I recommend the practice of daily body oiling - abhyanga - followed by a bath soak so highly. There is no greater expression of self-love and no greater beauty ritual than being anointed from head to toe with warm oil and then allowing yourself to soak in a hot bath.
The Benefits Of Abhyanga
Excerpt from an article by Dr. Claudia Welch:
"Abhyanga is the anointing of the body with oil. Often medicated and usually warm, the oil is massaged into the entire body before bathing. For thousands of years, people have used abhyanga to maintain health, benefit sleep patterns, increase longevity. It has also been used as a medicine for certain disorders. Abhyanga can be incorporated into a routine appropriate for almost anyone.
The Sanskrit word sneha can be translated as both "oil" and "love". It is believed that the effects of abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth. Sneha is subtle; this allows the oil/love to pass through minute channels in the body and penetrate deep layers of tissue.
In Ayurveda, it is believed that there are seven layers of tissue in the body (called dhatus). Each successive layer is more concentrated and life-giving. For sneha to reach the deepest layer, it is believed that it must be massaged into the body for 800 matras, roughly five minutes. To give this kind of attention to your entire body, you may need about fifteen-minutes. Considering the benefits that have been gained by people for thousands of years, fifteen-minutes per day is a minimal amount of time.
Benefits of Abhyanga (applying oil to the body):
(Outlined in: Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hrdayam)
- Produces softness, strength and color to the body
- Decreases the effects of aging
- Bestows good vision
- Nourishes the body
- Increases longevity
- Benefits sleep patterns
- Benefits skin
- Strengthens the body's tolerance
- Imparts a firmness to the limbs
- Imparts tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
- Stimulates the internal organs of the body, including circulation
- Pacifies Vata and Pitta and Harmonizes Kapha
Benefits of applying oil to the scalp (Murdha taila):
- Makes hair grow luxuriantly, thick, soft and glossy
- Soothes and invigorates the sense organs
- Removes facial wrinkles
Benefits of applying oil to the ears (Karna purna):
- Benefits disorders in the ear which are due to increased Vata
- Benefits stiff neck
- Benefits stiffness in the jaw
Benefits of applying oil to the feet (Padaghata):
- Coarseness, stiffness, roughness, fatigue and numbness of the feet are alleviated
- Strength and firmness of the feet is attained
- Vision is enhanced
- Vata is pacified
- Sciatica is benefited
- Local veins and ligaments are benefited"
How To Do Self-Abhyanga
Banyan Botanicals has put together a great video on how to do self-abhyanga at home that you can watch here.
How Often Should I Have An Abhyanga?
Self-abhyanga is recommended daily or as often as possible as part of your self-care ritual. Abhyanga given to you by someone trained in massage is recommended as often as possible, ideally anywhere from once a week to once a month. New mothers are recommended to receive abhyanga daily for a full 42 days after giving birth.
Please contact me if you'd like help connecting with the best oil to use in your self-abhyanga practice, if you'd like me to make a custom herbalized oil for you, or if you'd like to set up an appointment with me to receive a professional abhyanga.