This is the first in a series of posts for creating self-care rituals at home. Being kind to yourself is a vital element of your well-being, and helps you to be kinder with others.
I think most people love to get massage, and the appearance of the practice across so many cultures attests to that. Swedish massage, Shiatsu, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, Thai massage and the list goes on.
Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage, where the person applies warm oil (e.g. sesame, sweet almond, coconut) from head to toe, carefully massaging it into the body. It is a practice to promote and maintain overall wellbeing and can be especially calming for anyone experiencing anxiety or stress, or suffering from dry skin or stiff joints.
I've always enjoyed the therapeutic benefits of getting massage but found it was sometimes unrealistic to go on a regular basis. So a few years ago, I took matters into my own hands and began Abhyanga. It's kept my skin, muscles and joints feeling really supple, as well as being a nice way to slow down in the evenings. When I don't make time and the days and weeks build up without it, I can really notice the difference. To put it simply, Ayurveda sees ageing as a drying out of the body, so the application of oil is an action to slow this process, to keep the body full of moisture.
The beauty of Abhyanga is it's almost completely free, you only need the oil, you can do it even if you've only got 5 minutes and it always improves how you're feeling. You can even add a few drops of essential oil depending on how your mood and what your needs are on that particular day.