Abhyanga (“oil massage”) is a form of Ayurvedic medicine that involves massage of the body with large amounts of warm oil. The oil is often pre-mixed with herbs for specific conditions.
Benefits of applying oil to the body (abhyanga): Imparts softness, strength and color to the body. Decreases the effects of aging. Bestows good vision. There are many benefits to abhyanga; some may even surprise you! Here is a list of some of our favorite benefits from a long-term abhyanga practice:
- Calms the nerves. Abhyanga is great for calming and soothing the entire nervous system. The more often you do it, the greater the effect will be. You may notice a general sense of peace and tranquility, even amid the hectic goings-on of day-to-day life. Abhyanga can help us maintain more clarity and calmness if faced with difficult situations or decisions in daily life.
- Increases levels of stamina and alertness throughout the day. A great and often unsung benefit of self-massage with herbal massage oils is increased energy and stamina throughout the day. This results because the massaging action boosts the metabolism, helps nourish and replenish skin tone and muscles, tunes up the functioning of internal organs and optimizes the body’s ability to flush and remove toxins; and, if that weren’t enough right there, also revitalizes and energizes the cells of the body.
- Better, deeper sleep at night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, abhyanga is great to do shortly before bed. Grab your favorite aromatic massage oil, and take some extra time in the evening to wind down and luxuriate in a warm-oil massage followed by a warm bath. If you’re being massaged regularly, it will help improve the deeper sleep at night on a regular base. If you’re being massaged you will feel better and your self-esteem will increase.
- Detox & healthy weight management. Performing abhyanga on a daily basis is a great way to detoxify. Massaging with warm oil helps loosen toxins from the soft tissues in the body, allowing them to be removed by the elimination systems of our bodies. If we take advantage of this benefit and follow it up with daily exercise, then abhyanga can support healthy weight management in addition to being an effective daily detox. Abhyanga complements a daily workout by toning the muscles and getting the blood circulating. It helps in preventing diseases throughout life and it bestows bliss and happiness.
More “You Time”. It is fascinating, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence, that the Sanskrit word sneha means both “oil” and “love,” as the effects of abhyanga — physically, emotionally and psychologically — are akin to being nurtured with love. Both experiences can give a deep feeling of stability, warmth and comfort. By making this practice of self-care a priority, we are essentially saying to ourselves and to those close to us that yes, we deserve to be cared for, nourished and loved. It may feel new at first, but the more we prioritize our needs and wants, the easier finding “me time” will become. All those other things we need to do will still happen; the difference is now they’ll get done from a place of greater calmness. Practicing self-love may rub off on those closest to us, and they may start doing the same for themselves. In relationships, two people can bring to the table only what they have inside, and the more we have to give, the more the relationship flourishes. When both can give, the relationship grows. The more we radiate self-love and self-respect, the more outside respect and love comes our way. It is important that both are massaged by their hands, because love resides in the hands of your beloved.