Most forms of Ayurvedic massage therapy for the body begins with a preliminary oil massage and may then proceed to a more specialised technique…
Ayurvedic Massage: Therapists as Sculptors
The Ayurvedic massage strokes vary from deep to superficial and follow the flow of energy channels, nerve pathways and hair growth. There are three types of movements – active (strong pressure), passive (delicate stroking) and persuasive (pinching or kneading the small muscles with the thumb and forefinger).
Before the Ayurvedic massage, the therapist focuses their energy with a brief balancing meditation and may recite a prayer to magnify the healing potency. Like a hypnotic dance, the therapist synchronises their breathing with the receiver in order to maintain a deep interconnection. Like a sculptor flowing with the body’s mould they create a very relaxing yet enlivening mood. The entire body (except the genital region) is tended to in order to bring about a sense of whole-body integration and alignment.
Ayurvedic Massage: Marmas and Chakras
Ayurvedic body massage is performed with an acute awareness of the marmas and chakras. In Ayurveda, marmas are vital points similar to acupressure points. Manipulated correctly they revitalise the entire body. Though marmas are innumerable, there are 107 major ones located at the junctions where flesh, veins, arteries, tendons, bones and joints meet, as well as being the secondary seats of subtle energy (Prana or Qi). It is at these areas that pain and weaknesses tend to congregate. Marmas are also the points where the elemental life forces of ether, air, fire, water and earth converge and therefore where the body’s organising intelligence is most concentrated.
The seven great marmas in Ayurvedic massage are the same as the main chakras. These seven chakras are whirling vortexes of energy located over the main endocrine glands – the gonads and ovaries, pancreas, adrenals, thymus, thyroid, pituitary and pineal. Each chakra nourishes particular organs and controls various psycho-physiological aspects of our being. When they are blocked, physical disease ensues. Ayurvedic oil massage opens and cleanses these energy channels so the current can flow freely and our latent vitality is released.
Supportive input to the senses is emphasised during Ayurvedic massage therapy as our senses are the gateways to our biological and mental processes. The sense of touch is already being employed but how can the sense of smell, sight and hearing be recruited into the healing process?
Ayurvedic Massage: Sound Therapy
“Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything” – Plato
During an Ayurvedic massage, music is a very uplifting and meditative. Transcending the intellect, music touches our deepest spiritual essence which is why the Sanskrit term for note (swara) means expression of the soul. Transporting us to a realm of etheric vibrations, music activates the right side of the brain which nurtures creativity, intuition, receptivity, softness, stillness, silence, dreams, relaxation, imagination and regeneration. Sound is simply a vibration eliciting change in the forms it flows through, our atoms literally ‘dancing’ to the beat of the music.
Ayurvedic music therapy understands how to use the energetics of sound therapeutically. An expert in Ayurveda can prescribe a suitable melody to reduce pain, induce sleep, coax one out of depression and subdue anger amongst many things.
For thousands of years Ayurvedic music therapists have utilised the Ragas (72 major melodies) in order to dispel imbalances. These melodies were developed through the recognition of cosmic vibrations emitting from natural forces. Reflecting a particular mood and physical reality, the listener’s biorhythms start to resonate with the musical vibration, creating a harmony that removes obstacles to health.
Choosing The Right Aroma and Dosha Balancing Oil
Everyone has a particular neuro-association linked to certain scents. To one person rose essential oil conjures up happy feelings of their childhood garden, another may be repulsed by its association with a tragic funeral service. It is of utmost importance that the smell induces a positive state in the inhaler. The essential oil should also counteract one’s elemental imbalances. For example a hot, angry, restless person with skin inflammation would experience aggravation from cinnamon essential oil in a mustard seed oil base. Yet this combination would be great for a cold, plump, lethargic person suffering from bronchitis. The former ‘hot’ person would experience relief from jasmine or sandalwood essential oil in a coconut oil base whereas the bronchitis sufferer could feel worse from this.
Ayurvedic Massage: Mantras
The use of mantras is sometimes involved in massage therapy but these are usually chanted silently in the therapist’s mind. Mantras are concentrated, specific sound vibrations, which cleanse subtle impurities from the nerves, mind and energy channels. George Harrison described them as “a mystical energy encased in a sound structure, each mantra containing within its vibrations a unique power”. In Ayurvedic massage, mantras may be incorporated to invoke particular healing energies or to clear specific blockages from the chakras.
Ayurvedic Massage: Visualisation and Affirmation
A very powerful partner to bodywork, visualisations trigger the right side of the brain’s capacity for renewal and change. Since the mind is exceptionally impressionable and receptive during massage therapy, due to the alpha brain wave state induced, it is the perfect time to clear out weed-negative beliefs and plant positive-seed beliefs with conscious intentions. Visualisations are a way of taking advantage of the old adage that anything we conceive and sincerely believe in, we can achieve. Far from just a fleeting new-age concept, the uses of affirmations and visualisations have been used in