Self-care is something that is extremely important, but seldom practiced by many. Knowing how to look after yourself goes a long way towards providing you with at least one self-care option. There is no greater show of self-love, in my opinion, than anointing yourself with heated oil, from head to toe. And that form of self-care is called Abhyanga massage.
Abhyanga (Abhi = all over, anga=body) is an Ayurvedic massage method that helps to warm up muscles, release trapped endogenous toxins, and enhance circulation. Abhyanga oils can be purchased or prepared according to a recipe for deeper healing, but you can use regular oil for starters. Abhyanga massages are mainly provided at a professional Ayurveda centre by expert masseuses as a curative therapy or as part of an Ayurveda lifestyle’s daily bathing ritual by followers of an Ayurveda lifestyle. But why travel to a centre when you can do it yourself in the convenience of your own home?
Aside from moisturizing your entire body, if done correctly and frequently, this self-massage has a slew of other advantages. Here are the benefits:
- Nourishes the entire body – decreases the effects of aging
- Lubricates the joints
- Increase blood circulation
- Stimulates internal organs
- Calms the nerves
- Better sleep pattern
- Enhance vision
- Promotes hair growth
- Firms the skin
How To Do A Self Massage
We’ve seen all the benefits of Abhyanga massage, so now let’s get into how to give yourself the massage. It’s not difficult, and you don’t have to follow the instructions to the letter (at least for the first portion), but knowing is half the battle won, right? This is an excellent way to begin giving yourself some one-on-one attention.
To begin with, choose a quiet and comfortable area. It can be your bedroom, living room or even your garden, just as long you feel at peace. Next, do some breathing exercises. This ensures that your mind, soul and body are aligned into a single state of mind. You can choose to skip this part if you want to, but it’s still a good way to stay calm before a soothing massage.
1. Warm your oil
Okay, like most massages, the Abhyanga massage uses oil. There are different types of oil blends, so feel free to choose the ones you like. It can even be regular coconut oil. To make the massage more effective, you will need to warm your oil. You can use the double-boiler method or place your oil bottle in hot water for few minutes. The warmth of the oil will help your muscles relax and thus encourage better blood circulation.
2. Sit in a warm space with a towel
Here, you need to go commando, but you can wrap yourself in a towel if you’re shy. You can either sit on the towel or sit with the towel wrapped around you – both ways are fine. But the best way is to sit on the towel because it’ll ensure you don’t drip oil everywhere. Make sure your room is warm and cozy. If you’re doing it in the bathroom, you can prepare extra sets of towels around you just to avoid slipping.
3. Apply the oil
Once you’ve gotten cozy, scoop a good amount of oil in your palm and apply it generously all over your body (including your head). Do it while the oil is still warm. And don’t worry about getting too much oil on your body. The more oil you use, the easier it is to massage your body. Also, your body doesn’t absorb the oil, so you can rinse it off later.
4. Start with your arms and legs
Massage the oil in long strokes from your lower legs up to your stomach, starting with your legs. Make sure you rub your joints in circular motions. Work the oil towards your body’s centre. Once you’ve reached your stomach, rub your intestines in a circular and clockwise pattern (be careful not to rub too hard or for too long – you can end up with diarrhoea). Then, from your hands to your shoulders and chest, work in long strokes.
5. Move to your scalp and feet
Your scalp and feet are probably the two nicest portions of a self-massage. Apply a tiny amount of oil to your palms and massage your scalp with your fingertips only. This reduces the quantity of oil in your hair while still providing a wonderful message that your scalp will appreciate. When massaging your feet, make sure you don’t leave any parts of your feet alone. Apply even, moderate pressure to the area.
6. Oil your face and ears
Next, move towards your face. Massage your forehead, temples, cheekbones, and jaw in a circular motion (always moving in a upward movement). Once done, proceed to oiling your ears. You don’t need to pour oil into your ears; simply rubbing them with your fingertips would be enough. Stick your pinky finger into the warm oil and gently press it into your ears, followed by a gentle massage of the lobes. Your ears have a number of pressure points, and massaging the outer portions of your ears can help relieve a lot of tension in your body. The canal is kept lubricated and debris-free by oiling it. It also aids in the prevention of earaches.
7. Enjoy a warm shower
And we’ve come to the last (and best) part: the shower! Once you’ve given yourself a good, satisfying massage, head straight to the showers to wash off the excess oil from your body. If you have a bath tub, fill the tub with warm or slightly hot water. Sit in the tub and rinse your body. If you’re about to head out, you can use a mild body cleanser to help wash off the oil.
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