Did you know? Oil in Sanskrit is called as “Sneha”, which colloquially means love and affection. It is also another term for unctuousness. Ayurveda has always considered “Snehana”- wrapping or embracing yourself from head to toe in warm oils- as a form of self-care and love. It is no wonder then, that healing through touch, and acupressure forms an important part of Ayurvedic holistic healing.
Abhyangam is an integral part of Ayurveda and is recommended as a part of the daily regime. It is also used as a preparatory treatment for Ayurvedic Panchakarma. It is a procedure where the whole body is massaged using different herbal massage oils prescribed by our Ayurvedic physician after a thorough assessment of dosha balance and Prakriti (body constitution).
The effects of Abhyangam include relieving excess vata in affected areas of the body and has been shown to be extremely effective in chronic pains, arthritis and musculoskeletal injuries. Other benefits of massage are relieving mental stress, imparting glow to the skin, nourishing the tissues of the whole body and maintaining a good physique.
Herbal massage oils used in Abhyangam, are made up of a variety of ingredients with different effects on the body. Here are a few important oils with their health benefits:
Bala Oil- Literally means strength, and is used for providing strength to the muscles and joints of the body. It also helps in improving flexibility and reducing muscle cramps.
Ashwagandha Oil- Ashwagandha is a wonderful nervine tonic. Massage with this oil is beneficial in pain, numbness, and tingling sensation due to irritation, damage or compression of nerves.
Bhringaraj Oil- Who doesn’t love a head full of lustrous, thick hair and a healthy scalp! Bhringaraj is one of the best herbs for maintaining hair and scalp health and also prevents premature greying of hair.
Brahmi Oil- A head massage with this oil is advantageous for improving memory, concentration, hearing and vision as well as reducing anxiety. Also, clarified butter using Brahmi has been known to be useful in cases of ADHD.
Dashamoola Oil- This is the oil of choice for chronic Vata imbalance in the body. It improves flexibility, strengthens the joints and nerves, and is often used for facial paralysis patients.
Mahanarayana Oil- Full body massage with this oil helps in strengthening the bones, ligaments and tendons, reducing pain due to arthritis, and osteoporosis and improving longevity. Instilling this oil in nostrils as in nasya karma also improves complexion, and glow and is anti-ageing.
This list of beautifully acting herbal massage oils is like a drop of water in the ocean. The Ayurvedic physician prescribes the most beneficial and best-suited oil to the patient after their initial evaluation and reports.Oil, aptly called, “Sneha”, is a very gentle yet powerful tool for the human body and abhyanga is the ultimate form of self-care. Health now is literally at your fingertips!