Why Practice Abhyanga?
Abhyanga (abhee-yahn-gah) is self-massage with body oil. It is a common practice in Ayurveda (ayurveda blog) as part of daily routines. Ayurvedic daily routines (dinacharya) are essential in maintaining balance and supporting wellbeing. As we know, sometimes our days get sidetracked and achieving both healthy and joyful habits and actions can provide relief and keep us balanced. Life is about balance and understanding the basic concepts of Ayurveda can help one navigate through life with a sense of calm, thorough comprehension, and positivity.
The benefits of abhyanga are mostly centered around the concept of self-regulation, which is the ability to manage your emotions and responses to external stimuli. This world has a myriad of triggers, which are unique to each individual. However, one commonality is the ability to recognize triggers or at least prevent their effect on us. Similar results to having a professional massage, abhyanga goes a few steps further since you are the one massaging yourself, an opportunity arises to learn about your body. By simply touching your skin and stroking muscles, you pick up on subtle clues of tension, stress, or even relaxation. You are creating a mental diary of your physical body, as well as a repository of calm that triggers will have difficulty penetrating. Speaking of penetration, the skin is our largest organ and anything you apply to it affects your entire body. Substances you apply topically absorb into the bloodstream which is why it is vital to read all labels. [This is Anjali the pharmacist kicking in =)] There are times to avoid abhyanga, such as after eating, during pregnancy, active menstruation (ovulation period is fine), illness, or major discomfort and pain.
In the practice of Abyhanga, one can use herbally infused oils or add essential oils to common carrier oils to enhance the massage. Snehana is the Sanksrit term for oil, and what is even more interesting is that Sneha means LOVE. Applying oil is a form of self-love, a practice performed by Ayurveda enthusiasts for centuries. Our process begins with determining our individual Prakruti (prakruti blog), and choosing a maintenance oil for daily massage resulting in hydrated, nourished, and glowing skin. Each oil has certain properties, such as warming, cooling, grounding, uplifting, etc., and one must take care in understanding how the oil will affect our mood. Similar to the points in acupressure, the Ayurvedic concept of these areas are termed marma points or junctions of subtle energy flow. There is a specific method to abhyanga for maintaining or renewing your vitality, keeping this energetic flow consistent.
So how do we practice abhyanga?
First of all, we warm our oil. The best and safest method is by immersing a sealed vial of oil into a cup of warm water. The oil should be warm to the touch, not hot or you are risking injury. Since we are using oil, you will have to operate with some finesse but do not worry, the practice will come with ease each time you perform it. Create an ambience by playing some relaxing music, dim the lights, or just enjoy the moment as is. Make sure you use discretionary towels and clothing, and find a comfortable seat. When applying the oil, use clockwise motion for joints, such as your knuckles, elbows, knees, ankles.
For fingers and toes, turn each digit gently as if stirring a spoon, then give a gentle tug. Use unidirectional long strokes for your arms, legs, and your back. Always use firm and gentle pressure.
For the lower abdomen, keeping your hands overlapped, stroke in large circles (around the navel) moving from left to right. This movement helps in digestion as well.
Feel free to apply to the buttocks by using circular strokes.
For the chest area, move your hands in a down and outward direction around the breasts.
For the face, place your fingertips over your eyebrows and gently push towards your forehead and into your scalp. Create an oval path starting from the temple towards your eye area and the bridge of your nose, avoiding getting too close to the eyes. For the face, glide your fingertips from your temples down towards your face and neck. For the neck, apply the oil in a downward sweeping motion with gentle pressure.
For the scalp, using your fingertips make slow, gentle, and clockwise circles on the very top of the head moving alongside your head. Tilt the head down, stroke along the back of the head and neck with your thumbs in an upward direction.
Be sure to leave the oil on your body for at least 10 minutes to receive all the benefits, especially glowing skin. Abhyanga can also be a family affair, get some help with tough to reach areas such as your back by asking a loved one to apply the oil for you. Create a bonding moment by returning the favor!
At AyurGlo, we have taken the practice of Abhyanga one step further by adding affordable euphoric luxury. Our resident Ayurvedic Aromatherapist and Wellness Counselor, Anjali infuses our body oils with natural and organic essential oils. We only source from the best. Our products are cruelty free, preservative free, and effective. Are you ready for a GLO UP? Take our Dosha Quiz or head straight to our shop to learn more.
At AyurGlo, we have taken the practice of Abhyanga one step further by adding affordable euphoric luxury. Our resident Ayurvedic Aromatherapist and Wellness Counselor, Anjali infuses our body oils with natural and/or organic essential oils. We only source from the best. Our products are cruelty free, preservative free, and effective. Are you ready for a GLO UP? Take our Dosha Quiz or head straight to our shop to learn more.