Ayurveda is a natural approach to holistic wellness that originated in India thousands of years ago. This traditional medical system uses herbs, nutrition, yoga, lifestyle regimens, and body treatments to achieve balanced health. An ancient Ayurvedic practice known as abhyanga(self-massage with warm oil) is an easy way to incorporate this intuitive health wisdom into your daily routine. The multitude of benefits it provides can enrich your journey to total well-being and help ensure its long-term success.
The Physical, Mental, and Emotional Rewards of Abhyanga
Abhyanga helps calm the nervous system, strengthen the joints and connective tissue, and stimulate the internal organs. One of the best things about this healing practice is its dependability as a consistent source of opportunities throughout the week to pay close, loving attention to our body. We all could benefit from more self-love, and self-massage is an excellent way to love ourselves while also reaping some serious health benefits.
By increasing the flow of blood and lymph throughout the body, daily self-massage delivers healing nutrients to our joints while relaxing the muscles surrounding them, thereby improving their integrity, flexibility, and range of motion. These benefits are particularly important for maintaining the functionality of joints that suffer a lot of wear and tear over time, such as those in our wrists, ankles, and hips. Self-massage further contributes to the repair of these tissues by increasing the number of circulating red blood cells that keep the tissues supplied with oxygen.
In addition to benefiting our joints and muscles, the positive impact of massage on blood circulation supports lower blood pressure and more efficient heart function. By stimulating the flow of lymph, massage may help not only boost metabolism by efficiently clearing waste products from the body but also reduce the edema associated with pulmonary hypertension. The improved circulation of both blood and lymph further nurtures well-being by invigorating the brain and strengthening the immune system.
By helping you overcome fatigue, abhyanga nourishes and soothes the nervous system and promotes undisturbed sleep, leading to increasing vigor and vitality in your everyday life Equally important, abhyanga helps you relax and offers the pampering that many of us enjoy after a hard week at work or during stressful situations.
Ayurvedic oil massage loosens deep-seated toxins from joints and tissues and releases them into the excretory system for elimination. The removal of these accumulated toxins from the skin contributes to a healthier and clearer complexion. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the application of oil through massage equates to injecting “medicines” into the body. The massage promotes the absorption of beneficial compounds in the oil into the bloodstream, thereby supporting the body’s capacity to overcome illness.
Ideally, you should consult an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the type of medicated oil that’s most appropriate for your constitution or imbalance. Otherwise, use only use raw sesame oil. Apply the warm oil all over your body for 15–30 minutes before taking a hot bath or shower to help the oil quickly penetrate the joints and deeper tissues.
Begin by running hot water over the bottle of oil or set the bottle in a bowl full of hot water, gently warming the oil.
Pour about a tablespoon of the warm oil into your hand and apply to the scalp, vigorously working it into the tissue by moving your fingertips in small circles.
Transfer some of the oil on your head to your face and ears, massaging with a lighter touch.
Move to the neck, and with an open hand, massage both the front and the back of the neck, more rapidly, creating friction.
Apply more oil, and use this same technique, vigorously massaging your arms with straight up-and-down motions.
At the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, make circular motions and then resume massaging the whole arm with vertical strokes.
Then move to your chest and stomach, applying more oil if needed, and use gentle circular motions. When massaging the breastbone use straight up-and-down strokes.
After applying a bit more oil to your hands, gently reach around to the back and shoulder blades, and massage them without straining.
Move to your legs and buttocks, and repeat the same rapid up-and-down strokes you used on your arms. Use small circular motions at the hips, buttocks, knees, and ankles.
Then give your feet a thorough massage—it’s important not to rush through this part. Use an open hand to vigorously massage the soles and the top of your feet, moving your hand back and forth. Then use your fingertips to trace small circles all over the foot.
Let the oil soak into your skin for at least 15 minutes, but no longer than 45 minutes. Rinse off in a warm bath or shower.
Remember to focus on self-love throughout the massage, inviting your body to absorb nourishment and care.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.