Modern lifestyle and job patterns have led to several problems like stress, tension, anxiety etc. Most jobs require constant sitting in one position for hours, which leads to a lack of any kind of physical movement.
Lack of physical movement leads to body ache, loss of flexibility and other muscle and bone problems. There is a constant need for ways to rejuvenate and refresh oneself. There are many ways like yoga, meditation, massage, steam bath, exercises, etc.
In ancient Ayurveda, there were a variety of therapies and oil massages to rejuvenate the body and ensure a healthy brain. Pizhichil massage is very popular in Kerala and was used commonly by kings in ancient times. This is a stress relieving therapy and was considered by royals to maintain a healthy body and a calm mind.
What is pizhichil oil massage?
There are various oil massages in Ayurveda which aim at reducing stress and maintaining health. One such massage is the Pizhichil massage. This massage is quite famous in Kerala, a state in India.
The meaning of pizhichil is squeezing. It is a type of sarvangadhara which means ‘a body stream’. Thus, it is a stream of oil pouring down on the body.
This ayurvedic massage is a combination of heat treatment and oil massage. A piece of cloth is soaked in medicated oil which is squeezed onto the various parts of the body like a stream.
Pizhichil Uses in Treatment
Pizhichil massage therapy is used in following health conditions:
Our brain is responsible for multiple functions and sometimes it may get tired of performing these functions. Pizhichil or oil massage is generally considered best for relieving stress, tiredness, anxiety and hypertension. It has a relaxing effect on the brain as it synchronizes the waves in the brain and makes it calmer.
Many times some past accidents or severe injuries have a painful effect on one’s health. These effects are in the form of minor pain, muscular stress or other weakness. Warm oil used in Pizhichil has a soothing effect on pain affected areas. The presence of herbs in the oil helps in reducing any type of inflammation as well as muscle pain. Undergoing regular Pizhichil massage may prove to be beneficial in reducing prolonged pain.
Nerves serve the major function as the medium of communication throughout the whole body. They carry messages from the brain to various body parts and vice versa. Nervous weakness may be caused by inflammation in the nerves, nerve damage, nerve blockages or compression in the nerves. In Pizhichil, massaging the body with medicated oil and pouring down warm oil on the skin destresses the nerves and provides a soothing effect to the body.
Paralysis refers to the numbness or loss of sensory function of one or more muscles and nerves. It is commonly caused due to damage and blockage in the nervous system, spinal cord or any other nerve injury. Pizhichil helps in opening internal blockages and treating damaged body parts. Massage is done in such a way that it restores the nervous and muscular functions, thus making it more efficient. This may lead to improvement in the condition of people suffering from paralysis and nerve blockages if carried out effectively on a regular basis.
Pizhichil can help in curing various sexual problems in men like sexual weakness and erectile dysfunction. One of the major causes of such problems is an uneven flow of blood in that region or damage in muscles, veins and clogged blood vessels. Massage helps in maintaining proper circulation of blood all over the body even in the sexual organs. It also opens all blocked channels for the smooth passage of blood which helps in curing such sexual weaknesses.
Pizhichil Oil Massage Procedure
The procedure of Pizhichil oil massage includes applying and massaging of oil all over the body and head in a constant manner. Though the therapy is a full body massage but can be undertaken for a specific part of the body (Ekhanga Pizhichil) and half of the body (Ardhanga Pizhichil). The whole therapy is carried out by two to four people for a duration of 60-90 minutes.
The type of oil mixture used in the therapy depends on the needs and medical conditions of the patient. The medicated oil is taken into a bowl in which a clean cotton cloth is soaked. The oil is gently squeezed out on the whole body like a stream from the cloth followed by a massage in that area.
This massage is a full body therapy and includes changing into different positions. The therapy starts in a sitting position when the oil is poured on the shoulder and is followed by a gentle massage. The various positions include sitting, lying on stomach, lying on the back, lying on the right side and lying on the left side.
It is a continuous process which is done in the presence of two massagers one pours the oil from the cloth on the body and the other follows massaging that part. The slow and gentle pouring of hot oil on the skin results in mild sensations in the body which relaxes the brain nerves.
Pizhichil massage is a mixture of heat therapy and oil massage. Therefore, the patient may experience sweating all over the body. Sweating ensures the elimination of toxins from the entire body which helps in purification of blood. This, on the other hand, helps in to maintain high levels of immunity in the body.
The therapy lasts almost 60 – 90 minutes after which the person is given a hot bath or lukewarm bath. The best time to carry out this therapy is either early in the morning or evening. After the therapy, a person may get the urge to sleep due to the relaxing effects of the therapy which is also considered as an effective outcome of the massage.
This therapy is only done once in a day and continues for a period of 7 to 21 days. One sitting may not show effective results so it is advisable to continue the therapy for at least 7 settings for positive results.
Many times Pizhichil oil massage is accompanied by Shirodhara which refers to the continuous pouring of medicated oil on the forehead. A cloth is tied on the eyes to avoid oil from getting into the eyes.
Benefits of Pizhichil Oil Massage
This massage therapy is associated with multiple benefits and helps in maintaining an active body and mind. This therapy may help in keeping some diseases away from your body. The general benefits of this therapy are as follows:
- It improves the circulation of blood and eases breathing.
- The massage after this therapy helps in relieving stressed muscles.
- It tones muscles and gives a glow to your skin.
- Provides strength to our bones and muscles and is also helpful in paralysis.
- It is ideal therapy for people suffering from insomnia, tension and
- It relaxes the brain thus makes its working smooth and efficient.
- Improves overall functioning of the various parts of the body and thus increases immunity.
- Make sure to consult a qualified ayurvedic practitioner before going in for the massage. The supervision of an experienced person is necessary during the therapy.
- Make your practitioner aware of any existing diseases suffered by the patient so that he could make necessary arrangements during the therapy.
- It is advisable to undertake massage therapies on an empty stomach and avoid eating too heavy food just before the therapy.
- This therapy is not suitable for pregnant women as it may include lying on the stomach which may be difficult for them. Though they can undergo this massage for a certain part of the body.
- Do not undergo cold water bath in the duration of the therapy i.e., as long the therapy continues. Because this is a heat therapy and cold baths can result in an imbalance in the body temperatures.
Ayurvedic therapies are considered best because they do not have any adverse effect on the body. This therapy is completely natural and thus has no such side effects.
People don’t necessarily need to be ill to go through these therapies. They can also be used by one to make their body feel fresh and rejuvenated.
- Sujithra, R. M., Manohar, R., From the proceedings of Insight Ayurveda 2013, Coimbatore. 24th and 25th May 2013 (2013). OA01.04. Ayurvedic management of chronic rheumatoid arthritis with severe deformities – A case report. Ancient Science of Life, 32(Suppl 2), S4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4147510/