What time to do an Abhyanga?

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

We often speak at Krya about the health giving benefits about doing an Abhyanga. The question we are often asked is what time to do an abhyanga? Should abhyanga time be chosen by prakriti? This post will answer this question.

Choosing the right abhyanga time: body clock

Everything in Ayurveda is calibrated to the body clock which in turn has a strong correlation with the movement of the Sun. This clock varies subtly according to season, and also depends on whether the Sun is in Uttarayana or Adana Kala (travelling northwards or Southwards).

However, given these subtle variations, we can practically set our clock, by the body clock. The body will carry out its repair and re-set functions relentlessly during the day according to schedule.

So all things going well, our liver will proceed to re-calibrate and repair itself around 11 pm which is the second peak Pitta period. The liver is considered an organ of Agni , therefore strongly influenced by Pitta dosha in Ayurveda.

Brahma Muhurtham – second Vata peak, ideal for waking up

Similarly, we are advised to wake up in Brahma Muhurtha which is roughly 90 minutes before Sunrise which is smack in the middle of the second peak Vata period. Due to the increase in Vata in the body at this time, we can wake up without strain (if we have eaten and slept properly the previous way). The body is full of lightness and mobile energy at this time influenced by Peak Vata dosha.

On the other hand, the later we wake up up after Sunrise, we find ourselves in Peak Kapha territory. This makes us hit the snooze button, sleep some more and feel heavy and lazy.

Choosing the right abhyanga time: depends upon what you are trying to correct

By this time it should be obvious to you that depending upon what you are trying to fix, you should choose your abhyanga time. Each dosha peak time lasts around 4 hours. The beginning and ending times of this period are lighter times and times when one dosha is subtly morphing into the next one.

So at 5:55 am for example, Vata is subtly moving into Kapha territory. So BOTH doshas are at their weakest point.

But at 8:30 am, we are right in the middle of Kapha peak time where Kapha is at its strongest best. So if we have a Kapha prakriti, we will have the strongest disinclination to do an abhyanga at this period – we will be tempted to eat something, or sleep in and will try and dismiss the abhyanga to the next day. So the texts advise that we be aware of both this clock and our prakriti when we choose abhyanga times!

Choosing the correct Abhyanga time - The ayurvedic body clock

Difference between Peak & non-Peak Dosha period

Peak Kapha period

Having said the above, there is a difference between the peak Kapha time in the morning (6 am – 10 am) and the evening (6 pm – 10 pm). In the morning, the Kapha time is tempered by the energy of the rising Sun. Therefore, even though this is peak Kapha time, this period is considered nourishing and dhatu building in Ayurveda. This is why we can have a light breakfast or drink a glass of milk at this time. Due to influence of the sun, the digestion will be smooth and food will not sit in the system, unless we over-eat, do not chew well, or do not follow other ayurvedic eating rules, etc.

But the evening Kapha period does not have this advantage. As the Sun has already set, the evening Kapha period is much stronger in its scope. So if we over-eat, eat Kapha aggravating foods, etc, we will produce excess Ama in the body , put on stubborn weight, create a feeling of lassitude and heaviness in the body.

Although each dosha repeats itself twice during 24 hours, only one of these are very strong – we call these peak Dosha times.

Peak Pitta: 10 am – 2 pm (mid morning Pitta)
Peak Vata: 2 am – 6 am – (before sunrise Vata)
Peak Kapha – 6 pm – 10 pm (late evening & night Kapha)

Peak Pitta period

Peak Pitta is the morning Period between 10 am – 2 pm. Hence we are supposed to AVOID stepping out, getting into a strong Pitta flaring argument, over-eating spicy food , tamarind and curd and any sudden shocks to the system (like a bath, swimming, etc) which can interfere with Pitta building up in the system as is natural.

An Abhyanga at this time will NOT have the effects we want as Pitta is already building upto a crescendo in the system due to the Sun. Instead Abhyanga will interfere with Pitta building and douse the Pitta in the system suddenly if done at this time.So we should have bathed long before this phase has started.

The dead centre of this phase is best for digestion. Hence Ayurveda advises to have the largest meal of the day at this time, as the body has enough Pitta to digest food well.

Peak Vata period

Peak Vata period is 2 am – 6 am (early morning). Ayurveda says this is the time when brain activity has re-started so there are rapid eye movements in this stage. This is NOT the time of deep sleep. Instead the body is preparing to wake up having processed everything. So if we GO to sleep at this time (as is common among night shift employees), the body will feel tired, dissipated and restless as we have tried to sleep at the time when it wants to wake up.

Abhyanga to centre aggravated vata

An abhyanga is advised towards the end of this peak Vata period – around 5:30 am, just around sunrise. If we do it in the middle of this period (say around 4 am), there is too much Vata in the system for Abhyanga to re-set. Towards the end, if we catch the body when Vata is winding down and BEFORE Kapha increases, we will be energetic and be able to re-set aggravated Vata dosha.

We have tackled Vata prakriti and Kapha prakriti doing Abhyanga and what time they should choose. So what about Pitta prakriti?

Abhyanga to settle aggravated Pitta

As per the clock, it seems like we should be doing Abhyanga at 9:45 am! But by this time, we are supposed to have bathed and eaten breakfast, drunk our milk , etc. Abhyanga cannot be done unless atleast 2 hours have passed after last meal. This would bring our Abhyanga close to 11 am which is at the time Pitta is building up.

Hence for Pitta prakriti people, we choose the first hour after Sunrise. As the sun climbs, it becomes more and more uncomfortable for Pitta prakriti people. They may not have the resistance to physical work that Kapha prakriti people can have, so they need not stick to doing Abhyanga around Sunrise. But the later the wait, the more uncomfortable it will become for them, so we suggest 1 hour within Sunrise.

So to sum up:

This post described the ayurvedic body clock and explained how each peak and non peak dosha period allows our body time to re-pair and re-set itself. The post also explained the rationale behind choosing the correct abhyanga time for each kind of dosha aggravation.

  • For strong vata aggravation : The right abhyanga time is 30 minutes before Sunrise or just around Sunrise
  • For strong Kapha aggravation: The right abhyanga time is around Sunrise or within 30 minutes of Sunrise
  • For strong Pitta aggravation:  The right abhyanga time is within 1 hour of Sunrise – this can be stretched to slightly later if weather is not too hot

 

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5 Ayurvedic Resolutions for an Amazing 2018!

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

The twin goals of Ayurveda are Ayu (Long life) & Ayush (Good Health). Ayurveda is a practical science of everyday living and its principles pro-actively help you to prevent disease – which is obviously much better than trying to cure diseases.

Since Ayurveda is a vast ocean of concepts, principles and techniques, we have identified 5 very important concepts that are universal, easy to understand and will dramatically improve your life.

So here is our list of 5 important Ayurvedic concepts to help you create resolutions to have a great year in 2018

  1. Dinacharya (Daily Routine)

Ayurvedic Acharyas have identified that vital importance of a stable daily routine based on your biological clock, the season, your nature and of course the specific details of your life. The very act of a stable routine can bring balance to your life, improve physical health and mental clarity. A stable routine pacifies vata dosha, improves digestion, quality of sleep and brings peace and happiness. But there are specific rules to the Dinacharya – it is not random. In order to design a good Dinacharya for yourself, you must start by defining 2 points:

  • The time of waking up in the morning
  • The time of your last meal , i.e. dinner

Once you have defined these 2 points correctly, all the other activities will fall into place neatly. Using the concepts given later in this article, you can easily identify the good times to wake up and to eat your dinner.

In the morning, after waking up , Ayurveda recommends that you must allocate time for meditation or prayer, exercise, Abhyanga & Snana (bath) , breakfast followed by the work-day. Similarly in the evening, after finishing work you must allot time for winding down, dinner and an electronic screen cut-off time before sleep.

