The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.
Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
What is Abhyanga?
In Sankrit, the ancient, vibrational, written and sometimes spoken language from India, abhy means to rub and anga means limb, so together they make up the word massage. Abyangha is an anointing of the body with warm oil often infused with healing herbs and balancing essential oils.
In the West we are beginning to catch on to the importance of massage from a wellness and preventative health standpoint.
In Ayurveda the healing aspects of Abyangha include relaxation of the muscles and calming of the nervous system as well as attention being paid to many subtle healing aspects that make it a holistic healing modality.
The act of anointing the body with warm, herbal oil is called snehana. The Sanskrit word sneha means oil and love. The benefits of regular snehana invite the same qualities as being deeply loved, loving yourself and loving another: strength, stability, openness and warmth.
In the Charak Samhita, another ancient Ayurvedic text, abyangha in the form of snehana is said to be like a pot smeared with oil and the impurities of vata, pitta, and kapha cannot stick to it. In the same way, if the body is properly oiled with abyangha daily, impurities cannot penetrate and disease cannot develop.
The benefits of Abhyanga to different parts of the body are outlined in the Charaka Samhita as follows:
Abyangha for the head: nourishes the hair, soothes the sense organs, provides for sound sleep, increases cheerfulness and happiness, and can relieve or prevent headaches, premature graying or balding of the hair.
Abyangha for the body: nourishes the body, firms, nourishes and smoothes the skin, particularly beneficial for Vata disturbances, strengthens the body’s tolerance, increases longevity, prevents invasion by Vata, imparts firmness and strength to the limbs (body)
Abyangha for the feet: nourishes the skin, prevents dryness/cracking of the soles of the feet, relieves fatigue and numbness of the feet, provides strength and firmness, pacifies Vata, supports clarity of vision, and improves tone and blood flow.
More benefits of Abhyanga as stated by the ancient Ayurvedic text, Astanga Hridaya:
Depending on your current state of balance and the seasons you can choose the most balancing oil for you.
By Radha Crawley, LMT, Certified Ayurvedic Educator
To learn more about Radha and her work, visit her website: http://www.samadhiayurveda.com/