To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Spa News: Environmental Aromatherapy,” by Carollanne Crichton, in the November 2011 issue. Article summary: With the festive season fast approaching, now is the perfect time to plan how to keep yourself and your clients in a healthy, stress-free state of body and mind throughout the holidays. Aromatherapy diffusion affords one way to create an effective, healthy ambience.

by Dakshina Vanzetti

One of the earliest known forms of aromatherapy comes to us from ancient India. It is the practice of burning and ambient inhalation of botanical essences and resins blended and rolled into incense according to ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda, which literally means life-knowledge, is the ancient Indian art and science of healing and rejuvenation through the use of natural substances, such as herbs, roots, flowers, oils and minerals.

Although aromatherapy as it is practiced today relies primarily on the use of essential oils, this simple, traditional form of burning incense to release therapeutic fragrance is very much alive and well, and can be an inexpensive yet effective means of administering a variety of aroma-therapeutic benefits.

In massage therapy, incense is recommended as an alternative for those with skin sensitivities to the more commonly used forms of essential oils.

The use of ayurvedic or aromatherapy incense can subtly enhance and support the myriad benefits of the massage, from creating a relaxing and uplifting atmosphere, to counteracting emotional imbalances, reducing stress and alleviating depression. There are a variety of fragrances to choose from that can be custom-selected according to the individual needs of the client or for general ambience.

Here are a few common fragrances and their therapeutic effects:

• Amber: Calming for disturbed conditions, restores equilibrium, and stimulates the heart center

• Jasmine: Counteracts hormonal imbalances, soothes headaches and is anti-depressive

• Lavender: Tempers extreme emotional states, mood swings and hypertension

• Rose: Increases feelings of love, compassion and devotion, reduces anger and depression

• Sandal: Aids spiritual purification and meditation. Reduces irritability and anxiety

There are a variety of aromatherapy and ayurvedic incenses to choose from and experiment with. Incense may be just the subtle touch you’ve been looking for to make your massage practice all the more holistic.

Dakshina Vanzetti is the president of Auromère Ayurvedic Imports (www.auromere.com), a nonprofit-owned company that specializes in authentic and effective body care and incense from the ancient land of India, made with pure, natural ingredients and wild-crafted herbs chosen for their beneficial properties according to the wisdom of Ayurveda.

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