Designing your Dinacharya is easy but the hard part is actually sticking to it. It requires discipline and support from your family. There are no “cheat days” – so even on Sunday you have to wake up at the same time – since your biological clock does not have a weekend.

The benefits from a Dinacharya are numerous and they accrue with time. The chaotic nature of urban living will throw many activities that will push you off your Dinacharya – but if you actually have a written down routine and remember its importance, you can always return back to your routine.

So in these last days of 2017, you could take a pen and paper and craft your ideal day and resolve to stick to it in 2018.

2. Brahma Muhurta – the sacred time

Ayurveda emphatically instructs us to wake up during Brahma Muhurta, which is a sacred time. A muhurta a time span of 48 minutes and the Brahma Muhurta starts 96 minutes before Sunrise. So the exact time of Brahma Muhurta depends on the time of sunrise in your city. If sun-rise is at 6:30 AM, then Brahma Muhurta starts at 4:54 AM and ends at 5:42 AM and you SHOULD wake-up during this time.

Acharya Vagabhata’s textbook , Ashtanga Hridayam , has the following sloka, translated as :

“If you wake up at Brahma Muhurtham, you can protect and regain your health & enjoy a long life”.

blog post 5 - ease into the day

Our Ayurvedic teacher gave us a very lucid explanation for the benefits of waking up at Brahma Muhurta – he called this time a “Re-set time”. He explained that being awake, alert AND active during Brahma Muhurtha helped the entire system to expel Ama through various means like breath, sweat, urine and faeces.  Since it is linked to Sunrise, it automatically has a perfect synergy with the seasons. The very act of being awake at this precious time helps your body balance doshas and re-set back to health.

Apart from physical health, the Brahma Muhurta is the ideal time for meditation &  reflection as we can access the highly positive , sattvic, subtle energies from the Universe. As the sun-rises and the day begins, these energies are no longer available and this is why the 48 minutes Brahma Muhurta is so precious.

This is such a wonderful tool at our disposal – costs nothing and yet bestows priceless benefits.

3. Ghee – the sacred ingredient

When Ayurveda talks about ghee, only natural, hormone-free desi-cow ghee (A2) is the universally accepted standard. (other types like buffalo –ghee are well known but have special uses)

At the outset, this is NOT a discussion about the ethics of consuming animal products like ghee – the only consideration here is good health. You will have to decide for yourself whether it is morally acceptable for you to consumer animal products – but the startling reality for many is that the ethical considerations may have to give way to the over-whelming health.

12.ghee for all ages

I speak from personal experience of leading a 100% vegan-life for 4 years – so in that time, I completely stopped eating all dairy products like milk, ghee and curd. I went vegan only to uphold the principle of Ahimsa – to avoid products from a factory-farming system built on extreme cruelty to cows & buffaloes.

In the first year of the vegan life, there were no problems whatsoever, possibly because my body had reserves from 30 + years of consuming ghee – but small problems started appearing in Year 2, which then took a disastrous turn in Year 3. I experienced alarming loss of weight, irritability, rage,  dry skin, cracked bleeding heels, chipped teeth, blinding pain in the knees and lower back – a condition called as “Vata Raktam” in Ayurveda.

After I endured this torture for nearly a year as a vegan, I was severely reprimanded by our Ayurvedic teacher for neglecting this serious disease. Her simple remedy was this – eat massive amounts of cow ghee for a few months & then continue at normal levels – but DO not try to lead a life without ghee. In just 2 months I experienced a magical reversal in my condition , ONLY with the addition of ghee back in my diet. To minimize the moral conflict, I sourced ghee from a  free-range, hormone –free, from organic farms where the cows were cared for by the farmer.

I understand that this example is specific to my body type and my life – but the important lesson that I want to leave you with here is this – If you want to understand the real importance of ghee , please take an opinion ONLY from a good Ayurvedic doctor. Do NOT depend on the internet or what your friend told you about ghee & cholesterol or ghee & diabetes etc. Ayurveda is the only system that has really understood the sacred role of ghee in our diet and its far-reaching impact.

Dr Janardana Hebbar , a leading Ayurvedic doctor says this “Ghee is probably the most sacred, spiritual and physically health benefiting substances that is ever known to human beings “

In 2018, please examine carefully the type & quantity of ghee in your diet , get an Ayurvedic opinion and you may observe magical changes to your health.

  1. Make friends with Ayurvedic oils

One of the Sanskrit words for oil is “Sneha” which also means love. This should give you a good idea of how important oils are to human health.

A healthy home should have the following oils ( apart from ghee)

  • Coconut based hair oil
  • Sesame based Abhyanga/Skin Oil
  • Cold-Pressed Sesame Oil & Castor Oil

(Note: Mustard oil is also an excellent oil, but only a small portion of the population can handle its pungent nature)

10. oil application

The benefits when you cook with cold-pressed oils are obvious. But beyond consumption, a healthy home must regularly apply a coconut-based hair oil for the hair and sesame based skin oil on the body for Abhyanga Snana. Finally both castor oil & sesame oil can be applied externally and internally to treat a number of simple ailments – since this requires more explanation , we will write about this in a separate newsletter.

So take a close-look at the oils in your home – avoid the RBD oils and choose native, cold-pressed oils for good health. I will refer to appropriate ancient Tamil proverb here, which is “ Vaidyarukku kudukaradu Vanniyarukku Kudu” –translated as : If you spend money buying oils,  you will not be spending money on  doctors and medicines.

5. Eat with the Sun

Our final recommendation for 2018 is : Eat with the Sun

The movement of the sun during the day controls the pitta prakriti in nature, which in turn in  human beings is the driving force behind appetite and digestion. This is the origin of the Ayurvedic term “digestive fire”. When you eat with the Sun, you automatically give your body the best chance for digestion, assimilation and elimination. So breakfast should be had before 9 AM, lunch, which is the biggest meal should be had from 12 Noon – 1 PM and the last meal of the day dinner should ideally be had around Sunset, if not, latest by 8 PM. This is an ideal time-schedule when followed, supports good assimilation of nutrients and at night , gives enough time to digest the last meal , thereby promoting sound sleep.  Like all of the earlier concepts, eating with the sun is also very easy to understand and implement yet is very profound in its impact on your health.

Appendix: How to identify & source the above mentioned ingredients

  • Ayurvedic Ghee: AVOID regular mass brands. Look for a brand with words like desi, native Indian cow breed (with hump), A2, free-range, organic, hormone-free, Vedic.
  • Sesame & Castor Oils : AVOID regular refined, chemically – extracted oils. Look for a brand with words like organic, cold-pressed & native process.
  • Ayurvedic Skin & Hair oils : Look for Krya !     (http://krya.in/index.php/shop/skincare.html)

We sincerely wish that our Top-5 Ayurvedic concepts inspire you to make 2018 your best year ever!

 

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Want to learn more about Ayurveda? Start with these 3 books [Book Review]

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

The Origins of Ayurveda

Ayurveda, the science of life, is of divine origin. The practice of Ayurveda as a holistic system of medicine is old as the Hindu religion itself and as old as the Indian civilization. In fact there was never a time in India, when Ayurveda was NOT there as a part of everyday life. Ayurveda therefore is based on first principles, that are accepted as fundamental truths and their application restores good health and promotes long life. Even after thousands of years, Ayurveda has survived and continues to thrive, which is Darwinian proof of Ayurveda’s importance to our life today.

In contrast , modern medicine (allopathy) relies on the effects of different drugs on the mere suppression of externally observable symptoms of diseases. Allopathy does not have any clearly defined first principles on what constitutes good health or the fundamental workings of the human body and mind. In fact the entire allopathic fraternity is completely silent on the vast, dizzying array of toxic side-effects of drugs and chemicals used in treatments. The fundamental quest in allopathy is the quick suppression of symptoms of disease using drugs and other chemicals – however this quest does not address the root cause of disease or the formulation of safe medicines without any side-effects whatsoever.

