Ayurveda is the ancient Indian system of healing that incorporates herbal and other medications, certain surgical techniques and also focuses on meditation, yoga and massage.
Various different kinds of massages that are based on Ayurvedic principles have become popular in western countries – variously termed as hot oil massage, Ayurvedic massage, Kerala massage, Shirodhara (which is the gently pouring liquids over the forehead which is thought to be the site for the third eye) and so on.
Hot oil massage is thought to help by reducing tension and swelling in the muscles and help to tone and condition them, to improve the condition of the hair and the skin to prevent premature aging and also for therapeutic uses such as to improve sleep, for controlling arthritis, muscle atrophy for itchy skin and so on.
Medicated or hot oil massage to the body is thought to have the following restorative qualities –
- It can increase suppleness of muscles and also impart flexibility.
- It can enhance muscle and bone strength and can tone and tighten the muscles.
- The Indian concept of ‘dhatu’ which literally means element, but in this context refers to the tissues of the body, can be toned and invigorated with the help of this kind of massage.
- It can improve eyesight.
- It can help in relaxation and may aid restful sleep.
- It is thought that Ayurvedic massage can help improve blood circulation in the body and therefore enhance the functioning of the body’s organs owing to improvement of the quality of blood supplied to them.
- There is also the belief that hot oil massage can help to enhance immunity for the person, making them better able to withstand infection and disease.
Hot oil massage for the head and scalp as well as the ear area is thought to have the following benefits –
- It can nourish the skin and the hair, improving the sheen and suppleness as well as prevent premature appearance of wrinkles. The oil can not only condition the hair shaft, it can also help stimulate the hair follicles, causing new hair to grow.
- Oil massage to the ears can help to alleviate stiffness in the neck and jaw areas.
- The sense organs such as hearing, vision, and the olfactory senses are invigorated by massage about the scalp and ears.
Hot oil massage to the feet can help in the following ways –
- Rough or dead skin of the feet is alleviated with massage with hot oil, and ligaments are strengthened.
- Foot fatigue and numbness is also reduced. Since the soles of the feet are known to correspond to various other parts of the body, massaging there can help with problems such as sciatica pain and can even help improve vision.
The kind of oil used for the hot oil massage and the temperature of the oil should depend upon the climate and the weather and also upon the temperament and nature of the person who is to undergo the massage.