Special Types of Ayurvedic Massage
The ayurvedic full-body self-massage, called "abhyanga," is traditionally performed everyday for overall mind/body support. However, ayurvedic texts discuss other ways to use massage therapy in addition to the basic oil massage.
Here are some of them:
The warm oil scalp massage:
Massaging the scalp and hair is recommended to stimulate the scalp, nourish the hair roots and hair, relieve mental fatigue, help enhance mental clarity and focus and balance and nourish the emotions. Traditional oils for this purpose have beneficial herbal extracts combined with the base oil for added benefit. Some herbs are included for their beneficial impact on hair health and growth and some for their balancing effect on the mind and emotions or their stimulating effect on the mind and nervous system. Brahmi is famous in Ayurveda as a "Medhya" herb - it can help improve focus and calm the mind, promote a better quality of sleep, enhance memory, balance the emotions and help withstand the effects of day-to-day stress. Brahmi is extensively used both in supplements as well as in topical hair oils.
Other ayurvedic herbs frequently found in herbal hair oils include Amla (Indian Gooseberry), Bhringaraj (Eclipta Alba) -- literally "King of Tresses," Tulasi (Holy Basil), Ashwagandha (Winter Cherry), Sandalwood and Hibiscus. The base oil is generally sesame, which is reported to have antioxidant properties, or coconut, which is reported to nourish hair color, thickness and growth.
How it's done -- Gently warm a couple of teaspoons of the oil. Persons with longer hair may need more, to cover all the hair as well as the scalp. The oil should be warm enough to be soothing, not uncomfortably hot. Pour the oil on your palm and apply it evenly all over the scalp and the back of the neck close to the hairline. Using your fingertips, gently massage the oil into the scalp, working the oil in for about 4-5 minutes. Ideally the oil should be left on overnight (use a shower cap to protect your bed-linens) and shampooed off the next morning. If leaving it on overnight is impractical for you, leave it on for 2-3 hours, then shampoo your hair well to rinse it off. Do the massage at least two or three times each week.
Massage to promote better sleep:
Sleep imbalances, according to ayurveda, occur when one or more of the three ayurvedic principles of Vata, Pitta or Kapha is out of balance. Massage is one of the techniques recommended to restore balance and aid the process of getting an adequate amount of rejuvenating rest. This massage is performed on the peripheries to improve circulation and relax the mind and body. Massage oils for this purpose combine herbs and essential oils with a base oil. The Youthful Skin Massage Oil for Men or Women is ideal for this massage.
How it's done -- Apply the massage oil to the lower arms, hands, lower legs and feet a few minutes before bed and gently massage into the skin. Pay special attention to the soles of the feet and the nail-beds of the hands and feet. Pat off any excess oil with a clean cloth. The Youthful Skin Massage Oil is easily absorbed, and non-staining, so it can be left on all night.
Dry Garshana Massage:
The Garshana massage is done without oil. Performed regularly, it is reported to gradually help break down fat deposits by enhancing blood and lymphatic circulation. This massage helps clean and exfoliate the skin, making it more receptive to herbs and therapeutic oils.
How it's done -- Wearing raw silk gloves available for the purpose, use light vigorous strokes to perform the Garshana massage. This massage can be done everyday.
These articles provide a great resource from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians on the knowledge, practices, products, and applications of Maharishi Ayurveda.
The sole purpose of these newsletters is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area.