In Ayurveda, the fundamental quest is on the achievement of Ayu (long life) + Ayush (good health).

The Ayurvedic Canon

The Entire practice of Ayurveda today flows from 3 principal textbooks, which are the foundation of Ayurveda, known as the Brihat Trayi ( the Great Three), namely

  1. Charaka Samhita
  2. Sushruta Samhita
  3. Ashtanga Hrdaya

 

Of these 3 principal works, the Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita are the older works, respectively attributed to Acharyas Charaka and Sushruta , who lived around 3000 years ago. The most important point to note here is that these two works are “Samhita” , which is a compendium of the entire practice of Ayurveda at that point  in time. These Samhita are not the thoughts and ideas of their individual  authors; they are in fact a compilation of the collective evolution of thousands of years of evolution of Ayurveda, transformed from what was perhaps a purely oral learning tradition into the written form. The Charaka Samhita narrates that Ayurveda was originally in the divine realm created by Brahma and handed over to Indra and the devas and then to the Rishis like sage Atreya. It was sage Atreya made Ayurveda accessible to the earthly realm through his disciples. Of these disciples, Agnivesa is the most prominent and the Charaka Samhita is actually a compilation of the teachings of Sage Atreya as compiled by Agnivesa.

 

The Sushruta Samhita is the other ancient compendium of Ayurveda. It has a special significance as is the only work with chapters on Salya –Tantra ,which is Ayurvedic Surgery and Sushruta is acknowledeged as the “Father of Surgery”. This Samhita traces its lineage to Indra, who taught it to Dhanvantari who then passed on the teachings to Sushruta, the son of Viswamitra.

 

The Ashtanga Hrdaya was written several centuries after the two ancient Samhitas by Acharya Vagbhatta. It is so named as it addresses all eight ( ashtanga) branches of Ayurveda and unifies the two schools of Ayurveda of Caraka and Sushruta. This work attained such prominence that it now occupies a pre-eminent place in the Ayurvedic Canon as part of the Brihat Trayi.

 

The Caraka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya were written in Sanskrit and the editions of these works printed today usually contain a commentary in English, written by Ayurvedic Doctors.

 

In later years, around the 10th century, three important works, known as the Laghu Trayi ( the Lesser Three) were written , which attempted to simplify the essence of the Brihat Trayi for  Ayurvedic Doctors , without comprising on the application of the fundamental principles. These Laghu Trayi , named eponymously are

  1. Madhava Nidhana
  2. Sarangadhara Samhita
  3. Bhavaprakasha

 

The Ideal Ayurvedic Vaidya (Doctor)

Given the nature of Ayurveda, it is evident that a good Ayurvedic doctor must have mastery over Sanskrit and botany, possess a strong intellect to absorb the teachings of the Guru and compassion to effectively apply them for the well-being of his patients.

Caraka Samhita defines the ideal medical student as

“He should be of a mild disposition, noble by nature, never mean in his acts, free from pride, strong memory, liberal mind, devoted to truth, likes solitude, of thoughtful disposition, free from anger, of excellent character, compassionate, one fond of study, devoted to both theory and practice, who seeks the good of all creatures.”

—Caraka Samhita 3.VIII.6

 

So what does this mean for us today?

As a seeker of good health, it is important to be aware of the history and lineage of Ayurveda and its core principles in order to appreciate its application in our daily life.

Obviously, these classical texts of the Ayurvedic Canon, the Brihat Trayi and Laghu Trayi are not light reading material and are meant for the use of Ayurvedic Vaidyas. But Ayurveda is not merely about the treatment of diseases, it also defines the principles of good health that can be followed by us on a daily basis, to prevent disease and enjoy Ayush. These rules for healthy living are broadly classified as “Dinacarya” ( Daily Routines) , “ Ritucharya” ( Seasonal Routines) and Ahara Vidhi Vidhana ( Proper Nutrition)

Much as the Laghu Trayi attempted to distil the essence of the Brihat Trayi for Ayurvedic Practioners, hundreds of introductory books on Ayurveda are available today for laypeople. Our purpose in reviewing these books is not for the reader to self-diagnose himself and by-pass consultations with a good Ayurvedic doctor. These primers on Ayurveda should serve two purposes

  1. Help the reader appreciate the benefits of Ayurveda and develop an attitude of reverence.
  2. Provide guidance on good habits, derived from the first principles, which can be safely and easily implemented. Of course each Ayurvedic expert will have different interpretations of the principles based on their lineage, geographical origin and even the medicinal plants available to them.

Acharya Vagbhatta has said that 85% of diseases can be cured without a doctor and only 15% of diseases need a doctor. This important statement should be interpreted in the proper context. This statement was made at a time when Ayurveda was the only medicine and not an alternative option. Therefore each family had a continuous oral tradition of applying Ayurvedic principles to heal everyday problems and diseases, had access to the basic set of herbs required to prepare medicines at home.

This was also a time when the 4 pillars of Ayurvedic treatment, i.e “Ahara Vihara Achara Vichara” were also implicitly accepted as basis for treatment as opposed to seeking a quick-fix pill or surgery without any change to food habits or lifestyle. The 4 pillar of Ayurvedic treatment are:

Ahara : Correct Nutrition

Vihara : Correct activities

Achara : Correct lifestyle

Vichara : Correct thoughts

This is certainly not the case today in India and a complete revival of Ayurveda and use of medicinal plants over a few generations before we can re-create a society where families can handle 85% of common diseases through Ayurveda.

 

So here are 3 books that will introduce you to Ayurveda in a gentle yet profound way

  1. Jeevani : Ayurveda for Women by Dr PLT Girija

Dr PLT Girija is one of the leading Ayurvedic Doctors in India and is the founder of Sanjeevani Ayurveda Foundation, Chennai. Dr Girija is on a mission to restore Ayurveda to its pre-eminent position in India , where Ayurveda is the first and automatic choice of treatment for all diseases.

As the title of the book suggests, the focus in on Women’s health, where the concepts are explained in great detail in 16 chapters. Case studies from the practice at Sanjeevani Ayurveda Foundation makes this an in-valuable source of information.

jeevani

The title of the book however does not do justice to the wealth of information available in the additional chapters in the book which serve to give a complete perspective. These chapters cover basics of Ayurvedic nutrition, Dinacarya, Ritucharya, Simple home remedies and an Ayurvedic first-aid kit.

This well produced hard-back book, written in 2013, makes for compelling reading and easy application.

 

  1. Living Easy with Ayurveda by Dr JV Hebbar

Dr JV Hebbar is the leading Indian Ayurvedic blogger and is the force behind the health and lifestyle blog www.easyaurveda.com. His blog is possibly the most extensive and authentic Ayurvedic online resource . In recent times, a community of other Ayurvedic doctors have also started contributing to the blog , significantly expanding the value of the blog. The most important feature of this blog is its absolute reliance on the first principles as defined in the Brihat Trayi texts. Every article contains the original Sanskrit verse with translation, which gives authenticity and authority to the articles.

Dr Hebbar’s book, Living Easy with Ayurveda (available in e-book and print) is literally the easiest yet authentic introduction to Ayurveda. This comprehensive book is written in a very light, blog –like style, richly illustrated with personal examples from Dr Hebbar. The striking feature of the book is the emphasis on the immediate application of Ayurvedic principles in every facet of life without sacrificing technical rigor, for example, ideas for suitable clothing by dosha type (!)

living easy with ayurveda

  1. Everyday Ayurveda by Dr Bhaswati Bhattacharya

This well written, well produced book fulfills an important need in this space – it is written by an Indian origin person who was raised, educated and now practises in the West. Dr Bhaswati has deep roots and reverence for the Indian systems of knowledge and now applies them in a Western milieu which makes for a truly unique perspective. This book is note-worthy for the numerous personal examples used to illustrate Ayurveda in everyday life and emphasizes Dinacharya as the foundation for good health.

everyday ayurveda

The Ayurvedic Dincharyas: a system designed to prevent diseases and give you Ayu & Ayush

We wrote this blog post on request from our readers and consumers who were intrigued by what they read on Ayurveda in the Krya blog, and sought easy to understand simple Ayurvedic books to begin their self enquiry. We hope this post has given you 3 great books that you can read to begin your self study.

