One of the great things about hanging around the yoga world is that you learn so many healthy, Ayurvedic*, lifestyle, habits. One of my favorites is Abhyanga, the practice of giving yourself a full body, hot oil massage. This daily ritual is so luxuriously relaxing, it calms the mind and the nerves. Abhyanga nourishes the skin, the entire body, and decreases the effects of aging. It increases circulation, lubricates the joints, improves muscle tone, and stimulates the lymphatic system. Self massage reduces pain, helps to eliminate toxins from the body, and helps you sleep better at night.  And these are just some of the many benefits of making Abhyanga a part of your daily routine.
How to get started:

If you are not familiar with massage oils, buy one that is natural, organic, and cold pressed. My current favorites are coconut oil and grape seed oil but other great choices are sweet almond, jojoba oil, and sesame oil. If you want a more sensual experience add of few drops of essential oils like lavender, jasmine, or an oil with your favorite scent. Remember that some oils mess up your towels so use your old ones.
I like to warm the bottle of oil in a bowl of hot water. You can also warm it by placing it in the sink and running hot water over it. Don’t microwave and always test the temperature on your wrist before using so you don’t burn yourself. When I am in a hurry, and doing a short session, I just rub a dollop of coconut oil in my palms till it melts and is comfortably warm. While your warming the oil you might also want to put a little heater on in the bathroom so the temperate in the room is comfortably warm.Rub a little oil onto your hands and fingers, then starting at your crown rub your head and scalp using your fingertips. Make small circular strokes, pretend you are shampooing. Re-apply oil as often as needed so your fingers glide easily over the skin without tugging. Then move from you head to your face, using a gentle, upward, circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws. Pay special attention to your ears, especially your ear-lobes. They are full of acupressure points and nerve endings. I like to pinch and wiggle them using my thumb and index finger.

Use an open hand massage the front and back of the neck and your shoulders. Use long strokes on your limbs (arms & legs), massaging from the extremities towards your heart. Use circular movements on the joints. If you have more time really pay attention to your feet. They are full of reflexology points and nerve ending and massaging these brings health to your entire body.

Use clockwise, circular motions on the chest and abdomen. When massaging the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; move up on your right side, then across, then down on the left side of your abdomen. Then gently reach around to the spine and back. Massage where you can reach without straining.

Keep the oil on your body for at least 5 minutes, 15 is better, after your massage. If you want you can take a bath or shower after your Abhyanga practice but avoid vigorously soaping or rubbing the oil off your body. My skin is really dry so I often do this practice after my shower and just leave the oil on my skin. Always do what feels best for you.

Afterwards you get to enjoy the sensation of relaxation that comes with self care, knowing that you have nourished your body and your mind. You also get to carry these feeling with you for the rest of the day. If you found this post helpful please share it.

Ayurvedic Medicine, Abhyanga, Self Massage, oil

*Ayurvedic Medicine has been around for over 5,000. It is a system of natural healing that originated in India. Ayurveda means “Life Knowledge.” This system promotes balance and health is an individualized practice.  According to Ayurvedic Medicine, factors such as stress, unhealthy diet, weather, and strained relationships can all influence that balance and imbalances lead to disease. Because of it’s effectiveness, Ayurvedic Medicine is enjoying a major resurgence throughout the world.

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