Abyangha: The Ayurvedic Art of Self Anointing

One of the most basic yet powerful 'take home' practices in ayurveda is called 'Abyangha'.  Abyangha is the practice of self anointing or self massage.  Each dosha or body type (vata, pitta, or kapha) responds best to a specific carrier oil (i.e. sesame oil, coconut oil, almond oil) and essential oil blend.  Each essential oil works best to balance either one, two, or all three doshas.  Based on individual assessment, an oil is prescribed and created.

The word abyangha means 'glowing body' or 'towards movement' in Sanskrit.  It was done to keep the body young,  strong, and believed to prevent sickness and injury.  Massage has powerful healing effects on the body and has been shown to strengthen the immune systems and help growth in premature babies.  Abyangha helps move the lymph in the body, promotes circulation, eases tension, and increases a sense of well being.  It also promotes deep sleep, aids in detoxification of the body, helps digestion, and firms the skin.  It takes an extra 5-10 minutes a day to give yourself so many benefits - it's obvious that the pay off is much higher than the effort.  

The original abyangha practice was done before bathing, but I personally do it after bathing because I like to 'seal' and moisturize my skin with a beautiful smelling oil to start my day.  The original practice also calls for massaging the scalp with oil but in our modern age that may be a little ambitious and not very acceptable by many women!  So my suggestion is to massage every square centimeter of your scalp with shampoo.  Do the same for the ears with soap.  

Before getting into the shower, place the amount of oil you need for your body (about 2 tbsp full) into a small glass dish, then place the small glass dish into a bowl with shallow hot water which warms up the glass container (the hot water should not touch the oil).  This way the oil is warm and ready for you when you come out of the shower.  I also recommend dry skin brushing before starting the shower as well.  Similarly to the below instructions, skin brushing begins with the most distal part of the limbs and always moves in the direction of the heart - this should be done while the skin is dry.  

Once you are dry and ready after the shower, begin by rubbing the oil on the tops of your feet (skip the bottom of your feet to avoid slipping), and massage each part of the top of your feet while moving up to your ankles, shins, calves, knees, and top of your legs.  Don't miss any parts - front and back of everything.  You always want to massage towards your heart.  Then move up from the back and front of your torso - again, towards your heart. Go to the hands and move towards your heart.  Make sure to reach to your traps and shoulders as well, along with your neck.  Be aware to stimulate the lymph nodes (arm pits, groin, neck) with light pressure when you are in those areas.  

After a week of practicing this you are bound to feel a notable sense of peace come over you.  It really does cultivate a sense of love inside of you.  And when you feel love within, you naturally exude it to all those you encounter.  So yes, this can bring about change in the world!