I posted last week about how in winter I use sesame oil on my skin and how I haven’t used lotion in a long time. So many of you asked me to share more about why I use oil instead of lotion and all of the benefits, so I wanted to dive deeper into this today for those of you who like to know all the deets!
Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage
As a lot of you already know, all of my studies as an Integrative Health Practitioner have included Ayurveda – one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems from India.
One of the lifestyle/beauty practices within Ayurveda is a daily oil massage that you do yourself, ideally before your morning shower.
In old Ayurvedic text it says, “Give yourself a full-body oil massage on a daily basis. It is nourishing; pacifies the doshas; relieves fatigue; provides stamina, pleasure and perfect sleep; enhances the complexion and the luster of the skin; promotes longevity; and nourishes all parts of the body.
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age”
Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
The Benefits of Abhyanga
- Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings
- Muscle tone, strong body tissue, and firm limbs
- Moves the lymph (which can only be moved manually – it doesn’t happen on it’s own) which helps with detoxification.
- Calming for the nerves: Abhyanga is amazing for calming your entire nervous system. The more you do it, the more of a difference you’ll see!
- Lubrication of the joints
- Enhances vision
- Makes hair grow thick, soft and smooth
- Increased mental alertness
- Detoxification of impurities from the body: abhyanga on a daily basis is an amazing way to detoxify. Massaging your body with warm oil helps loosen toxins from the soft tissues in the body, which then helps them be removed by our bodies through elimination. If you combine abhyanga with daily exercise, then abhyanga can help with healthy weight management and be an effective daily detox. Abhyanga also works with your daily workout by toning the muscles and getting your blood circulating.
- Softer, smoother skin with reduced wrinkles: using oil creates a buffer between your skin and harsh toxins/chemicals in the environment. You’ll notice less dryness, cracking, and bruising because of the hydration and lubrication your skin is getting.
- Increased levels of stamina through the day: when you massage your body, it boosts your metabolism, which helps nourish and replenish skin tone and muscles, helps your internal organs function at their best, aids your body in flushing and removing toxins, and energizes the cells of your body.
- Better, deeper sleep at night: The oils used in the Ayurvedic massage are heavy, warm, calming, and grounding- all amazing for deep sleep.
- Nourishment for your whole body
Lotion is usually made from a combination of oil & water. Water causes bacteria to form which then makes the oil go bad. To keep lotions from going bad, they have to have some kind of preservative. That preservative is *usually* never natural, unfortunately, whereas when using an all natural oil – you know exactly what you’re putting on your skin (your largest organ).
What Type of Oil to Use?
There are a lot of different oils you can use. In Ayurveda, technically you should use different oils for different Doshas (your body type) and seasons, but that’s a whole other blog post, so I’m just going to list out options you can choose from. I use sesame oil for my dosha and it’s more warming for the winter. At the end of the day, as long as you’re practicing self massage with oil, your body will still be reaping all of the benefits.
I add in my own essential oils to the carrier oils (ones listed above) so make it smell really beautiful! I use Young Living essential oils. Here are a few different essential oils you could use:
Essential Oils for Women:
- Ylang Ylang
Essential Oils for Men:
- Palo Santo
How to Do Abhyanga
1. After showering/bathing, pour 1/2 cup oil into a small cup and adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Mix it around with your finger. Rub a quarter-sized amount of oil between your hands to warm it up.
2 Starting at the top of your toes, massage the oil into your skin working your way up to your heart. Massage oil into skin like you would if you were getting a massage, working into your muscles. Ideally you spend 10-15 minutes massaging the oil in, but whatever amount of time you have works.
3. Allow your body to absorb the oil into your skin for 5 minutes before putting on clothes. Repeat daily.