By Lissa Coffey
At Tulsi Spa Ayurveda we have many different kinds of Ayurvedic massages to choose from, including Abhyanga, a warm, oily massage done with special herbalized oils.
Abhyanga offers many benefits, and you’ll see the most results if it is done on a daily basis. However, it’s not that easy for most of us to get into the spa every day for a massage! So Ayurveda has a way that we can give ourselves a daily massage of Abhyanga at home.
When Abhyanga is done in the morning, it helps you to start your day off relaxed, which is essential in maintaining balance. When done at night, Abhyanga promotes a restful night’s sleep. It doesn’t matter when you choose to do the massage, but you will receive the optimum benefits if you do it every day.
Since the quality of Vata is dry and cold, a warm and oily massage provides an ideal balance for Vata types, though all types will notice increased health and vitality, especially during Vata season. The massage soothes the nervous system and the endocrine system, since skin produces endocrine hormones. It rejuvenates the skin, promoting a youthful appearance. It also eliminates toxins and tones the muscles.
There are different oils recommended for each dosha, or you can purchase specific oils that have a sesame oil base and a combination of special herbs designed just for your dosha.
Before you begin, warm the oil to skin temperature. The easiest way to do this is to keep a small plastic squeeze bottle filled with oil, and set the bottle in a bowl or cup of very hot water. Wait a few minutes for the oil to reach skin temperature.
While the oil warms, lay out a towel to protect the carpet or floor from any oil that may spill.
When you are ready, start the massage at your head. Drizzle a small amount of oil onto your scalp and massage it in with the palms of your hands. Use a clockwise, circular motion. Then gently massage your face and ears. If you have oily skin, avoid those areas that are prone to breakouts. Massaging the ears is excellent for balancing Vata.
Drizzle some oil in your palms and massage your neck, then move to your shoulders. Use a circular motion on your joints – shoulders, elbows, knees – and long up-and-down strokes on your limbs.
Be gentle on your torso. Use large, clockwise motions to massage the chest and stomach area.
Reach around to massage your back as best you can without straining.
Then massage the legs, ankles, and knees. Using the palm of your hands, vigorously massage the feet.
It is best to leave the oil on the body for 20 minutes before washing it off in a warm, not hot, shower or bath. You can use this time to meditate or do your Yoga exercises. If you don’t have time to wait, that’s fine. It’s much better to do a quick massage than none at all.