In Ayurveda, the Indian sister science of yoga, it’s said that during the cooler months, the cold, dry air element in our environment and therefore our bodies known as “vata” becomes increased. More vata can unfortunately mean things like stiff muscles, aching joints, and dry, lack-luster skin. Luckily, the ancient science offers us a simple yet effective solution that nourishes the bodies tissues from the outside in — Abhyanga Ayurvedic self-massage.
Oil massage is a popular Ayurvedic treatment. In Ayurveda, oils are incredibly healing — the word "sneha" can be translated to mean both "oil" and "love," so essentially, coating yourself in oil is like coating yourself in love. The act of self massage is said to strengthen the nervous system health, increase circulation, improve skin and hair quality, and even aid sleep troubles. During vata season, when all these things become problematic, adopting a daily or even weekly oil massage ritual can help bring you back to balance so you're feeling and looking your best.
Ayurvedic oil massage is performed with warm oils, and you should take a warm shower after to enhance the benefits of the massage. To perform an ayurvedic oil massage, use an oil like coconut, olive, or sesame oil. It should take at least 10 minutes, so be sure you’re spending adequate time on each body part and really showing your body some TLC. To do an Ayurvedic Abhyanga oil massage, follow the instructions below.
- First, heat your oil on the stove in a pot over low to medium heat until it’s warm but not too hot to the touch.
- Begin by massaging some of the warm oil into your scalp using the fingertips. Coat the scalp with the oil and massage gently with the eyes closed. Work your way down to the face, and massage the forehead with outward motions and then the temples with circular motions.
- Taking more oil as you need, continue using the fingertips to massage under and around the eyes, the nose, the cheeks, chin, and lips. Be sure to rub the ears as well.
- Use your hands to massage the warm oil in upward motions on the front and back of the neck.
- Massage each arm with oil in upward motions toward the heart, stopping to use circular motions around the wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
- Massage the torso in circular motions, focusing on the muscles of the chest, the armpits, then the abdomen.
- Massage the lower back, hip joints, and buttocks using circular motions.
- Massage the front and back of the upper leg in upward motions from knee to hip. Then massage the knee joint in circular motions.
- Massage the front and back of the lower leg in upward motions from ankle to knee. Then massage the ankle joint with your fingers.
- Use the fingers to massage each toe and then the entire bottom and top of the foot.
Once you've completed your massage, wash the oil off in a warm shower, allowing the water to run from the crown of the head to the toes. The heat will allow the oil to seep more deeply into the tissues of the body to nourish them. You can also enhance the benefits of your oil massage by indulging in a warm bath and allowing the heat to further detox the body and melt stress away. Enjoy an Abhyanga massage before bed as a new self-care ritual, and we promise, you won’t regret it!