Abhyanga is an easy way to wake up your body and practice self-care.
Ayurveda medicine is ancient lifestyle wisdom which promotes balance within the body. Natural remedies and daily practices are designed specifically for your constitution once you know your dosha (Vata, Pitta, Kapha). Try Deepak Chopra’s dosha quiz to get started.
I need to balance Vata energy in my body, and it was recommended that I try abhyanga, self-massage using essential oils. So I now have a 15-minute morning routine that I do three times a week to help reduce anxiety and increase groundedness. It’s lovely.
Abhyanga a wonderful way to practice self-care. Benefits include the natural production of ocytocin, the “feel-good” hormone. Ayurvedic self-massage can also help release toxins in the soft tissues so your body can naturally detox. And it will leave your skin hydrated and refreshed!
Abhyanga can promote relaxation or it can energizes the body. So try it in the morning and at night to see how your body responds. You may find it lifts your energy for the day ahead or helps settle you down for a good night’s sleep.
How to Practice Abhyanga
1. CHOOSE AN OIL. Find the right oil for your dosha. To balance Vata, use warm, sweet essential oils like orange, rose, and vanilla. To balance Pitta, use cooling oils like sandalwood, mint, and lavender. To balance Kapha, use spicy, stimulating oils like juniper, eucalyptus, and clove. If you’re not sure, sesame body oil is a good neutral standard.
2. WARM IT UP. Warm up your oil. I like to boil a pot of water, turn off the heat, and then set my bottle of oil (about 3/4 cup) in the pot for just a minute to warm the oil. It should be slightly above body temperature.
3. MANAGE THE MESS. Rub your entire body with a small amount of oil and let it sit for a few minutes to absorb. Work in a room that’s a comfortable temperature and use old towels – one for your body and one for the floor. Once you start the actual massage, you’ll want to use a lot of oil and it gets messy!
4. START FROM THE TOP. Begin with your scalp. Rub oil into your scalp using your open palm. Rub vigorously! Helpful hint: if you have trouble getting the oil out of your hair, add a tablespoon of baking soda to your shampoo.
5. MASSAGE EVERYWHERE. Next, massage the oil into your face and ears, using your fingertips to gently rub in a circular motion. (The ears feel wonderful!) Now your neck and chest.
6. MOVE DOWN YOUR BODY. Spend plenty of time on your arms, hands, and fingers, working slowly from your shoulders to your wrists to your fingertips, drawing the oil downward over the delicate bones in your hands.
7. OPEN AND STRETCH. Be gentle on your abdomen, smoothing the oil downward. You may have spots on your back you can’t reach! That’s okay, use this as an opportunity to open your shoulders and stretch.
8. END WITH THE FEET. Massage the legs. Use a sweeping back-and-forth motion over the long bones and a small circular motion over the joints (hips, knees, ankles). Last, massage the feet, ending with a strong, open-palmed massage of the bottom of your feet.
9. SIT AND RELAX. Close your eyes for a few minutes. Breathe. Enjoy the benefits of your self-care.
We’d love to hear from you! Have you tried abhyanga? Do you have any tips & tricks? Tell us in a comment!
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