Embody, Spirituals

Abhyanga in Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a holistic science that celebrates the unique qualities of oil – and nowhere is this clearer than in the art of self-massage, known as Abhyanga. In Ayurveda, oil is seen as the perfect delivery system of Ayurvedic herbs, deep into the tissues – the herbs’ lipid-soluble goodness finding their ideal carrier in this unctuous, trickling liquid. That is why ghee (clarified butter) is used as a base for many Ayurvedic ointments and is a central part of the daily diet. With Abhyanga, warm oil is massaged into every inch of the body, for 15 minutes each day, and this loving practice helps to bolster, nourish, calm and soothe our bodies (and to heal our ailing spirits, too). Yet we can very easily convince ourselves that we don’t have the time, or that it is unthinkably indulgent to massage our own bodies, every single day. That we feel this way highlights the common disconnect between our daily lives and our spiritual health. Abyhanga is a traditional healing practice that promotes longevity, tissue health, happiness, better sleep… it is short and simple – yet so often overlooked. Let us change that.

Dependent on your own specific dosha type, you can choose an oil that will best balance your body and mind. For Vata types, a warming, grounding, heavier oil, such as sesame, almond or is recommended (as Vata types are inherently cold, dry-skinned and flightier in mind & thoughts) – so you are looking to warm up your tissues, root your body and relax your mind. For Pitta types, who already possess plentiful fire (from body heat to strong digestion), you are focused on cooling, pacifying and soothing. Coconut oil is the ideal, but the tri-doshic sunflower oil, is also pacifying and can be used by all three doshas. For Kapha types, who are already grounded (sometimes tipping toward lethargy and heaviness), and whose skin is naturally oilier, you are looking to energise – and so the lightest oils, such as safflower or jojoba, are best. Traditionally, you would massage oil all over, from the scalp to the soles of the feet, in soft, long, stroking motions, in this order: scalp, face, neck, chest, arms, torso, legs, feet. Spend more time on the scalp and on the feet – here you have your crucial marma points, so the massage will be even more beneficial. You can then wrap yourself up and let the oils work their magic, before bathing or showering.

Choose an oil that best befits your natural constitution – are you Vata, Pitta or Kapha? balanceplan.co.uk/discover/discover-your-dosha/