Massage (Abhyanga) is a type of passive exercise. It is especially good for weak people, who are unable to exercise. Regular massage is the key to good health, and is necessary both for prevention and cure of diseases.
An Easy Way to Stay Healthy
Oil massage is the most common type of massage. Oil should be chosen according to the season and the personal constitution. Sesame oil is the best for massaging according to Ayurveda. In the winter one can also use mustard oil, though it should not be used in summer. However, those in the habit of constant internal use of mustard oil can massage with it in all seasons.
Coconut oil and sunflower oil are also good for massaging in hot climate. Olive oil can be used in the winter as it is heating in nature. People with a vata type of body should use warming oils, and those with pitta type will benefit from cooling oils. The kapha types should have dry massage or should use mustard oil after warming. In order to determine what type you are take a constitution test.
Method of Massaging
One can either start massage from the feet or from head. In self massage one generally starts from feet, then the legs, hands, abdomen, back, chest, neck, shoulders, face and head. While receiving massage from some one it is generally started from head. There are no specific reasons for this.
First apply the oil on the part which is to be massaged. Then massage the part gently with palms till the oil penetrates the body. When massaging, upward strokes should be employed. The motion should be uniform (not too fast and not too slow) and pressure should be applied only on the muscles, not the bones. Different types of actions of fingers and hands are used for massaging different organs.
One should receive a massage on an empty stomach. The best time for massaging is early morning or evening. One may wash the oil off after massage. Wait for 20-30 minutes before washing. There should be no anxiety, stress, anger, and worry. The person should concentrate fully on the part being massaged. It is better to get massage from an expert but you can do it yourself too.
One should avoid taking a massage when there is too much mucus in the body (aggravation of Kapha), when suffering from fever, and after one has undertaken cleansing therapies like vomiting (emesis) and purgation.
Benefits of Massage
Massage stimulates the internal functions of the body and provides nourishment to various body tissues. It helps in cleansing the toxins from channels. Massaging with oil provides lubrication to various body mechanisms. It stimulates the different agni (enzymes), increases assimilation of food and increases the vital body fluid called the Ojas. It works at both mental and physical levels of the body. It is beneficial in the case of insomnia, weakness of nerves, laziness, exhaustion, general debility, dry and unhealthy skin.