As a student of Ayurveda, I have learned that in this ancient practice of healing, oil is king. Ayurveda is a science that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. There are two main goals we have as practitioners: to keep the body in a state of health and free from disease and to show us how to use health as a basis of, or as part of, the path to enlightenment.
There are so many practices of Ayurveda; however, I want to mention two of them in this post: internal and external oleation. Internal oleation usually involves the consumption of herb infused ghee (clarified butter? that is formulated for the patient’s individual imbalance. External use of oil, baha snehana, is known as abhyanga. Baha means “external”. Snehana is the Sanskrit word that is translated as “oil” and “love”. Wow!! That makes complete sense. I truly believe the more you include baha snehana (external oleation) in your self-care routine you will find that you will develop a deeper relationship with yourself. As humans we need touch and many of us forgot or are ashamed to touch ourselves. I guarantee it will get less weird the more you do it 🙂
Abhyanga is technique that can be done at home or done by a practitioner or a pair or practitioners. This type of oil application involves the use of warmed up herbal oil that is specific to the individual’s needs. The amount of oil that is used is much greater than you would expect so special care is needed when preparing for self-treatment. When I prepare this for one a client’s foot treatment, I usually put about 1-1/2 cups of oil in my little crockpot and I will use most of it. Some of the oils I use include sesame, sunflower, mustard and olive. I seem to find so many new oils so my collection is growing. Most of them don’t have a strong scent and kind of smell nutty when warmed.
After the oil is warmed it is applied to the body and then rubbed into the skin with long slow strokes. It is important to set aside enough time so you can be deliberate and loving with your application. After the oil is applied then you should allow about 20 minutes to soak into your skin. This will nourish the tissues and the nerves. This is a good time to chant, sing, meditate or do some light stretching. After the prescribed time you can then carefully shower without using soap and then towel off after. Make sure you use old towels or towels specific to your abhyanga. Your nice linens will be ruined if use them.
Benefits of Abhyanga
This practice has many benefits. Here is a list from Sandhiya Ramaswamy (https://chopra.com/articles/the-benefits-of-ayurveda-self-massage-abhyanga)
- Nourishes the entire body—decreases the effects of aging
- Imparts muscle tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
- Imparts a firmness to the limbs
- Lubricates the joints
- Increases circulation
- Stimulates the internal organs of the body
- Assists in elimination of impurities from the body
- Moves the lymph, aiding in detoxification
- Increases stamina
- Calms the nerves
- Benefits sleep—better, deeper sleep
- Enhances vision
- Makes hair (scalp) grow luxuriantly, thick, soft and glossy
- Softens and smoothens skin; wrinkles are reduced and disappear
- Pacifies Vata and Pitta and stimulates Kapha—to learn more about Doshas.
Abhyanga at Lovingkindness Reiki & Yoga
I offer abhyanga to the feet, hands or head. You can add these options to your Reiki session or à la carte. Please contact me if you have any questions or want to sign up for a session.