I don’t know about you, but when it gets to this point in winter, even my bones start to feel cold. My joints get stiffer, and I generally feel more constricted in my muscles and overall, just a bit more tense. Adding an Ayurvedic technique called “Abhyanga” to your self care routine is beneficial this time of year to help with circulating blood, lymph and prana.
This essential Ayurvedic practice involves the application of generous amounts of warm oil on the skin. This is a lovely grounding practice to do if you are feeling out of sorts. It brings you out of your head and into your body, which tends to bring you more into the NOW.
This truly is a sacred, self love technique. In fact, the Sanskrit word for oil, “Sneha,” is also the Sanskrit word for love. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine believe that our skin, as the largest organ in the body, also has an impact on our immune system. When we keep our skin well-moisturized with natural, organic oils, we are keeping our microbial allies happy and healthy, and they in turn, help to keep us healthy as well.
"Adding an Ayurvedic technique called 'Abhyanga' to your self care routine is beneficial this time of year to help with circulating blood, lymph and prana."
I learned about the benefits of self oil massages back in 2012 in San Diego, CA when I was studying Ayurveda under the wonderful Laura Plumb. The practice was transformative for me, and continues to be a ‘go to’ self love practice. Especially now, during Covid, when we are missing touch and connection, I highly encourage you to experience this incredibly intimate and self nurturing experience.
- Keeps skin soft & supple.
- Calms the nervous system
- Improves sleep
- Increases production of oxytocin - also known as “the bonding hormone” - which helps to lower stress hormones
- Lubricates joints and increases flexibility
- Increases circulation of blood and lymph, bringing fresh oxygenated blood to tissue and in turn helping cells to eliminate toxins
What you’ll need:
- ¼ to ½ cup of organic oil
- Squeeze bottle or small dish
- Towel you don’t mind getting oily
- Optional, but totally encouraged, to warm your oil if you can
I love using the Deeply Rooted CBD NurseGrown massage oil for my abhyanga practice. The added CBD with the organic oils helps my everyday back ache and feels to me, like a daily luxury.
How to do it:
- Put about 1/4–1/2 cup oil in an 8-ounce squeeze bottle or dish.
- Place the bottle of oil in a pan of hot water until the oil is pleasantly warm, or heat the oil on a stove top.
- Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room, on a towel that you don’t mind getting oily.
- Make sure you are protected from any wind.
- Apply oil generously to your entire body.
- Massage the oil into your body, beginning at the extremities and working toward the middle of your body.
- Use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints.
- 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.
- Massage the body for 5–20 minutes, with love and patience.
- Give a little extra time and attention to massaging the oil into your scalp, ears, and feet. Apply oil to the crown of your head (adhipati marma) and work slowly outward in circular strokes. Oil applied to the head should be warm, not hot.
- Put a couple drops of warm oil on the tip of your little finger or on a cotton ball and apply to the opening of the ear canal. (If there is any current or chronic discomfort in the ears don’t do this without the recommendation of your health care practitioner).
- When you massage your feet, be sure to wipe them off and wash them as soon as you get in the shower so you don’t slip.
- Enjoy a warm bath or shower. You can use a mild soap on the important areas.
- When you get out of the bath, towel dry. Keep a special towel for drying off after your abhyanga because it will eventually accumulate plenty of oil.
- Put on a pair of cotton socks (organic, if you can find them) to protect your environment from the residual oil on your feet.
- Repeat weekly. Enjoy.
To help all the visual learners like myself, here are the above directions in video. I hope you will consider taking the time you for yourself, and/or add this to your self care routine this winter. It’s been a beautiful addition for me personally, and I am eternally grateful to have been introduced to the power of Ayurveda and all its healing wonders.
Disclaimer: The information provided is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, provide medical advice, or otherwise replace consultation with a qualified medical or health provider.