How to do Abhyanga

Becca ReddyHappiness, Health

Do you want to:

  • Look and feel younger?
  • Sleep better?
  • Have better circulation?
  • Calm your mind and energize your body?
  • Rejuvenate your mind-body system?
  • Have glowing, youthful skin?

Then read on. This is part 2 of Abhyanga, which is a procedure for daily oil self-massage. Doing Abhyanga is so simple, it ought to be illegal. It’s simple yet powerful.

Stuff you need

You need the following supplies:

  1. carrier oil
  2. essential oils
  3. cup of hot water
  4. towel to sit on
  5. 10-15 minutes of time

Your carrier oil of choice serves as your base oil to which you could add some essential oils. What kind of carrier oil would I recommend for you? Depends on your body type as well as the season you’re in. Traditionally, cold-pressed, unrefined sesame oil is what’s used for Abhyanga, regardless of the body type.

Vata mind-body types (light and quick to change) can get away with sesame oil all year. Pitta types (fiery and passionate) may want to try sunflower oil or safflower oil. Kapha types (heavy-set, slow to get going) will do well with Mustard seed oil. Do avoid applying on the sensitive areas. As for the season, also note that sesame oil is warming to the body. So in summer when it’s hot outside, I’d recommend a cooling oil such coconut oil or olive oil.

Your carrier must be cured before use. To do that heat the oil carefully on medium heat in a pan until it reaches a temperature of 212 degrees F (boiling point of water), then take it off the heat immediately. Let it cool before use.

Next come the essential oils. Add a few drops of one or more essential oils to your carrier oil and shake it well. What kind of essential oils should you use? Again, it depends on your body type. Read my post Healthy Skin Naturally And
Listen to your body about how the various essential oils affect you.

And when it comes to essential oils, remember this: less is more.

You need the cup of hot water to warm your oil. As great as Abhyanga is, it is messy. So you need a separate towel (apart from your regular bath towel) to prevent the oil getting onto other stuff.

Best time of the day to do your oil massage? Early morning, between 6-8pm. You could go even earlier if you’re an early riser. If you can’t do it in the morning (because you like to get up later in the day) or because your circumstances prevent it, pick a time that works for you.

Whatever you do, stick to a routine. Keep the time of day you massage/shower consistent. And remember to listen to your body. Your body truly knows best!

Let’s get on with the show

When you have your oil, a cup of hot water and a towel, doing Abhyanga is as easy as 1.2.3. Here are the steps:
1) place your oil bottle in a cup of hot water to heat it up. I use a small 8-oz steel thermos cup into which I pour hot water. I keep my massage oil in a glass oil dispenser, which I insert into my hot-water thermos. You don’t want to heat the oil; you just want to warm it sufficiently so it feels good on your skin.

2) Place your oil towel on a bench or the edge of your bathtub so you can sit on it. You can start with your head and work downwards or with your feet and work upwards. Pour some warmed-up oil into the palm of your hand and rub it into your scalp. Massage with the palm of your hand in circular and/or back and forth motions and massage toward the heart.

Next massage your face, neck and shoulders using your palm. Use your fingers for your ears, nose or eyes. Massage your chest (or breasts) in a circular motion. Ditto with your belly. Do the best you can with your back; use the back of your hand if necessary. Don’t forget your bottom and nether regions.

For arms and legs, use long strokes on your bones and circular strokes on your joints. Using your palm, vigorously massage the bottom of your feet. Let your massage be firm enough to move your lymph along and gentle enough where it’s comforting. You must spend most amount of time on your scalp and bottom of feet.

3) Though not necessary, you can leave the oil on for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. I use this time to go start breakfast. Follow your oil massage with a warm shower and mild soap.

Abhyanga: this simple oil-massage ritual takes very little time everyday, but will pay you back manyfold. It’ll nourish you, balance you, promote healing, keep you well grounded, calm your brain and foster sound sleep.

To your health!