What is an Ayurvedic foot massage?
Ayurvedic foot massage is a specialised massage of the feet and lower legs using oils and a small bronze bowl or ‘wand’.
The power of foot massage is expressed in the ancient Indian saying: ‘Diseases do not go near those who massage their feet before sleeping, just as snakes do not approach eagles.’ Ayurveda is the traditional medicine system of India and is accepted as one of the world’s oldest. Its name is derived from two Sanskrit words – ‘ayur’, meaning life, and ‘veda’, meaning knowledge.
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical system, meaning ‘science of life ‘the art of harmonious healthy living. Ayurveda explains that human beings, like the universe, are made up of five elements: air, fire, water, earth and space and focuses on the maintenance of physical, emotional and spiritual balance.
The marmas (vital energy points) are an important part of Ayurvedic anatomy. As with reflexology, these points correspond to internal organs and systems of the body and are worked on in all Ayurvedic treatments. There are 107 marma points, which form vital energy channels running throughout the body; some of these points are located on the legs and feet.
Ayurvedic expert Dr Vasant Lad states that we can reduce stress, activate our immune system and even heal our body, mind and consciousness through the simple act of foot massage. The feet work in combination with the legs, knees, hips and back, so foot problems can lead to muscle tension in the body, especially in the back, neck and shoulders.
Ayurvedic foot massage is carried out with the use of a small three-metal bowl (vatki) or a wand, comprising a bowl with a handle attached. The metals used are copper, zinc and tin, and this sacred metal alloy (kansa) is known in Ayurveda as the ‘healing metal’. It is thought that copper may help in reducing pain and inflammation, zinc in aiding the digestive and immune systems, and tin in improving digestion and reducing headaches and insomnia.
In Ayurveda there are said to be 3 constitutional dosha types; VATA (air & ether); PITTA (fire & water); KAPHA (earth & water). Each person is born with a unique blend of the 3 doshas and this is your ‘prakruti’ meaning nature or original constitution; it includes inherited traits, individual characteristics and tendencies. The starting point of any Ayurvedic treatment is to determine your dosha with a simple questionnaire. You will probably be a mix of each of the doshas but often one will dominate.
A person with a predominantly vata constitution may have physical and mental qualities reflecting the elemental qualities of space and air. That is why vata types are commonly quick-thinking, thin and fast moving.
A pitta type, on the other hand, will have qualities reflective of fire and water, such as a fiery personality and sometimes a ruddy complexion.
A kapha type will typically have a solid body frame and a calm temperament, reflecting the elements of earth and water.
While one dosha predominates in most individuals, a second dosha typically has a strong influence. This is referred to as a dual-doshic constitution. Some people also have the three doshas in almost equal balance – however this is not the aim of Ayurveda, as that would make us all exactly the same.
What to expect
The starting point of any Ayurvedic treatment is to determine your dosha with a simple questionnaire.
I will then need to access your feet and lower legs for the treatment so you must remove your shoes, socks and wear shorts or trousers that can be rolled up to the knee.
The treatment begins by cleansing the feet and legs. This is followed by specific moves to release tension in the feet and legs. Then, slowly and methodically, the entire feet and lower legs (toes, feet, ankles, calves and knees) are encouraged to relax through the application of massage techniques carried out with the aid of oil.
The treatment incorporates special moves performed using the kansa bowl or wand. Marma massage is then applied to specific points on the lower legs and feet. Working these points is thought to relieve certain conditions around the body and free the energy flow. Areas for the seven chakras, found on the feet, are also worked on, to help balance the chakra energy.
Ayurvedic foot massage is a wonderfully relaxing holistic treatment that can help balance body, mind and spirit.