I know you may be asking, “What’s with this obsession with oil and self-massage in Ayurveda?” Or maybe, “Why do I need to massage myself daily?”
Good questions. You may also be asking yourself, “Is self-massage really going to be better than or as good as if someone else gives me a massage?”
Let’s get started answering your questions by first discussing the top 10 benefits of self-massage. Yup, there is really that many! We’ll then get down to business with a few self-massage tips, plus instructions on how to do a self-massage in 8 easy steps.
Top 10 Benefits Of Self-Massage
1. Improves circulation and blood flow in the body.
2. Relaxes the body and mind.
3. Works on correcting dosha imbalances in the body and mind (which, in Ayurveda is a preventative measure that maintains health).
4. Is a mode of transportation for beneficial herbs and essential oils.
5. Deepens sleep.
6. Calms the nervous system.
7. Improves mental alertness.
8. Softens the skin.
9. Lubricates the joints.
10. Tones the muscles.
I could list 10 more benefits, but I know you are starting to see the big picture, and why the practice of self-massage is so important.
Do try to set aside enough time to do a self-massage routine. A 45-60 minute routine is ideal. If you absolutely don’t have time for a 45-60 minute routine, it is better to do a shorter routine than skip doing one altogether.
Try to commit to a regular schedule with your self-massage. For example if you cannot do it daily, do it 3 times per week at a set time. Some people prefer mornings and some prefer evenings before bed. You can take a shower after your self-massage, but you don’t have to.
- If you are a Vata or have a Vata imbalance use sesame, avocado or castor oils.
- If you are a Pitta, or have a Pitta imbalance use coconut, almond or sunflower oils.
- If you are a Kapha, or have a Kapha imbalance use mustard, corn or safflower oils.
If you don’t know your dosha , or current imbalance (vikruiti), go with what season you are in:
- Fall and early winter: follow the Vata oil suggestions above
- Late winter and early spring: follow the Kapha oil suggestions above
- Summer: follow the Pitta oil suggestions above
8 Easy Steps To Self-Massage
1. Undress and stand on a towel. Make sure the room you are in is at a comfortable temperature.
2. Apply a small amount of oil to your head and massage in circular movements. This part of the massage can be omitted, but it is very beneficial. (5 minutes)
3. Massage your face and neck also using circular movements. (5 minutes)
4. Massage your arms. Use long strokes up and down the arms, but circular movements at the joints. (5 minutes)
5. Gently massage your chest and stomach. (5 minutes)
6. Reach behind as best you can and massage your back. (5 minutes)
7. Vigorously massage your legs using long strokes up and down the legs and circular movements at the joints. (10 minutes)
8. Massage the soles of the feet. You may want to sit down for this step. Be careful to wipe off the oil before attempting to walk on hard surface floors. (10 minutes)
I hope that you are feeling more excited and comfortable about the prospect of improving your health and general well-being with something as easy as self-massage.
And just think, it won’t cost you a dime except for the minimal cost of the oil.
Should you give up on scheduling your weekly, bi weekly or monthly Abhyanga or body treatment with your Ayurveda professional?
Your Ayurveda professional is addressing a particular issue that you may have, and working at a different, deeper level that is made more effective by your self-care routine. By doing self-massage AND booking a regular session of Ayurveda bodywork you are enhancing your overall health and well-being.
So now you know why massage is good for you and self-massage is even better!
Photos courtesy of Morguefile.com and Unsplash.com.