An oil regimen
A daily oil massage at home is beneficial for health, writes Dr. K.C. NARAYANAN.
S. RAMESH BABU
Daily Abhyangam at home has many benefits.
A GENERATION ago, the traditional "oil bath" daily or weekly was a regular practice. It was integral to our culture, tradition and lifestyle. Not anymore. By forsaking this practice, we are ignoring a fantastic health tradition.
Daily self-Abhyangam: The benefits are such that a light self-Abhyangam (oil application) is recommended daily. Applying a little oil to the scalp and body half an hour before bath each day is an important healthcare practice. It slows down aging, is good for the eyesight, improves sleep, minimises the onset of joint pains and rheumatic ailments such as arthritis, osteoporosis and prevent sinusitis when applied to the scalp each day before bath. An Abhyangam also does wonders for skin tone and complexion.
Oil applied to the scalp and body seeps into the various layers of skin and enters the blood stream enhancing blood circulation.
In the processes, it removes metabolic wastes, toxins and impurities revitalising and purifying body tissues, organs and muscles. On a day-to-day basis, Abhyangam will make you noticeably more productive and focussed as it helps cope up with the day's pressures by making you feel relaxed, energetic, stress free and calm of mind.
Using medicated oils: What is popularly considered an Ayurvedic "massage" is referred to as an oil application by Ayurvedic practitioners.
An Abhyangam has a much deeper affect on one's health than an ordinary massage, which just relaxes the muscles. While intensive Abhyangam is integral to treating serious ailments in Ayurveda, a daily Abhyangam at home can be had with sesame oil (mustard oil is used in some parts of the country). Coconut oil is recommended for the scalp. Medicated oils provide added benefits.
However, before using medicated oils, one must consult an Ayurvedic doctor who will recommend an appropriate oil for self-Abhyangam based on prakriti (body constitution) and the specific complaint for example joint pain and rheumatic symptoms, trauma and after delivery (Dhanwatharam Thailam); for nourishing muscles (Balaswagandhadi Kozhambu for body only); eye strain due to long hours in front of computer monitors (Thriphladi Thailam to be applied on scalp); to prevent hair fall and cooling of eyes (Kunthalakanthi Thailam); stimulating hair growth, premature greying (Neelibringhadi Thailam, Prapundareekadi Thailam); for skin ailments, itches, boils, eczema, and complexion (Eladi Coconut oil); for acne, patches and complexion Kumkumadi Thailam can be used.
A few tips are to be kept in mind when giving a self-Abhyangam: If you are using medicated oil, the oil meant for the body should not be applied on the head, but oil recommended for the scalp can be applied on the body.
Also, oil meant to arrest hair fall and stimulate growth is not advisable for a patient suffering from sinusitis or cold. When slightly warmed (not hot), the oil will help penetrate the skin faster and deeper.
Pour a little oil in your hands and apply to the scalp, first, starting on the top of the head. Rub a little oil over the body and progress downwards towards the feet.
While applying oil, follow the direction of hair growth to facilitate absorption and to go with the blood flow.
It is recommended that at least half an hour to one hour be allowed after applying oil and before taking a bath. A morning Abhyangam before bath is advisable.
There is no insistence on applying oil on the head after bath (except for keeping hair in place).
The benefits of a daily Abhyangam in maintaining health and preventing disease are so high that it will ensure there will be no necessity to go in for intense oil treatments such as dhara or phizhichil, which are administered to those suffering from serious ailments.
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