The leaves and bark of a tree are massaged by the wind,
the rocks and pebbles by the rivers and streams,
primates groom and rub up against each other to socially bond, decrease stress, and make up after a tussle,
a child feels protected with the touch of their mother.
Everything in this universe is being massaged continuously to be in perfect balance.
Massage, being the greatest form of the sense of touch, is essential to provide nourishment to the physical, mental and emotional bodies…
After people receive an authentic Ayurvedic massage, mostly they experience an underlying sustaining bliss, while simultaneously their grounded, relaxed and refreshed mind is surprised, “what did I just receive?”
Unique Features of Ayurvedic Massage
Ayurvedic massage is very different to the more common massages on the market – deep tissue, Swedish, Japanese, Chinese, Thai massage, sports massage, Lomi Lomi/Kahuna, etc.
- Medicated Oils – This is a key aspect of the Abhyanga. Usually coconut or sesame oil is medicated with various herbs according to the season and the individual’s unique constitution. Ayurvedic massage oils have the power to penetrate through all layers of skin and enter into all 7 body tissues to do its job of effective detoxification, nourishment and more.
- Strokes are selected and applied in a vigorous and rhythmic matter according to the client’s constitution and imbalances.
- Special consideration is given to the Marma Points which are the special storehouses of energy and concentrated life force. The Marmas are enlivened for vast harmonious effects.
- The 7 chakras are also worked on to unblock any problems related to them.
- The Lymphatic system is critical for good health according to Ayurveda. Abhyanga specifically stimulates and strengthens the lymphatic system, thus improves immunity and stabilises hormones, thus improves physical and mental states.
- Pacifying the Nervous System – The skin has more nerve endings then any part of the body! This is why Ayurvedic massage, through appropriate strokes channelled harmoniously with the body’s channels, is so effective in calming the mind down, grounding a frantic mind, releasing stress, promoting proper sleep, and providing a state in which the body can deeply rest. There isn’t any other way to pacify 20,000,000 nerve receptors in the body’s skin in just a couple of minutes?!
“I feel like I have slept for a week…recently thoughts have been racing through my head throughout the night.”
~ Rao, after an Abhyanga at the Vital Veda clinic.
- Blood Circulation – Blood is effectively circulated all throughout the body and toxins in the blood are expelled.
- Internal Lubrication – As these oils can penetrate deep into the body, Ayurvedic massage promotes flexibility of the muscles, tissues and joints.
- Promotes softness and luster of the skin as well as youthfulness.
- Correcting Injuries – specifically the muscle and bone tissue (Mamsa & Asthi Dhatu)
- Shaping the organs.
- Regenerating tissues.
- Creating a nurturing environment for the many microbes on the skin. Doing the massage lovingly will significantly allow the microbes to thrive even more, shaping your body for good health (as 90% of your body is bugs)!
- It opens the flow of Prana (Life Force) by balancing the three doshas.
Detox – The medicated oil and specific methods drive the doshas and the Ama (toxins) from the deeper connective tissues back to the gastrointestinal tract for proper elimination. This is why after a massage you must rest and frequently sip hot water.
Western Science Proving the Power of Massage
- Studies have shown that people with hypertension and depression improve with massage therapy.
- Massage appears to decrease cortisol, a disease-producing and degenerative stress hormone.*
- It also increases dopamine and norepinephrine, which boost mood, reward, pleasure and wellbeing.*
- Massage has also been found to boost immunity and killer T cells in AIDS patients.*
In a recent study published in Alternative Therapies, 95 subjects had their blood levels evaluated for the following chemicals before and after a 15 minute massage:
- Oxytocin: the primary target; a bonding and anti-anxiety hormone.
- ACTH (adrenocorticotropin): a hormone that increases with stress and decreases with relaxation.
Oxytocin increases when one feels trust and/or empathy. It is the giving hormone, released during acts of appreciation, gratitude, emotional connections and giving touch. Laboring mothers secrete large amounts of oxytocin at birth, fostering the initial family bond.
Amazingly, research also shows that oxytocin*:
- Extends life in cancer patients
- Reduces cravings for sweets
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Increases sexual potency and desire
- Reduces cortisol and boosts immunity
Oxytocin levels increased by 17% for the group that received massage. The control group who just rested showed a 9% decrease in oxytocin.
ACTH (adrenocorticotropin) – which increases with stress – increased by 30% for the group who rested without receiving massage. Interestingly, it decreased by 20% for those who were in the massage group.
Light Touch vs. Deep Pressure Massage
In a previous study comparing oxytocin release during light touch and deep pressure massage, light touch massage (as used in Ayurvedic massage techniques), yielded a 27% increase in oxytocin and a 24% decrease in ACTH.
Perform Massage Daily
In India, getting a massage starts on day one. Mothers have been giving babies daily massages for thousands of years. Children start giving themselves daily massages at early ages alongside other daily practices like brushing teeth, scraping tongue, bathing etc., and continue this as a lifelong practice.
While receiving a massage daily by a therapist would yield astonishing results, this is uneconomical and unpractical. One must learn to do Self-Massage, because after attuning with your body in this way with deep self-respect, believe me, you will notice the difference that day and beyond!
*Altern Ther Health Med. 2012;18;960;11-18