Exploring the most powerful self care actions one can take, I immediately lead with SELF ABHYANGA!!
After I had my third child I had to take bed rest for a week and really focus on what it is that “I” needed to truly heal. After I was able to get back on my feet (literally and figuratively) I began the ancient practice of self abhyanga and it has been life changing!
Abhyanga is warm oil massage.
Self abhyanga is when a person applies warm oil to themselves and gives themselves a massage. You can get really specific with this or you can just do your best. In general, the routine of performing self abhyanga is a ritual which deserves a conscious administration. (I will create a post for just this in the near future :))
Before we go any further and explain Receiving abhyanga from a practitioner, let’s look at the wildly great benefits of practicing abhyanga on oneself or of receiving it from another….
1. nourishes the nervous system (reduces anxiety)
2. nourishes the skin & prevents dehydration
3. soothes insomnia
4. nourishes the body and promotes confidence and stability (grounded-ness)
5. alleviates fatigue-rejuvenates and reduces stress from overworked body or mind
6. creates a protective shield around the body
7. creates electrochemical balance in the body
8. amplifies the immune system
9. increases longevity and reverse aging
10. supports healthy digestion
Receiving abhyanga as a treatment with one therapist:
Solo abhyanga has all of the same benefits as listed above. It is detoxifying and grounding. It helps balance out the Vata dosha, just as it does if you are doing it for your own personal routine or if you were to receive the tandem work. Receiving the abhyanga from another (versus your personal practice) takes the warm oil massage to new heights. The therapist can squeeze, flush and nurture your body in ways that are tricky to do on oneself. A big difference is how you are able to be in a Receptive state (versus an active and receptive state). Your receptive state allows you to go deeper into the parasympathetic state (this is the nervous system state where one feels relaxed and at ease versus in fight or flight). Your body is able to soak up all of the organic food grade oils for optimal nourishment. And the duration is close to an hour versus a quicker routine one has for oneself.
Receive abhyanga with two therapists:
Tandem Abhyanga is also known as Mirror Massage or 4 handed massage. Mirror Massage is a bit more accurate for “4 handed massage” may or may not have the therapists mirroring one another’s actions. Whereas with Tandem Abhyanga the therapists do mirror one another for the majority of the session. This dual action has a profoundly balancing effect. It balances the hemisphere’s of the brain. It is considered a rasayana which means Rejuvenation. It is poetic and rhythmic. If you’re familiar with Ayurveda, Abhyanga is extremely balancing for the Vata dosha. Balancing out “vata” brings harmony to all of the other doshas as well, for vata is what moves everything through the body. If you’re not familiar with Ayurveda, Vata rules the air and space element. When it is out of balance a person experiences stress, anxiety, insomnia, bowel discomforts, dry skin, difficulty with focus, dizziness, an overall sense of being ‘out of it,’ and un-grounded.
Abhyanga is one of the best steps we can take to practice self care. Daily self abhyanga and then receiving from another on a consistent basis are guaranteed to bring profound shifts into your overall wellness! Working with a practitioner helps you determine what frequency is best for you. It is common to receive a solo or tandem session about once a month while practicing daily abhyanga. While some folks do better with receiving bi-weekly or even weekly. Each individual has different needs and ailments so take the time you need for your own well-being.