[TECHNIQUE] AYURVEDA SELF-MASSAGE

ABHYANGA AYURVEDIC SELF MASSAGE

You know what feels amazing? Gently caressing our bodies with loving touch. There is no greater expression of self-love than anointing ourselves from head to toe with warm oil. It's a therapeutic, grounding practice called Abhyanga. The effects of Abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love, and this practice often leaves you with a palpable feeling of stability and warmth. You are literally lovingly embracing yourself. It's also a therapeutic technique that gets the arterial blood flowing, which is wonderful for circulation, removing toxins and excess water, and keeping the skin glowing and youthful. 

Use any oil that you prefer (coconut, almond, jojoba, etc). I like to use an oil infused with healing herbs, such as calendula (regenerative) and lavender (relaxing); oil should be warmed before applying, you can run the jar under warm water for a few minutes or rub between your hands.

  1. Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room -- great to do before you shower or in the bathtub! Make sure you use a lot of oil, it helps heal skin, moisturize and increase circulation.
  2. Head: start at the top of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes—spend a minute or two massaging your entire scalp (home to many points of vital energy).
  3. Face: massage in circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws (move in a upward movement) -- don’t forget your ears.
  4. Neck + Chest: use long strokes down your neck (stimulate your thyroid), and circular strokes across your chest. Don't forget your boobs.
  5. Arms: use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints (elbows) -- massage toward the direction of your heart, so up the arms.
  6. Torso: massage the abdomen in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side. Following the Mayan technique known as "Avinga", pull towards your belly button using the palms and whole hand to push and pull the energy around your stomach. I like to describe this as, "building a sand castle on top of your belly button."
  7. Legs: use long strokes on the legs and circular strokes on the joints (knees) -- massage toward the direction of your heart, so up the legs. If you suffer from swelling, try using the acupuncture technique of and gently "scratch" the skin with your nails (never breaking the skin!), so that you can see red marks which is the blood moving to the surface. This enhances circulation and elimination of toxins and fluid. Leg swelling (peripheral edema) can be dangerous, so see a doctor if it is severe. It's usually caused by problems with the circulatory system, the lymphatic system, or the kidneys. Contact Laena if you want to work on this issue, as I have lots of good references.
  8. Feet: finish the massage by spending a minute or two massaging your feet. Feet have lots of nerve endings, pressure points that correlate with essential organs. Plus it feels so good to rub your feet!
  9. Be still and breathe for a minute or two to relax with the oil. 
  10. Take a warm bath or shower, gently rinsing off the oil (rather than vigorously). 
Laena McCarthy