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Welcome to Chandra Ma Wellness, where holistic wisdom meets heartfelt experience.

Explore the healing wisdom of Ayurveda & learn to live a more balanced life.

ABHYANGA: THE RITUAL OF REJUVENATION

ABHYANGA: THE RITUAL OF REJUVENATION

Friends often come to me with questions about deepening their daily routine in order to live a more balanced life.  A vibrant daily routine, also called dinacharya, encompasses intentional self-care measures to enhance disease prevention.

While the optimal daily routine will vary depending on the person and the time of year, abhyanga {self oil massage} is a crucial component for all.

Let’s be real, massage is far more than a luxury – it is an ancient practice, which perfectly captures the wisdom of Ayurveda, to promote vitality, strength and rejuvenation. Abhyanga is also an anti-aging practice and a daily opportunity to reduce stress while increasing emission of happiness hormones.  Other immediate benefits may include improved blood flow and skin glow as well as a reduction in pain, stiffness and stress.

EMBRACE THE RITUAL

“Rituals awaken us from habits born of negativity & lethargy.” Archarya Sunya

A ritual of any kind invites intention back into action.  Rather than moving methodically through the day, we can step out of the mundane, slow down and bring awareness to a more holistic purpose.  It is an opportunity to move with consciousness – reverence – for the beauty that abounds and surrounds us. 

A ritual is an invitation to unify intention and action. 

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In performing intentional action, we set up a clear purpose of compassion, allowing ourselves to feel into what is actually going on, with greater thoughtfulness to the purpose of the associated action.  For example, rather than showering as a mode of getting on with your day, bathe to honor your body. And! Be fully present with that choice.  In this case, we are embracing a ritual of caring for oneself, our greatest mission as humans.  The more we care for ourselves, the more we are able to care for others and for the planet.  The ritual starts within and ripples out.

HONOR THE SKIN

As one of the five sensory organs, the skin is a doorway into perception.  It allows us to experience the world, connecting us to sensations of texture, temperature and gentleness.

The skin reminds us of the cool flowing breeze, the warm glowing sun, the soft grass, the caress of a lover.  The sensation of touch enhances our quality of life immensely.  Imagine how much better the human experience could be if we touched and received touch more intentionally, if we honored and nourished the skin regularly.  Wow, what a world we could live in.  We must also honor the offerings of our skin, with its wisdom to teach us when something is too hot, too cold, too rough.  Our skin protects us from the elements, without limiting our experience to feel them.  Skin is the breathable boundary that holds the physical body inside our ever-expanding souls.

Sadly, I believe most Americans are lacking human touch.  Self-massage is an opportunity to start with YOU – to meet your own innate tactile needs, while deeply nourishing your own tissue.  This is deep expression of love.

DEEPEN RELAXATION

Ayurvedic massage works with the subtle, underlying energies of muscle and fascia, called pranaPrana, the essence of vata dosha, is responsible for all natural and necessary movement within the body, from the flow of blood to a stream of thoughts.  Due to the subtlenss of prana, some believe that the nervous system is the first to benefit from Ayurvedic massage.  The positive experience of self-massage will carry you blissfully throughout your entire day, leading to more opportunities to react outwardly in a calm and optimistic manner.  Soothing physical touch has the potential to relieve muscle tension, allowing for deep relaxation and thereby reducing the heaviness of chronic fatigue.

In the technique, strokes must be light, emphasizing the type and temperature of the oil rather than pressure.

PROMOTE BEAUTY & NOURISH LONG-TERM HEALTH

High quality body oils (ideally food grade), especially those warmed and infused with medicinal herbs, act as nutrition for the body, imparting balya, or strength, on a cellular level.  The flowing movement of massage enhances circulation to encourage greater efficiency in detoxification, while visibly improving complexion, tone and texture of skin.

Abhyanga nourishes our tissues and our sense of touch in order to balance prana flow, which encourages a long and luxurious life.  The revitalized tissue is also more enduring, stronger and ultimately better equipped to resist disease or injury!  Not to mention, the resulting reduction of stress. 

This simple therapy touches the true depth of preventative medicine.

Daily oil massage decreases excessive vata dosha in the body.  Vata dosha is referring to the wind + space components inside all of all of us.  The qualities of vata {wind + space} are cold, light, dry, quick and rough, while the qualities of soothing oil are warm, heavy, liquid, slow and smooth.  Here we can see how the qualities of oil act to balance the opposite qualities of excessive vata dosha.  A high level of vata actually expedites the aging process, while abhyanga promotes healthy tissue, thereby slowing the aging process. 

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PRACTICE DAILY OIL MASSAGE

When selecting your oil, gravitate toward lighter oils in warmer months (sunflower, coconut) and warmer oils in the cooler months (sesame, almond).  Preference and need may also vary based on your unique constitution, so honor your intuition and experiment with what feels good.  Once you have your appropriate oil of choice, warm it slightly.  I often pour just-boiled water into a large mug and then allow my bottle/jar of oil to rest in the heat of the water for several minutes.  Warmed oil also goes a lot farther, requiring a small amount to support a large area of the body and making the process feel generally less messy.

When it comes to the actual application, the general rule is to take long strokes on the bone (moving toward the heart) and circular stokes on the joints.  It is also best to massage the belly in a circular clockwise motion; this encourages peristalsis in the digestive tract, which optimizes digestive momentum.  While working your way up and down the limbs, don’t forget the fingers, toes and spaces in between!  If you are short on time, as we all often are, the Ayurvedic texts put special emphasis on three areas of the body: head, ears and feet.  We start with the head, messaging a small amount of oil into the scalp with the tips of the fingers before attending to the face with upward and outward movements.  This is very nourishing to hair follicles and may even prevent headaches.  Next, rub the ears (inside and out) to help calm the mind and cultivate a meditative state of awareness. This deep level of relaxation is thought to counteract stiffness in the neck and jaw.  Lastly, work into the feet, honoring your own physical foundation.  The feet are so important that ancient sages even believed that stimulating the feet would actually improve the vision!

Abhyanga is best done in the morning, before a hot shower.  I know it sounds counter-intuitive to shower after applying the oil, but the idea is that the heat from the shower actually helps the oil penetrate the skin for a deeply nourishing effect.  Upon exiting the shower, simply pat the body dry and carry yourself into a radiant day. 

Remember, bathing is more than just a labor to remove physical dirt, it is an opportunity to reset – physically & emotionally – and can even be embraced as a ritual for spiritual purification.

As you settle in, try closing your eyes and even slowing your breath.  Let this be a ritual of love.  Whether you have five minutes or a whole hour, self-care is not a chore; it is a gift.  Allow this process to transform your body, both immediately and over time – watch yourself float into the next phase of your day with greater appreciation for your body, with a newfound gentleness and rejuvenative strength.  Be open to feeling all that it is to be you – to exist in this glorious, well-nourished skin.  Give your present self permission to honor your future self by taking care now.

 

***In my experience, abhyanga is generally regarded as safe.  Those who are experiencing loose stools, fever, infection or excessive mucus, may like to avoid the practice and reengage once circumstances subside.

 

 

 

 

ALMOND ROSE RASAYANA SHAKE [v]

ALMOND ROSE RASAYANA SHAKE [v]