Most of the time when we read about massage it is in the context of working adults or parents looking for an escape from stress or relief from some kind of physical difficulty. Just the other day, however, I was reading about research on massage for teens. After receiving a 30-minute massage each day for five days, the teens in one study were in a better mood, more cooperative and sleeping better.
It got me thinking about how stressful the transition from summer vacation to school can be. It’s not just bed times and waking times that need to be adjusted. There is also the transition from relaxed summer attitudes to academic and social alertness. Adolescence can be a very stressful time of life. It’s a time of huge changes, both physical and psychological. Hormonal pressures, peer pressure and expectations can all create stress for young adults.
The benefits of massage are well documented: lowered stress hormones, relief of muscle tension, improved immune function, increased sense of relaxation and even a heightened ability to concentrate. There is also a recognized relationship between stress and the immune system. If stress hormones are chronically elevated, the hormone, cortisol, will destroy healthy immune cells that fight viruses and keep the immune system healthy. Lowering stress hormones means letting the immune system get back to doing its job.
Ayurvedic massage is traditionally performed in the morning before bathing or showering. Good massage oils are cured sesame oils, olive oil or sweet almond oil. Sesame oil is inherently heating, so those with a more Pitta constitution should opt for olive oil or sweet almond oil. A consultation with an expert in Ayurveda can help determine which oil is best for your child.
If you do choose sesame oil, look for cold-pressed, chemical-free organic sesame oil. To cure or purify the sesame oil, heat the oil to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat once this temperature is reached, cool and store for use as needed. Up to a quart of oil can be cured at a time. Of course, you should observe safety precautions when curing oil. All oils are highly flammable. Use low heat, and don’t leave the oil on heat unattended. You can look for professionally cured sesame oil at stores that sell Ayurvedic products if you’d rather not do the curing yourself.
If your mornings are already too rushed, try encouraging an oil massage at night.
Ayurveda spas, like The Raj Ayurveda Health Center, offer Ayurveda massages (Aybhanga) given by two technicians moving in synchrony, providing a deep experience of balance and integration. For more information on Ayurveda consultations and massage, contact The Raj Ayurveda Health Center:
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