If ever there was a seasonal shift to take note of and use as a marker for adjusting one’s routine, it’s the shift from winter into spring. Moving from a season that is cold, rough, and dry into one that is warm, wet, and damp affects our bodies. It is important during this shift to love yourself up in the morning with warm sesame oil. If you have a few extra minutes you can oil your scalp as well.
Oiling removes toxins from the skin and strengthens your immunity, coating you in a warm blanket of love as you head out into your day.
Ayurvedic practices like oiling the body originate in texts that are more than three thousand years old.
As we move from winter to spring there is one verse, translated from Sanskrit to English, that I recite to my students.
Sneha (oil) affused (sic) on the human organism imparts a tone and vigor to its root principles (tissues), in the same manner as water furnishes the roots of a tree or a plant with the necessary nutritive elements, and fosters its growth when poured into the soil where it grows. The use of sneha in a bath causes the Sneha to penetrate into the system through the mouths of the veins and the ducts of the body, as also through the roots of the hair, and thus soothes and invigorates the body with its own essence.
Under the circumstances, affusions (sic) and anointments of the body with oil or clarified butter should be prescribed by an intelligent person with due regard to one’s habit, congeniality, and temperament and to the climate and the season of the year as well as to the preponderance of the deranged dosha or doshas in one’s physical constitution.
Sushruta Samhita, Vol. 2, ch24:21
Reread the last paragraph and note where it speaks about climate and season.
Here’s a daily morning routine I recommend to all my students at this time of year.
Warm Oil Massage Morning Routine
Vata and Pitta body types can use Sesame oil unless your Pitta is very high. If you have congestion building in your body such as in your sinus cavity and you are a Kapha body type then use olive or mustard oils.
If you can get hold of a squeeze bottle it is a nice way to apply the oil, plus you can warm it in your sink or a bowl by placing it in hot water. Have these things out the night before and start warming the oil when you go to scrape your tongue, another daily morning routine you should follow all year long.
Have two old towels that you will use just for oil. Throw them away when they get too oil stained. Do not put oily towels in the dryer as they can start a fire. Let them air dry only. Stand on one or sit and begin with a small amount of oil by rubbing it with your hands into your scalp. You can leave this step out if you don’t have time or are not washing your hair.
By the way, the secret to getting oil out of your hair is to put shampoo in your hair first without water and rub that shampoo in before stepping under the water to rinse. After that important step shampoo once more.
Begin massaging the oil onto your body, covering each and every part. Move as slowly as time permits. Just rubbing without intention is like eating on the run! You are just doing it without really knowing why. Sit and massage your feet as well but be very careful as you don’t want to slip in the shower. Use the second towel to pat yourself dry.
If you find a day where you have extra time, it is nice to sit in the oil for 20 minutes. You don’t want to usually sit much longer than this as oiling can make you feel heavy.
When you take your shower, use any remaining oil on your hands to massage your face, throat, and ears. When you rinse off do not use soap, except on your privates if you like. Allow the love to envelop you.