When our daughter was born years ago, my husband and I started a precious daily tradition that makes us smile to this day.
We would dim the lights, light a lavender oil lamp, turn on some relaxing music – and give her a special oil massage known in Ayurveda as the ‘Abhyanga’. Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga from ancient India and the medicine that cures Asya if you’ve read For My Sister.
The running joke was that our baby girl was going to the spa every day. But the benefits were anything but a joke: we quickly noticed remarkable changes in her sleep quality and digestion.
Why you’ll want to share Abhyanga with your children, partner, and your loved ones
According to Maharishi Ayurveda, the benefits of the Abhyanga oil massage include:
- Enhancing the circulatory and respiratory system by bringing nourishing blood to all cells
- Improvement of digestion
- Improvement of muscle tone
- Relief from muscle tension
- Better quality of sleep
- Deep relaxation
- A special connection between giver and recipient
Abhyanga is perfect for the cold winter months, providing circulation and nourishment to the body. And you can even perform it on yourself.
Abhyanga is versatile: choose your favorite oil
Here are some options:
- Coconut Oil: contains antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which helps prevent skin infections. It’s also a natural sunscreen.
- Almond Oil: an excellent emollient, alleviates dry skin and can help soothing, itching and inflammations caused by eczema and dermatitis (but avoid if you have nut allergies).
- Mustard Oil: beneficial in prevention of skin infections, but beware it is a little pungent.
- Peppermint Oil: soothes the Doshas and improves the flow of internal energy.
- Ghee: The core of Ayurveda lies in this purified butter. So healing and nourishing!
- Sesame Oil: good for balancing skin texture, plus helps sleep patterns.
- Jojoba Oil: Light and mild and great for if you are concerned about allergy or irritations.
- Olive Oil: research says not to use it on young babies since it strips the delicate skin barrier, however many midwives suggest it.
- Grapeseed Oil: Some people use this as well, but there isn’t much nutrient value for massage.
- Avocado Oil: great for itchy skin, mild and nourishing, semi-fatty and rich in lecithin and vitamins, including A, B, and D.
- Sunflower Oil: contains linoleic acid, and vitamin A, D and E. Helps with bruising.
How to perform Abhyanga
Ideally, you want to do this massage after a bath or before sleep. And you should avoid it during a high fever.
Also, be sure the room is comfortable, keep it warm but not too hot, and even add relaxing elements like calming energy stones and dim lights.
Use a squeeze bottle with the oil of your choice, or place it in a small bowl. Take the small bowl or squeeze bottle and put it in a larger bowl of hot water to warm the oil slightly. Be sure it is not too hot by testing it prior to using.
Have your recipient lay comfortably on a blanket or towel, on a massage table or bed.
You can start from the head and move down to the feet or opposite. You can give a gentle massage to the scalp on infants, but be mindful of the Fontanelle areas, and always avoid the eyes.
For adults, the scalp massage feels amazing and is incredibly relaxing.
Use long strokes for the arms and legs and circular strokes for the joints, back, chest and abdomen. For the stomach, do clockwise circles to follow the intestines. Always spend extra time on the feet since this can aid in sound sleep and relaxation.
I also go to local ayurvedic practioners to receive this massage once a month. Making time for my self care= more creativity as a writer! Self care nourishes my soul to be able to write from my soul.
Take time for yourself and enjoy your massage and all the benefits that come with it 🙂
Note, this article also appears at The Natural Law Blog.