Ayurvedic Massage: ‘Tis The Season To Share Secrets…

January 6, 2014 3:20 pm

Until earlier this year, I had never even heard of Ayurveda; let alone Ayurvedic massage – and that’s coming from someone who LOVES their massages. Feeling somewhat baffled and almost a little embarrassed by my ignorance, I set myself a task to delve further into the world of Ayurveda and its treatments; first stop being how to pronounce the word! (A-yur-ve-da, fyi!)

What surprised me the most was to learn that Ayurveda was more than just a type of massage; it was a whole system of holistic healthcare, of which massage just formed one small part. Originating in Ancient Indian over 5000 years ago, Ayurveda relies on entirely natural methods to help heal the chronically ill and empower the healthy; the purpose being to allow everyone to achieve and maintain healthy, happy lives. Rather than just adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, however, Ayurveda looks at every individual’s unique make-up to determine their best treatment path to optimal well-being.

So where does massage fit in to Ayurveda? Well, being that Ayurveda is an holistic form of healthcare, Ayurvedic massage is carried out to benefit both the body and the mind making it a wonderful experience to enjoy; whether part of a tailored Ayurvedic therapy programme or simply as a luxurious massage or oil treatment. Intrigued to know what made Ayurvedic massage different to all other types of massage I’d tried in the past, I was beyond eager to quit reading and sample an Ayurvedic treatment for massage2myself.

The verdict? Without a doubt, the best massage I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot). I opted for a full-body oil massage known as Abhyanga as it is apparently one of the most popular Ayurvedic treatments if wanting to experience ultimate relaxation…and oh my word; I can see why! It started with a calming Indian head massage and ended with a session in a strange but serene steam chamber. And the bit in between? An hour’s worth of ridiculously relaxing body massage using warm, herby-smelling oils…heaven!

I’ve previously always quoted Thai massage as my all-time favourite type of massage but having now experienced this newly discovered (5000-year-old) Ayurvedic world I’ve realised that it was the after-effects of Thai massage that I loved so much and not the actual experience itself. Don’t get me wrong; Thai massage never fails to leave my muscles feeling fantastically relaxed, but the process it takes to get there is not exactly what you’d call ‘relaxing’! (Thai massage is from the tough-love school of practice, for those unfamiliar).

If comparing to Swedish massage I’d have to say that Ayurvedic massage wins hands down, in my opinion, as regards both the experience during the massage and the benefits afterwards. Although Swedish also uses oils, Ayurvedic massage – or the one I had, anyway – seems to use more oil and is considerably more thorough; ensuring not one inch of the body (bar the rude bits, of course!) misses out on the therapist’s magical hands.

Quite often with other massages I also find myself asking the therapist to concentrate on the areas that cause me most grief; namely my back, neck and shoulders; meaning I don’t get to really enjoy the massage itself as my mind is too occupied with willing the knots out and trying to ride out the pain! With the Ayurvedic massage, however, I found that I was so swept up in the whole experience and so deeply relaxed that neither my body nor my brain even considered guiding the therapist. My body and mind were all hers…

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