Ayurvedic Basti Karma | International Integrative Educational Institute

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Ayurvedic Basti Karma

oil massage

Ayurveda has developed an exceptionally effective and deliciously soothing system, basti karma (“washing procedure”) that involves marinating certain local areas of the body in warm oil. It seems to be one of Ayurveda’s best kept secrets.

These localized basti treatments involve applying a warm medicinal oil, usually ghee, but often also sesame oil, to a specific contained area and allowing it to penetrate for 20-60 minutes. These oil or ghee washes create very deep, penetrating heat that allows the healing qualities of the medicated oil to profoundly infiltrate the tissue. Except for the eye treatments, the oils should be just about as warm as the client can stand, which, depending on individual sensitivity, is about 100 degrees F.

In typical basti karma, dough is made with black garbanzo flour, or whole wheat flour, and water. Black garbanzo flour is preferred because of its sticky consistency, but try both, or a combination, to suit your style. The dough is shaped into a small round ring (otherwise known as a bagel) about 4- 5 inches in diameter and is placed on the area to be treated. Edges are glued to the skin with few drops of water and warm herbal oil is gently poured into the well or squeezed in with the cotton gauze. When the oil cools down, it is squeezed out and replaced with warm oil a few times.

Netra Basti

This incredibly relaxing “eye bath” treatment nourishes the deep connective tissue of the eyes, improves vision and is beneficial for eye strain, dry, itchy eye, sty, optic neuritis, early cataract, macular degeneration, glaucoma and Bell’s palsy. In general, it helps to balance the doshas in the head.

Shiro Basti

Shiro basti with ghee treats headache and dermatitis of the scalp. With castor oil, it treats facial palsy, insomnia, anxiety, dandruff, facial paralysis and other neurological disorders and improves memory. It is usually done daily for a series of seven days, repeated every month or so.

Hridya Basti

This therapy, at hridya marma, helps to nourish, strengthen and balance heart functions and rejuvenate the heart. It strengthens the heart muscle, and increases the contractile force of the heart organ and benefits ischemic heart disease, cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. And it relieves deep seated anger and sadness. Give it a try for frozen shoulder, too.

Chakra Basti

This basti, which may also be called nabhi basti, is applied to the umbilical region. The nabhi (navel) marma is the vital center where all of Ayurveda’s 72,000 nadis (subtle energy pathways) converge. Hot oil wash here acts on the solar plexus and balances the digestive fire. Use it for indigestion, gas and constipation. Emotionally, it facilitates the release of deeply seated emotions.

Ayurvedic basti procedures are an unusual and quite profound way to enhance your bodywork treatments. Expertly treated, marma points on the body can literally give life. Working with these three important marmas and warm oil techniques goes a long way in creating balance and health in the body, mind, and spirit.