Abhyanga: Self massage

In the Ayurveda tradition, winter is Vata season and this makes us more prone to dry skin, nervous exhaustion, and insomnia. Self massage stimulates circulation, detoxification, moisturises and quietens the nervous system. A daily warm oil massage can help with dry skin, joint stiffness and supports a self love, self care routine.

I start in autumn perhaps massaging every third day or so and when winter starts I try to do it everyday. When I do it in the morning, it feels like I have wrapped myself in a warm blanket for the day and after a busy day when I do it in the evening it helps me to sleep.  Try it for a week and see for yourself how wonderful it makes you feel.

How?

1. Warm your oil. I put mine on top of the fireplace though a water bath works well.
 

2. Dry brush your entire body either with a dry brush or exfoliating glove. This helps get the circulation going.

3. Massage your whole body from head to toe always moving towards the heart include your face, neck and scalp (I do my scalp on the days I wash my hair or on days I can stay at home). Make circles around your joints such as knees and elbows and use up and down strokes on your limbs finishing with an up stroke toward the heart.
 
4. If you can let the oil soak in for 10 -20 minutes then get in the shower or bath and keep massaging the oil into your body. Only use soap where necessary as it really dries your skin out.

5. Pat your skin dry with a towel.

Tips to get started

Choose good oils
Choose cold pressed oils that are food grade or higher. Sesame oil is warming and is recommended for winter, however, some people find the smell too strong so try almond. You will need to know your dosha type and then you can find the right oil for you here.
Customize your scent
Adding essential oils is a beautiful way to add another level of sensual pleasure to your daily massage. Winter time: Jasmine, Rose, Clove, Chamomile, Rosewood, Ginger Frankincense,  Sandalwood, Ylang-Ylang, and Mandarin.

Use old towels 
Over time the towels get saturated with oil so use old towels and try washing them with baking soda.Then I usually compost them – make sure they are cotton.

Oil in your nose?
Believe it or not putting a drop or two of warmed sesame oil in your nose and ears each day will help you ward off colds and ear infections. This assists in deeply soothing the whole nervous system.  I massage my whole scalp with oil on the days I wash my hair and this not only nourishes the hair and scalp but it feels fantastic.
Enjoy!