Abhyanga or self-massage with oil is the number one remedy for calming Vata. Daily massage helps to open the channels and gently activates the lymph to eliminate any impurities that may have accumulated. It tones the limbs, makes the skin supple and flexible. More importantly, daily massage helps to keep circulation going, move excess water retention. By massaging daily you help to prevent the formation of blood clots and stagnation, as well as stimulating the internal organs and pressure points to promote overall emotional and physical well-being. In Ayurveda, Oil signifies Love. Spending 15-20 minutes a day with yourself, generously massaging ”love” to your body is not only physically but also mentally and emotionally nourishing. It is not feasible that we would have either the time of the money to get a professional massage on a daily basis, so self oil massage is a wonderful way to nurture and care for yourself using slow, repetitive, gentle but firm (not deep) and steady pressure and strokes.
Sesame oil is great for Vata.
Sunflower oil is great year round oil for Pitta. In the summer coconut oil is a good choice.
Sesame oil mixed with a little mustard oil is good for Kapha.
If you can get a herbal oil specific for your dosha, this will add further rejuvenation. look for ayurvedic herbal oils are slowly cooked in organic unrefined sesame oil, one of the most penetrating oils, which work not only on the skin’s surface but absorb internally to nourish and protect both inside and out.
Heat up the bathroom, Its paramount to have a warm environment – Cold aggrivates vata dosha.
Place an old towel under you to prevent you from slipping and to catch any oil.
Practice Abhyanga (Oil massage) by warming this oil and massaging it all over your body. You can warm the oil by placing the bottle in a bowl of hot water. Alternatively, pour out the desired amount of oil into a small saucepan and gently heat the oil to a warm temperature. Caution – oil heats up quickly so keep a close eye on it. Never use oil when it’s too hot, always wait until the oil is comfortably warm.
Once warm put into a ceramic bowl and cupping some oil into the hand apply to the body.
Start with the head, face and neck, moving down to the arms, chest, body and legs.
Use long strokes on the long bones (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints (shoulders, hips, elbows, knees, wrists, ankles).
It is best to practice this massage for at least 15-20 minutes, taking your time to deeply massage the oil into the skin. Ladies – Don’t forget about the breasts.
Use a clockwise motion to massage the stomach, Starting at the right hip, moving up to the diaphragm and down to the left hip. Use circular motions to help the correct flow of vata through the colon.
Follow this massage with a warm shower or bath to further help the oil penetrate. Do not use soap to wash the oil off, simply let the warm water wash away any residue and leave the rest to sink into the skin.
Be careful when you step into the shower or bath the oil can make the surface slippery.
Ideally use an older towel for drying yourself after bathing or delegate a specific towel for this use as it will accumulate oil.
This practice is extremely beneficial in keeping the body nourished, the immunity strong, and the nerves relaxed. It is a good idea to practice Abhyanga every day if possible. Either first thing in the morning or in the evening before your last meal.
Always perform Abhyanga on an empty stomach.
Over time, oil can accumulate in the drains so a few times each month pour 1/4 cup of neat dish soap (we like Dr Bronner sal suds as its great for cutting grease) 1/4 cup of Bicarbonate of soda and 1/4 cup vinegar. – follow with 1 pint of boiling water. Let sit for 20 minutes then flush the drains with hot water for a few minutes.
When washing your oily towels , add 1 cup of rubbing alcohol or 1 cup of dish soap to the load to help eliminate the oil.
CAUTION: Do not dry oily towels in the dryer, they are flammable and could catch fire. Always store oily towels in a cool and well ventilated area.
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR SELF MASSAGE
When you are feeling unwell, have a cold, headache, fever or upset tummy.
When there is a heavy coating on the tongue.
If you are under a doctors, care for a medical condition, consult your doctor for approval.
Although self-massage during pregnancy is recommended, always get the consent of your health care practitioner.
When there are open wounds or lesions or infections.