Nurturing the little ones with a good massage
The healing system of Ayurveda gives a lot of importance to touch and nurturing from birth. It considers it as a vital component of a child’s upbringing and also its overall well-being, opines V. C. Ajith Kumar, Principal Consultant and Director of Ayush, Singapore, Little India branch. “This practice has been passed down through generations in our country.”
Delving deeper into the practice Mr. Ajith says that it has a lot of benefits, and techniques and also fosters a profound connection between the caregiver and the Shishu or baby. Sishu Abhyanga, which is specifically designed for babies and is aimed at improving their overall health.
Choosing the right oil
“We cannot haphazardly apply any oil on infants or even toddlers. During Shishu Abhyanga, natural oils are used to massage the baby’s body in a loving and soothing manner. The oil chosen for the massage depends on the baby’s specific constitution or dosha” explains the Ayurvedic expert.
He states the oils that are commonly used in the massage. They include sesame oil, coconut oil, or almond oil, which are known for their nourishing and moisturizing properties,” explains the Ayurvedic consultant. “Coconut oil is one of the best and most harmless ones as it helps cool the baby’s body. Its moisturizing properties are unique and prove to be beneficial to the baby. Therefore it is one of the best options. Almond oil, gentle and rich in nutrients, is often preferred for babies with sensitive skin”, points out the Ayurvedic consultant.
Benefits of Sishu Abhyanga
The Ayurvedic consultant lists out some of the benefits of massage on babies.
Bonding and Emotional Development: Shishu Abhyanga provides an opportunity for intimate bonding between the caregiver and the baby. Usually, it is done by the mother whose loving touch creates a bond between her and the baby, fostering a sense of security, trust, and emotional well-being in the child.
Healthy Growth and Development: The gentle massage techniques of Shishu Abhyanga contribute to the healthy development of the baby’s musculoskeletal system. The carefully applied pressure and movements help stimulate blood flow, improve flexibility, and support the growth of muscles and bones.
Improved Digestion: Ayurvedic massage techniques, such as clockwise abdominal strokes, can aid digestion and alleviate common discomforts like gas and colic. The massage promotes healthy bowel movements and helps regulate the digestive system, leading to a happier and more comfortable baby.
Calming and Relaxing: The soothing nature of Shishu Abhyanga has a profound calming effect on babies. The rhythmic strokes and gentle touch help release tension, reduce restlessness, and promote relaxation. It can be particularly beneficial for babies who experience difficulty settling down or have trouble sleeping.
Enhanced Circulation: Through the application of warm oils and gentle massaging movements, Shishu Abhyanga promotes healthy blood and lymphatic circulation in the baby’s body. Improved circulation boosts the supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells, supporting overall growth and vitality.
Guidelines for practising Shishu Abhyanga
When engaging in Shishu Abhyanga, it is important to ensure that the baby is laid down on the mattress and in a comfortable position, points out V.C. Ajith Kumar. It is essential to follow the guidelines given below, says Mr Ajith:
Choose a calm and warm environment for the massage, free from distractions.
Use gentle, slow, and rhythmic strokes, keeping the pressure light and appropriate for the baby’s comfort.
Start with the baby’s limbs and gradually move towards the abdomen and back.
Observe the baby’s cues and adjust the massage techniques accordingly. Respect their preferences and boundaries.
Avoid massaging areas with rashes, wounds, or any skin conditions.
Pay attention to the baby’s feedback and adjust the duration and frequency of massages as per their needs.
Shishu Abhyanga is a beautiful and time-honoured tradition that encompasses the wisdom of Ayurveda to nurture and support the growth of infants, elucidates the consultant of Ayurveda. He justifies that through this gentle and loving practice, caregivers can create a special bond with their little ones while providing numerous benefits for their physical, emotional, and overall well-being. “When the mother does this massage to the baby, it imparts everlasting love, security, and comfort to it. Babies can receive her pure love through every touch and stroke during the massage. Thus Shishu Abhyanga is a truly invaluable gift from the heart,” reveals the Ayurvedic expert, Mr Ajith Kumar of Ayush Ayurveda, Singapore.