. One group received regular massage, while the other did not. Findings showed that massage has a positive effect in helping to increase relaxation, reduce anxiety and enhance mental alertness. A study was conducted at the Sri BMK Ayurvedic Medical College, Belgaum, where 26 pregnant women were assigned to massage therapy for four weeks. This produced reduction in anxiety, improved mood, better sleep and less back pain.

(The writer is an ayurvedic consultant in Bangalore.)

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