I’ve been so tired and stressed lately…I’ve literally been coming home from work and napping and then going to bed at 10pm! In an effort to relax and get my focus back on self-care I’ve been practicing Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage at nighttime. It’s definitely helping…I thought I would share with you a bit about this practice, which soothes both body and mind. At this time of year, especially, I think it’s really important that we honor ourselves, our bodies, and our need for rest…Enjoy!
Benefits of Abhyanga
Abhyanga increases circulation, lubricates joints, and moves the lymph (helping detoxify). It also improves sleep and helps you relax. It’s also, obviously, good for your skin!
Choose Your Oil
You can use any oil, or choose an oil that benefits and balances your Ayuvedic dosha. There are numerous dosha quizzes online, but in general…
-If you are an anxious, flighty person tending to dry skin you are probably VATA. Choose sesame or almond oil.
-If you are a fiery type, prone to irritation, anger, or traditionally ‘Type A’ you are probably PITTA. Choose coconut or safflower oil.
-If you are a grounded type, ‘earthy’ with a tendency to need ‘revving up’ for things, you are probably KAPHA. Choose safflower oil.
-If you’re not sure, choose jojoba oil, which is good for all doshas.
Vatas should practice abhyanga more often than other types, as it is profoundly soothing for their flighty, nervous natures! (I’m a vata, I should know!)
Here are the instructions which I’ve been following, taken from the Deepak Chopra website: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/the-benefits-of-ayurveda-self-massage-abhyanga
Steps to Follow for Self-Massage:
- Warm the oil
- Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.