Traditional Medicine

ABHYANGA

Introduction

Ayurveda is a science of life.

“Prevention is better than cure” is the basic and fundamental concept of Ayurveda.

Unlike modern medicine, Ayurveda treats the individual and not merely the disease.

To keep fit and healthy everyone should adopt a proper healthy lifestyle.

Therefore everyone should understand the importance of Dinacharya (daily regimen) mentioned in various Samhitagranthas.

Dinacharya is an instrument in the prevention of disease and promotion of ideal health.

AYURVEDA MASSAGE — ABHYANGA

Abhyanga is one of the Upakrama mentioned in Dinacharya and is an ancient Indian Ayurvedic approach adopted for healing, relaxation and treating various types of diseases.

Abhyanga actually is a daily regimen and therapeutic procedure mentioned in Ayurveda.

In Ayurveda, Abhyanga is mentioned under the chapter of snehana, as a part of poorva karma (pre -procedure) of Panchakarma therapy.

Snehan Therapy is administered in two different ways like external application in the form of Abhyanga and internal administration (snehapana).

Abhyanga is the oldest technique, that is used for relieving pain. Abhyanga is perhaps the most popular form of health activity, since the time immemorial.

Abhyanga is defined as an Ayurvedic procedure in which SnehaDravyas or Medicated oils are massaged over body in the Anulomagati(in the same direction of hair follicles) with certain amount of pressure in specific directions.

According to AcharyaCharak, out of these four snehadravyas, taila especially Tilataila (sesame oil) is best for all type of prakruti (body constitution).

Classification of Abhyanga:According to Site

  • SarvangaAbhyanga (Whole body massage)
  • EkangaAbhyanga (Local massage)
  • ShiroAbhyanga( Head massage )
  • PadaAbhyanga( Foot Massage )

Importance of Abhyanga

Ayurveda always recommended that Abhyanga (oil massage) should be performed daily.

If not possible, then at least apply oil to head, ears and feet is must to obtain a healthy life thus showing the importance of massage to the most important parts such as head, ears and feet.

By the massage of oil, the human body also becomes strong, stable and smooth skinned.

Disease caused by Vatadosha subside and body becomes capable to resist exhaustion and exertions.

It is a safe and beneficial health aid for everyone, from infants to the elderly person.

The persons (very young, old people, infants) who are unable to do any type of physical exercise, could perform Abhyanga.

If executed properly it gives complete benefit of exercise.

The body of one who uses regular oil massage does not develop much problems.

According to Ayurveda, Vatadosha dominates in the sparshanendriya i.e. the tactile sensory organ and this sensory organ is lodged in the skin.

Therefore oil massage is exceedingly beneficial to the skin, everyone should practice Abhyanga regularly.

A person with a view to preserving and promoting positive health & preventing and curing all types of diseases, should use Abhyanga.

Indication of Abhyanga

Abhyanga as a daily practice is a must for people who are pressured with the stress and strain of modern civilization.

Abhyanga should be  advised to a person who are suffering from Nidranasha (Insomnia)

Diseases caused by vitiated VataDosha  (Eg. Rough Skin, lean and thin body structure, anxaciety, Stress induced mental condition)

Person who is doing coitus (sex) regularly

The persons who are fit for Swedana Therapy

The persons who are engaged in heavy physical exercise and physical work 

Nuro-Mascular disorders

Hemiplegia (Pakshavata)

Paraplegia, Sciatica

Contraindications for Abhyanga

Even though Abhyanga is considered, a safe, gentle and pleasurable, but still there are a few conditions in which Abhyanga should not be done.

They are as follows :-

Abhyanga should be avoided by the person who is suffering from kaphadosha.

The person just has undergone Shodhana Karma (purificatory therapies) like Vaman Karma (emesis), Virechana Karma (purgation), Basti Karma (enema) etc.

Who are suffering from AjeernaVyadhi (indigestion), Mandagni (weak digestion power), Murcha (fainting), Trishna (Excessive Thrust)

Who are suffering from TarunaJwara (first stage of fever) and JalodharaVyadhi (ascites).

After administration of NiruhaBasti (enema)

Abhyanga should be avoided in pregnant woman and during the menstrual cycle.

Person suffering from wound, burn and contagious diseases.

Proper Time for Abhyanga

Abhyanga should be performed only when the person has digested the food taken during the earlier meal time.