 

We’d like to leave you with something that Acharya Sushruta said:

” The right physician focuses on investing effort to ensure his patient never falls ill and diseases are prevented by following the 4 tenets of right living, i.e. “Ahara” (food), Vihara (activities), Achara (lifestyle) and Vichara (thoughts). “

This is a great way to think about your health as well. We hope this post has inspired you to look at different facets of your life and understand for yourself where the pressure points and invest some time behind understanding how you too can lead a more healthy life.

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How to do an Abhyanga (a self Ayurvedic Oil massage) the right way : Krya explains how you should do a weekly abhyanga for dosha balance and well being

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

Our last few posts on Abhyanga had had people asking us the all important question: “Exactly how should I do an abhyanga for good health?”.

Our post today focuses on this all important question. We write about the right abhyanga massage technique that should be followed, and what parts of the body must be focused on during the abhyanga massage. The abhyanga techniques we are writing about are applicable to teenagers, adult men and women for good health. We will have later posts dedicated to abhyanga especially for infants and babies, post partum women and the elderly.

 1.abhyanga

 

The importance of the Abhyanga for good health:

We have shared many reasons why an abhyanga is considered an essential “Dinacharya” – a practice to be done every single day for god health. Most of us are not able to find the time to do an Abhyanga every day, so the scriptures have suggested a bi-weekly Abhyanga as well, on specific days for men and women.

Abhyangam aacharet nityam sa jaraa shramavaataha 

Drushti prasaada pushti aayu susvapna twak daardhyakrut

Translated as:
Abhyanga should be done by everyone, everyday, especially old aged and tired people. It improves eye sight, nourishes muscles, and improves age (life expectancy) and skin complexion. – Ashtanga Samgraha Sutrasthana
.

 

The Abhyanga is done by massaging your entire body, and if possible your head, with a good quality, well chosen herbal oil after you wake up. We recommend using separate oils for the head and body with different set of herbs for best effect. The massage is done in a brisk and energetic manner, with the objective being of waking up the body, stimulating heat and allowing the herbal oil to penetrate, and then after 15 minutes, washing of the oil with a suitable natural, grain and herb based ubtan.

(We will see the specific steps in a few paragraphs below.)

 

General Health benefits of doing an abhyanga:

Here are some of the health benefits of a weekly / bi-weekly regular Abhyanga which accrue because the practice helps control excess vata and pitta dosha. Please note the use of the word “Accrue” – just like one swallow does not make a summer, one single abhyanga will not give you transformative health (although you will feed mighty good after even a single abhyanga). For true lasting, benefits you need to practice the Abhyanga week after week for atleast 2 – 3 months.

  1. Reduction in muscle fatigue, tiredness, and daily exhaustion
  2. Reduction in insomnia, inability to sleep

2.better sleep

  1. Improvement in digestive ability – reduced wind, reduced feeling of constipation, reduced feeling of incomplete bowel movements
  2. Better mental sharpness and clarity – you can go on longer without feeling tired, fatigued or irritable
  3. Better skin and hair health due to reduction in excess vata dosha – skin health improves almost immediately; hair health improves after a month of regular abhyangas (depending on extent of vata imbalance)

3.better skin better hair

 

The importance of choosing the right products for your Abhyanga:

Ayurveda tells us that when the abhyanga oil is prepared with the right herbs and applied warm with vigorous motion, the herbs in the oil, the temperature of the oil , and the heat generated by the massage help open up the minute pores / srotas in the skin. There is suction like effect as we continue to massage with the herbal oil. The texts tell us that the pitta in the skin helps absorb the properties of the oil, and vayu (air) transports these materials through the srotas into the seven layers of skin into the blood stream.

 7-krya-bhyanga-oil

This absorption effect is applicable not just when we do an abhyanga. It is also seen when we put lepas on our skin like a herbal ubtan, bath powder or any other cream, ointment and lotion.

Ayurveda tells us that skin has 7 layers, so continued massage of the oil in our skin for atleast 5 minutes in each area, carries the medicated oil through the srotas upto the level of the blood in the body and gets absorbed in the blood stream. Once absorbed the medicated oil goes to work in the area where it has been applied, balancing the doshas and removing excess pitta/ vata / kapha dosha.

4.herb transport

This is why it is so important to choose a completely natural set of products for use on the skin, as the property of the skin is to transport whatever is applied on it as nutrients into the bloodstream. Imagine the effect on our body of rubbing and applying synthetics like SLS, SLeS, Petroleum derivatives, and toxics like parabens, etc!

5.avoid toxins

It is also important to note that choosing the right abhyanga oil, can improve the health benefits of your abhyanga manifold.

 

Step by step description of how to do the abhyanga:

  1. Put a ¼ cup of Abhyanga oil in a small wide mouthed cup / vessel. Place this cup on a hot pan or in a small pan of boiling water for 5 minutes, until the Abhyanga oil in your cup is warm. We do not heat Ayurvedic oils directly so that we can retain their nutrient properties
  2. The Abhyanga oil should be comfortably and pleasantly warm – not too hot, and definitely not cold or cool.
  3. Sit or stand on an old towel in a closed room for your abhyanga. Ensure the room is free from draughts, the air conditioner is switched off, and the fan is either switched off or at a very low speed.

6.abhyanga room

  1. Massage oil generously and attentively on your body. We advise that the oil quantity should be such that your hands glide smoothly without any drag on your body.

7.generous qty of oil

 

  1. Each area should be massaged well for atleast 5 minutes using easy, smooth and firm movements. This way a full body abhyanga should take you atleast 20 minutes.
  2. Start with the extremeties: you can start with your head, neck, shoulders and arms, or your toes, ankles, calves and feet. Finish the extremities and move into the centre of your body for your chest, back and stomach.
  3. Ensure you massage your head, hair and scalp with a suitable herb hair oil. This oil too is best warmed gently in a water bath as described for the body abhyanga oil, and then applied.
  4. The general rule of thumb in an abhyanga is to use long up-down strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints. A continuous pulling stroke is used for fingers and toes. Circular strokes are usually done only clock-wise.

 

Special abhyanga techniques for certain body parts:

Legs:

  • Pay special attention to the feet in the Abhyanga.
  • Use a generous quantity of oil and massage the soles of the feet and work on the toes and small bones.

