WHAT IS ABHYANGA
Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic term for self-massage. It is the practice of anointing oneself with herb infused oil and massaging the body with patience, intention and love for a minimum of ten minutes. This self-care ritual can provide feelings of stability, self-love, and gratitude. Ayurvedic practitioners have advised this practice for thousands of years as an everyday ritual.
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age”
Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89 (One of the great ancient texts of Ayurveda)
BENEFITS OF ABHYANGA
The practice of abhyanga nourishes the entire body. It is one of the greatest expressions of self-love you can offer yourself. Making space in your life for this ritual can shift your entire being. Abhyanga restores a sense of groundedness and well-being, it improves circulation, lubricates the joints, calms the nervous system, detoxifies the entire body, reduces the effects of aging, and brings the body and mind into a place of balance. If you are not able to practice this ritual everyday, try to make time for it at least a couple days a week.
HOW TO PRACTICE ABHYANGA
To begin your self-massage, move into a cozy and comfortable space. Sit on a towel or blanket that you do not mind getting oil on. Start by taking a few deep breaths to center yourself and shift from thinking and doing to feeling and being. Energy follows thought, so set a personal intention of gratitude, acceptance, or nourishment for your practice. Anoint your entire body with oil. Feel free to warm the oil ahead of time if you feel called to. Begin massaging the feet, then working your way up the legs and hips. Then, massage your hands and work your way up the arms to the shoulders, chest, and belly. Use long stroking movements on the limbs and circular movements on the joints, breasts, and belly. Be sure to massage the belly in a clockwise circular motion in order to stimulate digestion. The goal is to remain present throughout the entire ritual. Keep your mind focused on your breath and the sensations in your body and hands as you massage yourself. Allow yourself at least ten to twenty minutes to soak in the oil before bathing. This can be a great time for breath work and meditation.