1 Ayurvedic Massage to Soothe The Body And Mind

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 11.03.50 PM

Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems. It uses the rhythms of nature to promote mental well-being.

One Ayurvedic tradition I practice weekly is a simple oil massage. A gentle massage can be soothing and healing; yet although we instinctively rub a bumped shin or tired eyelids, most of us don’t often treat ourselves to more extensive self massages. Below, I’ll guide you through my refreshingly sensual self massage called abhyanga.

Abhyanga, is a daily self-massage done with with oil to calm the nervous system  and loosen muscles and joints. This massage is considered preventive in ayurvedic medicine. It is designed to tone the skin, smooth out the muscles, stimulate circulation of blood and lymph, and leave your body feeling wonderfully sleek and alive.

Sesame seed oil, coconut oil, olive oil, canola oil, or almond oil, or may be used. If you’re buying a prepared massage oil, make sure it has one of these oils as the main ingredient.

When I have time, I like to blend sesame and almond oil and add a bit of essential oil such as frankincense, lavender, or eucalyptus for a “scent”-sational massage.

This massage is usually done standing up, and should be done naked. For best results, leave the oil on your body for at least 90 minutes before showering off. I like to do this massage just after a shower in the evening. I towel off the excess oil, put on my comfortable pajamas, and enjoy the lingering sensations before going to bed. The oil is completely absorbed by the time I slip into the sheets.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Place a few drops of oil in your palm and rub the hands together. You will add oil as needed, but will require less and less oil the more often you do this massage.

2. Begin by rubbing the tips of the fingers, then move through your body in the sequence below:


Screenshot 2014-11-12 15.06.261. Rub the top of your head in a circular motion, then massage upward from the hairline to the top of the head—all the way around the head.

2. Rub across your forehead in both directions. Rub downward along the sides of your face from your temples across your cheekbones, across the chin and upper lip, and along the sides of the nose.

3. Rub the right palm across the front of the throat moving from left to right, then switch hands and move from right to left. Alternate back and forth.


Screenshot 2014-11-12 15.09.384. Rub the back of your neck by crossing your left palm over the right side of the neck and drawing it clear around to the front, then crossing your right palm over your left shoulder and drawing it similarly around front. Alternate hands.

5. Rub from the nape of the neck to the crown of the head.



Screenshot 2014-11-12 15.11.246. Rub your stomach in a circular motion clockwise, then counterclockwise. Start at the navel and make bigger circles as you go. Complete about one circle per second. The goal is to completely cover the area with oil, so you can continue as long as it feels good.

7. Rub across the chest with long diagonal strokes. Begin by lifting the right arm up over your head. Then, use your left hand to stroke from the underside of the right arm, over the armpit, and above the breast to the sternum. Make a second stroke from the inner arm, across the armpit, to just under the breast. Alternate these two strokes, then switch sides and repeat.



Screenshot 2014-11-12 15.13.128. Using long strokes, rub along the long bones of your body (arms and legs). Move downward from the shoulder and armpit to the fingertips, rotating the arm at the shoulder so you rub both front and back of each arm. Then finally, use a series of wringing motions,  lightly squeezing and twisting the flesh back and forth along the entire length of the arm from wrist to armpit, and the leg from ankles to upper inner thighs.

9. Rub the whole side of the body from the armpit to the thigh in long downward strokes. Alternate sides.

10. Using long downward strokes, reach back and rub the buttocks— alternate left and right side from the small of the back over the buttocks to the thighs. Alternate back and forth.


11. Finally, massage across the tops of your feet. Rub the back of the heels and the arches. Rub your toes.