8. Massage for legs

 

Chest:

  • Use open and upward strokes for the chest area

 

Abdomen:

  • Ensure abdomen is relaxed before massaging it.
  • Pay special attention to the nabhi (navel) as it is capable of sending nourishment to the veins and arteries in the body (which originate from here)
  • Use firm downward strokes of the front and back area of the lower abdomen to stimulate proper movement of Apana vayu

 

Arm:

  • Pay special attention to the head of the shoulder and use circular clockwise movements in the abhyanga. Then focus on the front and back of the shoulder blades.
  • Interlock the fingers; work on the palm and all the fingers, especially if you use smart phones and computers frequently.
  • Pay special attention to the wrist and forearm as well, as they often carry vata from repetitive movements like typing, etc.
  • Deeply knead the palm and fingers to release excess vata

9.Massage for arms

 

Massage for the ears:

  • Apply a drop of oil on your ring or little finger and gently massage the oil into the outer ear canal using clockwise circular strokes
  • Massage using circular strokes behind the ear and allow the ear to remove any stiffness and vata accumulation

10. ear massage

 

When NOT to do an abhyanga: some pointers

An abhyanga should not be done by the following groups of people or at the following times:

  1. Pregnant women (An abhyanga tends to release ama from the body, so this is not recommended during pregnancy so as to ensure the growing foetus is not unnecessarily exposed to Ama )
  2. Menstruating women (An abhyanga tends to release ama from the body, so this is not recommended when the body is already tired with the menstrual process)
  3. If you are running a temperature, have a digestive disorder or are acutely ill
  4. If you are extremely tired, have had high sun exposure or a very heavy and depleting exercise practice (for example: immediately after running a marathon)
  5. Immediately after a meal
  6. Do not do an abhyanga over broken skin,
  7. Do not do an abhyanga over swollen painful areas or masses in the body
  8. Do not do an abhyanga if you have acute physical discomfort
  9. Do not do an abhyanga is you have been fasting or except to do some mentally or physically draining activity after the abhyanga

11.when not to do an abhyanga

 

Post Abhyanga care:

It is important to remember that the Abhyanga is a dosha balancing, health giving practice. If your vata dosha or pitta dosha is aggravated, the Abhyanga is going to physically bring down this dosha excess. So the abhyanga can cause some amount of temporary strain on the body during the process of restoring the body to its state of health.
So it is important not to strain your body further on the day of Abhyanga.

 

Ensure you do NOT do the following:

  1. Do not go into the hot sun
    2. Do not eat very spicy or very sour meals
    3. Do not over eat
    4. Do not eat difficult to digest food
    5. Do not eat any large and heavy meal
    6. Do not go for a long drive
    7. Do not do any form of extreme exercise
    8. Do not stay up late
    9. Do not over use your gadgets
    10. Do not eat sweet, mucous producing food
    11. Do NOT take an afternoon nap on Abhyanga day

Do NOT take an afternoon nap on the day of the Abhyanga even if you are severely tempted – one of the organs of releasing excess Pitta dosha is the eyes. Through tears and vapour, the eyes will release excess Pitta dosha through the day – if you close them and go to sleep in the day, this excess Pitta will stay within your body and could damage your body.

 

Here is what you should DO on abhyanga day:

  1. Drink adequate amount of water as and when you get thirsty
  2. Use the toilet as often as the need strikes you – do not suppress your toxin release. All teh ama and excess doshas in your body will be flushed out through sweda (sweat), mutra (urine) and mala (faeces).
  3. Eat on time and eat easy to digest freshly cooked food
  4. Remain calm and seek tranquillity and harmony today
  5. Lead a day of moderation and balance

 

End notes:
We hope this Abhyanga guide has armed with you with information to successfully incorporate the abhyanga into your life. As we have mentioned, the Abhyanga is a valuable tool to bring the body back to a state of balance and we have used it successfully in many seemingly unconnected disorders ranging from dry and flaky skin to post partum hair fall.

 

If you have any queries on how you can incorporate this Dinacharya into your life, please email us.

 

Krya products recommended for you and your family’s abhyanga:

For adults:

Krya Men’s Abhyanga system which consists of

  1. Krya Abhyanga Oil with Vacha & Ashwagandha
  2. Krya Men’s Abhyanga bath powder with Vetiver & Van Tulsi

MEn's abhyanga system

For Babies (age: 0 – 1 years):

 

For Kids & Toddlers (age – 1 +):

  1. Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & Ashwagandha
  2. Krya Fragrant Kids Ubtan with Gotu Kola & Cassia Flower

12-kids-ubtan

Please note: If you , your family members or your child has skin prone to eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis, please write to us for other product options.

 

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Incorporating an Abhyanga for good health – Krya tells you how you can use this ancient Ayurvedic practice for balance, well being and great skin and hair

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

I have a pitta constitution, is sesame oil okay for an abhyanga?

Can I use plain sesame oil for an abhyanga? Must I necessarily use specialised abhyanga oil?

I am used to Mustard oil, especially in Winter – is it okay to do an abhyanga with this?

Why are you so against Olive oil? I am told it is great skin oil. Why can’t I use it for my Abhyanga?

I remember my Grand Mum adding hibiscus flowers to sesame oil for my hair – can I apply that for my body as well?

Our previous posts on the Abhyanga elicited a lot of doubts and queries on how to incorporate the Abhyanga into your daily / weekly regimen. This post addresses many of the subtle nuances behind an abhyanga with insights on why certain choices are made (like the choice of a base oil) to give you greater health benefits.

 

An Abhyanga is a part of every single Samhita and Ayurvedic text and is mentioned by every great Acharya from Acharya Charaka to Acharya Govind Dasji Bisagratna (of the Bhaisajya Ratnavalli) as an essential part of the Dinacharya (daily practices) for a healthy life. The Dinacharya also describes practices like waking up at Brahma Muhurtha, quiet contemplation before dawn, Yoga, Pranayama and activities related to cleansing like the Gandusha and Snana.

1-abhyanga

 

An Abhyanga can be seen as a part exercise, part examination of the body, part toning of organ systems like the digestive system, maintenance of the musculo skeletal system, care of the skin and deep cleansing of the entre body. Most importantly, along with the above, the Abhyanga helps in balancing all 3 doshas of the individual, bringing the whole body back to a state of alertness, vitality and balance.

 

This definition of the Abhyanga from the Indian system of Ayurveda makes it very different from the western concept of a massage for relaxation, which is why at Krya, we insist on using the original Sanskrit term, ‘Abhyanga” and not the term massage to describe this Dinacharya.

 

As the Abhyanga is seen as a part exercise for the entire body, it was used in several ways:

  1. For the aged and infirm who cannot do strenuous exercise the abhyanga is to be performed by a well trained specialist who would work the muscles during the process of Abhyanga slowing down degeneration and decay. If this specialist is not available, a self abhyanga can also be done. Old age is considered high in vata dosha – therefore oil which uses vata reducing herbs is recommended.
  2. For the active sportsperson, the Abhyanga is used as a part of the cool down to relax tense muscles, bring them back to a state of normalcy and prevent muscular tears due to stiffness and over use. As exercise excites vata dosha, vata reducing herbs aid bringing the body back to a state of balance. In addition, regenerative and repair based herbs like Ashwagandha, Brahmi, and Manjishta are very useful when added to the oil.

2-postworkout

  1. For the infant whose body is just developing, the abhyanga is used as an aid to help the body’s development. Here the texts advice using kapha building and muscle building herbs like Mulethi, Bala, etc.6-baby-abyanga
  2. For the stressed working man or woman, the abhyanga helps reduce excited vata and pitta dosha. It also aids tranquillity and balance, pacifying the overwrought mind and body. So here cooling and pacifying oil for the head is suggested and a vata reducing oil for body abhyanga is suggested.
  3. For the post partum mother, the abhyanga helps build the body’s immunity, removes tiredness and exhaustion caused by child birth and baby care, and helps in rebuilding muscles and strength. The main emphasis here is on providing warmth and vata reduction to remove exhaustion, and to ensure there is no mucous production during this time which can in turn affect the baby.

 

How does an Abhyanga restore health back to the body?

City living is considered high and vitiating to Vata dosha. This combined with high commute times, constant travel, air travel; use of vata exciting devices like the mobile phone, computer, and constant use of the brain ensures that most of us have aggravated Vata dosha in excess of what we should have.

 

The Ayurvedic texts tell us that when Vata is in excess it contracts the minute channels (srotas) all over the body. This means that Rasa dhatu (lymph fluid) which is responsible for our strength and immunity has a narrower passage to flow through, which means that the body is depleted of its vital nutrients. When Rasa dhatu (lymph) is constrained, it in turn affects the free movement of rakta dhatu (blood).

