Abhyanga is the Sanskrit term for the ancient Ayurvedic practice of full body oil massage. It is just one part of the morning Ayurvedic routine known as dinacharya that are recommended for all healthy individuals, kids included. The skin is the largest organ of the body, so it makes perfect sense that it would be used as another tool for better health. Sesame seed oil is the oil that is the most effective for the majority of people and seasons although other oils are used as well. For me, abhyanga is one of the most important practices that I do daily and it sets the tone for my entire day. Along with the benefits that I mention below, taking 20 minutes to check in with every part of my body shows where I need to focus on or be extra gentle with as the day goes on.
Five Benefits of Abhyanga:
Sesame seed oil possesses antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. This means it will help protect against common skin pathogens such as staphylococcus, streptococcus and athlete’s foot.
It keeps the skin supple and soft. It also aids in healing minor cuts and abrasions.
Sesame seed oil helps joints keep their flexibility and builds strength in the body. With the ability to nourish the joints, bones, and muscles, it can give relief to those with osteoarthritis.
It is very soothing to the mind and nervous system. It gives more mental clarity and improves sleep. Research has proven abhyanga’s ability to decrease stress hormones in just one session.
Daily morning massage improves blood circulation, lymphatic flow and removes any stagnancy that occurred during the night. Proper functioning and movement of these systems are important for a robust immune system.
How To Do Abhyanga
Start by buying organic sesame oil.
Heat gently in a small pot, crockpot or you can even use a small bottle under hot running water (I have a small crock pot I keep in my bathroom used for only this purpose).
Prepare an area with a towel or mat on the floor.
Sit down and start by rubbing oil on your feet.
Work your way up the body with long up and down strokes. Rub the joints in a circular motion.
Take a warm to hot shower so that the steam opens up your pores and the body can absorb even more oil.
When To Do Abhyanga
It should be done on an empty stomach, ideally after you have eliminated your bowels in the morning, or before you eat dinner in the evening. It is especially important to do during the hot, dry months of summer and the cold winter season. Try to oil yourself daily, or at least three times per week.
Never apply oil when you have active indigestion, fever, diarrhea, colds, coughs, flu, etc. Do NOT do Abhyanga when menstruating. Avoid abhyanga when it is raining or extremely cloudy outside. If you have oily wounds or rashes then avoid those areas or don’t do it at all.