Oils? Dim lights? Soft music? Ahhhh ... now you're talking.
In Ayurvedic medicine, massage is a vital component to restoring energy balance in the body, a practice that can soften tissues, nourish the skin and stimulate the inner organs [source: Welch].
Like all treatments in this tradition, massage styles differ according to the dominant dosha in a person's constitution. For a vata, who is typically thin, has dry skin and tends to get cold easily, the practitioner would likely use a rich, warming oil like sesame oil and use soothing, gentle strokes.
For pitta, who typically have oily skin and warmer body temperatures, the practitioner would apply a lighter sunflower or coconut oil and use deeper, slower strokes. This would calm the pitta's tendency toward fiery emotions.
In Kaphas, who are heavier in build and generally calm, mustard or sesame oil can help stimulate their sluggish metabolism, along with vigorous strokes to jump start their circulation [source: Gougeon].
Other varieties of Ayurvedic massage include:
- Abhyanga -- This full-body oil massage is supposed to stimulate the marmas. Often followed by a warm bath, it is said to nourish the internal organs and soothe the mind as well as tone the muscles.
- Pizhichil -- Medicated oil is poured over the body during the course of a full-body massage.
- Sirodhara -- Oil is poured on the forehead to treat depression and anxiety.
- Nhavarakizhi -- Bundles of medicinal porridge are wrapped around the body to stimulate sweating [source: Ayurvedic Massage].
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