 

When Rasa dhatu and rakta dhatu have a constrained flow in the body, we will feel exhausted, fatigued, mentally worn out and can also get easily over wrought, depressed and anxious in difficult situations. Our response to these situations is to make use of external stimulants like tea and coffee to help us keep going at work. Unfortunately, tea and coffee further aggravate and increase Vata dosha leading our body into a vicious cycle of imbalance.

3-fatigue

This is why Ayurveda prescribes the use of a Taila Abhyanga and the use of specific Sneha like Cow ghee internally in vitiated Vata.

 

The external application of Taila in the abhyanga works by trapping excess vayu from the skin. As the abhyanga is done continuously with warm oil, it helps trap vayu along with minute debris, dirt and dead cells through the skin surface and helps it leave the body through Sweda (sweat) generated after a vigorous abhyanga. As the action of the taila is warm, unctuous and penetrating, it is the opposite of vata dosha which is cold, rough and light – this in effect helps bring down the excess of vata dosha and restores the body back to a state of balance.

 

The internal use of cow ghee frees up the internal constrictions and allows the smooth passage of Rasa and rakta dhatu. This is because ghee is minutely penetrating (sookshma), demulcent and moisturizing in its action, and is pacifying to all 3 doshas, especially pitta and vata dosha.

 

What are the 5 positive changes I can immediately see after a month of regular Abhyanga?

Please remember that an abhyanga alone will not do if you have vitiated vata dosha. You must make necessary changes to your diet, include cow ghee and make a few lifestyle modifications as well. All modern devices excite vata dosha (cell phone, e readers, laptops, i pads) so ensure you set a diligent cut off every night after which you will allow your body to recover from the impact of using these devices.

If you have been sincere about implementing small diet and lifestyle changes along with a once a week abhyanga, here are some changes you should see:

  1. You should find it much easier to fall asleep – insomnia or an inability to fall asleep easily is typically symptoms of vata aggravation. As your vata is brought back to a state of balance, you should be able to fall asleep much easier.
  2. If you have been feeling maudlin, depressed, anxious and negative in general, you should be seeing a change in your disposition. Aggravated vata is considered to lead to mood swings and depression in the texts. When this is brought under control, you should see a change in your outlook on life.

4-moods

 

  1. You should see a positive change in your ability to digest food and your appetite. Vata aggravation brings about inconsistency in digestive ability and appetite. With vata under control you should be able to digest your food much better and should get hungry at roughly the same time and regularly every day.
  2. Higher energy and less aches and pains during the day – vata dosha has its seat in the joints, lower back and all organs of movement including the neck and shoulders. You should experience vitality and new life in all these areas and should wake up feeling fresh and full of energy.
  3. Change in hair and skin texture – when vata goes out of control, the first 2 systems to feel its effects are your skin and hair. You hair will become coarse, rough, brittle, have split ends and break easily when combed, when tugged or when wet. Your skin will also start looking rough, dull and can also start becoming much darker than usual. When your vata is under control, you should be able to observe lustre in your skin, an evening of skin tone and your hair should get much stronger. The elasticity of your hair should be slowly restored which means you should be able to comb / pull it without it snapping and breaking.

5-storonger-hair

 

Why is sesame oil used in an Abhyanga despite it having a pitta nature? Will it suit everyone?

All Ayurvedic texts are unanimous in their opinion of Sesame oil. It is considered the best taila for pacifying vata aggravation. As vata aggravation is the most common cause of most diseases (50%), sesame oil is used as the base taila in almost all skin and hair formulations. In fact when the texts do not specify the exact taila to be used and simply mention the word “taila” we take it to mean Sesame Taila as the word “Taila” is itself used interchangeably with sesame Oil.

6-sesame

We have mentioned that external application of taila requires a small amount of heat. This heat improves the penetrative ability of the taila and helps it enter the skin much faster. This heat also makes the action of the oil “sookshma” or minute and helps deliver the herbs to the body much faster.

 

This is why Sesame oil is preferred over oils like Eranda (Castor) even in applications for the hair. Despite the fact that castor oil is much more “cool” oil compared to Sesame which is required for hair and scalp applications, Castor is dense and not as Sookshma compared to sesame because of its cold nature. This means that castor does not work as fast as Sesame and is not as effective as sesame to deliver herbs to the body.

 

Depending on the formulations used, we can balance the nature of oils. However, it is important to note here that while Sesame is considered pitta in nature, it is not as pitta in nature like Mustard oil for example. So the Ayurvedic formulators were wise in recommending Sesame as the base oil of choice for tackling all Dosha based disorders.

 

The Krya Abhyanga Oil, for example is designed to control excess vata which is a common complaint and also balance Pitta. We do this by formulating our base oil sesame with herbs like Bala (Sida cordifolia), Sucukrika (Tamarind leaf), Nirgundi (Vitex negundo). Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) which are revered vata balancing and pacifying Ayurvedic herbs. Along with this we also use Pitta pacifying herbs like Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Manjishta (Rubia cordifolia).

7-krya-bhyanga-oil

While sesame oil remains the base oil, the Krya abhyanga oil also uses small amounts of Coconut oil and Kokum butter for their pitta and vata pacifying properties and many skin benefits.

 

When in doubt, and you do not have access to a specially prepared abhyanga oil, sesame oil is the best and safest bet for you and will work for all constitutions. Ensure it is prepared properly as described below.

 

The 4 step Oil preparation process for Abhyanga to suit all prakritis (individual constitutions)

Once you have chosen your base sesame oil, it is important to prepare it so that it helps your body, aids dosha balance and restores health back to you.

 

The rationale behind this is simple: all Tailas and Snehas are kapha promoting. By this, we mean that their consumption or application aids growth and strength. However, this also means that if they are applied unprepared, you can quickly accumulate mucous in your body as kapha is also responsible for accumulating mucous in the body (along with accumulating strength).

  1. Coarsely pound ¼ teaspoon of cumin seeds (jeera) and 1 pepper corn. The idea is not to make a fine powder but to simply bruise the spices so that they begin releasing their properties into the oil

8-jeera

 

  1. Warm your sesame oil in an iron vessel, preferably.
  1. Into the hot oil, add the coarsely pounded spices PLUS ¼ teaspoon of raw rice. The addition of the raw rice helps remove moisture if any from the oil and ensure it does not splutter or retain any traces of moisture when applied on skin. Ensure the spices do not char or burn in the oil. Once you see foam coming up in the oil and the jeera has become reddish and is swollen, it is time to filter out the oil.
  1. Filter out the rice and spices from the oil. To this hot oil add your Abhyanga oil of choice. Apply the oil mixture when bearably warm on your skin.

 

In Ayurveda, we do not reheat oil which has already gone through the Tila Paka process. This is why to apply warm oil we add a small quantity of plain warm base oil to our specially prepared Abhyanga oil and apply this mixture warm.

 

We recommend using pure Krya Abhyanga oil for your Abhyanga or sesame oil prepared as mentioned above. Please note that Sesame oil is a stop gap measure as it does not contain vata pacifying herbs.  A specially prepared Abhyanga Oil is much better in the long run for your Abhyanga as it does a much better job of dosha balance. 

 

Notes:

  1. If you are prone to severe kapha accumulation (frequents coughs and colds), you can also add a tiny piece of dried ginger to your coarse spice mixture.
  2. If you have any manner of skin allergy, psoriasis or eczema, skip the pepper and ginger and only add cumin (jeera) and raw rice to your oil.
  3. If you find this irritating, simply warm the oil with raw rice alone and use this as your Abhyanga base oil.

 

The difference between Keshya Abhyanga and the Abhyanga for the body

We have spoken before about the differences in the constitution of the head and the body. The head carries the brain and the eyes, both of which are organs made up of fatty tissues. Kapha dosha is an important dosha here which has helped create the fatty tissues that make up both the eyes and the brain.

