Raise your hand if you like massage!

I loooove massage. I used to have a hard time staying still and letting go, so it’s  a mediator I’ve really needed to be able to center on myself and relax. Any massage with a qualified practioner is great obviously, but I want to talk about abhyanga, the ayurvedicself massage. I call it the reset button!

the benefits of abhyanga

Beyond the multiple physical benefits of massage, it is important to self-massage in Ayurveda because it is an expression of self-love and self-care. It is particularly recommended for Vata constitutions who need to be grounded and who are very receptive to the touch.

Among many other benefits, abhyanga will help:

  • get a better sleep,
  • soften and smooth the skin,
  • firm the skin,
  • stimulate internal organs,
  • improve blood circulation,
  • stimulate the lymph circulation.

CAUTION

Do not massage yourself when you are sick or right after a meal or when you are menstruating.

  • Do not massage your stomach if your are pregnant or have intestinal ulcers or have heart problems.
  • Do not massage right after a bath or a shower.
  • Ask your doctor for advice if you suffer from any pathology.

 

Photo by Galina N on Unsplash

WHEN SHOULD I MASSAGE?

The best time for abhyanga is in the morning (not in my life) or at bedtime, on dry skin.

  • Vata : 4 – 5 times a week.
  • Pitta : 2 – 3 times a week.
  • Kapha : 1 – 2 times a week.

These are ideal recommendations of course. I’m far from massaging 4 times a week! I don’t even do it every week! Just do as best as you can without putting pressure on you (wouldn’t that be ironic?!) and do it when it’s enjoyable.

WHAT DO I MASSAGE WITH?

With a warm oil you will have chosen according to your ayurvedic constitution.

  • Vata : jojoba, sesame or sweet almond oil. Be generous with the quantity of oil since Vata needs something very enveloping.
  • Pitta : jojoba or coconut oil. Use a little less oil as it warms the body and you don’t want to fuel Pitta’s fire.
  • Kapha : jojoba or safflower oil. Kapha needs a very stimulating, almost dry massage.

 

Vata, Pitta, Kapha : what’s that?! Go read my article about the doshas. It will explain everything

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Abhyanga is a balancing treatment because it’s a massage of the marma points (the energy points). The real deal has 9 steps and takes about 1 hour. It’s hard to do the same all by yourself, so don’t hesitate to book an appointment if you find a qualified ayurvedic massage therapist.

In the meantime, we’ll follow these steps at home :

  1. Pour your chosen oil in a bottle.
  2. Warm it in a bowl you will have filled with warm water. Wait until the oil is warm enough without being hot. Test cautiously on your arm.
  3. Warm your bathroom or any other room you like to relax in and take one large towel. Don’t choose your favourite one though – it will be ruined by the oil, eventually.
  4. Start with the extremities and massage your way toward the middle of your body.
  5. Use your fingers or palms in clockwise, circular motion on the articulations and use long firm strokes on your limbs.
  6. Massage the abdomen and the chest with a clockwise motion.
  7. On the abdomen, be careful to follow the path of the colon: massage up on the right side of your abdomen, then down on the left side.
  8. The massage should be slow and should take about 15 – 20 minutes.
  9. Lie down, cover yourself to stay warm and relax for 5 – 10 minutes while the oil is absorbing.
  10. Take a warm bath or shower and scrub your body if you want to. Just be gentle.

 

Don’t be afraid to do it wrong. The quality of the massage depends more on your focus on yourself than on technique. Pay attention to the sensations and to every part of your body. If your mind wanders towards chores and to-do lists, bring it back gently to the warm, enveloping sensation of your hands and fingers on our warm skin.

Finally, 2 recommendations :

  • Oil may clog your bathroom pipes, in the long run. So don’t forget to put an environmentally friendly drain cleanser down your drain.
  • Your feet are going to be oily: be extremely careful not to slip!

 

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

THE DAILY MASSAGE

We all agree that it’s not going to be possible every day! However, a feet massage is and it’s recommended for a good sleep. Here’s what you can do :

  1. With your thumb, massage the point located in the middle of the arch of the foot. It’s good for the heart
  2. With your thumb, massage the point located in the middle of the underside of the big toe. It regulates hormonal activity.
  3. Starting with the big toe, massage the underside of the base joint of each toe. Then massage each toe all around by gently pulling upward from base to tip. Each toe corresponds to a major organ: brain, lungs, intestines, kidney, heart.
  4. Massage the point on the topside of the foot, in the groove just between the base of the big toe and the 1st toe. Massage about one inch towards the ankle.
  5. With both hands, massage your foot in upward stroke from toes to ankle. Top and bottom.

 

SHALL WE PRESS THE RESET BUTTON?!