I really love learning about Ayurvedic Medicine and often read about balancing doshas, self-care, yoga, and meditation. I just learned about easy steps to do Abhyanga Self Massage at home and wanted to share this fascinating massage style with you here. You can do an Abhyanga oil self-massage at home by yourself, and all you need is a little time and your favorite body oil.
From Yoga Journal Magazine:
Abhyanga means “self-massage with oil,” and according to ancient tradition, it is one of our greatest allies for total health. Doing a daily practice of self-massage nourishes and soothes the nervous system, boosts lymphatic detoxification, improves circulation, nourishes the skin, and promotes overall mind-body balance.
The word for oil in Sanskrit is sneha — which translates to “love” or “affection.” The essence of a plant is its oil, just as the essence of who we are is love. If we keep extracting something down to its purest essence, what remains is love.
When you massage your body with oil, you are literally coating it with a layer of affection, as well as a healing touch. Western science supports this fact, showing that when we receive massage, we release a cascade of feel-good hormones into our bloodstream.
Research shows that massage can also decrease the stress hormone, cortisol. (source)
Benefits of Abhyanga:
- Nourishes the entire body—decreases the effects of aging
- 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
Steps to Follow for Self-Massage:
- Warm the oil (pour approximately ¼ cup into a mug and warm using a coffee-cup warmer.) Test the temperature by putting a drop on your inner wrist, oil should be comfortably warm and not hot
- Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room
- Apply oil first to the crown of your head (adhipati marma) and work slowly out from there in circular strokes—spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp (home to many other important marma points—points of concentrated vital energy)
- Face: Massage in circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws (always moving in a upward movement). Be sure to massage your ears, especially your ear-lobes—home to essential marma points and nerve endings
- Use long strokes on the limbs (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints (elbows and knees). Always massage toward the direction of your heart
- Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side
- Finish the massage by spending at least a couple of minutes massaging your feet. Feet are a very important part of the body with the nerve endings of essential organs and vital marma points
- Sit with the oil for 5-15 minutes if possible so that the oil can absorb and penetrate into the deeper layers of the body
- Enjoy a warm bath or shower. You can use a mild soap on the “strategic” areas, avoid vigorously soaping and rubbing the body
- When you get out of the bath, towel dry gently. Blot the towel on your body instead of rubbing vigorously
If you haven’t learned which Dosha you are, there are lots of quizzes you can take like this one.