I want to introduce you to (or remind you of) a practice that is especially nice this time of year, but which can also be done all year. It's the practice of self-massage with oil, called abhyanga (a-Be-yanga)
Of the 5 senses, our sense of touch is often the one in need of more stimulation. Especially after being in serious pandemic mode and hands off each other, self-massage is a way of giving and receiving that nourishing touch so vital to a felt sense of well being.
Oil is soft and smooth. It glides onto our skin and is absorbed deeply to not only protect and moisturize this largest organ of our body, but also to penetrate and nourish our nervous systems. The sanskrit word for oil translates also to 'love." if you've never practiced abhyanga you're in for a treat.
In cooler weather we often use organic refined sesame oil. Sesame is heavy and nourishing as well as warming. If you have time, heat the oil first, and then apply on the skin beginning at your shoulders, and working your way down your body. The long bones are massaged downwards, and the joints are massaged in a circular fashion. The belly can be massaged in the direction of the colon, up the right side, across the top, down the left side, and across the bottom.
To begin find a warm spot in your bathroom. After warming the oil, apply to your skin as directed. Take your time and spend a little more time on any tight areas. Thenb follow with a hot steamy shower or bath. You can use a wet wash cloth to massage your skin and remove a little of the extra oil, but no soap is needed. After bathing, towel dry and dress.
It's also a good idea to put a little oil on your pinky finger, and oil the inside of your nostrils and also your ear canals. This creates a protective barrier between you and the outer world and keeps things moist. It also feels very soothing. Before bed, the practice of massaging a little oil on the soles of your feet will support grounding and good sleep (as well as keeping your feet soft).
Here's what the ancients had to say about abhyanga
"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 I, V: 88-89
This week I'm signing off with Sneha
which means OIL
but also LOVE,