Abhyanga

Why and How to Perform Daily Oil Massage on Yourself (Abhyanga)

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.

Abhyanga Instructions

  • 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.

 

Disclaimer
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.

 

Ayurvedic Bath, Sacred and Healing.

Bathing has occupied a special place in the cultural landscapes of many civilizations throughout history. In ancient Greece, water itself was regarded as a gift of health from the gods. The ruins of lavish public baths in the farthest reaches of the Roman world testify to the importance of bathing in the health regimes and social life of the empire’s citizens. More than 150 years after the bathtub of Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, was crafted, it’s reputed to retain the scent of the musk oil–infused bathwater that soothed her mind and pampered her skin.

In India, bathing has always been accorded the status of a sacred, healing ritual. Ancient Ayurvedic texts speak of therapeutic baths with rose petals, honey, milk, and turmeric, preceded by a luxurious full-body massage with warm oils and followed by skin treatments with rich herbal pastes and fragrant floral waters. These Ayurvedic baths were designed to restore balance to the body, mind, and spirit.

Ayurveda views bathing as a form of holistic therapy. A daily bath, especially in the morning is an important part of an Ayurvedic daily routine. It adds a profoundly healing dimension to your day and your life. Ayurvedic medical texts report many benefits from the healing bath. The simple act of taking a bath provides a full complement of mind-body rewards without any effort on your part:

  • Relaxes tense muscles 

  •  Opens clogged pores 

  • Moisturizes tissues 

  • Banishes bad moods 

  • Calms the mind and balances the emotions 

  • Removes sweat, dirt, and environmental toxins from the skin 

  •  Enhances physical energy levels and improves metal clarity

To transform an ordinary bath into a healing Ayurvedic self-care ritual follow these tips:

  • Prepare your bath with traditional Ayurvedic herbs.*

  • Do not bathe in a hurry, take your time.

  • Practice deep breathing while soaking in your bath.

  • Try to relax, so that both mind and body benefit.

  • Use gentle natural gentle aromatherapy products, not harsh synthetic fragrances, which add to the toxic burden on your body.

  • Make sure your bathwater is pure and clean.

  • After you towel off, spritz your body with rose water and apply warm dosha-specific oils.

*Herbal Bath Recipe

3 tablespoons of green gram powder
½ tablespoon of turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon of ginger powder
2 tablespoon of rose petals
1 tablespoon of raw organic honey
½ cup of almond milk or 1 tablespoon of almond oil
5–7 drops of rose, lavender, or geranium pure essential oil

As you’re drawing a warm bath, add ingredients to the water in the order listed. Swish your hand in the water to blend after each addition. Enjoy!  

 

Disclaimer
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. 

Dhanwantharam Oil

In Ayurveda, application of oil by means of massage is equivalent to injecting medicines into the body. The massage helps the blood to absorb most of the oil content directly to the blood stream and support overcoming illness. It helps by making the body more flexible, and treats even sports injuries through massage. However, only a qualified person is permitted to perform such a massage, as there are specific methods of applying pressure in each part of the body, and a wrong method can worsen the injury or illness.

Dhanwantharam oil is one of the most popular herbal massage oils, a combination of 28 rare herbs, mostly found in the Indian sub-continent. Dhanwantharam is recommended for all body types, particularly the Vata and Pitta Types. Due to its potent anti-oxidant effect, it rejuvenates the body and skin increasing immunity, and possesses excellent nourishing and anti-inflammatory features. It is used in treating rheumatic and neurological diseases, chronic vata conditions, pre and post natal care, regeneration of skin cells, to improve skin texture, to relieve numb muscles and blocks caused in the body, to improve blood circulation, and to help the skin in getting rid of toxins.

Another Ayurvedic technique that use this lukewarm medicated oil as treatment option for several health conditions including arthritis, spondylitis, nervous disorders, hemiplegia, and sexual weakness, is Pizhichil. The oil is poured over the persons body in a special rhythmic manner by expert for 45 to 60 minutes. It is done as a single day course or a course of 7 to 21 days, depending on health condition of the person. This is also recommended for an otherwise healthy person as a rejuvenation and preventive treatment.

When using on daily basis (other than for treatment purposes), a small amount of oil is poured into a container and heated up to 36-40 degree celsius and is gently massaged into skin. The oil is rubbed off with a clean cloth or a lukewarm shower after an hour. However, the oil should not be applied directly on freshly injured skin, and should be kept strictly out of reach of children.

Ingredients in Dhanwantharam Oil

Some of the main ingredients that go into preparation of Dhanwantharam oil are Cow milk, Wild mallow, Black sesame oil, Madras gram, Indian jujube, Barley, Wild asparagus, Spanish woodbine, Ashwagandha,  Bael tree, Snapdragon tree, Indian madder, Headache tree, Indian trumpet flower, Pseudarthria, Desmodium, Pink jacaranda, Indian sarsaparilla, Himalayan cedar, Puncturevine, Aerva, Solanum, Stone flower, Fenugreek, Sweet flag, Rock salt, Chebulic myrobalan, Indian gooseberry, Beleric myrobalan, Myrrh, Golden gram, Cinnamon, Vigna, Licorice, Cardamom and Indian dill.