One of the things I've had to learn as an adult is the importance of self-love for the sake of well-being. Self-love can come in many forms: being conscious in the way we eat, mindfulness regarding the products we put on our bodies, keeping our spirits fulfilled, making sure we're being touched in ways that feel good to us.
I realize more and more how having a beauty and self-care ritual has brought me so much healing. Many years ago I was in constant pain and didn’t even know it — I wasn’t in my body enough to realize my autoimmune issues were making living much harder than it should have been.
After years of suffering through the pain, I'm finally in a place where when I feel my shoulders get tense or my belly gets upset, I take a moment to look into the reason why, which informs how I approach relieving it.
One of my favorites tools in this arsenal of healing is massage. For most people, finding the time to get one massage (let alone regular massages) is a luxury. Luckily, Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage is simple enough that it can become a regular part of your self-care ritual.
This self-massage technique isn’t exactly muscular, but it does work on a cellular level. It nourishes the body, spirit, and mind while also detoxify the body, increasing circulation, enhancing relaxation, and restoring vigor and stamina to the body.
Detoxifying, Relaxing Abhyanga
I like to do this before I dry brush, followed by a hot bath.
You will need:
- A pot of warm water to heat the oil
- A towel to sit on
- A bottle of body oil (sesame is traditional, but you can also use sunflower or almond oil)
How to do it:
Before you begin, you'll need to heat the oil. My favorite way to do this is to boil a pot of water, let it cool down to a warm temperature, then place the bottle of oil into the warm water for a few minutes to let it heat up.
Then, find a serene, comfortable space in your home where you can be alone and sit down on your towel.
Apply the warm oil generously to your body, then massage it into your body, beginning with the limbs. Use long strokes on the arms and legs, and circular motions on the joints.
Next, massage areas under the arms and the sides of your neck where lymph nodes reside.
Move to the abdomen and chest, massaging in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the stomach, follow the path of the intestine by moving up the right side, then down the left.
Now apply oil to your crown chakra (the very top — or crown — of your head), and work it in via circular motions. Add some oil to your fingertips and massage the ears before moving down to your feet. (Make sure to wipe the oil off your feet before walking or you might slip!).
While you're massaging, try smiling and sending loving intentions to your organs.
Photo courtesy of the author