ABHYANGA: NURTURING THE PRENATAL BODY WITH AYURVEDA

INTERVIEW WITH A CERTIFIED NEROLI AYURVEDIC ESTHETICIAN

Welcoming a new life into the world is a beautiful journey that requires care. At Neroli Salon & Spa, we celebrate global wellness traditions and ancient practices. As one of the few Ayurvedic spas in our region, we are proud to offer several holistic services that place a focus on delicate prenatal care.

Pregnancy creates a great change within the body and hormones. Ayurveda is a wonderful compliment to medical care and recommends great diet and wellness practices for each stage of pregnancy, as well as placing a focus on physical surroundings and mental/emotional health. Pregnancy is viewed by Ayurveda as a spiritually significant period and when self-care is of utmost importance for the wellbeing of both parent and child.

Marketing Manager of our umbrella company, Edgeless Beauty Group, Rebecca is a first-time expectant mother. To ease her into motherhood, she has been undergoing a series of Abhyanga treatments with Ayurvedic Esthetician, Eve at our North Shore location. Abhyanga is a full-body oilation and light massage with herbal oils. It is an excellent remedy to stress as the warmed oil accompanies gentle, swift strokes to balance energy centers within the body. This technique soothes the nervous system and leaves the body feeling balanced, calm, and centered. Abhyanga also provides nurturing comfort for our guests, which can be especially needed pre- and postnatal.

Rebecca sat down with Eve to learn more about Ayurveda for the prenatal body and how a series of treatments can benefit both herself as an expecting mother, and her baby.

Ayurveda mimics what nature is doing and also brings in the opposite effects of nature... With each season, we know that everyone naturally has more of that element in their bodies, so practitioners take that into consideration when performing services. The most important factor, though, is taking into consideration what the guest’s stress level is, how they experience stress, and how they’re sleeping to make a proper service recommendation.” -@ayurvedawitheve
neroli-eve-bio

Can you tell me where Ayurveda originated from? How long has it been in practice?

Ayurveda is estimated between 5,000-7,000 years old. It is a sister-science to yoga and is an ancient healing system originating from India. It’s a little tricky to explain Ayurveda because there is so much to it, but in more common terms, it means, “the science of life.” I typically explain to my guests that Ayurveda uses nature to bring balance to our bodies.

What do you mean by bringing balance to our bodies?

Ayurveda mimics what nature is doing and also brings in the opposite effects of nature. When it’s springtime, known as Kafa season, water and earth elements are most present. Which makes sense because springtime is when there is more rain and the snow is melting, so there’s an abundant amount of water during that time.

Water and earth elements are heavy, so during Kafa season, you want to do light qualities like dry brushing. Dry brushing is great for exfoliation and removing your winter skin to come into the new season. We want to do things that are lighter to us during this time, including eating a bit lighter. It’s really bringing out opposite qualities to our bodies to balance out what’s going on outside and in nature to feel more balanced and connected.

How would you describe Ayurveda as mimicking nature?

We all have the elements within us, which is where it can get a bit nuanced because my doshas are very water and earth heavy, so doing things are light and more energizing is great for me. But someone who is more Vata, which are infinity and air elements, have so much lightness in their head that they need more earth elements, like grounding movements and Abhyanga services are best for them.

Pita is a fire element, and they have a lot of heat in the body. Using cooling oils is great to offset some of that heat, so in a sense you want to practice the opposite of your elements to find your balance. To determine which Ayurvedic service is best for you, practitioners will ask a series of questions to identify three doshas that may be out of balance.

With each season, we know that everyone naturally has more of that element in their bodies, so practitioners take that into consideration when performing services. I base my service recommendations more on what my guest is saying during their consultation, but I do take season into consideration as well. The most important factor, though, is taking into consideration what the guest’s stress level is, how they experience stress, and how they’re sleeping to make a proper service recommendation.

Ayurvedic tools - Neroli Salon & Spa
Ayruveda Consultation with client
aveda essential oils for ayurveda

Why do you think Ayurvedic treatments are important to the health of a mother and baby?

Stress hormones are a big thing. It’s stressful being pregnant because there are so many new things happening. You’re experiencing many changes within the body and the hormones. We want to help calm the mind and lower the cortisol levels for yourself and the baby. Receiving a spa service in general – whether it’s Abhyanga, a facial, prenatal massage – it’s going to help lower that stress hormone which I think is really important for mom and the baby.

Why do you think Ayurvedic treatments are important to the health of a mother and baby?

