Time tested Ayurvedic method of healing Panchakarma (five actions) is a cleansing and rejuvenating program for the body, mind and consciousness. It is known for its beneficial effects on overall health, wellness and self-healing.
Panchakarma treatment consists of three stages:
Poorwa Karma (before Karma)
Pradhan Karma (main Karma)
Paschat Karma (after Karma)
Poorwa karma means ‘before’ karma. It prepares a body for detoxification and is done before the main Pradhan karma. Poorva Karma is classified into two types:
Snehana Karma (Oleation)
Swedana Karma (Fomentation/ Sudation)
Snehana Karma is the process of oleation of the body, carried out by applying medicated oils and ghee in 2 different ways:
Internally (administering small doses of ghee or medicated oils internally)
Externally (different treatments using oil externally)
Swedana Karma is a group of procedures used to induce sweating.The term Sweda means ‘sweat’. Usually this procedure is done after going through the oleation therapy.
Poorwa Karma treatments
In Ayurveda, head massage is called Shiroabhyanga.
Shiroabhyanga is a deeply relaxing head, neck and shoulder muscle massage, which uses specific ayurvedic oils selected to match one’s dosha type. It focuses on marma points, where the subtle Prana (life energy) is converted, regulated and stored.
Benefits of Shiroabhyanga:
1. De-stresses the whole body and helps to get a good sleep, strengthens the nervous system;
2. Improves blood circulation;
3. Oxygenates the brain;
4. Nourishes hair roots, helps to prevent excessive hair loss, premature balding and graying;
5. Reduces symptoms of headache, migraine, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, eyestrain, tinnitus, jaw ache, sinusitis and many other diseases.
Ayurvedic face massage is a cosmetic as well as a deep and effective therapy. This massage is carried out by applying herbal creams, massage oils, honey or herbal liquids, such as pure Aloe Vera, and giving pressure to specific pressure points on the face.
Benefits of the face massage:
1. More relaxed muscles and tissues of face and neck.
2. Improved appearance of skin on the forehead, eyes, nose and mouth.
3. Healthy, glowing skin and reduced puffiness.
4. Reduction in symptoms related to sinusitis, allergies, jaw tension, eye strain, headache, stress, insomnia and many more.
Neck & shoulder massage
In Ayurvedic medicine, neck and shoulders is important as a place that connects body with the head. All arteries and veins which supply to brain have relationship with the neck area. Pains in the neck can be due to an injury, a mechanical or a muscular problem or a rapped nerve. Hence, neck and shoulder massage can ease such neck pains.
Benefits of neck and shoulder massage:
- Reduces muscle pain, ache and tiredness;
- Lubricates joints;
- Reduces tenderness;
- Increases blood circulation.
Ayurvedic back massage is a unique technique to relieve back pain. Back pain is the second most common problem after headache in pain disorders. Ayurvedic back massage consists of various steps and pressure applications on different points near the spinal cord, which helps to relax and eases the pain.
Benefits of back massage:
- Relieves back pain;
- Relaxes back muscles;
- Improves blood circulation and lymphatic drainage to back;
- Reduces tenderness;
- Reduces stress.
In Ayurvedic medicine foot massage is called Padaabyanga. Feet make a very important part of the body because many nerves from many organs terminate in feet. Ayurvedic foot massage profits the entire body as well as the nervous system; rubbing feet gives a massage to the whole body. Thus, Ayurvedic foot massage helps to strengthen the nerves and restores health to many parts of the body. Also it helps to treat various illnesses and is significant in their prevention.
Benefits of foot massage:
- Calms the mind;
- Improves eye sight and hearing;
- Improves blood and lymphatic circulation;
- Activates the detoxification process;
- Balances emotions;
- Very helpful in curing insomnia, fatigue, constipation, migraine, cramps and eye diseases.
Abhyanga is a massage of the body with large amounts of warm oil. This massage involves covering the patient in oil and then with smooth, gentle movements rubbing the oil deeply into the body. The oils used in Abhyanga are also picked according to one’s dosha. Abhyanga is often performed by two massage therapists working in synchronicity but it can also be done by oneself.
Benefits of abhyanga:
- Increases blood and lymphatic circulation specially in nerve endings;
- Toning of muscles;
- Lubrication of the joints;
- Reduces fat;
- Makes the skin soft and smooth;
- Stimulates the internal organs of the body.
This procedure involves pouring a controlled stream of different warm liquids (medicated oil or medicated milk) over the body of the patient as well as giving a massage. The process is performed while the person is lying in a specially designed bed. The liquids for the procedure are picked according to one’s dosha or the type of the disease.
