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Ayurvedic Massage for Stroke Survivors

By: Lorilee Gillmore of Moksha Ayurveda PHX

“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit.” -BKS Iyengar

Traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine, Abhyanga, also known as oil massage, is an inseparable part of everyday life due to the numerous benefits it provides both the body and the mind. Ultimately this is to remain strong and disease free. Used as both therapeutic as well as preventive purposes, the results are multifold.

This practice of rubbing the body with medicated oil (Abhyanga) that is appropriate for each individual and their specific imbalance can have a very healing and soothing effect both physically and psychologically.

From the physical standpoint, the rubbing action happens in specific directions and includes a specific pressure, which increases blood circulation and has a beneficial effect on the lymphatic system. This effect then supplies nourishment to the blood while also calming the nervous system. The direction of the massage strokes also facilitates the removal of toxins from within our tissues.

In the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine's December 2018 issue, a study called A Prospective Study on the Effects of Ayurvedic Massage in Post-Stroke Patients stated in its conclusion that: “utilizing Ayurvedic massage in post stroke patients with flaccidity can promote faster standing with minimal assistance and lead to less need for anti-spastic drugs at discharge.” Also that: “Ayurvedic massage was well tolerated in self-selected patients who were one month post stroke. These self-selected patients improved faster in standing and had better locomotion at discharge.”

Because the massage is performed in specific direction that improves blood circulation, it facilitates:

  • Removal of toxins from the tissues

  • Relieves physical and mental fatigue

  • Improves the functioning of the musculoskeletal system

  • Clears stiffness and heaviness of the body and leads to a feeling of lightness

  • Circulation of growth hormones.

The treatment assists in the development of a healthy body, helps in improvement of body figure, is known to recuperate the body tissues and reduce body weight as well as fat.

Abhyanga can have curative (ability to cure disease) effect due to the pharmacological action of the herbs used in the processing of the oil. Depending on the oil blend used the effect could help to lower blood pressure, help to control diabetes, potent antioxidants, neuro-protective and lipid lowering.

The Sanskrit (language of ancient India) word Sneha means both “oil” and “love,” and the effects of Abhyanga are similar to the effect of saturation with love. Both experiences can give a deep feeling of stability, warmth and comfort.

Abhyanga oil is applied in a downward direction with long strokes on the limbs with circular movements over the joints where there may be the presence of lymph nodes and co-lateral venous networks around the areas. Massaging these areas may improve the lymphatic drainage as well as venous drainage of the respected areas.

For a client recovering from a stroke, the benefits of Abhyanga range from:

  • the use of healing medicated oils that can help to strengthen the nervous system,

  • strengthening your tissues,

  • deeply relax muscles as well as helping spasticity.

For more information on these therapies, feel free to visit my website or book a session with me.

If you are not in Arizona, there are Ayurvedic practitioners worldwide that I know would love and be willing to work with you personally.

Have a beautiful day. Namaste.




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