Self massage is a truly wonderful ritual that, once incorporated into your daily routine, will offer you huge holistic health benefits, as well as a few crucial moments of stillness in the frenetic, movement-obsessed world we live in.
Oil massage, known as abhyanga, is a key component of Ayurvedic medicine. It is mentioned in the ancient texts as one of the most important healing practices we can do, because it offers deep grounding to the whole body, and is hugely healing. As a pre-shower practice at the start of the day, it calms the mind, and releases toxins and tension accumulated during the night, when the body was recharging. Like oiling the engine of a car, it keeps the skin in peak condition when performed regularly. It also creates focus, lubricates and softens the skin, and the deeper tissues. Abhyanga instils calm, self acceptance, and harmony to the mind, body and spirit.
Sesame oil is THE OIL of Ayurveda, obtained from the seeds of sesamum indicum, one of the oldest cultivated plants in India. It is hugely significant in Ayurvedic Medicine. It balances all three Doshas and is particularly beneficial for reducing excess Vata.
It is a sacred oil, used in many religious rituals, and it benefits the heart chakra, which is responsible for self- love, acceptance, love and compassion.
Sesame oil is warming; it reduces stress, helps with insomnia, and pacifies nervous tension. It is antioxidant, improves the blood circulation, and penetrates deep into the tissues. It also improves the elasticity of the skin, and is therefore anti-ageing. It eliminates toxins, it is antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.
Cured sesame oil is the best type to use for abhyanga. Curing is done by gently heating the oil to a certain temperature. This allows the beneficial constituents to be released, ensuring maximum potency.
Sesame oil contains vitamin E, omega 6, iron, magnesium,. zinc, and copper.
How to do abhyanga:
Step 1: Stand comfortably in a warm bathroom and heat a couple of teaspoons of cured sesame oil from your bottle, massaging it between your palms. If you have time, and you prefer the oil to be much warmer, or when the weather is particularly dry and cold, you can stand your bottle in a bowl of just- boiled water for a couple of minutes beforehand.
Now, using both hands in unison when possible, or alternate hands when easier, start massaging the oil into your neck, shoulders and chest area, in circular, or sweeping strokes. Spend longer on particularly dry areas such as elbows, knees and legs.
Step 2: Work downwards onto your arms, hands and fingers, your abdomen, lower back and buttocks. Try to keep the strokes to a smooth rhythm, with your hands in contact with your skin as much as possible. Take a couple more teaspoons of oil at a time, as required.
Step 3: Massage the front and back of your thighs, legs and the top of the feet. Do not oil the soles of the feet, as you could slip in the shower.
Step 4: Now sit comfortably on an old towel on a chair, and take a few minutes to allow the oil to penetrate your skin, whilst you breathe in for 5 counts, and out the same. Be still; think about your intentions, offer gratitude for the day ahead, and for your holistic health. Now shower as normal, using a small amount of chemical-free shower gel to wash your skin. We often use too much ‘product’, and we don’t want to wash all the wonderful healing oil away.
And now your day begins with a sense of calm purpose….