Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic art of massage with healing oils. There are a host of benefits from regular abhyanga therapy, whether performed by an Ayurvedic practitioner or at home for yourself.
Benefits of Abhyanga
- Improved circulation, strength, vision and stamina
- Increased moisture for softer skin
- Improved texture, tone and overall skin appearance
- Strengthened bodily tissues, lubrication of internal organs, bones and joints
- Better sleep and overall health
Steps to perform the self-abhyanga (oiling the body)
- Brush your skin with a dry brush to remove dead skin, dirt and debris from its surface as well as prepare the skin’s pores for receiving the oil.
- Warm your oil – you can do this while dry brushing if warming your oil in a pot, or rub the oil between your palms if you are short on time.
- Gently but firmly, massage your body all over: begin with the neck, working your way down to your feet. Use long strokes for limbs and short strokes for joints. Don’t forget fingers and toes, and pay extra attention to the soles of your feet, as they contain all the nerve endings and important marma points, or conjunctions of prana, life force energy.
- Let the oil sit for 5-10 minutes. Don’t skip this step, as abhyanga’s deeper benefits depend on the body’s absorption of the oil and herbs. It takes a few minutes for the oil to penetrate to the deepest layers of the skin, and another several minutes for it to penetrate the tissues of the internal body. This is an excellent time to prepare some tea or practice some deep breathing.
- Rinse excess oil with a cold shower on warm days, or a cool shower (but not hot) on cold days. Don’t skip this step either, as excess oil will clog the pores.