CHENNAI: Getting an oil massage has become a lifestyle decision rather than a health decision. The tradition of taking an oil bath, where your head and body are massaged thoroughly, is almost a forgotten practice, thanks to the commercialisation of the practice and changing lifestyle of the present generation. But it’s time to revive the age-old custom, at least for the sake of balancing our body temperature, especially during the summer which, experts warn, will be one of the worst seasons of the century.
Water content in the body will reduce sharply when body gets heated excessively due to the exposure to ultraviolet rays. So it’s important to keep the body cool during summer, say experts. “Not all the massages that are done at beauty parlours help the body. In Ayuveda, vatham is the cause for heat in the body. A simple oil massage bath at home will help you get relief,” says Clarence Davy, principal, Government Ayurveda Medical College, Nagercoil.
Traditional oils like pinda thailam, madhuyashtyadi thailam, manjishtadi thailam and balaguluchyadi thailam are being used for cooling the body. “Only Ayurveda practitioners can prescribe the right oil for people with different body conditions. Also oils that increase heat in the body must not be used by someone if he or she has a heat body,” adds the principal of Ayurveda Medical College.
The oil massage should be done from upward to downward stroke. This must be done for 15-20 minutes and the person receiving the massage must take bath within 40 minutes. “Oil massage and bath is advisable in empty stomach, else the person will manifest other complications like indigestion,” he explains. “This is because a ‘digestive fire’ in the stomach will be eliminated during the oil massage and you will not feel hungry. Also the food you eat does not get digested.”
The massage must be done until you begin to sweat. During massage, the oil should be pressed tight on the entire foot till it reaches the floor, head and ears as these are cooling points. Take care to select the right oil depending on the body condition, heat it until it’s lukewarm and then apply. After the massage, the body must be washed only in cold water and head in hot water. “In the olden days, oil massage was advised for seven days a week. However, you must do it at least once a week. This will eliminate excess heat from the body and keep it cool,” says Davy.