Abhyanga: The Art of Self Oil
by Delight Yoga
Abhyanga: A Blessing for Body and Mind
Abhyanga is an oil massage where mainly the palms of the hand are used to massage the entire body. For Abhyanga mild, nurturing, or more medicinal oils can be used.
Oil massage is also called 'Snehana' in Ayurveda. This term also means 'love' or 'tenderness': the contact of the skin with warm oil has an effect on everyone's feeling of well-being and security. The specific Ayurvedic massage movements of Abhyanga also help to regulate energy flows in the body.
The Benefits of Abhyanga
There are a number of very good reasons for anyone to undergo an Abhyanga treatment on an occasional or regular basis. Wellness Abhyanga treatments focus on a mild, nurturing and relaxing approach. The positive effects of applying warm ayurvedic oil to the body are:
1. Oil softens body tissues.
2. Sesame oil - the basis of most ayurvedic oils - has a penetrating effect, influencing the nerve endings, stimulating neuropeptides, and thus reducing stress.
3. Oil massages dissolve crystals in the tissues; crystals are often the result of fixed or unprocessed emotions in the deeper connective tissues.
4. Oil treatment helps to dissolve cellular toxins, which pollute and block the cell wall, thus negatively affecting cellular intelligence.
5. Oil treatment brings Vata (the air element in the body) to rest; according to Ayurveda, Vata is responsible for 80% of all diseases.
6. Oil treatment reduces stiffness and pain.
7. Oil treatment opens the pores.
8. Oil treatment gives a feeling of well-being and security.
How to give yourself a simple Abhyanga body massage at home
What you need:
- Mild ayurvedic massage oil (for Vata season, sesame oil is recommended)
- A tray with warm water (to warm up oils and keep warm)
- Two towels
Step 1: Choose a peaceful space
Find a private, well-heated space in your home. Either lie down on a thick large towel, sit on a chair or stool, or perform the massage standing up.
Step 2: Warm your oil
Heat the oil in advance - this will enhance the warming and soothing effects. You can do this by placing the bottle of oil in a bowl of warm water or your sink filled with warm water.
Step 3: Start with the crown
Take some of the warm oil in your hands. First apply some oil to your crown and the soles of your feet (NOT the latter if you are doing the massage standing up).
Step 4: Massage peacefully and away from the heart
Now it's time to apply the warm oil to the body. Massage your body with pleasant and gentle movements, and direct the massage from top to bottom - or away from the heart.
Step 5: Circle the joints
Care for your joints - such as the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles - with a circular movement.
Step 6: Let it soak in
After the massage, let the oil soak in for a while. Make sure you don't get cold.
Step 7: Cleanse off the oil
Then take a hot shower or bath or wipe the excess oil off your body with a dry cloth. A warm or hot shower/bath or a sauna after the oil massage strengthens the effect of this treatment.
Contraindications for oil massage:
- Serious overweight
- Serious weakness
- Digestion not working
- Extreme toxins in the body