Self-Massage: A Beneficial Ayurvedic Daily Practice
Everyday we are bombarded with stress from travel, home life, relationships, work, or simply that we can't poop! Stress creates toxins, it's the real deal in this reality and we need to learn ways detox our bodies and handle stress better.
Ayurvedic knowledge teaches the importance of daily routines that allows one to nourish and strengthen the body to prevent imbalances such as burn out, overwhelm, or toxic overload. One of these daily practices is called, Abhyanga, which means oil massage in Sanskrit.
Why give yourself a daily oil massage?
The act of massage stimulates the lymphatic system. Lymphatic vessels run throughout the entire body just as the veins and arteries of the circulatory system do. The only difference between these two systems is that the heart pumps blood where as movement of the body moves lymph fluid. The lymphatic system removes toxins from the body in conjunction with the liver and kidneys. When the liver and kidneys are overloaded with toxins the lymph nodes get congested and swollen. This translates to weight gain, hormonal imbalances, poor circulation, and aches and pains in the neck, armpits, stomach, or hips. That's why it is so important to assist your body in the detoxing process. Abhyanga is one of many ways, along with healthy food choices. Look at it this way, you are with your body till death do you part, might as well make a good team!
How to do Abhyanga?
First off you need to choose an oil:
Is your skin dry and are you sensitive to wind? Go with sesame oil - it's warm and very nourishing.
Do you have zits on your body or heated skin? Go with coconut oil - it's cooling and light which means it won't clog your pores.
Is your skin dry with some areas of oil? Go with olive oil - it's warming and light but nourishing enough to penetrate into skin.
You can warm the oil up by heating a small pot of water on the stove, once the water is hot, turn off heat and place the bottle of oil in the pot. Take a small towel and slowly walk your way to the bathroom. Place the small towel down and lay the pot on top.
You can do the oil massage before or after shower. If you do it after the shower, place a thin coat of oil on the body instead of heavy coat so it doesn't seep into your clothes. If you do it before the shower and have time, let the oil sit on the body for about 15-30 minutes (this is great if you have really dry skin). Be mindful as you step into the shower or bath to stay stable and grounded to avoid slipping. Once you are done with shower rinse tile off with soap and water to clean off oil. (note: you may need to take proper care of shower drains to avoid it plugging up)
All strokes go towards the heart - in circular motion. Allow your body to relax and take nice deep breathes in and out through the nose.
Start with a scalp massage - can use oil on scalp or not, your call.
Massage your neck from base of the skull to the heart in circular motions.
Massage your chest and breasts.
Massage one hand going all the way up into the armpit. Then do the other arm.
Massage your stomach clockwise motion around the navel.
Massage your gluteals.
Massage one foot going all the way up into the hip. Then do the other leg.
On days you are very busy at least massage your scalp(1), hands(2), and feet(3), in the order listed.
Placing oil on the body coats the nerves and allows your body to combat stresses better. Start doing this everyday for one month straight, and the day you miss it, you will notice the difference. It's amazing! Out of all the practices this one it my personal favorite that I need to do everyday. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.