Abhyanga or Ayurvedic self-massage is the age-old practice of anointing the body with oil. This self-care ritual holds the ability to cleanse the body, remove toxins, relieve the mind from stress and anxiety, and rejuvenate senses. It is the art of massaging the body with oil in the direction of the arterial flow of blood, resulting in a host of health benefits if practiced on a regular basis. From an Ayurvedic point of view, Abhyanga is said to grant a feeling of stability, warmth, and comfort by penetrating deep into the tissues of our skin. Moreover, Abhyanga helps bolster immunity and fights off bacterial infections, keeping vitality intact.
Benefits of Abhyanga
Organic, cold-pressed, Ayurvedic oils, such as Coconut Oil, Sesame Oil and Castor Oil, enter the skin through the pores and absorb into the bloodstream with the help of blood vessels. Lightly-heated Ayurvedic oils should be applied all over, especially the joint tissues, for quick absorption and maximum benefits. Here are some major benefits granted by Abhyanga :
- Slows down the effects of aging
- Makes skin soft; maintains elasticity
- Encourages healthy sleep patterns
- Imparts softness, strength, and a healthy glow
- Bolsters immunity levels
- Nourishes skin tissues; increases circulation
- Relieves joint pain
- Makes hair soft, luscious, and healthy
What Kind of Ayurvedic Oils Should You Use for Abhyanga?
The best choice of oils for Abhyanga or Ayurvedic self-massage are ones that are organic, cold-pressed, and made with ingredients that are completely natural. While browsing through the shelves of a store, make it a point to read the label thoroughly and take note of the list of ingredients used, including active and base. In case you are unable to identify one or more ingredients, do not buy that product, as real organic product companies are always transparent about their ingredients. Last but not least, check whether the oil is certified organic by international accreditations, such as NATRUE (Europe) or USDA (USA).
Opt for an organic body massage oil enriched with natural ingredients such as Ashwagandha, Manjistha, Amla, Neem, Hibiscus, and the like. Ayurvedic cold-pressed organic oils have the ability to revitalize the body by replenishing the skin’s natural moisture and radiance. Practicing Abhyanga with such organic oils will help make skin smooth and soothe dry skin patches while imparting a natural, healthy glow.
How Can You Practice Abhyanga?
As Abhyanga is the practice of holistic self-massage encapsulating from head to toe, it is best to start with massaging the head.
- Warm the organic massage oil and pour 1-2 tablespoons of the same into your palms and start by gently massaging your head by running your fingertips back and forth on your scalp. Use your palms to rub the oil throughout the length of your hair, as this will help nourish the roots in a thorough manner.
- Gradually, move towards the outer part of your face and the ears using gentle pressure of your fingertips in a circular motion. Once you are done massaging that area, use your palms to massage your neck in upward strokes.
- As you move towards the chest, employ your palms and fingers in a rotational motion before massaging your abdomen. Massage gently in an anti-clockwise direction and from top to bottom.
- Sit up and massage your upper back. Use your thumbs while applying a good amount of pressure. You can also repeat these motions on your lower back.
- Move on to massaging your limbs using long, gentle strokes, coupled with circular motions.
- Finally, using your fingertips, massage your feet. Make sure to work on your pressure points in order to relieve the pent-up stress residing in the feet area.
Now that you know how to perform Abhyanga, it is important to exercise certain precautions while doing so. Do not perform Abhyanga on swollen, painful areas in the body and on infected/broken skin. Avoid self-massage when you are suffering from ailments, such as fever or allergies. In case you experience discomfort post-Abhyanga, discontinue the practice and consult a medical practitioner at the earliest in order to determine what kind of oils are best suited for your body.
Choose holistic self-care and switch to organic massage oils. You are bound to shine from within!