As a baby many mothers and loved ones have massaged us with oils as a way of giving us love. As we grow older we tend to let the opportunities of receiving love pass us by. Why? Are we too busy? Are we not surrounding ourselves with the right people? Are we not giving as much as we are not receiving? Many of you may have answered yes to some of these, or all, but the truth is, we could all spare 5-10 minutes of our lives giving and receiving some self-love; and here’s how.
Abhyanga self-massage, one of the first daily routines in the Ayurvedic system and also, one of the very first daily routines you preform out of total love and appreciation for your body. This massage can be done first thing in the morning, on a daily basis; and trust me, it will easily become a very enjoyable part of your day. Here’s what happens; overnight the toxins from inside your body rise up to your skin, becoming very stagnant. The purpose of this massage is to rub oils on your skin pushing these toxins back in towards your organs, allowing them to take them in and dispose of them properly. Preforming this massage on yourself not only activates the lymph nodes and the endocrine system, but it also reduces your anxiety and leave you feeling less scattered throughout your day. When you practice this routine of massage you are promoting self-love and self-care, focusing on the most important person: you.
According to Ayurveda, the best oil to use for yourself is dependent on your dosha, (to find out more about Dosha’s click here). Fortunately, a lot of them are oils you can find in your kitchen! Talk about convenient and cost-effective. Those who are a Vata dosha always have problems with dryness, inside and out, and need to bring heat and lubrication to the body. Therefore, sesame seed oil is best for them to use. For someone with a Pitta dosha, coconut oil can be used, allowing you to benefit from its cooling properties. A Kapha should use mustard oil, because they are a cold dosha and mustard oil has heat producing properties, which benefits the Kapha greatly. However, since Kapha’s are already well lubricated, the intention of their massage is primarily to get the stagnation out of the body and to create movement of their energies, so Kapha’s can perform their massage as a dry massage, using a dry glove or chickpea flour on the skin.
So, how do you give yourself this massage? First, the best place to do this is in the washroom, in the shower or tub, so there’s no worry about mess; but please be very careful not to slip! Take about an ounce of oil in a mug and place it in boiling water to warm it up. Heating the oil allows it to absorb into the skin faster and open up your follicles. If you are a Vata, or wish to really hydrate your skin, you can rub the oils against your hair growth to really lubricate your follicles. Always begin from you head. You can dip your fingers in the oil and rub it into your scalp, just like your rubbing shampoo in your hair. Start working into your skull in a circular motion, a clockwise rotation (all circular movements should be done in a clockwise motion). Now you can come down to your ears, rubbing all around and inside them, with a very tender and gentle touch. Move upwards slightly to your temples and do a couple gentle circles. Next, take your fingers from your chin to your ears to massage the jawline, this removes fluid accumulation that happens overnight and helps with a double chin. Bring your hands to the back of the neck, starting from the back and coming to the front massage firmly. Then massage your shoulders, using your hands to do a clockwise motion around the shoulder joints. Move down the arms and your chest area in an up and down motion. Massage your stomach very gently in a clockwise motion to activate digestive fires and help the body to eliminate waste. Move to the hips and massage in a clockwise motion, down the legs, in the front and back, in an up and down motion and then your ankles, again, in a clockwise motion. Lastly, do the souls of your feet with the palm of your hand, using a vigorous up and down motion. Give them some extra love since they are the ones that carry you throughout your day.
Giving yourself this massage may sound like a lot more work than receiving one, but remember, the point is to nourish yourself with love and it should only take 5-10 minutes and no longer. Abhyanga is best when done daily, so don’t worry, practice will make perfect. Now, sit and relax for a bit, meditate, make some tea and allow enough time for the oils to sink in, before you shower.
Just like eating a nutritious breakfast or doing any routine to prepare you for the day, Abhyanga massage is a fast, easy and simple way to start off the day with a tank full of self-love, self-appreciation and self-nourishment. It sets the precedent for the day, so you can naturally remember, with ease, who is deserving of so much love: you!