Warm Oil Massage (Abhyanga) for Self Care
In Ayurveda, it is very common to use oils both internally and externally (Snehana) to increase overall health, as well as before detoxification. Applying warm oils to the body is not only relaxing and rejuvenating - it can help to relieve stress, increase circulation, aid digestion and release unwanted toxins from the body.
When you massage the skin you create a detoxifying effect. This is because you are stimulating tissues under the skin when massaging, and this process helps move toxins to the gut for elimination. Self massage can and should be done on a daily basis with warm oil.
There are different oils recommended based on your constitution and dosha. For instance, for those with a Vata constitution, oils that are warming on the skin are best; like sesame oil, almond oil, mahanaryan and even ashwagandha. For those with warmer skin like the Pitta dosha; cooling oils like coconut, olive, brahmi and bringaraj are recommended. Those with a Kapha constitution should use mustard or flaxseed oil.
It is best to perform Abhyanga in the morning. Warm the oil in a double boiler. Heating the oil has been shown to increase the antioxidant effects and is very soothing on the skin. Then, while still warm but not hot, gently and with care, rub the oil slowly over your body before your bath or shower. Leave the oil on the body for 5 - 15 minutes to allow the oil to be absorbed and then hop into a warm bath or shower and rinse off.
Abhyanga should become a daily self care ritual and the benefits of this practice are accumulative. Avoid Abhyanga if you are suffering from a fever or have indigestion. With continued practice, you will release stress and tension daily, enjoy beautiful, glowing skin and help to aid your body in removing unwanted toxins.