If there is one thing that relaxes me, it has to be a massage. Give me a head and a body massage and I am a happy person. Self-care, me time are some of the buzzwords doing the rounds.
When we think of self-care, images of elaborate spa rituals come to mind, where one person massages your head, while another one your feet, and you see a person in complete bliss. It’s what movies and TV shows have got us to believe, but the truth is that you don’t need a battalion for self-care – it’s called ‘self’ for a reason!
Your happiness lies in your hands, and your body’s wellbeing too. In case you’re wondering how on earth you can give yourself a massage, there’s an answer for that too, and it’s called Self Abhyanga or Ayurvedic Self Massage.
Benefits of Self Massage in Ayurveda – Abhyanga
Self Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic oil massage that you do upon yourself. In Ayurveda, it is considered a daily self care ritual, to heal the mind and body from the stresses of daily life and to keep it going strong and steady. Abhyanga is believed to help all the systems of the body, while increasing strength and flexibility of muscles and joints. It is also a natural and chemical free way to encourage youthfulness and improve the quality of the skin and hair.
Several scientific studies have found that a massage has numerous health benefits, especially when done with oil and in a proper, rhythmic manner. A good massage encourages the body to produce more oxytocins, the feel-good hormone, which is why self abhyanga is believed to be as good for the mind as it is for the body. Here is a more detailed look at these benefits.
What are the Benefits of Self Massage in Ayurveda?
- Better circulation throughout the body
- Provides lubrication for the joints, reducing pain and inflammation
- Encourages elimination of toxins and impurities from the body
- Increases strength of bones and muscles
- Helps tone the tissues of the body
- Improves immunity and tolerance
- Removes stiffness in body parts
- Decreases symptoms of fatigue, especially for the feet
- Improves sensitivity of the sense organs
- Enhances concentration and focus
- Relaxes the mind and promotes better and deeper sleep
- Makes skin softer and smoother, reduces wrinkles
- Encourages growth of thick, shiny hair
- Slows down visible signs of ageing
Self Abhyanga according to Doshas
According to Ayurveda, one of the biggest benefits of Self Abhyanga is in the pacification of doshas. Everyone has their own unique personal constitution, or prakriti, involving the five elements, which manifest through our doshas. Thus, doshas also vary widely from person to person, and when we tailor our self-care routine to work in tune with our prakriti, we reap immense benefits.
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha and you can undergo a test at any Ayurvedic center to determine which type you are or which dosha needs balancing out. Your Self Abhyanga routine should take the doshas into consideration, along with the current weather. Here are a few guidelines for Self Abhyanga, depending upon the dosha that needs to be balanced.
- Frequency – Daily or at least 5 times a week
- Massage Oil – Sesame oil, Almond oil, Jojoba Oil, Ghee in small parts
- Post Massage Essential Oil – Rose, Mitti
- Frequency – 3-4 times a week
- Massage Oil – Coconut oil, Sunflower oil, Jojoba Oil, Neem oil in small parts
- Post Massage Essential Oil – Rose, Khus
- Frequency – Once or twice a week
- Massage Oil – Safflower oil, Jojoba Oil, Olive oil, Corn oil
- Post Massage Essential Oil – Hina, Myrrh
Correct Technique of Self Abhyanga
For the benefits of the oil to penetrate our deepest tissues, ideally 15 minutes of massage is recommended, or at least a minimum of 5 minutes. Find a time slot in your day that allows you this time and make sure it is free from distractions. Get rid of unnecessary emotional baggage before you begin. You can also do a brain dump on a sheet of paper so you can get everything out of your head and focus on the massage without random thoughts running through your mind.
Find a warm room without any noise to do the self abhyanga. Close windows and openings to ensure cold winds don’t get in.
When done the right way, an abhyanga can help to balance the doshas. Of the benefits of self massage in Ayurveda – Abhyanga would be more than the ones listed! Do you do a self massage or an abhyanga?