The ancient Ayurvedic practice of Abhyanga or self massage is a wellness ritual that accordingly to the 5000 year old tradition has extraordinary health benefits for the body. It is said to improve skin tone and texture, boost the lympathic system, decrease Vata, develop muscle tone, increase strength and stamina, improve vision, promote good sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, promote flexibility, facilitate the release of endorphins to help balance hormones.
In Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, you must first establish your dosha or body type in order to take an individualised approach to self care. Take a quick dosha quiz to determine the best Abhyanga practice for your body type.
Vata types require a warming oil like sesame or almond. It is best to do an Abhyanga 2-3 times a week. Vata is a cold and dry Dosha, so warm oil is nourishing and helps to balance your system. It lubricates dry skin and protect the joints. Medium pressure should be used when massaging. Autoimmune illnesses like Rheumatoid Arthritis are considered Vata imbalances and self massage is extremely beneficial for calming symptoms.
A hotter Dosha than Vata, Pitta types need a cooling oil such as coconut or olive oil. Medium pressure should be used when massaging. Many Pitta types have inflammatory skin issues and a cooling oil can allievate symptoms.
Kapha requires a warming oil. Try mustard or sunflower oil. Sesame is also a good option, particularly in winter or if you live in a cooler climate. Medium to heavy pressure is recommended.
If you find it difficult to wind down before bed Vaparita Karani or Legs Up The Wall Pose is the ultimate pose to ground your body and mind. This simple inversion helps to transition from the sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight mode) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode) to facilitate good quality sleep and healing in the body.
Lie on the floor with your sit bones as close to the wall as possible and the legs resting vertically up the wall. Flex your feet. Alternatively you can do this pose lying on your bed with your legs resting up the headboard. If you are pregnant it is best to place a bolster or a pillow under the hips to elevate them above your heart. Stay here a few minutes. Breathe deeply. When you are ready to come out, bend your knees, walk your feet down the wall and hug your knees to your chest. Gently roll to one side. If you are in bed, close your eyes and drift off to sleep. If you are on the floor, take a savasana or a short seated meditation before climbing into bed. Sleep well zzz
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