When was the last time you felt that blissful glow from a massage? Your muscles relaxed, your mind at ease, and skin nourished by being touched. In Ayurveda, it is suggested you receive this daily. Yet over the past year, we have grown used to social isolation, lacking in touch and sensory experiences. The practice of Abhyanga, self-oil massage is a beautiful way to cultivate this touch for yourself; providing you with wellness, balance, and self-love from the ease of your own home.
Imagine that every day!
Self-Healing through Touch: Abhyanga
Abhyanga is a nourishing tool for self-healing which involves massaging warm, herb-infused oil along your entire body. The oil is specific to balancing your doshas, or energies, within your body. Think of it as a major upgrade to putting lotion on your dry skin!
Not only does the warm oil penetrate the deeper layers of your body, calm the nervous system, and naturally detoxify on deeper levels, but this is time to truly gift yourself some love. When living in a world that is fast-paced and often stressful, mindfully massaging, witnessing, feeling, and appreciating each and every part of your body naturally invites feelings of love, gratitude, and calm.
Yet there are many additional benefits to this simple practice!
- Toning your muscles
- Softens the skin and nourishes down to the organ systems
- Enhancing detoxification and lymphatic drainage
- Increases circulation, bringing nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Calming your nervous system, reducing depression and anxiety
- Releasing fatigue
- Reduces the progression of premature aging
- Aiding your sleep
- Improving elimination and digestion
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.” – Ancient Ayurvedic text
HOW TO PRACTICE:
Practicing Abhyanga is very simple and quite intuitive. Similar to but more deliberate than applying lotion.
- First warm up the oil, pouring a tablespoon of oil in your palm and rubbing your palms in a circular motion for 20-30 seconds, or until heat is generated between your hands.
- Begin rubbing the oil onto your legs and feet, beginning at the bottom and working your way up your legs. Consciously massage the skin and muscles as you go, saying loving and positive affirmations to yourself, and giving yourself love.
- Add more oil to your hands as you move over each part of the body, paying particular attention to any dry spots on your knees and feet.
- Pour more oil into your hands and massage the buttocks, lower back, and torso.
- Gently massage your abdomen in counterclockwise circular motions. This is the direction of your colon and the movement aids your digestion and elimination. Up your right side – across – down your left side – across.
- Bring the oil up your chest in long, slow strokes toward your heart. This helps you connect to your heart chakra and emotions.
- Add oil to your hands and begin rubbing it onto your arms. Paying particular attention to the back of your arms, elbows, and wrists.
After applying you may either put on socks, loose pajamas, and heading to bed … or you can practice this before a shower. If showering, allow the hot water to flow for several minutes while you stand in the shower (not allowing the water to run down your body). The steam and warmth this creates allows the pores to open and the oil to more readily absorb into the body. Gently shower with light soap.
Add healing essential oils like YouVeda’s My Essential Oils: Mood after your shower for an added touch and added bonus.
WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU?
Each dosha has its own unique qualities and characteristics and balancing them helps to create more vibrant health. Finding the oil that’s right for you helps establish this balance.
- VATA (Dry, cold skin, or fall season) –
- Sesame, jojoba, or almond oil
- Practice at least 5 times a week. During the cold, dry Vata season, you may need to oil your body every day.
- PITTA (Hot, oily skin, or summer season):
- Coconut, sunflower, or olive oil
- Practice at least 3 times a week. You do not need to oil your body as much in the hot, humid months.
- Slower, more deliberate massage
- KAPHA (Damp, cold skin, or spring season) –
- Sesame, mustard, or almond oil
- Practice at least 2 times a week. Pay particular attention to the dry spots on your body, and add stimulating herbs to your oil.
- More vigorous, firm strokes to stimulate your body and loosen your muscles
Healthy nourishment does not need to come from food alone. The glow of longevity, balance, and a healthy body and mind is quite literally in your hands!
And the simple pleasure of touch through a loving self-massage, can easily take you there.
Shop this article: My Essential Oils: Mood
Author: Carolyn Crews (YouVeda’s Wellness Contributor)