The Daily Massage Defined
This is a dose of self care, love and patience every day. It is the first step in taking charge of your day before the day seizes and life has its random way with you.
In Ayurveda it is called abhyanga or, the art of self-massage with oil.
As with many things Ayurvedic there are a whole host of benefits as well as different therapeutic emmolient oils and balms to choose from.
Here are the Basics:
Self massage is described in ancient texts as nourishing, pacifies the out of balance doshas, relieves fatigue, promotes stamina, pleasure and perfect sleep, enhances the complexion and the luster of the skin, promotes longevity and nourishes all parts of the body.
Sounds good to me! After practicing this for years, here are some of the benefits I have experienced for myself and have had reported form clients:
- increased circulation especially to the nerve endings
- Enhances muscle tone
- calms the nerves
- lubricates the joints (think of the tin man which is how I feel most mornings)
- increases mental alertness
- stimulates elimination of impurities from the body (the lymphatic system can be your friend)
- softens and smooths the skin
- May Improve health of skin microbes
- acts as a nervine to improve sleep
So here is how I believe it all works: self-massage in the morning facilitates release of toxins that may have accumulated during night’s sleep and further surface after the body brushing.
I like to think of it this way: While you sleep, the cleaning crew comes in and does its work…digesting, processing and metabolizing. The detritus, the waste products, are sent packing. Some are helped along by these techniques. It is sometimes prescribed before bedtime to treat sleep problems.and in this case pure organic, cold pressed sesame or coconut oil to the feet (socks on after to prevent staining the sheets) is the best!.
Sesame oil is the traditional Ayurvedic choice for abhyanga and it is a great, heating rememdy for nourishing dry, tired skin. But it is an oil and it can be messy and sometimes too heating. In summer or the tropical climes I choose coconut oil or even the lightest of them all, grapeseed oil. But my favorite, no doubt is a Daily Balm composed of nourishing butters, coconut oil and exotic therapeutic essential oils. Less muss, less fuss.
We developed this Daily Balm (Ayurvedic product guru from Ajara Ayurvedic and I) to have all the benefits of the traditional oils without the mess. When I feel like smelling ultra sweet I reach for RedFlower’s omega Berry Oil Serum. There are so many choices, so mostly I suggest experimenting and even switching it up to suit your mood.
How to Do it
1. Dry Brush the entire body: Using a brush (see the Shop for lovely handmade natural brushes) or a washcloth also works. Brush up and towards the heart and center of the body. Start with feet or arms. Stroke several times over each arm, legs, tummy, back if and where you can reach without strain. Gently around chest, neck and delicate décolletage. There is no premium on scrubbing but do be thorough.
2. The Balm or Oil: Balm should be emulsified by the heat of your palms, oils may need to be warmed by immersing the bottle in hot water Bain-Marie style. (Store your oil in a plastic flip-top bottle and place it in the sink or in a large mug filled with hot water.) NOTE: Use balm or oil sparingly at first to see how much gets absorbed. This is a function of how you’re your skin is. Again: no premium on greasing yourself like a Christmas turkey. Apply with love and patience all over your self. I like to kneed the thigh area…somehow I always think it will inhibit cellulite. If nothing else it gets the blood flowing to those massive muscle groups that have been slumbering.
3. Method to the Application:
- Apply a liberal amount of balm or oil the skin of the entire body and massage body, applying even pressure with the whole hand. Apply light pressure on sensitive areas such as the abdomen or the heart. Spend more time where nerve endings are concentrated, such as the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and along the base of the fingernails.
- Begin at the extremities and working towards the middle of the 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.
- Massage your self with love and patience.
- Follow the massage with a warm bath or shower. You may find that doing the massage after bathing or showering is faster and allows more complete absorption of the oil. Choose the timing that works best for you.
- Once in a while, treat yourself to a scalp massage as well. loads of tiny nerves will thank you as will your hair.
4. Tricks of the trade:
- Stand on a towel so you do not slip or drip.
- If you oil your scalp remember to place shampoo on the head BEFORE you put any water on.
- If you shower afterwards: To keep your pipes from clogging: Once a week put 1/4 cup of vinegar down the drain followed by 4 quarts of boiling hot water (from the stove, real boiling h2o).