Time should be selected according to the climate, Prakrti, and Disease condition of the patient.

Materials Required

Oil/medicated oil:100-150 ml 

Vessel :200 ml capacity

Tissue paper/soft towel: Q.S. 

Special gram powder/medicated snanachoorna/medicated soap: Q.S.

Massuers:(Whole body-2, Ekanga-1,For children below Ten -1)

Procedure of Abhyanga

If a human body is compared to a tree, head is considered as roots of the tree. So whatever treatment is given to the head will help to nourish entire body system. So Abhyanga  should start from head (ShiroAbhyanga).

In ShiroAbhyanga  the patient is made to sit on a cushioned knee high chair or stool. His body should be covered with a clothe below the neck. Therapist standing behind the patient is the ideal position to carry out Abhyanga.

Oil is to be made luke warm by keeping in boiling water before application .

The oil is then poured in hands of the Therapist held over the top of the head of the patient. Then he/she spreads the oil all over the head including neck and ear pinna with palmar surface of the Therapist. Then start to massage gently over these areas.

Movements to be done in anulomagathi  and circular motion.

Amount of oil to be used for Shiro Abhyanga – 10 to 20 ml

Duration   :  5 to 10 Minutes

Conditions to be noted: 

  • Agni, Ritu, Prakrti, Dosha Prakopa, Vyadhya Vastha etc. of the person.
  • Commonly used oil for Shiro Abhynga: 
  • Vata  condition:  Vata oil
  • Pitta condition: Pitta oil
  • Kapha condition:  Kapha oil

After ShiroAbhyanga the body of the person is massaged with luke warm medicated oil specially prepared with doshaghna drugs suitable according to the season, prakruti, dosha and the type of disease.

The medicated oil to be used for massage should be Sheeta (cold) during summer and it should be Ushna (warm) during winter season.

To a normal healthy person massage should be given before bath, so that the excessive oil used for Abhyanga could be washed off very easily.

Whatever oil remains over the skin is sufficient to produce the expected effects.

For Abhyangadone daily TilaTaila (Sesame oil) is the traditional choice.

Other oils are recommended based on imbalance of doshas and body type.

Maintenance of constant temperature is important.

Abhyanga should be done in seven postures in traditional way.

  1. Sitting,
  2. Supine,
  3. Right lateral,
  4. Supine,
  5. Left lateral,
  6. Supine,
  7. Sitting. (Prone position can also be adopted in the case of  low back ache. Avoid prone position in patients with chronic diseases of  lung, heart, GIT.

Patient should be seated on the Dhroni/Treatment  table with legs extended. The oil with optimum temperature should be applied uniformly on the neck, upper back, shoulder, upper arms, forearms and hands; then chest, abdomen, lower back, lower limbs by two therapist on both side of the Dhroni/Treatment table.

Upper  back should be massaged in upward down direction. Limb joints should be massaged in circular manner and muscles in linier manner. Umbilical region is massaged in circular manner.

Supine position: Upper limbs, shoulder and neck, umblical region, lower limbs and region from sternum to flanks are more concentrated.

Left lateral : Back, Left lower limb and upper limb and hip are more concentrated.

Right lateral: Back, Right lower limb and upper limb and hip.

Prone position can also be adopted in case of low back ace  (if prone – mild spinal massage is given )

Massage of the face can be done in Supine position with the help of fingers.

Always remember that for the massage open palms of the both hands and the flat surfaces of the fingers should be used rather than the fingertips.

At the end of the procedure the medicine on the body should be wiped off with tissue paper / towels. 

After completion of Abhyanga, person is advised to take half an hour rest, but he is not supposed to expose to the air.

If the person is fit for Swedana therapy then he must undergo the fomentation immediately after Abhyanga.

If person is not undergoing Swedana therapy he is advised to take luke warm bath after half an hour.

Course of Abhyanga

Abhyanga as a special procedure has to be administered for a limited period depending upon the nature of the body constitution, habituation, season, habitat, aggravated dosha, nature of the disease and the condition of the person.

Each course can vary from 7 to 14 days.

Abhyanga can be done every day or on alternate days or after a gap of two days depending upon the nature of the disease and the strength of the person.

If daily massaging of the whole body is not possible, at least the feet should be massaged every night before going to sleep and the head should be given a massage every third day. 

Abhyanga on Pregnant Woman

For the pregnant woman, the Abhyanga should be done very carefully.

