What Is Ayurvedic Massage?

Ayurveda is an ancient lifestyle practice and a holistic form of Indian medicine aimed at creating harmony within the body, mind, and spirit. Practitioners believe that all living things have "dosha" – a mix of energies called "vata", "kapha", and "pitta". These energies are equivalent to the Western idea of the earth, water, and fire elements and so on.

A person’s dosha defines what lifestyle is healthy and harmonizing for him or her, including what food to eat and the type and amount and exercise a person should do. Ayurveda includes such techniques as yoga, detoxification, massage therapy, meditation, and diet and herbal prescriptions.

What is Ayurvedic massage?

One of the most popular Ayurvedic techniques these days is Ayurvedic massage. This type of massage uses essential oils and herbs that suit your dosha. It incorporates oils along with certain energy points to restore balance to your body. The Ayurvedic massage techniques include squeezing, kneeding, and tapping as well as conventional massage strokes. The flow and style of the massage depend on the client’s individual needs: who you are and what you need to achieve balance at the time.

Benefits of Ayurvedic massage

Combining Ayurvedic massage with other Ayurvedic principles such as eating foods required by a person’s dosha or doing prescribed exercises can detoxify and cleanse your body. It also boosts and strengthens your immune system, and helps people with illnesses and diseases to improve their wellbeing.

Another major benefit includes increased liveliness (vitality), reduced stress, and more relaxed body. Ayurvedic massage helps in establishing a person’s foundation and seeks to bring a state of healthy balance to the individual’s body.

Types of Ayurvedic massage

There are many kinds of Ayurvedic massage: the Ayurvedic Indian head massage; herbal oil massage following a brushing of dry lymphati (bhyanga-Garshana); a massaged involving two therapists and using warm herbal oils (Pizichili); a deep massage wherein the therapist uses his or her feet in massaging you (Ayurvedic foot massage); and a treatment in which oil is poured on your forehead (Ayurvedic Shirodhara).

Other kinds of Ayurvedic massage include: a facial treatment using individually prepared oils and a herbal mask (Ayurvedic marma and face therapy); a slimming therapy that involves deep massage using herbal powders (Udwarthanam); a mixture of aromatic steam, facial lymphatic massage, and a deep shoulder, neck, and head massage (Shiro-Ahhyanga-Nasya); a deep muscular massage that uses herbal oils (Vishesh); and herbal oil massage prepared individually (Abhyanga).

Massage oils

The type of massage oil used in Ayurvedic massage depends on whether it is for kapha, pitta, or vatta. Therapists treat kaphas best by heating vegetable oils like mustard, almond, and canola. Essential oils include basil, angelica, cardamon, camphor, eucalyptus, cinnamon, myrrh, ginger, yarrow, and orange peel.

For pitta, essential oils are best combined with cooling oils like coconut and olive and coconut. Coriander, chamomile, fennel, cumin, jatamansi, jasmine, lemongrass, lemon balm, peppermint, lavender, sandalwood, rose, vetiver, spearmint, and yarrow are also used.

While oils can be good for vata, it is best to mix hazelnut and sesame oil with basil, angelica, calamus, cardamon, camphor, clary sage, chamomile, eucalyptus, coriander, lavender, ginger, sandalwood, and jatamansi.