Abhyanga or the ayurvedic daily practice of self massage (and also massage as a treatment) is the process that involves massaging yourself head to toe with a warm natural oil.
It is an important part of the ayurvedic dincharya. And I also feel that it is a beautiful way to show some self love. The process of abhyanga will instill a deep beautiful feeling of love in you.
I was always fond of massages. Before covid it was easy to take a full body massage from an expert. But now with the threat of the virus it is difficult to fathom.
I came across this beautiful practice lately. And then my yoga teacher also insisted that we include abhyanga into our daily practice for improving flexibility. My achy body was anyways asking for some love and massaging. I thought of giving it a try and it felt wonderful.
Some warm oil massage followed by a hot water bath has become the norm for me these days and it is the most beautiful way of uplifting myself.
I love to use sesame oil. But as the weather gets hotter I intend to shift to coconut oil as sesame oil is very heavy. The ayurvedic scriptures specify dosha specific oils to help balance the three doshas of the body. Basically if you have a kapha prakriti ( oily skin) use a light oil. Vatta prakriti has dry skin and must use a heavy oil like sesame. Pitta prakriti is characterised by sensitive skin and must use a neutral oil like ghee.
We know our skin and needs the best, so I feel we can go by intuition and what feels good.
Benefits of Abhyanga
- Massaging helps improve circulation.
- It also helps in moment of lymph and thereby drainage of lymph.
- It is extremely calming and removes stress and anxiety.
- Makes the skin soft and supple. It also reduces appearance of wrinkles. The weather here is extremely dry and following Abhyanga keeps me from using the various chemical based moisturizers.
- Helps me recover from muscle stiffness. Changing weather, workouts etc often cause muscle stiffness. After a massage you will surely feel your body loosen up.
Some things to remember:
- Take the oil warm.
- Start from the head and move downwards. Do not leave out ear lobes forehead, behind the ears.
- Massage in the direction of body hair. On joints massage in a circular manner. On abdomen move circular and in a clockwise direction.
- Come to feet in the end and spend at least 5 to 10 minutes massaging your feet. Feet have a lot of marma points and taking care of these can really help you feel better.
- If possible sit with the oil for 10 to 15 minutes. This would help in absorption of the oil.
- Follow it up with a warm shower.
- Ideally no soap must be used. But if u feel the need use a very very mild soap.
- Pat dry your body.
Based on my experience I feel one must be gentle and listen to their body. If you have any health conditions be careful and ensure to consult a doctor. Though massaging is relatively safe, in some conditions one needs to be careful.
I have been using this process for over a month and I have been encouraging my daughter too. She is 6 so I sometimes do the massage for her, but I also encourage her to do it herself. She actually loves that too!
Do try abhyanga and share with me how did you enjoy the experience or if you have already been doing it I would love to learn more from you.
I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z and this post corresponds to letter A!