As I pour warm oil into my palm, as I vigorously rub it into my skin moving towards the heart, I bring greater consciousness to my being. I’m worshiping my temple, my body. Helping it detoxify by stimulating lymph circulation. I’m cleaning the skin by extracting the oil soluble debris. I’m providing a lubricating and protecting barrier from the elements. And, by taking the time out of my busy schedule to enjoy a quiet moment with my self, I’m reducing stress levels. Abhyanga, self-oil massage, is a quintessential practice for those that live in arid, windy & extremely cold environments. It is also very helpful for those that are more vata* in nature. Sneha, the Sanskrit word for “love” also refers to “oil”. Taking the time for the care of your self reduces stress. The weight of your hand on your body and the weight of the oil are calming to the nervous system. Rubbing oil on one’s self is like enveloping your body in a hug, so your body, mind and spirit scream “sign me up!”
What oil do I use? When do I get to touch myself? How often? In Ayurveda, we are recognized as individuals. In acknowledging our unique make up of the elements (water, fire, earth, air & ether) and the energies and properties of these elements, different oils, herbs & timing are recommended. An herbalist versed in the energies of plants can come up with formulas that are good for most and you can use the oil at the time of day to best address your condition. For example, if you are having problems sleeping, an abhyanga and shower before bed is recommended to help relax & ground. If you feel sluggish in the morning, a brisk massage before your morning shower will help stimulate the senses.
It is important to warm the oil. This helps the oil permeate the epidermis by opening the pores to better cleanse and nourish the skin. You may ask why oil before my shower? Again, oil helps cleanse the body by drawing dirt from the sebaceous glands. By oiling before your shower you allow the shower to rinse away the debris. There is no need to soap the whole body when oiling before showering. Wash your underarms, hair and genitals. Oil everything else: from your ears, feet, extremities, torso and face will be nurtured and fresh. You will exit your shower or bath feeling clean and moisturized.For a well balanced & very nourishing massage oil try my Body Oil. It has the healing and regenerating power of an assortment of essential oils and herbs blended into a base of olive, sesame and rose hip seed oil that is good for most skin. For specific medical conditions please consult a doctor before using. And if you have any questions, email me to set up an Ayurvedic consultation to dive deeper into your conditions.* See information about doshas to understand vata, pitta & kapha.
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