Self Massage – Abhyanga
Fall is a most excellent time to employ the Ayervedic self care treatment called Abhyanga. This daily self-massage is best done in a warm bathroom, prior to a shower or bath. The benefits include :
- Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings
- Toning of the muscles and the whole physiology
- Calming for the nerves
- Lubrication of the joints
- Increased mental alertness
- Improved elimination of impurities from the body
- Softer, smoother skin
- Increased levels of stamina through the day
- Better, deeper sleep at night
I especially love this treatment in the fall and winter, when the nourishing and protective benefits help protect us from the drying quality of winter and protect against environmental threats and infection.
Traditionally, to do this treatment, you begin at your scalp, and methodically work your way down to your toes. Taking your time to push the oil into your skin and truly receive, massage the oils slowly over each area of the body. Work in long strokes over the limbs, and circular strokes over the joints.
I recommend using a combination of carrier oils and essential oils. Here, I will go over some of the benefits of different carrier oils. I discuss essential oils for grounding affect here.
Unrefined oils are expeller pressed at relatively low heat, and are sometimes filtered to remove residue. They retain their original taste, aroma, color, and vit E content, which tends to reduce rancidity and lowers free radical damage. They also contain greater nutrients and vitality. ‘Expeller Pressed’ does not equal unrefined. One should take time to make sure the oils used say ‘unrefined’ because the skin absorbs material into the bloodstream, please use care to choose oils that you would also consider eating. Refined oils that are not ‘expeller pressed’ inevitably chemically treated with hexane, bleach, alkaline solutions, and high heat.
Sweet Almond– light, sweet, nutty, nourishing to skin and muscles. Unstable. Especially good for dry skin. Warming.
Apricot Kernel– lightweight in texture and aroma, emollient, soothes inflammation, good for sensitive, dry, aged skin.
Avocado– emollient, vulnerary, high EFAs, stable, nutrient rich in ACDE, proteins, betacarotine, lecithin,and potassium.
Borage Seed– Use a 10% dilution. Good for regeneration of skin [ie. eczema] Has very high Omega 6 content. Anti-Inflammatory. Indicated for menopause, heart disease, ms.
Evening Primrose – emollient, tonic, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory. exceptionally high in linoleic acid and GLA. light, sweet. unstable. rejuvenating for skin, relieves symptoms of pms including breast tenderness.
Grape Seed– Astringent, highly absorbing, very light, anti-oxidant, unstable.
Hemp Seed– Emollient, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory. High in essential fatty acids. Good for dry/mature skin. Rich, nutty scent.
Jojoba– light and silky, absorbs well, emollient, humectant, is a liquid wax, draws impurities from pores, stable, all skin types, good for hair and scalp.
Meadowfoam– 98% long chain fatty acids, exquisitely nourishing, very light, stable, binding quality with other oils, uv protection.
Olive -emollient, humectant, stable, penetrating, pain relieving, restorative.
Pomegranate Seed– deeply penetrating and nourishing, anti-oxidant, Pumpkin Seed- emollient, vulnerary, ‘green gold’ color, highly nutritious,
Rosehip Seed– great for dry and weathered skin, scar-repair, emollient, humectant, vulnerary, heavy in weight.
Sesame– heavy texture, emollient, demulcent, tonic, indicated for bursitis, very stable, penetrating, nourishes and detoxifies deeper tissue layers.
Emollient-moisturizing, softening, soothing
Vulnerary- wound healing
Demulcent- soothing film over membrane, relieves pain and inflammation tonic- slows physiological responses
Astringent- binding and constricting tissues.
Humectant-absorbs water from the air.
Anti-oxidant-neutrilizes free radicals
ELEMENTAL ELIXIR BLENDS – Courtesy of Quintessence Oils
Earth :: A grounding blend to strengthen and heal the physical body, attune with nature, and assist manifesting your heart’s desire in the world in tangible ways. patchouli-cedarwood- roman chamomile- clary sage- helicrysm- pettigrain- thyme- valerian root- vetiver- galbanum- rosemary- rosewood-
Air :: Opens the breath and respiratory system, inviting inspiration, presence, focus and clarity of mind. peppermint-eucalyptus-melissa- hyssop-bergamot- orange- lavender-basil
Fire :: Passionately warm, spiritually transformational, spicy and invigorating. rose, cinnamon bark- clove bud-ginger-palmarosa- lemon- ylang ylang
Water :: Emotionally and hormonally balancing, stimulates the lymphatic system, restores the ability to ‘go with the flow’ of life. neroli-fennel-geranium- grapefruit-lemongrass- yarrow
Ether :: Principle of Unity, Oneness, Consciousness, All that Is, and Divine Mystery. frankincense- myrrh- blue chamomile- sandalwood
Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Valerie Ann Worwood
The Aromatherapy Awareness Guide, Legion of Light
The Aromatherapy Book, Jeanne Rose
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunnignham
“Massage and Bodywork” magazine, dec/jan 2006
The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, David Frawley & Vasant Lad