In the morning at the crack of dawn, or when the sun begins to fade in the evening, I retreat into the bathroom to cover my body in oil. Abhyanga is an ayurvedic morning massage that really can be done any time during the day. I’ve fallen in love with this ritual and it’s recommended in ayurveda one of the most basic practice to stay healthy.
I see it as a way to take care of myself.
Physically, mentally and spiritually.
I take some time to myself. I light a candle and perhaps some incense, sometimes I listen to music. There is also something special about paying attention to my body and being kind to it. I rub oil all over myself from top to bottom and it’s the most amazing feeling. It is so grounding, calming and suddenly I can hear myself think and feel again. I remember who I am. After I’m done I like to sit for a bit and focus on my heart or my breath, or just studying my body and bathroom in detail. Being present. I’m here. I’m alive and it’s wonderful. Then I take a shower.
At times I’ve felt like crying when I allow myself to be good to myself, to feel love. Why is it so easy to be our own worst enemy?
Some benefits of Abhyanga
- Calms the mind
- Gives beautiful hair
- Reduces wrinkles
- gets rid of toxins
- promotes good sleep
- strengthens the immune system
It is said in ayurveda that if you do abhyanga every day you will never have arthritis, or any other dry condition in your joints.
How to perform abhyanga
Warm your oil. A good way is to let the bottle float in hot water for a few minutes. I just leave mine in the sink while I get ready. Then stand or sit on an old towel that you don’t mind getting oily, and begin by drizzling warm oil onto the crown of your head. Proceed by rubbing oil into your scalp. It’s good to allow some time on this as it is a blissful experience. Continue to massage down your body. Go in a circular clockwise motion on your stomach, hips and especially knees. Also spend a few minutes taking care of your feet. I love rubbing oil between my toes and spending a little time focusing on each one.
Meditate for 10-15 minutes, or how long as you have time for, before showering. I also brush my teeth while letting the oil sink deeper into the skin.
Below is a video that explains how to do abhyanga.
What oils to use?
The most common oil to use is cold pressed sesame oil. Personally though I prefer to use almond oil as it has a much milder scent. I like to add essential oils to mine to further enhance the effects of the treatment. My favorite is floracopeias vata oil which I find to be especially grounding. Though I must warn you that the scent might take some time getting used to, at least it did for me, but now I love it. Floracopeia has a line of ayurvedic massage oils specific for each dosha (body type).
Ayurveda recommends various oils for different doshas. Sesame works for all, but pitta can also benefit from the more cooling coconut oil. Almond is wonderful for vata.
You can take a quiz to find your dosha.
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My experience and final thoughts
Interestingly I’ve found that after starting doing abhyanga, I’ ve less cravings for comfort food. Perhaps it’s because I allow myself some sweetness through abhyanga, and that it also makes me feel more grounded and present. I can tell my body really doesn’t want potato chips or cheap chocolate. Going to bed before 11pm has also helped me eat better.
I also find it beneficial to massage my body and feel where there is a lot of tension. I can release pain that way, and be aware of where I hold onto a lot of stress.
I hope you find some time to give yourself the gift of abhyanga. It’s of course most beneficial to do it every day, or even twice a day, but even a few times a week would be excellent. Try it out and let me know how you find it. I would love to hear your thoughts!