Abhyanga – an Exploratory Journey of Indian Massage Practices

Historical exploration–  where in the world is Abhyanga?

The earliest instances of practicing Ayurvedic medicine in ancient Vedic texts areindicated around 4000 B.C (1). Medical historians provided substantial evidence about early Indian scholars carrying the Ayurveda to ancient China, via Tibet, attesting Ayurvedic claim to be “the mother of Natural Healing” (2).  Ayurveda not only shares common practices with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) but also influenced Unani,a Middle Eastern natural healing medical philosophy/practice that served as foundation for early Hippocratic (Grecian), Galen (Roman) and the Traditional European Medicine(TEM) doctrine. However, the actual written records of basic Ayurvedic medical encyclopedia, Suśruta Saṃhitā  and Charaka Saṃhitā, are compiled only around 1000 BC (2).
The nucleus of Ayurvedic therapeutic modality revolves around balancing the three life energy forces or Doshas: Vata, the energy of movement, Pitta, the energy of digestion,and Kapha, the energy of retention. These forms arise from the five AyurvedicElements: Space, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. To sort the knowledge and aid physiciantraining Ayurveda is branched into eight specialty domains or eight limbs of Ayurveda.Two of these branches, Rasayana (rejuvenation) and Vajikarana (aphrodisiacs)concentrate on preventative health and longevity while others, Kayachikitsa (internal medicine), Bhuta Vidya (psychiatry), Shalya Tantra (surgery), Vishagaravairodh Tantra(toxicology), Shalya Tantra (ears, nose and throat), and Kaumara Bhritya (pediatrics) focus on treatments and remedies (3).
Ayurvedic therapeutic massage, Abhyanga, nested within the limb of Rasayana,incorporates Ayurvedic assessment of body types/ personality in relation to their anatomical, physiological and pathological issues, including provision of relevant cautionary principles and contraindications.
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