Dry skin. Scattered mind. Sluggishness. Trouble sleeping. Feeling low. Are any of these showing up in your life right now? In my work as an Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist, these are some of the most common complaints I see around this time of year. One easy way to promote wellness and to leave those complaints behind is an Ayurvedic technique called abhyanga, or self-massage. Self-massage is a time-tested methodology for promoting health and a sense of wellbeing. Personally, my daily self-massage reminds me that I am here to enjoy and celebrate life rather than to just get through it.
Here are the top five reasons to practice self-massage:
- You’re rejuvenating your body and mind. When you start your day with a 10-minute self-massage, you can meet yourself where you are. A more energetic massage stroke will vitalize the body and mind, which helps if you've been feeling mentally or physically sluggish. A more leisurely self-massage while focusing on your breath helps your mind slow down and your body relax.
- You’re detoxifying your body’s largest organ. We feel dis-ease because of the accumulation of toxins. As you massage your body, you’re promoting the flushing out of impurities and toxins through your skin. Proper elimination is a key part of feeling energized and ready to engage fully with life.
As you massage your body, you’re promoting the flushing out of impurities and toxins through your skin.
- You’re stimulating your body’s energetic channels so your energy flows freely. According to Ayurveda, your life force (prana) flows through channels called nadis. Self-massage stimulates your energetic channels, promoting the easy flow of prana through your mind and body. Prana is your body’s natural intelligence and when it’s flowing properly your body's innate healing power is activated.
- You’re promoting youthfulness. Self-massage increases your vibrancy, promoting soft and lustrous skin. Its detoxifying, energetic, and balancing effects promote the qualities we associate with being youthful, such as resilience, joy, and vitality.
- You’re nurturing yourself. Self-massage is one of the most incredible acts of self-kindness and love . By taking 10 minutes each morning for this practice, you turn off your inner critic, and you turn on your ability to relax into that part of you that is pure being, beauty, and bliss.
According to Ayurveda, your life force (prana) flows through channels called nadis. Self-massage stimulates your energetic channels, promoting the easy flow of prana through your mind and body.
Now you know the benefits of self-massage. How do you do it?
Organic sesame oil, which has a warming effect, and coconut oil, which has a cooling effect, are two commonly used oils. Place your oil in a container of hot water to warm it. As it’s warming, rub a skin brush or dry washcloth all over your body. Once the oil is warm, rub some into your hands. Begin by massaging the oil into your scalp using the palms of your hands. Gently massage your ears, nostrils, forehead, and temples. Reapply with more oil as needed, as you move to massage your face in a circular motion. Massage the back of your neck, and when you get to your throat, massage in an upward movement. Massage the arms and legs in the direction of your heart, with long strokes on the muscles and circular movements on the joints. Use your palms to massage the chest and abdomen in a clockwise direction. Massage your hips and your bottom before moving onto the tops and soles of your feet. Give your hands some loving attention, both on the palms and the backs of the hands.
Once you’ve massaged your entire body, give yourself the gift of silence. You can start your meditation practice, or lie down on a towel and do some belly breathing. Once you’re finished with your breathing or meditation practice, shower with warm water.
Now you’ve detoxed, energized, balanced, and nurtured yourself and you haven’t even gone to work yet! Imagine the waves of awesome we all could create by committing to a daily self-massage practice. How easy would it be to respond rather than react to life? When we fill ourselves with love and kindness, we can’t help but allow that love to spill over into our actions that day.
Who’s with me? Let’s spread the love by oiling up!