In Ayurveda, a powder massage is known as Udvarthana (Udvarthanam). It is a process of scrubbing the whole body using a powder made out of a mixture of different fat-scrapping herbs and grains. It can be done with or without the addition of oil or ghee depending on several factors such as the client’s Ayurvedic body type and condition, the location and the season of administration.
Ayurvedic practitioners use Udvarthanam as a remedy for metabolic and lifestyle disorders arising from today’s fast-paced, media-centric lifestyle. Udvarthanam not only cures lifestyle disorders but also solves a wide array of problems. It is included as part of Dinacharya (Ayurvedic daily routine) and can be done regularly before a bath or shower.
Types of Udvarthanam
There are two types of Udvarthanam massage, namely Snigdha Udvarthanam (wet and oily powder massage) and Ruksha Udvarthanam (dry powder massage).
- Snigdha Udvarthanam is a massage with a paste of herbal powders either mixed with medicated oil or ghee or fried in the same.
- Ruksha Udvarthanam is a dry powder massage. After Abhyanga (oil massage), the herbal powder is directly rubbed (without mixing oil) over the body in an upward direction.
When to Have Wet or Dry Powder Massage?
Snigdha Udvarthanam is advisable in the following cases:
- Where there is an aggravation of Vata (movement) Dosha
- Physical weakness
- For stability.
- For skin health and glow.
- For those living in drylands or deserts
Ruksha Udvarthanam is advisable in the following cases:
- Where there is an aggravation of Kapha (structure and lubrication) Dosha.
- Accumulation of excess fat in the body.
- If the person is lethargic.
- When the person is suffering from stiffness and cold.
- Accumulation of excess fluid in the body and dryness needs to be induced in the body.
- Extremely oily skin
- Excessive sweating in the body due to excessive fat.
- For those living in wet and marshy areas
- Bad body odour and severe itching.
- When skin tightening is needed.
- When the free circulation of nutrients in the body is hampered because of an obstruction in the body channels.
Benefits of Udvarthanam
- Reducing obesity – Udvarthanam reduces considerable fat tissue and cellulite from the abdomen, thus reducing overall weight. The reason is that rubbing herbal powder helps break down cellulite and also burn accumulated fat.
- Curing rheumatoid arthritis –Ruksha Udvarthanam is more beneficial when stiffness is the main concern. Snigdha Udvarthanam works well on joint tenderness with redness.
- Increases Skin Glow – The Udvarthanam strokes are applied in the opposite direction of hair growth, thus helping soften and exfoliate the skin, giving you a beautiful glow.
- Removes Toxins – Udvarthanam is one of the detoxification therapies of Ayurveda, cleansing the body and removing bad body odour. This helps prevent several diseases which are caused by the accumulation of toxins.
- Improves Blood Circulation – This type of massage improves peripheral blood circulation.
- Revitalizes the sense of touch, reduces stress, and rejuvenates the mind and body.
This technique is performed as per the Ayurvedic cleansing process known as Panchakarma.
Pre-Treatment Procedure (Purva Karma)
- First and foremost, the client is thoroughly examined and the basic body constitution and state of disease are documented in detail.
- The materials required for the body treatments are collected beforehand. Some of the commonly used herbal powders are Kolakulathadi Churna, and Triphala Churna.
- For Abhyanga, a medicated oil that suits the health condition and the client is selected. Some of the commonly used Ayurvedic oils are Ksheera Bala Taila, Mahamasha Taila, and Pinda Taila.
- The medicated oil selected for Abhyangam is warmed and then a massage is given to the entire body for 15-20 minutes.
- Abhyangam massage must be done simultaneously on both sides of the body. This helps maintain uniformity.
The Treatment Procedure (Pradhan Karma)
- Udvarthanam is done by covering all the seven postures of Abhyanga.
Source of Image: https://www.ayuruniverse.com/blogs/the-science-of-abhyanga/
Following are the postures:
Position 1: Sitting on the massage table with legs extended.
Position 2: Lying on the back
Position 3: Lying on one side, turning towards the left
Position 4: Lying on the belly, face downwards
Position 5: Lying on the right side, turning towards the right
Position 6: Repeat position 2, the supine position (lying on the back)
Position 7: Repeat position 1, i.e. the sitting position
- The herbal powder is taken in a bowl and rubbed over the limbs in a direction opposite to that of body hair growth.
- Over the abdomen, the powder is massaged synchronously in a clockwise direction. The massage application is alternated in a counter-clockwise direction. The powder is rubbed upwards from the pelvic area to the lower border of the rib cage with left to right and right to left strokes in between for best results.
- Over the chest, the powder is massaged over the chest from below and upwards, with side to side strokes in between for best results.
- The powder is rubbed on the back, starting from the sacral region (the bottom of the spine) to the upper back. Side to side strokes are given gently in the spaces between the vertebrae.
- Over the neck, light strokes are given between the collarbone to the chin. Light strokes are also applied from the shoulder to the lower border of the occiput (the back of the head).
Post-Treatment Procedure (Paschat Karma)
- The powder or paste is removed from the client’s body by wiping clean with a tissue or sterile cotton pad.
- Then a thin layer of oil is smeared on the body to prepare the client for a full body steaming which is given in a steam chamber using a decoction of Ayurvedic herbs. The time of steam varies from 10-15 minutes. The exact time duration of steaming depends on certain factors such as the body constitution, the morbidity (condition of disease) of the client, and the season.
- If the face is to be included, then the steam is given separately for the body and face. Once the client sits in the steam chamber, first the steam is given to the body. After five minutes, the client is given facial steam.
- The steaming procedure is followed by a warm water bath. The client is allowed to take rest for an hour before taking the warm water bath.
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