During the week, after a day full of clients and NATIVE work, I started feeling super run down, with my nervous system completely fried, overworked, and a lot of upper back tension to show for it. And though I felt quite sound mentally with a flourishing spirit due to my tonics, workouts, and meditation, I needed some extra support to ease physical tension in the body.
Amanda of Moon Juice first introduced me to the Ayurvedic self-massage Abhyanga last year, and then Guru Jagat of RA MA raved about it, and even wise Kari Jansen of Poppy and Someday was praising it on here a few weeks ago. So once I came across all its medicinal and beautifying benefits in my Ayurvedic herbal studies two weeks ago, I realized that it might be time to give this practice a chance.
ANNNNDD I can’t believe it took me this long. The five-fifteen minutes that I set aside to practice Abhyanga have turned into the most soothing, tension reducing, and restoring moments imaginable. Some incredible benefits have also noticeably transpired such as: it stimulated new growth of my hair, I've been having incredibly DEEP slumbers at night, my skin is noticeably softer, and it really connects me to every nook and cranny of my body-more so than yoga or meditation. It still blows my mind that this ancient self-massage is a free practice that anyone can access, anywhere, at anytime, while reaping such deep benefits.
I choose to do it right before bed so that I can wash away stress from the day and then I can sleep with the oil conditioning my hair and penetrating deeper into my skin. So without further introduction, below is how to preform Abhyanga, an Ayurveda self-massage. For those that absorb more from visual reference can watch this video.
BENEFITS | nourishes the entire body—decreases the effects of aging | imparts muscle tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body | imparts a firmness to the limbs | lubricates the joints | increases circulation | stimulates the internal organs of the body | assists in elimination of impurities from the body | moves the lymph, aiding in detoxification | increases stamina | calms the nerves | benefits sleep—better, deeper sleep | enhances vision | makes hair (scalp) grow luxuriantly, thick, soft and glossy | softens and smoothens skin; wrinkles are reduced and disappear | pacifies Vata and Pitta and stimulates Kapha
OILS | Recommended oils for the doshas:
Kapha Dosha: 1-2 times a week using safflower
All Three Doshas: Jojoba Oil
(What Dosha am I? Find out here)
PROCESS | gently place your bottle of oil inside a cup 3/4 full of very hot water to warm up your oil. Test the temperature by putting a drop on your inner wrist, oil should be comfortably warm and not hot
Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room
HEAD | Apply oil first to the crown of your head (adhipati marma) and work slowly out from there in circular strokes—spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp (home to many other important marma points—points of concentrated vital energy)
FACE | Massage in circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws (always moving in a upward movement). Be sure to massage your ears, especially your ear-lobes—home to essential marma points and nerve endings
ARMS & LEGS | Use long strokes on the limbs (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints (elbows and knees). Always massage toward the direction of your heart
BELLY | Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side
FEET | Finish the massage by spending at least a couple of minutes massaging your feet. Feet are a very important part of the body with the nerve endings of essential organs and vital marma points
FINISH | Sit with the oil for 5-15 minutes if possible so that the oil can absorb and penetrate into the deeper layers of the body. Enjoy a warm bath or shower. You can use a mild soap on the “strategic” areas, avoid vigorously soaping and rubbing the body. When you get out of the bath, towel dry gently. Blot the towel on your body instead of rubbing vigorously.