Ayurvedic abhyanga self massage is a divine self care practice of applying warm oil to your body in the morning before you bath or shower, after you dry body brush. Dreamy, magical and soothing is what comes to mind…I love to integrate into my morning routine. As I write this it’s Winter here in Newcastle and my skin is feeling dry and loving this ritual. I’d love to do it daily however I’m managing a couple of times a week.
It leaves your skin feeling incredibly soft, nourished and moisturised, but there are so many more benefits than just silky soft skin. Let’s take a look at the possible benefits; Nourishes the entire body—decreases the effects of ageing, imparts muscle tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body, imparts a firmness to the limbs, lubricates the joints, increases circulation, stimulates the internal organs of the body, assists in elimination of impurities from the body, moves the lymph, aiding in detoxification. increases stamina, calms the nerves, benefits sleep—better, deeper sleep. enhances vision, makes hair (scalp) grow luxuriantly, thick, soft and glossy, softens and smoothens skin; wrinkles are reduced and disappear, pacifies Vata and Pitta and stimulates Kapha.
But what’s Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the worlds oldest health system, stemming from ancient India. It’s in fact the health system that Chinese, Western and Herbology has stemmed from. It’s gained popularity in the modern world as it’s truly an holistic health model. Transcending the physical and combines medical, emotional, mental, spiritual and metaphysical all connected. The Sanskrit word Ayurveda means “wisdom of life’ – it’s quite simply a lifestyle in which to live by to maintain overall health. It’s a pro-active philosophy rather than a more medicalised reactive one like Western Medicine. It’s based on the wisdom that we all have our own unique constitution, dosha, and the way you care for yourself is generally based on that.
My lineage; teacher Katie Rose who’s teacher is Maya Tiwari take a beautifully feminine approach to Ayurveda, embodying the Goddess, which I have found to be transformational for me on not only a physical level, but spiritual too.
According to Ayurveda, cultivating daily self-care can attribute to a long healthy life. Abyhanga Self Massage is one of these holistic healing rituals. The goal of Ayurveda to best support the body to remove ‘ama’ toxins in the body, which are the root cause of disease.
What you’ll need to practice abyhanga
Good Quality Organic Oil; generally unless a recipe states what oil to use its safe to assume that in Ayurveda it’s either cold pressed sesame oil or ghee. However you may choose to use a different oil based on your dosha, for example:
- Vata; sesame, ghee, sunflower, almond, avocado, walnut, castor, flaxseed, jojoba.
- Pitta; coconut, ghee, sunflower, olive, avocado, jojoba
- Kapha; sesame, sunflower, ghee, mustard seed, safflower, almond, corn, flaxseed.
Essential Oils; you might like to add the incredible benefits of essentials too, depending on how you’re feeling emotionally, or to boost immune support or support a particular system like the lymphatic or endocrine. Just make sure you choose a good quality, I like and trust doTERRA. There are many essential oils but here are some best suited to the doshas:
- Vata; vetiver, geranium, magnolia, ginger
- Pitta; lemon, sandalwood, cardamom, ylang ylang
- Kapha; bergamot, wild orange, rosemary, peppermint
I like to pre-mix my oil in a beautiful dropper bottle for the seasons. This makes it easier to warm in a mug of hot water too. Being a pitta I tend to use coconut oil with a blend of sandalwood and ylang ylang, as it’s cooling for my dosha, however in Winter I do feel the cold so I will lean towards using sesame oil. I like the fact that it adds calcium to our bones as well and I’m heading into my late 40’s so this is necessary.
How to practice abyhanga massage
Firstly set up your bedroom or bathroom to be nice and warm, traditionally its practiced in a steamy hot room, but not essential, lay out an old towel as you’ll get really oily. Have a bathrobe or towel on hand to wrap around you post massage and before your shower. Then you need warm the oil, about 60-100ml, I like to boil the kettle and fill a large mug or bowl halfway then immerse my bottle of oil. It will take a few minutes for the oil to warm, gently does it as you don’t want to burn yourself, so always carefully test the oil before you apply to your skin.
Much like dry body brushing we start at the feet and work towards the heart centre, we use circular motions around your joints and long strokes along arms and legs. Apply in a circular, clockwise motion across your abdomen, back and chest. Paying special attention to areas of concern, spending more time on your joints if, like me, they cause you pain or on your abdomen if you have tummy issues. Don’t forget to do your whole body, this means your face, ears and scalp too.
Then we leave it on for about 20mins – the reason is that we Ayurvedic anatomy names seven layers of tissues, and it takes about 20mins to penetrate them all. If you’re warm and can generate sweating it’s more likely your pores will open and allow the oils to soak right in.
Then we shower, no soap just the warm shower and then pat yourself dry… your skin will feeling amazing.
As I mentioned earlier I like to practice Ayurvedic abyhanga self massage weekly and use it as a form as mediation, I light some incense and put on my favorite mantra playlist. I have found it to be the ultimate in self love.