Shila Abhyanga (Stone Massage) is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that stimulates the circulatory system, softens and relaxes the muscles, releases toxins, relieves pains and muscle spasms, and induces relaxation.
From the ancient treasure-chest of Ayurveda, there comes a type of massage that is gaining popularity the world over. This is Shila Abhyanga, (Stone Massage) - the ancient Ayurvedic technique that uses herbal Ayurvedic oils and basalt stones heated in water to give a slow, deep tissue massage.
What is Shila Abhyanga?
This massage is traditionally given to stimulate the circulatory system, soften and relax the muscles, release toxins, relieve pains and muscle spasms, and induce a state of deep relaxation.
The body is first oiled to dissolve stress and open the marma (physical and energetic) points. The next step is to apply the Shila (basalt, circular stones of varying sizes and particular therapeutic qualities), heated in water, over key points (marmas) on the body. The therapist also uses room-temperature crystals, placed on the body in a precise sequence to harmonize with the chakra system. The stones are firmly glided over oiled muscles while the pointed stones are used as tools for a deeper massage.
Why Use Stones?
Shila Abhyanga has several benefits:
- The stones act as radiators of heat, and are rated in terms of high, medium and low thermal radiance.
- Stone therapy brings about a relaxing, deep-tissue release and alignment in the body-mind complex.
- The heat of the stones softens tension and melts away stress and anxiety.
- If the person undergoing the Abhyanga is receptive, s/he may experience a physically restorative and spiritually uplifting transformation.
- The stones and crystals transform the anatomy and removes imbalances in our physical body.
- As most minerals possess a magnetic quality, the stones also work like magnets. The Abhyanga stones magnetize and extract repressed emotion, depression, sorrow and physical pain, and also remain hot for extended periods of time.
- The darker stones have the most iron and the highest magnetic intensity.
The Therapist Matters Too
It is essential for the stone therapist to use the correct techniques and stones that are heated to a comfortable temperature. Along with the massage, the influence of serenity and a healing intention are also important in the outcome for the client.
Shila Abhyanga - Essential in a Fast-Paced Life
Today’s urban, technology-driven societies expose people to high burnout, and they end up disconnected from nature’s healing rhythms. High on caffeine or spicy food, chaotic, over stimulated and stressed out - these terms accurately describe them!
They seek calmness, but this can come only from within - by enhancing the prana and observing the mind. The warmth of the stones in Shila Abhyanga help still the over-active mind and the Vata element, inducing a tranquil, quiet state. As the Abhyanga therapist works with the earth energy in the body through the placement of heated stones, especially on areas that gather tension, such as back, neck and shoulders, the client feels more grounded, and experiences a sedating and healing effect on the nervous system along with a rejuvenating and cleansing effect.
The Benefits of Shila Abhyanga
- Increases circulation, lymph and vitality
- Releases toxins; reduces tension
- Irons out tight muscles, softens tissues with heat
- Balances the chakra system when the stones are placed and spun correctly
- Sedates the central nervous system when the stones are laid on the spinal column
- Grounds the body by balancing the Vata element within the body
- Improves the tone of visceral organs
- Gently exfoliates the skin
- Incorporates sound and vibration by tapping and music therapy
- Adds more energy to the session since stones are living microcosms of energy
- Enhances liver function
ShilaAbhyanga is a holistic massage therapy that heals on many levels and restores overall balance. But it is important to customize it by factoring in the person’s individual health condition, constitutional make-up, seasonal changes and usage of oil most-suited for his/her dosha.
Read more articles on Ayurveda.
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