Practicing self care and self love are of great importance to our sense of wellbeing.
Ayurveda is a huge advocate of oiling the skin or oleation. There are specific treatments where oil is poured over the body, over the forehead, with slow gentle strokes or vigorous massages. Often it is followed by a steam bath.
“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.” – Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89.
Although some massage techniques are similar to western massage such as Swedish or sports massage, the strokes in Ayurvedic massage are often repeated, and not always so deep or focusing on muscular tension. Rather, in Ayurveda the treatments aim to balance your Doshas, the flow of Prana and nourish the tissues or Dhatus. Circular movements or pressure may be applied to Marma Points (like acupressure points) which may help in pain relief or digestive issues.
Massage is shown to have a multitude of benefits including increasing oxytocin levels, our feel-good hormone. It is vital to our wellbeing. In Ayurveda it reduces Vata which means it calms us down and supports our nervous system. It helps our sleeping patterns and gives strength, softness and nourishment.
“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.” – Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
To practice self massage or abhyanga, listen to your intuition and practice with love and self care. This is a great time to appreciate and connect with your body. Take time to apply the oil and massage yourself.
Fill 1/4 of a cup (or bottle/container) with oil (adjust to your body), let the cup sit in boiled water/radiator to heat up. Or have a special oil burner/ tea burner to warm up over a tea-light. But be mindful – oil is flammable!
Sesame oil is highly recommended but if that feels too warming or heavy use sunflower, almond or coconut oil. Alternatively get a specific Ayurvedic abhyanga oil like this soothing oil for Pitta dosha, calming oil for Vata dosha or stimulating oil for Kapha dosha. Only use natural vegetable oils.
Massage a small amount of oil to your nostrils or alternatively drop 4 drops of Nasya Oil into each nostril. Massage oil to your ears.
Apply some warm oil in and around your navel. Massage in clockwise circular movements. Move to your lower back and sacrum, create circular movements over your hips, strokes down the thighs, circular massage on the knees, stroking down the lower legs several times, massage the ankles, feet and toes. Then massage the torso, breasts, shoulders, arms, hands and fingers. Pay special attention to your hands, feet and joints.
Leave the oil for 10-20 minutes. Without scrubbing off all the oil have a shower or bath. If you massaged oil into your hair add some shampoo before you wet your hair to help dissolve the oil.
Not enough time to do the whole thing? Then concentrate on feet, hands, ears and the head. Most importantly practice with love and tenderness.
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