Stress hormones are a big thing. It’s stressful being pregnant because there are so many new things happening. You’re experiencing many changes within the body and the hormones. We want to help calm the mind and lower the cortisol levels for yourself and the baby. Receiving a spa service in general – whether it’s Abhyanga, a facial, prenatal massage – it’s going to help lower that stress hormone which I think is really important for mom and the baby.

What are the typical stresses of prenatal guests?

Pain and tiredness are big ones during this time. Some people do have different thresholds, and some people are just affected very differently. It’s all about balancing a work life with all these changes going on within the body.

When you talk about the three doshas, how many chakras are you manipulating or are cognizant of in some way?

There are 7 chakras and I choose the chakras to focus on based on what the guest tells me during our initial consultation.  I focus on what I feel needs the most balancing, and during a sensory journey, the guest will pick the chakra that speaks most to them. I’ll briefly explain what the chakras are and how we’ll work on them. Our consultation is more-so chakra related than dosha related. One of the three doshas that could be out of balance impacts my technique, but with chakra evaluation we are able to use aromas to accompany the oil that’s being used. They’re interconnected because of the oils that I’m using are based on the doshas, and the essential oils are based on the chakras.

I find aromatherapy to be very powerful in treatments. The oil will be placed on different marma points of the body. There are three different types of oils – one for each dosha. Once you choose an aroma that speaks most to you, you then have an established trust in this relationship with the guest, which can be very personal.

Speaking to motion and touch, what are the techniques of Ayurvedic massage?

With Abhyanga services, we’re not targeting specific muscles. We’re practicing longer rhythmic movements on the limbs and joints to really lubricate the joints and help bring out circulation. It’s a beautiful way to be really in your body and present and giving thanks to your body. It’s not easy being pregnant and your body is changing a lot. This helps show gratitude and grace.

What is the health benefits of this type of treatment that focuses on the top layers of skin and lymphatic system?

It’s helping stimulate lymphatic drainage, so doing things like massage, exercise, and dry brushing is going to help stimulate that lymphatic drainage. It’s great for the nerves, too. Lymphatic work helps the circulatory system, it aids in digestion, and offers many different health benefits. It also helps create really soft and lustrous skin. We use great oil on the skin, and especially sesame oil which is rich in minerals and nutrients. This practice also helps with sleep, calming the nervous system, boosting immunity, and alleviating heartburn. There’s so many health benefits to this practice.

Pregnant woman experiencing a relaxing foot soak at spa
pregnant woman receiving Abhyanga treatment
Pre-natal massage table before Ayurveda service

In addition to that, working your way across the top layer of skin, you implement marma point work. Can you help explain what that is?

Marma points are subtle energy points within the body. They help realign the energy channels within the body. One of the main marma points is located in your forehead, which is your pituitary gland. So, if you’re feeling stressed or having trouble sleeping, stimulating that marma point on the forehead is great. Marma point work is to realign the energy channels within the body to help reach deep relaxation. Everyone has a different experience with marmas, but most people will reach a deep meditative state when they are being balanced.

As far as recommendations for this treatment, at what point in pregnancy is it recommended to begin?

There is debate about the first trimester, and always consult your doctor about it first. I have treated women in their first trimester, and I’ve done very light touches without putting any pressure because I know there are different thoughts on that. I would definitely recommend starting in the second and third trimester, as well as continuing your treatments postpartum.

What are the benefits or change in sensations or guest experiences in postpartum compared to prenatal?

It’s so important for new moms to be nurtured and this is such a nurturing and comforting service that I think it’s so important to nurture yourself after birth because you just experienced trauma to the body. It’s important to take care of yourself and be nurtured during this time.

What is the service experience like for some people in India?

A lot of women in India have an entire community that surrounds and nurtures the mother with different foods and nurturing goods to eat to help lactations. They also treat the moms with multiple Abhyanga services, and they will also practice this service on the infants as well. It’s really great that they have such a supportive community for pregnant people and children.

Based on your experience, why do you love offering this practice?

I love this practice because so rarely people get to lay on the table with nothing to do and no phone, absolutely no distractions for at least an hour. I think it’s so powerful and I think people look at it as dedicated time for themselves.

Be sure to emphasize rest no matter what state of pregnancy you’re in. Your body is expanding now on an emotional, physical, and spiritual level. Even when the unpleasant symptoms are present, the process is beautiful and deserves to be cherished. Be sure to pay attention to your body’s needs during this time.

If you are pre- or postnatal, we would love to have you in for a nurturing Ayurvedic service. Each spa services includes a thorough consultation, foot soak, pregnancy pillows if necessary, and steam showers will be available before & after your service. Reserve your Ayurveda services online, through the Neroli App or call us today at 414.227.2888.