THE BENEFITS OF ABHYANGA (Oil Massage)

Abhyanga is very highly recommended in Ayurveda. It is one of the single most important practices one can incorporate into their daily routine to help maintain a healthy body. The meaning of 'Abhyanga,' is the application of oil to the body. In this article, I will discuss the procedure and the many benefits associated with Abhyanga. 

Remember that the skin is the largest organ of our body. It produces naturally occurring antidepressants, anti-cancer, and anti-aging substances as well as hormones that enhance circulation. Ayurveda prescribes using the hands to massage the body with oil. The feel of warm oils applied to the body using hands has a very therapeutic effect on physical and psychological levels, including the calming of the mind and nervous system. It doesn`t require a lot of time and usually only takes a few minutes of your day. Nonetheless, the benefits will be with you for a lifetime, should you choose to incorporate it into your lifestyle.

 

BENEFITS:

        • Increases the softness of the skin and adds lustre to it, in turn giving skin a healthy glow

        • Decreases Vata

        • Strengthens the Dhatus (the body`s tissues in accordance to the Ayurvedic texts)

        • Increases strength and stamina

        • Improves vision

        • Promotes healthy sleep

 

TYPES OF OILS RECOMMENDED BASED ON YOUR BODY TYPE:

Take a moment and take our ONLINE QUIZ to determine your body type if you haven’t done so already. Once you know your body type, you can choose an oil that is best suited for you.

Vata types require a warming oil like sesame or almond. It is recommended you perform Abhyanga 2-3 times per week. Because Vata is a cold and dry Dosha, warm oil is very nourishing. It helps lubricate the dry skin and protect the joints. Mahanarayana oil and Dhanvantaram are two classical oils used in Ayurveda to help alleviate the inflammation and stiffness of joints. A light to medium pressure should be used.

Pitta types need a cooling type of oil, so coconut and olive oils are an excellent choice. Medium pressure should be used when massaging. Many Pitta types have inflammatory skin issues. West Coast Ayurveda provides some specific oils for use on specific ailments. Find out more at our online store.

Kapha types require a warming oil, so mustard and sunflower are excellent choices. Sesame is also a very good choice especially in cooler climates. Medium to heavy pressure is recommended and best for Kapha types as it allows the oil to deeply penetrate.

 

PROCEDURE:

1) Warm the oils to a pleasant temperature by placing them in a warm water bath. Oil should always be applied warm to the body. 

2) Start by applying the oil to your head, and gently massage the oil into your scalp using fingers and palms. Gently apply the oil to your face and neck--front and back. Remember to massage over the ears as well.

3) Apply a small amount of oil to the body and rub it all over. Massage in the direction of the hair follicles allowing the oil to cover the body evenly.

4) Massage the arms and legs, paying attention to the joints and palms.  Use long, even strokes along the length of the limbs in the direction in which the hair flows.  When performing Abhyanga on the joints, use a circular motion.

5) Massage the back as best you can if you are doing it solo, or ask a partner to do your back for you. Start at the base of the spine and work upwards in long, continuous strokes.

6) Lastly, massage the feet. Take some time doing this as the feet contain many important Marmas (pressure points in accordance to the principles of Ayurveda).  When massaging the feet, be sure to apply the oil to the entire foot, taking care to get in between the toes.  Use the palms of your hands to massage the soles of your feet with a firm pressure.  

After the application of oil, sit quietly for 15-20 minutes to allow the oil to be properly absorbed by your skin. During this time you may choose to meditate or do other Dinacharya (daily routines like Pranayama, or breathing practices, and others.) Once the oil has absorbed nicely, you may wash it off by taking a shower.

 

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