About the treatment
Hasta abhyanga is a gentle, calming therapy that incorporates the hands, wrists, forearms, and elbows. Our hands are indispensable; they give and receive, are capable of heavy labour or fine detailing, are responsible for touch and to feel others and they enrich our communication with gestural expression. We expose them to harsh chemicals, adverse weathers, daily risks, and tasks and yet they are often the most overlooked area of the body when it comes to self-care. This therapy offers reward, love and appreciation for our sensitive hands, soothing and softening tired and overused muscles and revitalising touch receptors and nerve endings and in doing so, boosts the blood, heart, lung, and colon energy flow creating new signals and vigour in the system.
This treatment can be amplified with marma therapy.
Abhyanga can be roughly translated as ‘oil massage.’ This comes from the sanskrit word ‘anga’ meaning movement and the prefix ‘abhi’ meaning ‘different, against or contrary.’ A synonym of the word is ‘abhyanjana’ meaning ‘to smear,’ ‘to anoint oil’ or ‘unctuousness’ (oily, greasy, soapy.)
Traditionally, abhyanga is one of the Dinacharya methods (daily practices) encouraged in ayurveda for maintaining optimal health. It is also used as a Purvakarma (essential pre-treatment) for ayurvedic Panchakarma and is considered a Bahya Snehana Therapy as it nourishes the senses of the mind and gives strength to the body. Sneha takes on many meanings such as ‘that which oils,’ ‘to be attached to’ and also ‘compassion, ’warmth’ and most notably ‘love.’
We all understand the significance of these qualities and how they affect us. Love is the foundation for all other emotions and creates positive energies and connections. We also understand the importance of connective touch – from our newborn beginnings we crave skin to skin contact and there is much research to prove that touch and a connection with our skin is essential for longevity and a happy, healthy life.
Skin is the largest organ of the body and as such plays a vital role in many of the dynamic processes that maintain homeostasis including elimination and immunity. During abhyanga, the internal fluids of the skin are massaged in specific patterns and worked through the tissues to dilute accumulated ama (toxins) and mobilise excess doshas towards the gastrointestinal tract for smooth elimination. Using a good amount of warm oils to reduce friction, this therapy also works on the nervous system. The rhythmical movements encourage the body to generate its own charge creating a calming, healing and rejuvenating effect.
Ayurveda recommends this therapy daily for many conditions and for overall wellbeing and a simple practice can be developed at home.
Marma therapy is often performed during abhyanga treatments to enhance its benefits. The science of Marma was originally part of the Vedic martial arts or Dhanur Veda, one of the four Upavedic scripts dating back to the same time and origins as ayurveda and yoga. It comes from the Sanskrit word ‘mri’ meaning ‘root’ and the suffix ‘manin’ meaning ‘seat of life’ and so together is understood as ‘secret’ or ‘essence’ and pertains to 108 particular, sensitive points in the body where there are intersections of veins, muscles, joints, ligaments or tendons. These points contain vital prana energy forces and as such, are more sensitive to injury than any other parts of the body. However, these fine ‘doorways’ into our inner pathways can be gently manipulated to sustain the flow of energy throughout the body. Marma therapy enhances immunity, clears emotional blockages, increases energy levels, provides pain relief and much more.
Hasta abhyanga has many benefits to include:
o Alleviating dryness, moisturising and improving condition of skin
o Improving collagen and scarring
o Aids aches, pains, stiffness in hands and fingers
o Strengthening muscle weakness
o Restoring suppleness to the joints
o Boosting circulation, reducing coldness and numbness
o Improving clenching, pinching and gripping
Hasta abhyanga is recommended for many disorders including:
o Repetitive stress injury
o Tennis elbow
o Carpal tunnel syndrome
o Raynaud’s phenomenon
o Anxiety and nervousness
o Parkinson’s disease
Hasta abhyanga is not recommended under the following conditions
• Open or bleeding wounds, healing scars or burns
• Local area injuries or swelling
• Fungal or viral infection
• Less than 8 weeks after surgery to local area