In the lead up to Christmas I see many people getting more and more stressed out. There doesn’t seem to be enough time and there is a lot of rushing around – a definite increase in the Vata Dosha happening here!
Ayurvedic self massage, or Abhyanga, is a powerful part of your daily routine and is particularly helpful to ease the stresses and strains, helping you to feel more grounded and relaxed in the run up to the festive period. It’s free and it in your hands!
The effects of abhyanga are similar to being saturated with love and can give a deep feeling of stability, warmth and comfort. Take your time with your self-massage and use your hands with softness and kindness. Allow as much time as possible to do the whole body, this allows the oils to penetrate deep layers of tissue, relieving deeply held tensions. You don’t have to do the scalp if this feel like too much work – doing the body alone is soooooo soothing.
Also massaging the feet thoroughly before bed is an excellent way to improve the quality of your sleep – pop some socks afterwards to avoid slipping and snuggle down. This is an excellent way to ground your energy and get well needed rest.
Almond oil, Coconut oil and Sesame oil are all lovely for this massage, you can warm the oil first by placing your bottle in a bowl of hot water. Adding in a few drops of essential oils of Lavender, Chamomile, Rose or Frankincense can be really soothing and relaxing.
Self massage if a powerful tool for those of you who are particularly prone to stress, dryness and painful, cracking joints, whatever the time of year! Pay special attention to the circular massage movements around the joints, this is so helpful with arthritic conditions. You will find the soothing and hydrating qualities of the oil massage so beneficial. No need to wash it off either, I like to massage after bathing and let the oils continue to work their magic.
The benefits of giving yourself a wonderful oil massage (abhyanga)
- Gives softness and strength to the body
- Decreases the effects of aging
- Improves vision
- Nourishes the body
- Increases longevity
- Benefits sleep patterns
- Benefits skin
- Strengthens the body’s tolerance to stressors
- Imparts a firmness to the limbs
- Imparts tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
- Stimulates the internal organs of the body, increasing circulation
- Pacifies vata and pitta
The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much, even if subjected to accidental injuries or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts, and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.
Abhyanga should be resorted to daily. It wards off old age, exertion and aggravation of vata.
When NOT to do Abhyanga
- During your period
Massage with deep pressure during the menstrual cycle is not advised in Ayurveda, as it can initiate a release of ama (toxins) from deep tissues at a time when the body is already a bit taxed. Some women don’t like to stop abhyanga during their cycle because they have very dry skin. If you choose to do it during your cycle, it is best to apply the oil gently and for only about five minutes. A thick, white coating on the tongue often indicates high levels of ama.
- During pregnancy
The reasoning is similar here. It is not a good idea to stimulate any sort of detox process during pregnancy. This protects the baby from any release of toxins.
- Over swollen, painful areas or masses on the body
- Over infected or broken skin
- When there is high toxic build up (ama) or great physical discomfort.
- During any sort of acute illness such as fever, colds, flu, or acute indigestion
- Directly after taking emetics or purgatives
- When you have a serious medical condition – check with your doctor first.