As we dip back into these chillier mornings, I was reminded of one of my daily practices I want to share with you. First off, have you heard of Ayurveda, one of the oldest healthcare systems in the history of the world? You’ve probably heard the term, as it goes hand-in-hand with yoga, but I’m guessing at least most of my readers haven’t dug into it too much.
I completed my yoga teacher training with a full month-long training at Kripalu in Western MA. I know that makes me one extremely lucky chick, but also because it put me alongside the Kripalu School of Ayurveda at the same time. There I learned about Abhyanga, or the practice of self-massage.
It’s everything it sounds like… massaging yourself. I keep my favorite seasonal oil in the shower, and the last thing I do is massage this oil into my entire body, top to bottom. I do this while the water is still running, and rinse myself off a bit, but best practice (for those who apparently have no where else to get to in the morning) is as much as 15 minutes dedicated to Abhyanga.
I know, most of us think pure luxury is someone else doing the massaging for us, but I’ve found this routine to be one of the most profound acts of self-love I can give myself every day. It’s a way of waking up, checking in with yourself, and saying “I love and care for you” …to yourself. Who doesn’t need a little more of that?
That’s why I do it, but here are some of the more tangible benefits of self-massage, as outlined by The Chopra Center:
- Nourishes the entire body—decreases the effects of aging
- Lubricates the joints
- Increases circulation
- Stimulates the internal organs of the body
- Assists in elimination and detoxification of impurities from the body
- Increases stamina
- Calms the nerves
- Benefits sleep—better, deeper sleep
- Makes hair (scalp) grow luxuriantly, thick, soft and glossy
- Softens and smooths skin
You could learn alllll about your personal dosha and find the best oil for the job, but the guidance I stick with is this. Cooling oils (coconut, olive, sunflower) in the summer time, warming oils in the winter time (almond, sesame). You can buy in bulk online and add a splash of your favorite essential oils if you’re looking for a nice scent. Or you can get fancy with your money with the yummy smells of Banyan.
So what exactly do you do? Again, Banyan has a great link and video if you want to learn more, but all I knew from the start, and continue to do today, is this:
Massage the oil into your body, beginning at the extremities and working toward the middle of your body. Use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints. 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.
That’s it, friends – I will leave it there. I personally need a lot of self-care in my life right now, so maybe you feel the same way too. Go forth and self-prosper!