Thursday, 22 September 2011

Ayurvedic Massage

Ayurveda, today, is known as 'Alternative Medicine' but in the ancient India, it was the way of life. The original scriptures(Charaka Samhiyta, Sushruta Samhita etc.) of Ayurveda have recommended the right ways of doing all the life activities. They suggest the proper food to be eaten, exercises to be done and common Indian herbs to be used when suffering from diseases. One of the important part of Ayurveda is Massage.


 It doesn't see massage as something to be done only when one falls ill or experiences difficulty. Massage is the way of Indian life- a part of every day routine. Each Indian child, right from the day he/she is born, gets everyday massage. Whether it is the occasion of marriage or issue of gaining post natal strength for a new mother- massage is the ultimate thing to do. 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 rest on 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.

These massage techniques provide relaxation, circulation and elimination of toxins. If adopted as a daily practice, Ayurvedic massage techniques can even help to rejuvenate the body.


In ancient times, ayurvedic clinics did not regularly offer massage, as everybody gave and received it. Only when patients needed a particular treatment were they referred to specialists that used the appropriate ayurvedic techniques.

Today in India, practitioners roam the public places in great number and give head and body a go for a few rupees. Although they often have little knowledge of Ayurveda they do know how to work with muscles, joints and bones. Many have received training based on the massage developed by wrestlers.

Ayurvedic doctors who were also wrestlers developed a special system of their own that contained the knowledge of the Ayurvedic and Undani (Greek) systems of medicine. These traditional indian massage techniques are based on the ayurvedic doshas and marmas (pressure points like in reflexology). They also include Muslim massage techniques with pressure points called Muqame Makhsoos. 

Specific ayurvedic massage techniques have also been developed for massage therapy, used in certain therapeutic treatments like in pancha karma purification. These massage techniques should only be practiced in a particular disease condition under supervision of an ayurvedic doctor or vaidya.

In rural areas, weekly massage is still a family scene. People in India enjoy it - they know that like a best friend it brings joy and relaxation. The popular image of Vishnu reclining on a serpent and receiving foot massage from his consort Lakshmi shows it as a favorite pastime even of the gods.

Massage techniques can also help to maintain a loving relationship between husband and wife. After this kind of soothing relaxation, it is easier to share and give love. Before marriage it is one of the few ceremonial massages in the Hindu tradition that is compulsory even today. Ubtan Beauty Massage is also very popular.

It is also often used to help the aged and special techniques have been developed for young mothers as well as babies. Babies are typically massaged with a small dough ball dipped in vegetable oil. 

Ayurvedic massage oils are essential to any massage.

In ayurvedic massage, massage tables are rarely used. Instead of using a massage table, the massage practitioners create a massage mat, usually by placing a reed mat upon an indian-style futon, a cotton mattress. The massage mat made of reeds prevents oil from dripping upon the futon below. A massage cushion is also rarely used - the head is usually not supported. Massage chairs can be used for massages given in the sitting position (shoulders, arms, haed) in case patients are not comfortable in a cross-legged sitting position on the massage bed.

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