Hey what’s going on guys? It’s Ben again. I’ve spent the last several posts talking about the various healing methods associated with Ayurveda. These methods can be used either as preventative treatments or healing treatments to alleviate ailments that result from imbalanced doshas. In this post I will briefly discuss another Ayurvedic method of treatment called Abhyanga. Abhyanga is a form of massage that is used to realign your prakriti (your unique combination of vata, pitta, and kapha doshas). During the process of Abyanga the entire body is massaged except for the genital area. A specially trained masseuse rubs special oils into the skin during the massage to help release toxins that have accumulated inside the body. The oils that are used for each individual’s massage are chosen according to your prakriti. For example, an individual with a prakriti that is composed primarily of a vata dosha, which has cool, dry characteristics, will have an oil applied that is warm and soothing to compliment the extra vata dosha in their body as well as bring his or her dosha back into alighnment. Someone who has a kapha dosha, which has heavy, slow, and solid characteristics would be massaged with an oil that is lighter and freer-flowing to compliment the abundance of the heavier kapha dosha in their body.
Abhyanga is distinct from massages originating from the United States and Europe in that their focus is not on loosening muscles and maintaining a full range of motion for the extremities. Yes, Abyanga has the ability to provide pain relief, stress reduction, and a reduction in blood pressure, among other things. However the difference in Abhyanga is the massage itself is not meant to provide the healing. It is meant to release toxins from the body and realign the individual’s doshas. The toxin release and dosha realignment are what heal the individual. Its purpose is to initiate the release of toxins starting at the cellular level. Once toxins are driven out of the cells and up through the tissues and eventually the skin and other organs of the body, there they can then be excreted out of the body. Because of this Abhyanga is often used in conjunction with other methods of Ayurvedic treatment such as panchakarma to provide complete healing and total realignment of the doshas. These massages are administered while the person lies on a reed massage mat, which in turn is placed on top of a 6-8″ cotton mattress. The head is not supported with a cushion like in other massage techniques. Abhyanga provides benefits for the recipient including detoxification, improvement in stamina, deeper sleep, better skin complexion, more limber muscles, and stress reduction. In summation, Abhyanga is another part of a holistic philosophy that aims to correct an individual’s doshas, thereby promoting complete internal harmony, alignment with the universe, and physical, spiritual, and mental healing and well-being.