An Herbalist on the Benefits of Ayurvedic Abhyanga Massage
Several years ago LaToyia Mays was searching. She and her husband, veteran NFL player Joe Mays, had always led a healthy lifestyle but they both wanted autonomy over their wellbeing. They wanted natural treatments far from Western pharmaceuticals. Better digestive health. Integrated nutritional healing. LaToyia was researching different healing modalities and alternative methods—and that's when she became interested in Ayurveda.
LaToyia liked how the ancient science of wellness approached the body holistically. She and Joe began incorporating Ayurvedic principles into their lives. They quickly saw "a great change" in how they felt. "By fusing this health practice with other things that we've learned, our journey got sweeter," says LaToyia, who loved following the Ayurvedic guidelines of pairing certain foods to your dosha. LaToyia continued to study Ayurveda. She became a certified herbalist and eventually opened The Laya Center, an integrated holistic healing center, spa, and co-working space in Kansas City that incorporates ancient African and Ayurvedic methods. "We wanted to be the hub of information, the sanctuary of peace, and the voice of encouragement to make a difference in people's lives," she says.
That "difference" can be found through many offerings at the Laya Center: natural methods for injury recovery; yoga; herbal therapies; holistic retreats. LaToyia and her team also perform various Ayurvedic treatments including Abhyanga massage, an Ayurvedic approach to massage that focuses on vital points of the energetic and anatomical body. A practitioner performs Abhyanga using warm medicated oils and powders to promote healing, stimulate digestion, draw out impurities, and stabilize the systems in the body. It's an incredible treatment that Mays credits to helping her digestion. "I love the way I feel after," she says. "Invigorated and relaxed at the same time."
Practitioners at The Laya Center perform Abhyanga a few different ways. The main therapy incorporates whole body oil pulling (a continuous flow of oil over the body) and focuses on Marma Points (energetic points on the body). There is also a shortened version of the therapy that focuses on the head, ears, and feet, and a "Four Hands" version—"two people at once," says Mays—that is a 45-minute therapy. Each version incorporates dry herbs to detoxify and promote digestive health, increase stamina, increase longevity, and slow aging. LaToyia describes it as an amazingly energetic experience, one that "really sends a sensation, a connection, through your body."
The benefits of Abhyanga are profound. The treatment clears Kapha aggravation and other obstructions of the body's channels including, heaviness, stagnation, sluggishness, blockages, and stickiness, says LaToyia. It can also increase strength, reduce cellulite, promote quality sleep, cleanse and rejuvenate the skin, prevent headaches, strengthen muscles, ease stiffness, and reduce stress.
LaToyia urges clients to maintain the balance and benefits of Abhyanga by performing self Abhyanga massage at home, which highlights something she loves about both the treatment and Ayurveda: connection. "In India they often give each other massages in their home practices," she says. "Even the younger kids will give the elders massages. I love that. Everyone is connected. Everyone feels they can play a part in healing each other."
Because, after all, how we connect with ourselves and those we love is our most powerful form of currency. The treatments we incorporate, the foods we ingest, are all the keys to greater wellbeing—and we hold the power to choose what they are, just as LaToyia and her family did. And in all of it there's always one very special elements, she says. "That ingredient is love."
To learn more about The Laya Center and its Abhyanga treatment visit: www.layacenter.com.