The word “massage” is usually associated with expensive spa treatments, and is thought of as a luxury and privilege. However, in Ayurveda, self-massage or “Abhyanga” is recommended daily. Although this practice sounds time-consuming and tedious, the benefits gained from it are boundless. It is easily accessible and more affordable than professional massage therapies and can be done by yourself in the comfort of your house.
What is Abhyanga?
Abhyanga is a Sanskrit term for self-massage, beneficial for the body, mind, and spirit. The benefits reaped from this practice are beyond Ayurveda and are scientifically proven. It is synchronized massaging of the body towards the direction of the movement of arterial blood. This reduces the overwhelmingness of the heart because of an increased venous return.
It is a part of the daily routine suggested by Ayurveda. It is used for the relief of pain, stiffness, and tiredness. Abhyanga not only prepares the body for Panchakarma, the five Ayurvedic detoxification therapies but also helps to mobilize the doshas, especially pacifying Vata dosha.
Why is Abhyanga necessary?
The act of self-massage is incredibly grounding, prevents any anxiety and stress, and puts the mind and body at ease. With the use of an appropriate oil for the massage, these benefits are further enhanced. Although it has a plethora of transformational benefits, some of them are highly popular and beneficial.
- It slows ageing- The oil promotes the health of your skin, giving you a healthy glow. It even prevents dryness and nourishes all types of skin.
- Promotes nervous system health- The massage improves blood circulation, stimulating nerve functions.
- Helps with Insomnia- The warm and calming oils induce deep and restful sleep.
- Improves hair health- The oil and massaging make your hair thick, strong, and lustrous.
- Stress and anxiety relief- The oils induce calmness and relieve you from anxiety and stress.
- Other benefits- It improves musculoskeletal health, promotes proper circulation and lymph drainage, improves vision, tone, and vigour for the body’s tissues, and nourishes the entire body.
What oils should you choose?
Choosing the right oil for this practice is extremely important. Take into consideration your skin type and the extent of dryness of your skin. Sesame oil is most popularly used for this practice as it is good for all types of skin and is largely beneficial for skin health. Almond oil and coconut oil are alternative options. Remember to always go for pure, organic, cold-pressed oils. Anveshan has the appropriate range of oils for this!
Why Sesame Oil for Abhyanga?
Ayurveda regards sesame oil as the 'king of oils.' It is considered the traditional Abhyanga oil. Sesame Abhyanga involves warming the oil and then blending it with herbs before massaging it on your body.
Sesame oil has powerful antioxidants that resolve skin problems caused by free radicals. It also repairs the skin damage caused by the harmful rays of the sun.
Sesame oil treats tanning, fine lines, sunspots, and marks caused by exposure to UV rays.
It also relieves inflammatory pain in the joints and nourishes the muscles and bones of our body.
How and when to perform Abhyanga?
Abhyanga should be a part of your morning routine, on an empty stomach. The process takes only twenty minutes, and can easily be incorporated into our daily routine. If you can’t practice this every day, do it perfectly and for a long time on weekends.
- Take half a cup of warm sesame oil and apply generously all over your body.
- Start massaging your face, in circular motions, over your forehead, temples, cheeks, jaws, and ears, always massaging in an upward movement.
- Gently stroke your limbs and joints, always in the direction of your heart.
- Massage the abdomen, chest in broad circular motions.
- Lastly, but most importantly, massage your feet. The feet contain nerve endings of important organs and it is essential to spend at least a couple of minutes massaging them.
- Sit for ten minutes, letting the sesame oil seep into deeper layers of the body.
- Take a warm shower and feel a refreshing glow!