Traditionally known as Abhyanga, self-massage is a nurturing practice that helps to strengthen the body, calm the mind and nourish the tissues. During this cooler time of the year, our bodies are particularly susceptible to dryness and cracking of our skin. Anointing our skin with warm oil can help to remedy irritated areas, whilst acting as a therapeutic practice for maintaining good health.
The warm, therapeutic experience is grounding and comforting and particularly helps to pacify Vata (dryness and lightness) and Pitta (heat). This enjoyable tradition can be easily incorporated into your morning self care routine, and you can spend as little or as long as you like doing it.
How To Practice
1. Place your favourite cold pressed oil in a squeezy bottle.
2. Stand the bottle of oil in a sink or pot of warm-hot water until the oil feels warm to touch.
3. Begin to apply and massage the oil into your body, starting with your hands and feet and working towards the midline of your body. Use long strokes over the limbs and circular strokes around the joints. When you reach your belly, allow your hand to flow around and around from the right to the left.
4. If you have time, you can massage the oil right into your scalp, ears and face (sometimes this isn’t always possible if you don’t have time to wash your hair, so just stick with what you have time for).
5. Try to be patient and gentle with your strokes to promote a sense of calm in your mind and body.
6. 5-20mins is the usual length of time to practice self-massage. The longer the better, but do what you can with the time you have. After applying the oil, allow it to settle into your skin for a few minutes before getting into the shower/bath.
7. When you are in the shower/bath, first remove the oil from the soles of you feet so that you don’t slip. Take a washcloth or loofa to help rinse off the excess oil. When you get out of the shower, dry off with a towel, applying moisturisers where needed (such as the face and limbs).
Notice how your skin feels, and how your body and mind have made a nice connection early on in the day – hopefully something that will help keep you feeling a little more aware and nourished throughout the rest of the day.