Abhyanga is an ancient and powerful daily self-massage technique which one can perform to gain many benefits with the goal of helping to achieve overall health and wellbeing. It is a very relaxing yet rejuvenating routine to follow.
Some of the known benefits to abhyanga are:
Calming of the nerves
Toning of muscles and physiology
Softer, smoother skin
Improved skin elasticity
Increased mental alertness and clarity
Improved elimination of toxins of body and subtle body
Improved immune system
Helps in lubricating the joints as does yoga
Promotes self-awareness and helps to bring about a calm state of mind
How to do an Abhyanga self-massage:
Heat oil in a small glass bottle by putting bottle into a cup of boiled or hot water and waiting a couple of minutes for it to heat. The oil needs to be warm.
Start at the left foot and and massage oil into skin with long strokes over limbs, and a circular motion over the joints, chest and abdomen (pay special attention to problem areas).
Work up to the head, massaging the face also. It is ideal to also do the hair once a week.
Warm shower after at least 10 minutes.
Abhyanga is traditionally performed in the morning, before showering or bathing to to facilitate the elimination of toxins that have accumulated during the night. The oil needs to be warm to be fully absorbed and receive full benefits; this allows the blood to carry the herbs and oil throughout the body to allow for better detoxification. Gentle yet firm strokes, but putting only light pressure on sensitive areas such as the heart. You should allow 5-10 minutes for the process of abhyanga as it is one that should not be rushed. It is supposed to be a process of self-care and appreciation for oneself.
If possible, a specially prepared dosha oil (from an ayurvedic practitioner) is best. If not, second-best will be organic, cold pressed black sesame oil or a mixed ayurvedic oil for this purpose.
Of course for some people this routine is not always possible or realistic, therefore it can be performed at night-time before bed, or even 2-3 times a week is beneficial. This massage can bring about a feeling of deep stability and warmth.