Updated: Feb 11
Ayurvedic Routines for Wellness: Abhyanga
Ayurvedic massage, or Abhyanga, is a fantastic addition to your daily, weekly, or sporadic body care practice and is especially beneficial in Winter when we all tend to get drier, rougher, and sometimes… crankier.
Although most people know skin is the largest organ in our body, we can lose sight of the importance of caring for its health. Just like looking at fried hair under a microscope, up close we see that dry skin is jagged and not only looks damaged, but actually leaves us more susceptible to exposure to external pathogens.
What?!?!? Yeah, think of oily, healthy, lubricated skin as a little forcefield holding in what we want to keep in our bodies and blocking out what we don’t want. In addition, like a high performing engine, our organs are more effective, less likely to break down or become damaged, and use less energy when they are regularly maintained.
Ayurvedic massage also addresses marmas or important energetic points in the body so there is an additional element of decreasing energetic blockages (like breaking apart unwanted dams in a river), and increasing energy in specific sites (like strengthening the depth and current of that river), that affect one’s energetic whole (a stronger current means less dams are created or built upon moving forward).
According to Charaka Samhita, a foundational ancient Ayurvedic text, “The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.” That all sounds pretty good to me!
Even doing massage every once in a while is a wonderful way to set a strong intention for caring for yourself.
Abhyanga’s host of physical and mental benefits:
Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings
Toning of the muscles and the whole physiology
Calming for the nerves - reducing stress and anxiety
Lubrication of the joints -lessened pain in the body
Increased mental alertness
Improved elimination of impurities from the body - including lymph drainage
Softer, smoother skin
Increased levels of stamina through the day
Better, deeper sleep at night (yesssss!!!)
Massage is also a wonderful means of connection.
In self -massage, we spend time with ourselves and tune into our bodies and minds. In partner massage, we dedicate time and energy to show those around us some love and intentionally go about making them happier and healthier. Partner massage need not be a spouse or someone we are in a romantic relationship with, it can be so healing and connective for parents to share with their kids, kids with parents, or you with your friends -- or hey, even strangers in the right setting. Self-massage doesn’t have to be alone, it can be fun to get together with friends chat and oil up. Be creative, just find ways that support you taking care of yourself.
We can further empower our experience through ritualization. Add things that enliven the other senses: candles, music, incense or essential oils and also ways we come to look forward to our massage: connection with a loved one, a Friday night ritual when you made it through the week, and/or linking it to the moon cycle so you feel a greater connection with the world around you.
There are endless possibilities, but greater intention leads to greater benefit!!!
To learn more about Abhyanga, come to my upcoming Ayurvedic massage workshop:
Saturday February 22
@ Ashtanga Yoga Richmond
sign up online: https://www.ashtangayogarichmond.com/workshops-and-events
The workshop is taught for partners: any 2 person configuration :) and for self-massage.
We will focus on the head, neck, hands, and feet.
We will discuss general marma theory, massage techniques, Ayurvedic theory, in addition to, specific considerations for your individual constitution. Oil is optional and will be provided. Please bring two old towels you don’t mind getting oil on.
The early bird special ends Saturday so sign up now!