Snehana is a crucial stage of Panch Karma. The word implies kindness and love, and the process is the application of oils to the body both internally and externally. And it truly makes you feel as nurtured as a baby in the womb!
Bahya Snehana is external oleation. What I don't understand is the use of the word Bahya here, as it means fear. Any ideas?
In Bahya Snehana two Ayurvedic practitioners massage your body in synchronised strokes. The strokes match the five movements of Vata. Sesame is the primary oil used in Bahya Snehana, as it is the only oil to penetrate all seven tissues. But for Kapha and Pitta this may be contraindicated as it may be too hot or too heavy.
The oil is infused with herbs and along with the massage technique works to loosen the grip of the ama (toxins), preparing them for elimination. It might be difficult to imagine the skin as a digestive organ, but through oil massage the body actually ingests a significant amount of oil. Any oil remaining on the skin should be washed off within an hour of the massage, taking the toxins with it.
Oil massage, along with Shirodhara, usually form the very early stages of a Panch Karma. They work to relax the body and the mind, in preparation for the more stressful procedures ahead.