Benefits of Sarwangadhara:
- Rejuvenates the entire nervous system and skin;
- Strengthens the body;
- Gives relaxation and inner balance;
- Improves digestion;
- Makes the body lighter;
- Enhances sexual vigor;
- Cures vata doshas disease, muscular ache and dystrophy, rheumatism, osteoarthritis, insomnia and depression.
Pinda sweda is a rejuvenating therapy that is based on massaging the body with hot cotton bags. These bags are made up from a combination of herbal leaves, rice (boiled in medicated milk), sand or medical powder, which are chosen according to one’s dosha. The body perspires, allowing the heat and herbs to penetrate deep into the skin. This is one of the treatments commonly used to relieve pain and to strengthen tissues. Pinda Sweda is practiced for arthritis, gout, paralysis, spondylosis, sciatica and other vata diseases.
- Lightness of the body;
- Reduced pain and stiffness;
- Better mobility of joints.
This is another type of Swedana. In this treatment, the prepared herbal medicine is thickly applied on the affected part and covered with specific medicinal leaves and then tired up with cotton cloth. The application of heat and the herbs results in relaxation of the muscles and tendon, thus relieving pain and inflammation. Upanaha helps to cure chronic arthritis and Tennis Elbow.
Benefits of Upanaha (Lepa):
- Improves blood circulation;
- Relieves pain;
- Improves joint mobility;
- Drains toxins from the deep tissues;
- Reduces swelling.
This is a type of Swedana treatment where the body is enclosed in a box that is filled with herb-infused steam. The patient is lain down in the steam box from ten to thirty minutes. This procedure is applied for those who suffer from obesity, skin diseases, arthritis, gout.
Benefits of steam bath:
- Improves blood circulation;
- Reduces body weight;
- Relieves general body pain;
- Makes the skin healthy;
- Improves joint mobility;
- Drains toxins from the deep tissues.
Udwartana (dry powder)
Udwartana is a herbal-based powder massage. The whole body is gently massaged with medicated powder, which is made from various herbs in accordance with the patient’s dosha and disease. It mainly stimulates the energy flow in the body.
Benefits of Udwartana:
- Helps to reduce weight;
- Improves good complexion of the skin;
- Removes cellulites;
- Tones the skin and muscles;
- Removes kapha toxins from the body.
Shirodhara is a form of Ayurvedic therapy that involves pouring a controlled stream of different warm liquids over one’s forehead (third eye). In Shirodhara, liquid medicaments, such as Ayurvedic oils, milk or ghee, are placed in a bowl at an appropriate height above the body of the patient and then the liquids are dripped over the forehead of the patient. This treatment directly affects the patient’s central nervous system and mind.
Benefits of Shirodhara:
- Relaxes and revitalizes central nervous system;
- Relaxes all sensory organs;
- Improves mental alertness;
- Calms the mind;
- Helps to treat various diseases and symptoms including eye diseases, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, graying of hair and hair loss, neurological disorders, memory loss, insomnia, hearing impairment, certain types of skin diseases, migraine.
In Kati Vasti, warm medicated oil is pooled into a collar on the patient’s lower back. This collar is prepared from dough, which is made from special grains flour. The collar is shaped into a small ring and then placed on the affected area. The oil inside is retained within at a specific temperature for a specific amount of time.
Benefits of Kati Vasti:
- Relieves muscle pain;
- Strengthens lower back;
- Increases lower back rigidity;
- Lubricates lumbar vertebrae;
- Improves detoxification.
Vasti means a ‘container’ and Kati means ‘lower back area’ (especially lumbar vertebral region). This treatment can be done to the neck area and then it is called Greewa Vasti. According to the place where the oil is put the name is changed.
This is a treatment for eyes. In this treatment the eyes of the patient are filled with medicated oils or ghee or decoction.
- Cleans the eye;
- Imparts a cooling effect;
- Prevents eye diseases;
- Strengthens the optic nerves;
- Clears the eye irritation.
Karna Poorna is the process in which warm herbal oils or medicated liquids are gently and slowly poured into ears. This lubricates the delicate filaments of the ear canal, which sharpens hearing and removes impurities. This procedure is beneficial for deafness, earache, humming of ear etc.
- Cleans the ear;
- Helps to avoid ailments associated with ears;
- Improves hearing;
- Positively stimulates the sense organs;
- Calms the mind.
Gandusha (Medicated gargle)
This is an Ayurvedic technique which involves swishing medicated oil or decoction into the mouth. It is used after the Vamana karma and Nashya. It is helpful for migraine, headache, oral ache, facial paralysis, women hormonal disorders.