We have completed the two-month mark of quarantine, and while some things of my new normal I love so much (ex: coffee with my husband every morning on our back porch), things remain challenging for many reasons. First off, my work seems to take longer in a remote world, and the construct of time is somewhat meaningless when work life and home life are invariably intertwined. Anyway, one-day last week, I found myself very fatigued. I could not look at another screen, and I needed some rejuvenation. So, I turned to my knowledge of Ayurveda to nourish my soul and give my body the attention it was craving.
Ayurveda was developed more than 5,000 years ago in India, and it is the world’s oldest holistic healing system. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning ayur or “life” and veda or “knowledge.” The fundamental belief of Ayurveda is that the mind, body, and spirit are connected, and the balance of all three promotes optimal health and wellness.
I was first introduced to Ayurveda through the work of Dr. Deepak Chopra in 2011, when I started studying self-care. Dr. Chopra’s work was eye-opening. Since then, I have studied Ayurveda in-depth, and I incorporate many principles and ritual practices into my routine. However, over time some of those practices have gone by the wayside. That was until this week when I reconnected with Abhyanga.
A key component of Ayurveda is having a daily routine, called a Dinacharya. Many elements go into a Dinacharya such as oil pulling, tongue scraping, rose water eye spray, and more. I will highlight other Dinacharya practices in future blog posts, but today I want to focus on Abhyanga or self-massage.
In Sanskrit, abhy means “to rub,” and anga means “limbs,” hence, self-massage. Skin is the largest organ in the body and an incredibly important one to keep healthy but often neglected.
Abhyanga can be practiced in a variety of ways. I was taught to use a body brush and perform this practice as part of my shower routine. This can be done outside of the shower before you go in, but I feel that it is messier to do it outside of the shower as the oil/scrub can get everywhere. Exfoliating shower gloves work instead of a brush too if you prefer. I use a lavender-scented body scrub from Trader Joe’s, but you can use any oil or body wash. Please be mindful of the surface of the tub as it can become slippery.
To start, you lovingly massage your entire body from the top to the bottom, front and back with the oil and the brush. When you get to the abdomen, be sure to rub in a clockwise motion as that is the direction of the large intestine and colon. You want to let the oil absorb into your skin, so do not rinse it off right away. Give yourself at least 10-15 minutes to complete this practice.
Abhyanga provides the following benefits:
- Nourished and hydrated skin
- Toned skin tissue
- Restored nervous system
- Detoxified lymphatic system
- Restful sleep
- Decreased aging effects
- Increased circulation
- Internal organ stimulation
- Assists the body in its ability to eliminate waste healthily
I will say, the other night when I was feeling drained, this was precisely what I needed. I felt great afterward. I finished off the ritual by putting moisturizing cream on my body. I slept great, and the next morning my husband commented that I look well-rested and glowing!
I look forward to reincorporating Abhyanga into my self-care routine.