 

Heat melts kapha, so Ayurveda believes that it is important to maintain coolness in the brain, scalp, head and eyes for the organs to function well. The activity of these organs by themselves increases Pitta or heat in the body. As we see, process information, think and use our intellect we use up vital nutrients and generate heat in the body. So Ayurveda says we should constantly cool this area and apply tailas which soothe the brain and eyes, and allow them to relax and rest.

9-eyes-cool

 

This is also the reason behind using only cool water to wash the eyes and lukewarm – body temperature water to wash the hair. Hot water should never be used above the neck area.

 

The taila designed for this area is therefore necessarily different. We use cooling, relaxing and soothing herbs like Bhringaraj, Brahmi, Nimba and Amla. All of these herbs balance pitta, help in the release of ushna (heat) from the scalp and cool and relax the brain and the eyes. In addition, as this area is high in kapha, we use sweet kapha promoting herbs that are useful in hair softness, and growth like Mulethi etc.

10-hair-oil

 

This is why Krya recommends a separate oil for the head and the body. The same cooling oil when applied to the body will aggravate vata dosha further and could also upset Kapha dosha. The warming, Vata reducing oil of the body when applied to the head can increase Pitta and heat in the body, which is the very thing we are trying to control in this area which is already very Pitta prone.

 

End notes:

We hope this post and our previous post on the Abhyanga have helped clear some basic doubts on the Abhyanga. As we have mentioned, the Abhyanga is a valuable tool to bring the body back to a state of balance and we have used it successfully as a tool in many seemingly unconnected disorders ranging from dry and flaky skin to post partum hair fall.

If you have any queries on how you can incorporate this Dinacharya into your life, please email us or call us on 075500-89090.

 

Krya products for Abhyanga:

  1. Krya products for Abhyanga:
    1. Babies
    a. Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & Ashwagandhab. Krya Ubtan for Baby girls with Rose & Himalayan Turmeric
    c. Krya Ubtan for Baby boys with Chamomile & Rosemary

11-baby-ubtan

  1. 2. Kids
    a. Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & Ashwagandha
    b. Krya Kids Ubtan with Gotu Kola & Cassia flower

12-kids-ubtan

  1. Men & Women
    a. Krya Abhyanga Oil with Vacha & Ashwagandha
    b. Krya Women’s Ubtan with Lotus Leaf & Lodhra
    c. Krya Men’s Ubtan with Vetiver & van Tulsi

abhyanga-system

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The quick crasher to an Ayurvedic Abhyanga: Krya tells you how you can incorporate this into your daily regimen

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

At the college where I spent 2 years learning about Business, we had an interesting term called “the crasher”. This was a quick, useful and practical download given by your classmates who attended every single class during the term. The crasher was essential if you had a) not attended too many classes and b) wanted to know just the right stuff to help you pass. At this point I am not going to discuss whether I was giving or receiving the crashers and we will move on to the subject at hand: the Abhyanga. If you have been reading our posts, you would have seen the importance Ayurveda gives to this practice.
The Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic Dinacharya – a practice that should be done Dhina (daily) for good health. An Abhyanga is advocated for almost everyone in Ayurveda – infants, young children, men and women.

2-abhyanga

An abhyanga is prohibited for the following groups of people:
1. Pregnant women
2. If you are running a temperature, have a digestive disorder or are acutely ill
3. If you are extremely tired, have had high sun exposure or a very heavy and depleting exercise practice (for example: immediately after running a marathon)
4. Immediately after a meal

A daily abhyanga should not be started cold turkey and may not even be possible for most people. Krya recommends a weekly or a bi-weekly abhyanga for adults and children and a daily abhyanga for infants under a year of age. If a daily abhyanga can be given for children upto 2 years this will greatly aid their muscle development.

Ayurveda prescribes Tuesdays and Fridays for Abhyangas for Women and Wednesdays and Saturdays for Abhyangas for Men.

The Ayurvedic secret to youthfulness and health – the Abhyanga
Here are some of the health benefits of a weekly / bi-weekly regular Abhyanga which accrue because the practice helps control excess vata and pitta dosha. Please note the use of the word “Accrue” – just like one swallow does not make a summer, one single abhyanga will not give you transformative health (although you will feed mighty good after even a single abhyanga). For true lasting, benefits you need to practice the Abhyanga week after week for atleast 2 – 3 months.

1. Reduction in muscle fatigue, tiredness, and daily exhaustion
2. Reduction in insomnia, inability to sleep
3. Improvement in digestive ability – reduced wind, reduced feeling of constipation, reduced feeling of incomplete bowel movements
4. Better mental sharpness and clarity – you can go on longer without feeling tired, fatigued or irritable
5. Better skin and hair health due to reduction in excess vata dosha – skin health improves almost immediately; hair health improves after a month of regular abhyangas (depending on extent of vata imbalance)

3-insomnia

What is the best oil for skin beauty and health? – Krya weighs in

Sesame oil is the base oil of choice for an Abhyanga. It can be used throughout the year and is beneficial for different dosha types in different ways. Because of its slightly warming nature, it helps bring down Vata dosha which is cold and rough. It is a very good “anupan” (medium) for many of the Vata reducing herbs Ayurveda recommends in an Abhyanga. It also helps liquefy Ama and dirt very easily from the body during the process of the Abhyanga – which ensures that these toxins leave your body quickly.

4-sesame-oil

Coconut oil is not the best choice of oil for an Abhyanga. It is kapha promoting and if not prepared properly can lead to mucous accumulation in the body. Mustard is not suitable for use in summer or for people with sensitive skin. Castor oil is too thick and cooling for the purpose of the Abhyanga. Olive oil, Argan Oil and other foreign oils have not been studied and classified as well as native oils in our Ayurvedic texts. So it is best to use these oils very sparingly for the Abhyanga as we do not completely understand the effect their use can have on your doshas.

5-local-oils
The Ayurvedic texts advise using oil which has been heated well and has naturally cooled to a warm temperature for an ideal Abhyanga. The warmth of the oil allows for better skin penetration and also helps in the trapping, liquefaction and expelling of toxins from the body.

It is best not to directly heat specially prepared Ayurvedic oils like the Krya Abhyanga Oil (as this could make these oils lose some of their nutritive properties). Instead, please heat plain sesame oil and add the specially prepared Ayurvedic oil to this hot oil. Apply the oil mixture when bearably warm on your body.

Ensure the Abhyanga is done as close as possible to Sunrise, ideally within the first hour of sunrise. This ensures that the body is given the whole day to release aggravated doshas, and that the temperature of the day does not make the process of abhyanga uncomfortable for you.
8-early-morning-abhyanga

Keep vata dosha at a minimum during the Abhyanga:
As the very purpose of the Abhyanga is to reduce excess Vata dosha, keep the influence of Vata dosha to a minimum while doing your Abhyanga. So switch off your fan or your air conditioner, close the windows and do the Abhyanga in a closed room where there is no draught or cold seeping in.
Do not talk too much at this time, or use electronic equipment like your laptop, phone, e-reader as all of these aggravate Vata dosha.

6-aggravating-vata


A strong vigorous massage is the key to a good Abhyanga ,not a long soak

An Ayurvedic Abhyanga is not a gentle, relaxing massage. It is considered equivalent to physical exercise which is why you are not supposed to strain yourself after an Abhyanga with more exercise. The Ayurvedic abhyanga uses brisk, up-down movements to generate heat over the surface of the skin, relax the muscles and allow for deep and fast penetration of the Abhyanga oil.

Special attention is to be paid to all the seats of vata like the ears, waist, hips, lower back, legs and all the joints like the wrists, ankles, shoulders, fingers etc. These points should be well oiled and rotated well to release any excess vata immediately.

Small bones and organ systems like the fingers and toes often store tremendous amounts of vata, especially for those of us who use laptops and smart phones. These systems should be massaged well to remove fatigue and release excess vata dosha.

