How to do Self Abhyanga or Ayurvedic Self Massage

I Love massage, ask my son who I bribe to give me short massages with he's tiny little hands every time I catch him off-guard in exchange for anything that he wants... Give me a massage and I am a happy women.

When we think of self-care, images of elaborate spa rituals come to mind, where one person massages your head, while another works your feet, and you see a person in complete bliss. It’s what movies and TV shows have got us to believe, but the truth is that you don’t need a battalion for self-care – it’s called ‘self’ for a reason!

Your happiness lies in your hands, and your body’s well-being too.

Self Massage or Abhyanga has been used in Ayurveda for many years, A daily Abhyanga practice restores the balance of all biological agents in and enhances well-being and longevity.

Your skin is your largest organ plus it has more nerve endings than any other part of your body. So when you anoint oil on those nerve endings and massage them, it helps ground and strengthen the nervous system.

Benefits of Self Massage:

  • Nourishes the entire body—decreases the effects of aging
  • Imparts muscle tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
  • Imparts a firmness to the limbs
  • Lubricates the joints
  • Increases circulation
  • Stimulates the internal organs of the body
  • Assists in elimination of impurities from the body
  • Moves the lymph, aiding in detoxification
  • Increases stamina
  • Calms the nerves
  • Benefits sleep—better, deeper sleep
  • Enhances vision
  • Makes hair (scalp) grow luxuriantly, thick, soft and glossy
  • Softens and smoothens skin; wrinkles are reduced and disappear
  • Pacifies Vata and Pitta and stimulates Kapha

Oils that you can use:

  • Organic Black Sesame Oil in winter/cold climate
  • Coconut Oil in summer or for those with sensitive skin.
  • You can also use other oils like almond and macadamia, or whatever is locally grown to you, but the former two are primarily recommended by Ayurveda.
  • If you can get your hands on an Ayurvedic medicated oil that is suitable for you, that will be beneficial.
  • Warm up your massage oil. This will increase the effect and nourishing quality as the oil can penetrate deeper into the skin and tissues.

 

Abhyanga sits in the "Sneha" category of Ayurvedic treatments, Sneha can be translated as both “oil” and “love.” So in Ayurveda, there is an inherent connection between enveloping the body in oil and enveloping it in love. Ayurveda recommends daily massage with Black sesame Oil on daily basis for thirty minutes before your warm shower for better results.

In case you’re wondering how on earth you can give yourself a massage, there’s an answer for that too, and it’s called Abhyanga or Self Massage, an oil base massage that you can do to yourself.

Oil massage may sound like a messy and complicated process best left to the spa, but once you’ve learned the basics, self-massage with oil starts to become second-nature and well worth the effort. 

How to do your Self Massage or Ahyanga:

  • Self massage or Abhynaga has invigorating results if done in the morning rather than in the night. In the night will induce sleep.
  • Warm the oil (pour approximately ¼ cup into a mug and warm using a coffee-cup warmer.) Test the temperature by putting a drop on your inner wrist, oil should be comfortably warm and not hot
  • Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room
  • Start the massage by spending at least a couple of minutes massaging your feet. Feet are a very important part of the body with the nerve endings of essential organs and vital marma points
  • Use long strokes on the limbs (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints (elbows and knees). Always massage from the feet up towards the direction of your heart
  • Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side
  • Face: Massage in circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws (always moving in a upward movement). Be sure to massage your ears, especially your ear-lobes—home to essential marma points and nerve endings
  • Apply oil to the crown of your head (adhipati marma) and work slowly out from there in circular strokes—spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp (home to many other important marma points—points of concentrated vital energy)
  • Sit with the oil for 5-15 minutes if possible so that the oil can absorb and penetrate into the deeper layers of the body, usually I will put a robe (that I only use for my massages) and go make breakfast for my son, or i'll just sit in meditation.
  • Enjoy a warm bath or shower. You can use a mild soap on the “strategic” areas, avoid vigorously soaping and rubbing the body
  • When you get out of the bath, towel dry gently. Blot the towel on your body instead of rubbing vigorously

Enjoy the feeling of having nourished your body, mind, and spirit and carry that with you throughout your day.