It should be for as long a time as the woman desires.

If properly done, it insures painless delivery.

After delivery massage is very beneficial.

Sushrutasamhita (an ancient Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery) has elaborated scientific explanation of Abhyanga according to the duration

Time taken to permeate through different dhatus

  • State Oil enters into 
  • 300 Matras (65 Sec.) Romanta (hair follicles)
  • 400 Matras (133 Sec.) Twacha (skin)
  • 500 Matras (160 Sec.) Raktadathu (blood)
  • 600 Matras (190 Sec.) Mamsadhatu (muscle tissue)
  • 700 Matras (228Sec.) Medodhatu (fat)
  • 800 Matras (240 Sec.) Asthidhatu (bones)
  • 900 Matras (285 Sec.) Majjadhatu (bone marrow)
  • So, from above these calculations for a specific part of the body, minimum 3 minutes are required to perform Abhyanga so that SnehaDravyas may penetrate the deepest tissue layer of the body. 

Benefits of Proper Abhyanga

If practiced on regular basis:

Once who does the regular Abhyanga to the body gets the following benefits like –

It reverse or prevents and corrects the jara (aging process)

It helps a person to overcome the fatigue.

It prevents and corrects various disorders caused by aggravated VataDosha

It promotes and bestows good eye sight.

It Nourishes the body by removing toxins and providing nutrients to tissues

It helps the individual to get sound sleep.

Improves skin tone and skin complexion.

Nourishes the body and promotes sturdiness. It increases strength of the body and improves performance in muscular activities. 

Due to sturdiness, body becomes capable to tolerate Fatigue & stress from work and life overall

Using Abhyanga therapy daily, the body of a person will have good tactile sensation.

The person, who always uses Abhyanga therapy, will have pleasing and charming appearance.

Abhyanga improves complexion/color of the skin and gives the  strength to body.

Benefits of Padabhyanga (Massage to feet)

By regular massaging oil in the feet, roughness, immobility (stiffness), dryness, fatigue and numbness (loss of sensation) are immediately cured and increases their delicacy, firmness and prevents coarseness of feet.

After massaging, the feets becomes soft, strong and steady. The person eyesight becomes clear.

He will not be affected by sciatica and constrictions of vessels.

Abhyanga to the feet brings on sound sleep. It is refreshing and invigorating to the body and sight.

Abhyanga done every day on the soles of feet is also good for cracked feet. It promotes strength for walking and running and gives sturdiness to the limbs.

Precautions during Abhyanga

The bath should not be taken immediately after Abhyanga because during Abhyanga heat is produce and due to that the body becomes hot and the circulation of blood increases.

The pores of the body open and without proper equalization of temperature a bath is injurious.

Therefore should wait for at least  30 minute to one hour after Abhyanga.

During the course of the therapy, the person should take light exercise which will improve the circulation of blood among the tissue of his body.

This will help in the removal of waste products from the tissue and provide proper nourishment to them.

Alcoholic preparations, tobacco and smoking strictly prohibited. 

The drugs used for Abhyanga should have the Sneha properties. They act as their properties are totally opposite to the properties of Vatadosha.

In this way Abhyanga acts through the above properties of Sneha. It helps in fast penetration of oil deep into tissues throughout the body.

Oil is capable of entering into minute pores thus promote proper functioning of Vatadosha and body channels by increased trans-dermal absorption of nutrients.

All the properties are  oils are opposite to the properties Vatadosha, hence Abhyanga is considered useful treatment in the diseases occurred by provoked Vatadosha.

This five-position therapy will treat the whole body physically, mentally and emotionally while balancing the doshas.

Medicines can be used

VataPrakruti–Vata oil, Pain oil, Rejuvenation oil

Pitta Prakruti – Pitta oil, Pain oil, Relaxation oil

KaphaPrakruti –Kapha Oil, Pain oil,

CONCLUSION

Abhyanga is one of the oldest forms of treatment for human ailments which has proven his utility in prevention and cure of various diseases.

Abhyanga is a cleanser.

 It increases self confidence and will power.

Abhyanga is a powerful non drug method to promote sound sleep.

Abhyanga done regularly stops premature ageing and thus one remains young and energetic for a long time.

It adds luster to the skin and increases beauty.

From above these ,we can conclude that Abhyanga is a protector, Preserver and a Rejuvenator of the body.