Main image credit: @everydayayuverdic
What is Ayurvedic Massage?
Ayurveda is a holistic system of well-being which developed in India. It’s meaning translates as “life-knowledge”, and its main emphasis is on the pursuit of balance and moderation in all areas of life. Ayurvedic massage uses a combination of bodywork, warm oils and music to create a deeply relaxing and soothing experience.
Ayurveda uses three doshas (Tridoshas); Vata, Pitta and Kapha which are based on the three elements. They represent different elements of an individual’s characts which, in order to maintain health, need to be well balanced.
What is the history of Ayurvedic Massage?
Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems in human history, and has not changed significantly for over 5,000 years. Ayurvedic philosophy sees the mind and body as being linked through an flow of energy, called Prana.
Other elements of an Ayurvedic lifestyle include meditation, yoga and plant-based nutrition.
Ayurvedic Massage techniques
Ayurvedic massage uses a variety of movements, from strong pressure, to delicate strokes and pinching or kneading motions. They tend to follow the flow of traditional energy channels, which mirror the nerve pathways (and typically correspond to the direction of hair growth).
The relationship between masseuse and recipient is very important in this type of treatment, and your therapist may take a moment before starting to gather their own energy through a brief meditation. They will try to synchronise their breathing with yours while carrying out the treatment in order to create a deeper connection.
To get a better understanding of your individual mind-body balance, your therapist will begin with a Dosha questionnaire.
Ayurveda is a term that encompases a wide range of treatments including massage. Massage treatments tend to be guided by an understanding of the body’s marmas and chakras.
- Marmas are similar to the acupoints used in Reflexology, and there are 107 of them throughout the body. They are located at major junctions between bones, tendons, arteries, veins and joints. Disruptions in Prana (“energy” or “life force”, known as qi in Chinese Massage) congregate at these points, and can cause blockages in the flow of energy.
- Chakras are the 7 points of spiritual power in the human body, and physically relate to the 7 main marmas. They are positioned over the major endocrine glands, and control various facets of our wellbeing.
Ayurvedic massage – as well as being a soothing and supportive physical practice – is thought to cleanse these energy channels so the vital life force can flow freely throughout the body.
Ayurvedic Massage oil
Touch is only one element of an Ayurvedic massage, which also aims stimulates the other senses. Oil is an essential part of the process, as it both soothes the skin and activates your sense of smell.
In ancient India, wealthy women would take rose baths, before being anointed with sandalwood and jasmine oils. Ayurvedic massage today typically uses a deeply moisturising base such as sesame or almond oil, which is then blended with a mix of aromatherapy oils. This may be gently warmed before use.
Music during an Ayurvedic Massage
Your therapist may play music during an Ayurvedic massage, typically selected from the Ragas (classical arrangements) of Indian music. Each of these melodies is tied to a specific mood or emotion, which your therapist may wish to invoke in your treatment.
Who should have an Ayurvedic Massage?
Ayurvedic is more than a luxury; it is an experience for both body and mind. An ideal gentle treatment for those new to massage, it can be adjusted to your specific needs and goals.
If you are pregnant, have general massage contraindications, or are suffering from a serious illness, make sure to consult your doctor before beginning any program of massage treatment.