Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Ayurveda (But Were Afraid To Ask)

Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Ayurveda (But Were Afraid To Ask)

Ayurveda is an ancient health system developed by the wise sages of India thousands of years before modern medicine.

Ayurveda is a sanskrit word meaning ‘science of life’ (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). As this translation indicates, it is a system to promote a happy, health life – and it’s a vast, yet comprehensive, system that incorporates a wide variety of methods both for preventing ill-health and for addressing it. These methods include guidance on our lifestyle and habits, nutritional information and recommendations (a key part of Ayurveda is eating the right diet for our body type, mindfulness and self-care tools such as massage therapy and yoga).

According to Deepak Chopra, a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, Ayurveda offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realising their full human potential’.

It’s therefore something that you can use as a go to ‘toolkit’ for well-being, either daily or whenever you feels things are getting out of balance. Ayurveda views illness as caused by an imbalance in a person’s physical or mental constitution and therefore seeks to gently bring a person’s body and mind back into a healthy balance. I mentioned the words ‘body type’ above and Ayurveda has a system to help us understand our ‘mind-body type’, or dosha as it’s called in sanskrit, so that we can make optimal decisions about our diet, exercise and all round lifestyle in accordance with what our unique needs are. You can learn more about Ayurvedic mind-body types and find out how to identify your own individual type here.

But let’s focus on massage since this is the part of Ayurveda that I offer my clients. I trained as a massage therapist in 2008 and without knowing any of the above information, a workshop to learn an Ayurvedic Back Massage treatment caught my eye and sparked my interest in this science. After that I travelled down to London for workshops by a therapist originally from India who had set up her own school and clinic there. What I learned were not only wonderful massage treatments, but also a whole wealth of ancient knowledge that took the holistic approach to well-being that I felt aligned with. When people talk about a holistic approach, they are interested in addressing the source of disease rather than just focusing on the symptoms. Therefore, the whole person and their unique set of circumstances are taken into account when looking at how best to help them to find ease in their life and promote overall well-being of mind and body.

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Thomas Edison (1847–1931)

Ayurveda is certainly not intended to replace modern medicine, but rather to give people the tools to treat their body according to its needs, leading to emotional and mental well being and good health.  For me, massage and yoga is all about self-care – and I believe self-care so important yet underrated for a number of reasons. We tend to de-prioritise it in our busy lives or think of it as a luxury that we’re perhaps undeserving of; however I’ve come to realise that taking care of myself must be at the top of my list if I’m going to be able to take care of anything else to the best of my ability and with a sense of enjoyment! Massage is a great self-care tool for so many reasons – the power of touch, the oils used and the connection it creates with our bodies being just a few.

In Ayurveda massage is referred to as Abhyanga and a warm herb-infused oil is applied generously to nourish the entire body. Whatever we put on our skin is absorbed right into the body and so the oils have their own therapeutic properties to help harmonise the systems of the body. The Sanskrit word Sneha can be translated as both “oil” and “love.” The massage techniques used, along with the oil that is applied, are chosen based on your mind-body type. The massage strokes are rhythmical and flowing to create a soothing sense of ease in the body and to relax the mind, and many people have expressed how much better they sleep after one of these massage treatments. A few other benefits that clients may experience are:

  1. Nourished skin and a decrease in the effects of aging
  2. Improved muscle tone and a lubrication of the joints
  3. An increase in circulation that in turn stimulates the internal organs of the body
  4. Assisted elimination of impurities from the body, aiding in detoxification
  5. Calming of the nervous system

Why not try some self-massage routine before a lovely hot bath or shower this week. Here’s some guidance:

  • Apply oil (natural, good quality oils are best) first to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes—spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp.
  • Use long strokes on the limbs (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints (elbows and knees). Always massage toward the direction of your heart!
  • Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side.
  • Finish the massage by spending at least a couple of minutes massaging your feet.

In addition, if you would like to experience one of our Ayurvedic Massage treatments with Frankie, book in and receive £10 off your first visit (discount valid for a treatment) Contact: frankie@happybeing.co.uk

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Therapists and teachers in Edinburgh offering Acupuncture, Sports Massage, Physiotherapy, Pilates, Chi Kung classes and Meditation.