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Ayurveda Body Therapies During Pregnancy

Abhyanga is a gently, warm oil massage that can be done daily on self, and is done professionally by Ayurvedic body therapists. It is very important to include in the daily routine for several reasons. First of all, the strokes that are used move along lymphatic system into the drainage sites. They will remove toxins from the blood and lymph. The massage also enhances circulation and soothe the vata dosha in the form of touch, calming the mind. It is the opposite of the vata qualities, as it is warm, moist, and smooth, and heavy. It is important for a pregnant woman to feel comfortable in her own skin, and performing this massage daily is a luxurious way to take notice of your body and take appreciation of it. It is very grounding and can be very effective in bringing the mind and focus inward. The oil is lubricating to the dhatus and will nourish dry skin. Massage oils are herbalized, and vary in indication, however, for pregnant abhyanga, a vata balancing oil is most commonly recommended. Extra focus can be put on the abdomen area, where stretch marks are most prominently formed, and the oil will create elasticity and tone in the skin. (2, pg. 100) Abhyanga is as important if not more during the postpartum weeks, and will be mentioned again in part three of this paper. (3, pg. 55-58).

Shirodhara is the treatment is known as the bliss therapy, and it gives such a profound calming effect on the mind it is as though all worry fades away. This can be a very beneficial treatment for the pregnant woman who has excess worry, fear, or a restless mind. Shirodhara is performed with a warm stream of oil, dripping over the third eye, running back over the crown shakra constantly for a period of several minutes.

During the eight and ninth month, an herbal oil enema, called basti, made of cured sesame oil base should be done about once per week. This is very balancing to Apana Prana and is preparing the body for delivery, and well as lubricating the intestinal tract and ensuring a clean bowel for the end of pregnancy.

During the last month of pregnancy, perineum basti should be performed regularly. This can be done by massaging the perineum with warm oil, or by placing an new oil-soaked tampon inside the vagina each morning. This creates the same toning and elastic effect on the skin as abhyanga does on the rest of the body. When the perineal tissue is nourished it the will stretch more effectively during labor, with less tears, and will heal much more quickly.

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