8-fingers-and-toes
The feet are also paid special attention in an Ayurvedic abhyanga. The feet store tremendous amounts of pain and excess vata dosha and are the key to managing insomnia and fatigue especially if you have been facing a lot of stress, poor eating and late nights. This is such an important part of the abhyanga that there is a special term for this: the pada abhyanga. For those with very high vata dosha, a daily pada abhyanga before sleeping every night can be extremely beneficial.

7-pada-abhyanga

The end point of an abhyanga is that your body should begin generating Sweda / Sweat – this is a sign of toxin elimination and removal of excess ama from the body which has been liquefied by the oil, the herbs and the strong massage.

You can aid Sweda generation by doing extremely light work after the abhyanga – like sweeping a small portion of your house, or doing any physical chore to aid the generation of heat and toxin removal. Do not do this light work if you generally exercise very regularly, are extremely tired physically or have been under severe stress.

An ideal oil soaking time after an Abhyanga is 10 – 15 minutes, especially for Abhyanga beginners.

Snana and skin cleansing after an abhyanga to ensure toxin removal – and the myth of the Ayurvedic soap
To completely cleanse the toxins that are flowing out of the body after the Abhyanga, Ayurveda recommends a Snana with a specific set of herbs, grains and lentils. The lentils and grains chosen are chosen for their granular and dirt dislodging capacity, to help literally wedge out the dead cells, debris and toxins that have arisen from the body after the abhyanga. The herbs chosen differ as per the season and the body type. Pitta reducing herbs like Chandana, Usheera (Vetiver) etc, are usually used in summer for example. A soap is not prescribed in Ayurveda for any manner of skin care, including post abhyanga . For post Abhyanga only an Ayurvedic ubtan is ideal as it is able to physically dislodge dirt, debris, dead cells and toxins from the body.
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Use the Ayurvedic ubtan by applying it in a circular cleansing motion on your body. The grains should not feel too gentle nor should they be too harsh or scratchy on skin. They should be able to remove excess oil from the abhyanga and the ama generated without making your skin too dry. Certain base grains are inappropriate in cold weather – for example besan and channa are not good cold weather grains and can make dry skin even drier if used inappropriately.

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Ayurveda recommends using warm water for a Snana post an abhyanga for the portion of the body below the neck. For the head and hair, water should be at the same temperature as the rest of your body (so it should not feel either cool or warm on your head). This is extremely important to ensure there is no damage to the brain, eyes or the nerves from the use of water at an inappropriate temperature.

Post Abhyanga care
It is important to remember that the Abhyanga is a dosha balancing, health giving practice. If your vata dosha or pitta dosha is aggravated, the Abhyanga is going to physically bring down this dosha excess. So the abhyanga can cause some amount of temporary strain on the body during the process of restoring the body to its state of health.
So it is important not to strain your body further on the day of Abhyanga.

1. Do not go into the hot sun
2. Do not eat very spicy or very sour meals
3. Do not over eat
4. Do not eat difficult to digest food
5. Do not eat any large and heavy meal
6. Do not go for a long drive
7. Do not do any form of extreme exercise
8. Do not stay up late
9. Do not over use your gadgets
10. Do not eat sweet, mucous producing food
11. Do NOT take an afternoon nap on Abhyanga day

Do NOT take an afternoon nap on the day of the Abhyanga even if you are severely tempted – one of the organs of releasing excess Pitta dosha is the eyes. Through tears and vapour, the eyes will release excess Pitta dosha through the day – if you close them and go to sleep in the day, this excess Pitta will stay within your body and could damage your body.
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The food on the day of the Abhyanga should be freshly cooked, light, warm and easy to digest. Most importantly it should be eaten on time so that there is no strain on the digestive system.

End notes:
We hope this Abhyanga crasher has helped clear some basic doubts on the Abhyanga. As we have mentioned, the Abhyanga is a valuable tool to bring the body back to a state of balance and we have used it successfully as a tool in many seemingly unconnected disorders ranging from dry and flaky skin to post partum hair fall.

If you have any queries on how you can incorporate this Dinacharya into your life, please email us or call us on 075500-89090.

Krya products for Abhyanga:
1. Babies
a. Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & Ashwagandha

b. Krya Ubtan for Baby girls with Rose & Himalayan Turmeric
c. Krya Ubtan for Baby boys with Chamomile & Rosemary

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2. Kids
a. Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & Ashwagandha
b. Krya Kids Ubtan with Gotu Kola & Cassia flower

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3. Men & Women
a. Krya Abhyanga Oil with Vacha & Ashwagandha
b. Krya Women’s Ubtan with Lotus Leaf & Lodhra
c. Krya Men’s Ubtan with Vetiver & van Tulsi

abhyanga-system

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Ayurvedic Tejas – Krya Abhyanga Series

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“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within” – Maya Angelou

As I was writing my to-do list for the day, I glanced at the bottom of the page to see the quote which I have put up here.

The inner light is referred to as “Tejas” in the Ayurvedic texts, and the English translations of this word are extremely inadequate. So when the Charaka Samhita refers to an abhyanga increasing the “Tejas” in the body due to nourishment of all dhatus, an English translation would read, “An abhyanga increases the lustre in the body / improve the complexion”.

However Tejas is much much more than the external appearance of skin. Tejas has to do with an inner light and a feeling of well being when all the 3 doshas are balanced, and when the dhatus are well nourished eternally by the copious application of oil regularly through the abhyanga.

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Different people report a different state of well being after an Abhyanga. People with a  predominantly vata based constitution report that their skin which is generally dry and itchy feels well moisturized, soft and nourished. Their joints feel supple and well oiled and they report feeling at peace, and able to bring in a strong amount of focus, and not as scattered as they usually would feel.

People with a predominantly pitta based constitution report feeling cooler as their eyes and skin release tremendous amounts of excess heat after an abhyanga. They feel less inclined to speak sharply or lose their temper and report feeling cool, calm and tranquil the whole day.

 

People with a predominantly kapha based constitution report feeling energetic and less sluggish and wide awake and focussed the whole day. They also report having a feeling of their internal blocks being cleared.

No matter what your dosha type is, what you will feel after a regular abhyanga is a feeling of well being. Your entre body feels light and strong – the texts describe this as the “vigour and energy of a lion in the forest”. Your skin flows with Tejas – one can only describe this as an inner light switched on in your body.

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The practice of an abhyanga followed by a Snana with herbs and grains is not supposed to be a once a year ritual. It is prescribed as a Dinacharya (daily ritual) that helps maintain good health. Even if it is not possible to follow an Abhyanga every single day, the texts prescribe 2 days every week to do an Abhyanga for Men and Women – these days are decided by their auspiciousness and the deities that govern these days. So Fridays, governed by Goddess Lakshmi are considered auspicious for an abhyanga and traditional Snana for Women. In addition Tuesdays are also considered auspicious for Women to take an Abhyanga and Snana.

Saturdays, the day governed by Lord Shani, is considered auspicious for Men to take an abhyanga and Snana. This is said to promote good health and longevity. In addition, Wednesdays are auspicious also for Men to do an abhyanga + Snana to promote the intellect.

In this way, the texts have ensured that we do an Abhyanga atleast twice a week to promote good health and well being.

If you have been looking at adopting good health giving routines , do start with the Abhyanga. Here are some Krya products / bath systems you could explore to make your Abhyanga special.

  1. Krya Abhyanga Oil with Vacha and Ashwagandha (for the bi-weekly abhyanga – dosha balancing, fatigue reducing oil)
  2. Krya Abhyanga Bath powders for Women & Men – classic, tradition-inspired Bath powder that is cleansing, toxin removing and refreshing on skin – perfect post Abhyanga
    1. Krya Abhyanga Bath powder for Women with Lotus Leaf & Lodhra
    2. Krya Abhyanga Bath powder for Men with Vetiver & Van Tulsi

 

 

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