Do I have your attention yet?
It sounds a bit kinky but a very innocent post afterall.
Snehana is the Sanskrit word for oleation or lubrication – and Sneha expresses a feeling of “stupendous love and immense tenderness” (Maya Tiwari).
For years now I had been meaning to introduce daily Abhyanga (warm oil self-massage) but life taking over as it does it is only when I started my Ayurvedic studies with my teacher in the US – Cate Stillman – and listened to her strategy video for the course that I was totally sold on the idea that I must make it an absolute necessity in my daily routine. And I did! A few words from her and I was hooked. From one day to the next I started oil massage as a morning bathroom ritual and have continued without fail. And I’m very glad I did too.
Here are some of the benefits it claims:
– radiant skin
– better circulation
– better sleep
– tones the muscles
– improves elimination of toxins from the skin, blood, plasma and lymph system
– regulates the digestive system
– feeds the inner tissues of the body (dathus)
– boosts the immune system
– calms the nervous system, reduces anxiety
– nurtures body and soul, grounds & gives you that feeling of connection
The list goes on…
And here is how to do it:
Allow between 5 and 20 minutes depending on how much time you are able to give yourself.
Use sesame oil especially in the autumn and winter and all year around if you are of a vata constitution, coconut is best for pittas in the summer time. Kaphas may like olive or mustard oil but will be fine with sesame all year around too. The benefits of sesame oil, and coconut oil for that matter, would require a full post of their own. Always buy food grade oils, organic from a health food store – if good enough to eat then it’s good enough on your skin, after all you are feeding your skin as well as the deeper tissues.
Warm the oil by placing the bottle in hot water for 5 minutes, or if possible to higher than body temperature.
Ideally you would want to start with your head but I for one understand the logistic & time-management restrictions with a 2 year old in toe. If you do then take a small amount of oil then use fingertips to work the scalp deeply, slightly pulling the roots of your hair.
Next massage your face using circular movements all over not forgetting important points like the third-eye, temples, around the eyes by circling along the eyebrow line then along the lower lid area, laugh lines (a face lift tip right there) and also the chin.
Be especially intent when massaging the ears, placing a few drops inside the ear and applying pressure all around the outer ear.
Move on to the neck, front and back, in long strokes then the shoulders with circular movements, the top of your chest including the collarbone in strokes. Next are the arms.
The rule is generally massage in firm long strokes with the palm of your hands on long bones and circular movement on joints, shoulders, elbows, hips, wrists and ankles – and you are massaging from top to bottom and always towards the heart.
Continue moving through the body, one arm then the other, paying extra attention to the hands (palms, knuckles & small joints of each fingers). Abhyanga will help keep breast tissue healthy. The abdomen should be massaged circularly, be gentle though. Massage the liver, pancreas & spleen by reaching under the ribcage. Proceed on to the side of the body then your back, hips, bottom and legs. Again pay extra attention to the feet including sole and toes.
If time allows keep the oil on a few minutes then have a warm bath or shower to both wash the oil off and deepen the benefits of the massage.
Totally overwhelmed by my instructions? Watch this video with Alicia Diaz. She’s a cool cookie in the world of Ayurveda and I’m a bit of a groupie.
I do believe that the massage helps activate the marma points (vital pressure points) and even though I have been a bit shy about owning up to it in public to start with, I truly believe that daily massage has contributed to my weight loss and with feeling and looking better than I have in years. So here you go, now you know my secret!