Ayurveda is the ancient Indian health science literally the “Science of Life”, perfected over centuries of research, not only to cure ailments but as a system of imparting knowledge in living a way of life that helps to attain physical and mental wellness holistically.
In Ayurveda, the body is believed to be composed of particular vital elements. Any disruption or imbalance in their equilibrium causes disorders and illness. These vital elements are Air (Vata), Earth (Kapha) and Fire (Pitta) these are termed Doshas. When a person has an imbalance of any one of these elements certain body, and personality characteristics may be observed. If the imbalance is left unchecked and even further stimulated by poor diet or stress, then it will eventually show in disease.
Ayurvedic Pancha Karma is gaining respect in the West as a form of deep acting intensive treatments aimed at balancing the Doshas. Pancha Karma is a cleansing system – the term literally meaning five procedures. There are many of these treatments and most must be administered under careful guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic Doctor.
The treatments I personally offer at my practice in Leigh-on-Sea Essex include Ayurvedic Body Massage – Abhayanga, Ayurvedic Head Massage – Shirobhanga, Ayurvedic Foot Massage –Padabhanga, and Hot Oil Pouring –Shirodhara. These treatments are for relaxation only. I do not diagnose, but can establish with you which constitution or Dosha you are. From there I can decipher which of the herbal oils is best for you and which treatment would best suit your mind, body and spirit.
The science of Ayurveda is a vast one and requires years of study. I have been studying since 1999, and still continue to study, traveling to Kerala India as often as possible to update my skills and learn of new research by the leading doctors of Ayurveda there.
So what do these therapies consist of and how do they work?
Shirodhara is a form of Ayurveda medicine that involves gently flowing liquids over the forehead (the 'third eye'). It was developed by vaidyas (practitionars of Ayurveda) in Kerala, India for use in sukhachikitsa (restorative therapy) and can be one of the steps involved in Panchakarma. The name comes from the Sanskrit words shiras 'head' and dhara 'flow'. The liquids used in Shirodhara depend on what is being treated, but can include oil, milk, buttermilk, coconut water, or even plain water.
Shirodhara has been used in efforts to treat a variety of conditions including eye diseases, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, greying of hair, neurological disorders, memory loss, insomnia, hearing impairment, tinnitus, vertigo, Ménière's disease and certain types of skin diseases like psoriasis. It is also used non-medicinally at spas for its relaxing properties.
Shirodhara is a perfect way to end a massage treatment especially an Ayurvedic head massage
During a treatment one litre of warmed herbal oil is poured very gently in a steady stream from a beautiful copper vessel onto the forehead and third eye, whilst you relax and fall into a deep state of tranquility. You need to make the appointment at a time when you can go straight home, wash the oil from your hair and relax.
“Shirodhara should be on everyone’s health regime, it is a must and a great way to get into the deepest relaxation possible” – A very happy patient!
My teacher Rami calls it “Hot Sesame Bliss!”
Abhayanga Ayurvedic Body Massage
This treatment is aimed at rejuvenating the whole body. It uses warm herbal oils which are made to thousand year-old recipes to specifically target the balancing of the Doshas. Massage with these oils helps build healthy body tissue, rids the body of toxins thereby reducing stress and relaxing the muscles. This massage tones the skin and muscles, improves circulation, repairs worn out tissues, and helps to reduce an accumulation of fat. A lot of oil is used in this massage, which is absorbed into the skin and underlying muscle tissues. Sometimes the oil may have a strong aroma which comes from the herbs that have been infused into the oil.
At Sarah Yapp Therapies Abhayanga is normally administered by one therapist, but by special appointment this can also be performed by two experienced massage therapists, which is traditional in Kerala.
The head is the focal point of the nervous system. Every day stress, strain and environmental pollutants have a direct impact on the scalp and hair. Insufficient circulation is the root cause of any hair disorder. The scalp has to be well nourished and taken care of to avoid formation of scaly and itchy dead cells which can become breeding grounds for bacteria. The ideal way to retain a good healthy scalp and head of hair is to massage it regularly with herbal oils. The oil gets absorbed into the hair roots and soothes the nerve cells below. This treatment may also include a neck and shoulder massage to ensure that there is good blood supply to the head and brain. After treatment you will need to return home to wash oil from hair and rest. This treatment is excellent for greying hair, brain fag, tinnitus and sinus problems, and of course helps with headaches migraines and eye-strain due to excessive computer use.
Sarah Yapp BA ITEC MCThA of Sarah Yapp Therapies is based in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex and practices Ayurveda and other forms of body massage, reflexology and meditation.