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All About Ayurveda

October 23, 2016 3 min read

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All About Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a word that most massage therapists will have heard by now. Most of you probably know what it means, for the most part, but unless this is your main therapy there are probably a few things you didn’t know about it.

The actual word Ayurveda originated on the Indian subcontinent and its meaning, coming from Sanskrit, translates to ‘life knowledge’. With this in mind, Ayurvedic massage promises to offer a little more than your average massage. Is this the case? Well, if the ancients were telling the truth, it may even prolong your life!

Ayurveda is essentially a lifestyle practice started over five thousand years ago. Ayurveda in practice is simply a way of thinking and living that could be classed as holistic. Massage is only one arm of this practice, which also includes diet, medicine, meditation, herbal remedies and of course, yoga! There is a strong spiritual element to Ayurveda, which is demonstrated in one of the practices known as Shirodhara; warm oil is dripped on the forehead approximately in the location of the pineal gland, otherwise known as the ‘third eye’. This is said to help with spiritual insights and reflection.

The Ayurvedics believed that all things in the universe – and that includes us mere humans too – encompass the five elements of air, fire, water, earth and space. The five elements in turn come together to make three ‘bio-physical’ forces, called ‘Doshas’, inside our bodies. These forces are said to be what keeps our health in balance, be it emotional or physical. It is said that all of us have our own mix of these Doshas, with one generally considered to be the most dominant. The mixes consist of Kapha (a combination of earth and water), Vata (a combination of space and air), and finally Pitta, which is a combination of water and fire.

Ayurvedic massage techniques

Ideally, Ayurvedic massage is done along side Ayurvedic protocols for maximum benefits, but if your client knows nothing about it they may not be aware of the principles. It wouldn’t hurt to guide them, if you know your stuff! Ayurvedic massage techniques can be very similar to those involved in Swedish massage. For example, a typical Ayurvedic massage treatment will consist of universally used massage strokes and some kneading, tapping and squeezing. Oil may be infused with herbs that give various therapeutic effects, so that the skin can drink it in; this will aid the body in detoxification, so it is recommended that massage clients don’t immediately shower it off when they get home. It is better to advise them to leave it on for as long as possible to make the most of the health benefits.

Provided that you are using the proper oils, they are purported to ‘strengthen the metabolic fires’. Toxins can more easily be removed from the bodily tissues, and the oils are also said to assist in purification of the intestines. Another traditional Ayurvedic belief is that the oils are anti-aging and can even extend a person’s lifespan up to the age of 100! In the modern day and age we are subject to so many environmental and dietary toxicities that I suspect it will take a bit more than Ayurvedic oils to grant us a few more years, but it certainly won’t hurt to mention it! 


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