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PRACTICES FOR WINTER: ABHYANGA ~ SELF OIL MASSAGE

Aug 19, 2022
abhyanga self oil massage

In the depths of winter, we want to nourish, rest and replenish. 

As a form of self-love, can you think of anything sweeter than anointing yourself head-to-toe in warm, grounding oil? 

This is Abhyanga.
An ayurvedic practice which helps to pacify and bring the doshas into balance. 
I find it especially useful in winter time as it's warming, grounding and helps me settle into a deep sleep. 
Ayurveda suggests that in both autumn and winter, it's possible that the vata dosha rises which can present in our bodies as dry skin, anxiety, insomnia and feelings of un-grounded-ness. 
For that, we use a warm sesame oil.

 

HOW TO PRACTICE ABHYANGA

 

  1. Pour about two tablespoons of cold pressed sesame oil into a small glass jar and close the lid and run it under hot water for a few minutes to warm the oil or alternatively, warm in your hands by rubbing them together. 
  2. Apply some of the warmed oil to your hands and massage your entire body for 10 to 15 minutes, applying even pressure. Apply lighter pressure to sensitive areas such as your upper torso, breasts, heart, and abdominal area. Use circular motions over rounded areas such as your feet and scalp, and straight, longer strokes on your limbs. 
  3. Special belly time: Start on the right side and then make a circular motion up, across, and down the left side of your abdomen, repeating a few times. This is believed to help support digestion. 
  4. Massage the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands. Don’t forget about your face, ears, and neck. (If you have excessively oily skin and are worried about your skin, you can avoid your face.)
  5. Massage your scalp. Ayurveda teaches that the feet and scalp are the most important areas to stimulate with touch. If you prefer, you can massage your scalp sans oil. 
  6. When you’re done, make sure you’ve rubbed the oil in as much as possible. Towel off the excess, especially on your feet, before walking or showering. Ideally, wait at least 10 minutes (maybe even 20). You can brush your teeth, meditate, do oil pulling, or anything else to allow the oil time to soak in. This is the time to integrate, to really let the oil settle in and ground you. 
  7. When you're ready, have a hot shower or bath. The heat from the water will help the oil penetrate transdermally, which is believed to help strengthen the connective skin tissues and keep them supple. After you dry off, you may notice a thin film of oil on the skin. This will keep the skin moisturised and help you to feel more grounded throughout your day or as you sleep.  

 

Self-massage has the potential to bring you back to a state of balance. It increases circulation, stimulates organ function, helps your body detox and improves sleep. It also has many other potential benefits, such as slowing ageing, nourishing your skin and keeping your in touch with your own body. It’s one of the most effective ways to calm modern life-induced anxiety, as well as leaving your skin feeling smooth and radiant.

As you massage yourself, do so with love, intention and devotion. 
This practice can become meditative in and of itself. 
These bodies are our homes, we
deserve to love living inside them. And sometimes, that starts with loving them from the outside in. 

A favourite practice of mine, all year round, but especially during the colder months. 


Hope you enjoy. 
Love, 
H x

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