Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Oil massage of the body and head is done in downward direction i.e. in the direction of the body hairs.
Ubtan- Massage of the body using herbal powders, in done in upward direction (or reverse direction as that of the body hair). It is also called Udwarthana or Udwarthanam.
They are used as Purva Karma (pre-treatment procedures or pre-operative procedures) for many treatments of Panchakarma detoxification procedure.
They are also done individually as the main treatment.
Abhyanga and Udwarthana are not only curative in action, they are also preventive. If and when done on daily basis (regular practice), Abhyanga and Udwarthana bestows wide array of benefits. They prevent many diseases and keep one healthy, fit and immune. They help improvising the metabolism, prevent ageing and makes you look young and energetic, remove fatigue, balance doshas, support and nourish your tissues, improve circulation all over the body, improve color and complexion and makes you look attractive, removes blocks from the body, induces good sleep and promotes longevity. Therefore, both Abhyanga and Udwarthana are part and parcel of daily regimen (dinacharya).
Read related: Dinacharya – Importance Of Healthy Daily Regimen As Per Ayurveda
Importance of position
Importance of the position while doing Abhyanga and Udwarthana
Massage should reach each and every part of the body.
Abhyanga or Udwarthana, when done for whole body, is usually done when the patient is sleeping over a specialized table made for conducting these treatments called massage table.
Positions for conducting Abhyanga and Udwarthana
First of all Shiro Abhyanga or head massage should be conducted by making the patient sit on the abhyanga table.
After choosing proper oil, the masseur should start Abhyanga. Generally 2 masseurs one on each side of the abhyanga table will conduct the massage. Some also conduct this with 4 masseurs, two on each side. The upper portion of the body will be massaged by 2 masseurs (1 on the left and one on the right) and lower part of the body below the waist will be massaged by 2 more masseurs. In some hospitals only one person will do the abhyanga by moving to either side. Whatever, the masseurs should be coordinating with each other and there should be perfect synchronization especially when more than one masseur is involved in doing the massage to the same person.
Read related: Abhyanga – Ayurvedic Massage: How To Do? Benefits, Oil Choices
Below said 7 positions should be adapted while conducting Abhyanga (Udwarthana) –
Position 1 (Sitting with legs extending) – Massage should be done by making the patient sit on the body with legs (lower limbs) extended). Now the head and trunk are making an angle of 90 degree or right angle with your legs. In this position, the front of the body, entire back (can alternatively covered when the patient is sleeping head down), upper limbs, upper portion (front of) of lower limbs are covered.
Read related: Udvartana – Ubtan: Benefits, Types, How To Do
Position 2 (Sleeping on the back with limbs extended, Supine position) –
Next, Abhyanga should be done by making the patient sleep on his or her back on the abhyanga table (supine position). The patient looks towards the ceiling and keeps his upper and lower limb straight and little apart from the central axis of the body. The upper limbs should be extended in such a way that the palms face upwards. Similarly the bottom portions of your feet (plantar surface) should face the distal (lower) end of the table. In this position, the massage can be given to the front of the body.
Position 3 (Left lateral position) – Now the patient is made to lie towards his left side i.e. turning towards left and rest on left lateral side of his body. Here the right lateral side of the body is given the massage.
Position 4 (Sleeping on tummy and chest, with face downwards i.e. Prone position) – Next, the patient is made to shift position and sleep on his or her tummy and chest. Here the patient’s face is looking towards the surface of the table. This may be an awkward position and may suffocate. Therefore the patient is advised to keep his face tilted to his comfortable side i.e. right or left. Now the massage is given in this position to the entire back, back of the neck and back of the upper and lower limbs.
Position 5 (Right lateral position) – From the prone position the patient should gradually tilt towards his right side i.e. turn towards the right side and rest on right lateral side of his body). In this position the massage is given to the left lateral side of the body.
Position 6 (Supine position) – Once again the patient should change his position and come back to position 2 i.e. should sleep on his back. The massage is repeated in this position as explained in position 2.
Position 7 (Sitting with lower limbs extended) – From the supine position, the patient should gradually rise from the surface of the table and sit in the same position as in position 1 i.e. with his lower limbs extended. Massage is given in this position as explained in position 1.
This completes the comprehensive format of Abhyanga. Same positions should be considered while giving Udwarthana.
In each position massage should be given for 2-5 minutes. The patient is asked to gradually change positions while doing Abhyanga because the surface of the table will be slippery. The patient should be instructed with every change in position. It is also good to keep the patient informed about the importance of each position so that he or she could appreciate the treatment while enjoying it.
After completing abhyanga or udwarthana procedure, the patient should be asked to take rest for 10-15 minutes. Later he should be given a hot water bath or swab or sweating treatment (swedana) as per the plan and protocol of the treatment.
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