Abhiyanga is a massage done by using herbal oil. The oil is specially selected for the particular body constitution. The process is long and thorough. More force is used to loosen the excess doshas and direct them toward the organs of elimination. There is a related treatment called Shirodhara, in which warm, herbalized sesame oil is dripped in a stream onto the forehead to profoundly relax the nervous system and balance the Prana Vata, the dosha that exerts control over the brain.
Abhyanga — the ayurvedic oil massage — is an integral part of the daily routine recommended by this healing system for overall health and well-being. Traditional ayurvedic texts wax eloquent on the benefits. Here’s what one says — “Give yourself a full-body oil massage on a daily basis. It is nourishing; pacifies the doshas; relieves fatigue; provides stamina, pleasure and perfect sleep; enhances the complexion and the luster of the skin; promotes longevity; and nourishes all parts of the body.”
Here are some of the benefits traditionally associated with regular performance of this pleasant daily ritual:
- Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings
- Toning of the muscles and the whole physiology
- Calming for the nerves
- Lubrication of the joints
- Increased mental alertness
- Improved elimination of impurities from the body
- Softer, smoother skin
- Increased levels of stamina through the day
- Better, deeper sleep at night
Abhyanga provides the means for transdermal absorption of the healing qualities of the material used in the massage, and it helps the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, perform its diverse functions efficiently, whether it is allowing toxins to be released from the body or nourishment to be absorbed by the tissues. It is like oiling the engine of your car — if you do it regularly, your engine will be in peak condition, and give you years and years of trouble-free performance.