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Learning how to give yourself a massage is an ancient practice. Before there were muscle-relaxants, Tylenol, or chiropractors, people used their hands to rub away their aches and pains and keep their circulation strong.
The ancient classical Ayurveda text, Charka Samhita says that the body of one who gives themselves an oil massage regularly, even if they work hard or experience stress, is not much affected. His physique is strong, soft, and charming, and the onslaught of aging is slackened. Volume 1 V:88:89, Page 125
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Self Massage is called Abhyanga
Of all the lifestyle recommendations of Ayurveda, self-massage, or Abhyanga (ah-be-yung-ah) is one of the most beneficial and blissful to keep you feeling young, healthy, and beautiful. Learning how to give yourself a massage by moving warm oil into your body will provide you with a grounded, protected, loving feeling that you'll become addicted to.
Interestingly another ancient Sanskrit word, Sneha (snay-ha), also means both “love & oil”. One thing's for sure, the effects of self-massage (Abhyanga) are similar to the effects of being intensely and deeply loved.
Abhyanga is an opportunity to love and feel gratitude for your own body, and when you appreciate it and pay loving attention to it, it just functions better. Remember the aphorism, “Where attention goes, energy flows?” Wherever attention goes, some change occurs.
Benefits of Daily Self Massage:
- Stimulates and strengthens the immune system
- Flushes Toxins from the lymphatic system
- Promotes the flow of prana (life force) in the body and mind
- Promotes flexibility
- Tones muscles
- Rejuvenates and softens skin
- Reduces fear, nervousness and soothes emotions
- Benefits sleep patterns
- Stimulates circulation and color to the body
- Decreases the effects of aging and increases longevity
- Promotes good vision
How to Give Yourself a Massage
- Choose an herbal infused oil that's right for your dosha or the season.
Vata or Autumn/Winter
Pitta or Summer
Kapha or Spring
Or an unrefined, organic sesame oil is best for cooler months, and coconut oil is best for warmer months.
- Warm the oil (about 1/4 cup to slightly above body temperature. Warm oil penetrates the skin and feels better. Fill up your bathroom sink with hot water and place the oil there for 5 minutes. (a bottle with a flip-top is handy)
- Find a draft-free, warm spot to work. The bathroom works great! Lay a towel down and have a hand towel and a pair of socks handy. (Your feet may be slippery.)
- Take a deep breath and rub your palms together. Pour a tablespoon of oil into the palm of your hand. Begin with the top of your head using circular strokes as if you were washing your hair. (On days you don't wash your hair, begin with your neck). Move to your face and continue with circular strokes around the eyes and temples. Massage your ears, neck, and shoulders.
- Move down to your arms, hands, and fingers. Apply the oil liberally in straight strokes over the long bones and clockwise circular strokes at the joints (elbows and wrists).
- Next, move to your legs, feet, and toes applying the oil in the same way. Work using straight back and forth strokes that create friction over the long bones and clockwise circular strokes over the knees and ankles. Reach around to get your backside and butt with up and down strokes.
Make it a Beautiful Self-Love Ritual
- There's no real healing without awareness, so remember to bring a quality of self-love to the practice. Give yourself affirmations like, I'm healthy, I appreciate my body, I'm grateful for my arms, legs, fingers, toes, etc.,
- After your self-massage wait a few minutes before showering or bathing to allow the oil to penetrate your skin.
- Use a light, gentle soap for showering. It's even okay to leave a light coating on all day. Be mindful of the excess oil and take care not to slip. A good bath mat is wise.
The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of the body. Consider this, through the nervous system and microcirculatory channels the skin is connected to all parts of the body. You can see why learning how to give yourself a massage is amazingly effective for maintaining a healthy body and mind. I can't stress this enough… It is highly recommended for everyone!
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section just below.