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Self-Massage for Health and Healing

July 18, 2012

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Who doesn’t love a relaxing massage? The feeling of expert hands addressing all your body’s woes just feels so good. Unfortunately, most people reserve massages for rare occasions, given the expensive price tag. If only you could have a free pair of hands ready to massage you whenever you wanted… wait a minute, you do!

In the healing tradition of Ayurveda, massaging the body with oil for maintaining health is a common practice called Abhyanga, which is often performed as a method of self-care. Abhyanga is usually done with warmed sesame oil, infused with herbs according to an individual’s constitution, or dosha, but you can experience the health-promoting benefits of this wellness practice by using any natural oil that you like. Adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil, like lavender or ylang ylang, can also enhance the experience.

Self-massage provides you with the same healing benefits of being massaged by someone else, without the cost or need for travel. Those benefits include:

  • Releasing muscle tension
  • Increasing circulation
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Improving lymph drainage
  • Nourishing and moisturizing the skin
  • Stimulating organ function
  • Calming the mind

You can enjoy a self-massage at any time that works for you, however we recommend doing it before bed to help facilitate deep and rejuvenating sleep. Allowing the moisturizing nutrients of the oil to stay on your body while you rest will also provide overnight nourishment for your skin.

Here are some tips for your self-massage:              

  • Before you begin, make your mental and physical space conducive to complete relaxation. A 5-minute meditation, some gentle stretching, lighting a candle, or putting on relaxing music are all great ways to relax. Make yourself fully present and ensure that you will not be disturbed.
  • When you’re ready, pour a small amount of oil into your palm and rub your hands together to warm it up. Begin the massage by rubbing one foot, then the other, making sure to get between the toes and gently pulling each individual toe. As you slowly move upwards, you can rub in a circular motion or up and down, spending as much time as you like on each body part. Try to cover all areas and engage your mind by appreciating each body part as you massage it.
  • For a full body effect, end by massaging your scalp and hair with the oil and leave it in overnight. This is especially nourishing for hair that tends to be dry, and has an added benefit of quieting the mind.

Practicing self-massage regularly will offer you the most benefits for deep sleep and emotional and physical balance, so make it a new ritual for wellness!

What are your favorite types of oils or tips for self-massage?