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by Andrew Shakeshaft December 18, 2016

Self Massage Secrets - Abhyanga in Action

Since birth, sense of touch has been the way you ‘feel’ your way through the world. A comforting touch takes us back to a place of safety, when we were nurtured and loved. It is through touch we build deeper connections with ourselves and others. Through bonds of trust things just ‘feel’ right.

The power of touch can be truly life changing; through our skin we can learn to embrace the world in all its glory. By harnessing the power of touch, through self-massage, we learn to harmonise on both physical and energetic levels.

Self-care in this way, serves to nurture a deep human inherent need. It is here we ‘feel’ better about our world and reach out towards the feelings of others.

Others see how we feel

When the skin has a lustre about it, you are more likely to feel, receive and give off greater radiance.

When we feel right inside, it is reflected on the outside and with self-massage ( Abhyanga ) this works twofold.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body and often reflects how healthy you are, so to take care of it could be the greatest act of kindness you could ever gift yourself.

When applied liberally to the skin Ayurvedic oils not only lubricate the skin’s surface but also help to balance the hormonal and nervous system. A healthy balanced individual often enriches the lives of those they come into contact with.

Which oil Is right for me?

With todays shift towards a faster, more technology based, way of living, almost everybody could benefit from a gentle calming of the nervous system. With stress related illness on the rise, most bodies’ welcome a soothing touch. Ailments of the nervous and hormonal systems are generally related to Vata dosha and our grounding Vata Oil is particularly good for counterbalancing this.

If you know your Dosha there are other specific oils and techniques that can be applied for personalised results. By learning and applying the correct methods, for your specific Dosha, you will be making a conscious effort to better understand and care for yourself.

Steps to aid detoxification

A general self-massage consists of simply connecting to the body with an intention of self-love or worship ( Sankalpa ). Long, smooth strokes of warm Ayurvedic oil placed onto the skin can quickly counterbalance the effects of a busy lifestyle and help release unwanted toxins known in Ayurveda as ama . This toxic byproduct is often the result of poor digestion and Ayurveda views this as one of the most threatening opponents to optimum health and vitality.


Recommendations for your Dosha Type


Vata Dosha: 4-5 times per week using Cured Sesame, Almond or Vata-balancing oil

Pitta Dosha: 3-4 times per week using Coconut, Sunflower or Pitta-balancing oil

Kapha Dosha: 1-2 times a week using Safflower or a Kapha-balancing oil


Recommendations for each Season

Another good way to choose oils is related to the seasons. Most people will benefit from using Vata oil from early autumn to late winter. You can switch to Kapha oil before spring and then Pitta oil is ideal for most people during the summer. Cured sesame oilis also a great choice for most of the year – it is slightly warming so fiery Pitta types would benefit from switching to coconut or cooling  Pitta oil in the summer.

If you don’t know your dosha type, or there aren’t any doshas that are specifically out of balance, then working with the seasons in this way is ideal.

Recommendations for specific health goals

Mahanarayan Oil is made from over 30 Ayurvedic herbs and is traditionally used for joint pains. It is great for sore joints and muscles and is one of the best general massage oils for Vata.

For increasing strength and stamina Ashwagandha Oil is a good choice.


Contraindications

Abhayanga (self massage) exerts pressure on the body and so is not advised during the following periods:

When pregnant, unless coordinated by an Ayurvedic physician or practitioner.

Abhayanga must only be done very lightly during the menstrual cycle or is to be avoided completely.

If there is congestion (white tongue coating, fluid retention, heaviness) in the body. In this case we would recommend following a detox programme and using a lymph cleansing oil.

To be avoided where there are cuts, bruises, broken bones, swelling and or painful skin conditions.

During acute illnesses or certain medical conditions as guided by a physician.

With Abhyanga as your daily, self care practice, you can be sure you are nourishing and nurturing your mind body and spirit.
Andrew Shakeshaft
Andrew Shakeshaft


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