Nabhi Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Abdominal Massage

Often in holistic massage systems, the abdominal area is not given enough attention as the rest of the body. Sometimes, this area may be completely left out during a massage session.

In Ayurveda, the abdominal/stomach region is viewed very differently. Immense importance is given to this local area. It is here that Agni or the digestive fire lives. This digestive fire is responsible for the digestion of all food eaten and its conversion into nutrients. Stimulating this Agni is one of the most important aims in Ayurveda.

When the Agni or digestive fire is strong and healthy, no toxin or Ama is formed. It is this Ama that is responsible for all diseases and ailments in the body.

Just the way the earth revolves around the sun, in Ayurveda we believe that our lives revolve around our Agni or digestive fire. It is interesting to observe that we wake up when the sun wakes or rises up. We go to sleep when the sun goes to sleep or sets down. Likewise our digestive fire also wakes up and goes to sleep with the sun.

Ayurveda has gifted us five approaches to balance and maintain life. These five approaches can also be used to maintain a healthy Agni:

Food
Herbs
Massages
Yoga
Daily routine

Out of these five approaches, massages are the most commonly used tool.

Ayurveda says “Don’t put anything on your skin that you cannot put on your tongue because just the way everything that you put on your tongue gets absorbed and reaches different parts of your body so will everything that you put on your skin get absorbed to the deepest tissues like bones”

This can be very well explained according to modern medical view. As we all know, our body is made up of cells including all organs and the skin. There exists an inter-cellular space between cells including those of the skin. Any substance e.g. oil applied to the skin gets absorbed through these inter-cellular spaces and reaches the deepest tissues including bones.

Therefore massage is a very strong tool for maintaining health and curing ailments.

The abdominal massage routine in Ayurveda is called: Nabhi Abhyanga.

This massage directly helps to stimulate and regulate Agni.

Importance of the abdominal area or the navel region in Ayurveda (also called as Nabhi):

  •  Nabhi is a marma point or energy point behind the navel region.
  • Agni or the digestive fire resides or lives behind the navel region in the area of the small intestine.
  • Therefore Nabhi Abhyanga literally means massaging the Nabhi Marma point to help regulate the Agni.
  • According to the Chakra system, the Manipura Chakra is also located behind the navel region. The natural element that corresponds with this Chakra is fire.
  • According to modern medicine all the main digestive enzymes are produced by the small intestine which is also located just behind the navel region.
  • The navel region or Nabhi Marma point is the first and the only point of contact and source of food, water and air for the foetus while it lives in the mother’s womb for 9 months.

Bearing the above points in mind, Ayurveda gives immense importance to this region and says that this point or area should be nourished from the very first days of a baby’s life and this should be continued life long. Any massage given to this area including the whole abdomen helps to regulate the Agni which in turn supports a healthy life.

Nabhi Abhyanga is useful for the following imbalances:

  • Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Under active thyroid
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • IBS
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence and gases
  • Lethargy
  • Tiredness
  • Ama – related conditions

Nabhi Abhyanga is very commonly given to women in the post natal period as it also helps to strengthen the abdominal wall and prevents unnecessary weight gain during this period.

Nabhi Abhyanga can also be included as a part of any weight loss programs or packages.

Caution:

  • Excess heat in the body
  • Acidity/ ulcers

Abdominal massage is given in three positions:

  • The client lying prone on the back
  • The client turns and lies down on the right hand side
  • The client turns and lies down on left hand side.
  • Massaging in a sideward position helps to approach the internal organs easily as they tend to fall out towards the abdominal wall in this position.

Nabhi Abhyanga can be combined with other treatments to widen the treatment offers:

  • Nabhi Marma Abhyanga: Abominal massage with Marma Point therapy
  • Nabhi Udvartana: Abdominal herbal scrub massage
  • Nabhi Abhyanga and Lepa: Abdominal Massage with herbal mask or wrap application
  • Nabhi Abhyanga with Eranda Lepa: Abdominal Massage with Castor Oil Pack

Example of a simple weight loss program including Nabhi Abhyanga:

This routine is followed over a 6 week period.

  • An initial consultation and assessment of the client’s body type
  • Day 1:
    • Triphala 1 capsule and castor oil 1 table spoon in the evening before going to bed
  • Day 2:
    • Warm drinks and herbal drinks in the morning. Try and avoid any solid foods till 10am.
    • 10 or 11am: Nabhi Abhyanga
    • Plenty of warm drinks and ginger lemon tea for an hour after the massage.
    • Light lunch to be taken after an hour
    • Triphala, 1 capsule and castor oil, 1tablespoon again at bedtime.
  • The above sequence to be followed once every week for 5-6 weeks. This really helps towards gentle and yet effective and permanent weight loss.

It is strongly recommended that you consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner if you suffer from any ailments. The treatment protocol may change based on a person’s body constitution and disease.

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