Are you feeling depleted, dry, or mentally scattered? Do you want to strengthen and heal your tissues with an unctuous warm oil? If so, then Abhyanga, the practice of self-massage with oils, may be perfect for you.
Abhyanga is a traditional Ayurvedic practice that can be incorporated into your daily or weekly routine. It nourishes the tissues and calms the mind, making it a perfect practice for the cooler, windy vata season from October – January.
Choosing the right oil for your Dosha is essential to getting the full benefits of Abhyanga. For vata, use a warmed sesame oil or ashwagandha bala oil. For pitta, use room temperature coconut or sunflower oil, and for kapha, use just a bit of warmed sesame oil or a bit more sunflower oil. It is important to use organic oils, as they will be absorbed by the skin and digested by the body just like food.
To begin the practice, heat the oil in a hot pot with two inches of water or a kettle of water. You can sit in a chair or have a nice big towel on the floor and massage the oil starting with the ankles and wrists, moving in towards the core. Use long strokes where possible and circles on joints. Rub the oil in clockwise on the abdomen, being very delicate with the eyes if you choose to apply it to the face.
Abhyanga should be done for a minimum of five minutes, but ideally for 15-20 minutes. This practice should be a relaxing and soothing experience, so feel free to chant or listen to music while you do it.
After your massage, you may have some oil on the walls, floors, and tub, which can easily be washed away with dish soap. Additionally, adding oil to your forehead and soles of your feet before bed can help with sleep.
Abhyanga is a simple practice that can make a significant difference in your mind and body. So why not try it today and see how it can nourish your soul?