Dry Brush Ayurvedic Youth Awakening Massage
Abrupt seasonal changes can be physically and emotionally difficult—seriously, November, calm down. Typically, when the temperature changes from crisp to honest-to-Goddess cold, I experience anxiety, restlessness, and troubled sleep. From an Ayurvedic perspective, what I’m going through is an excess of vata, one of the three doshas (physical and emotional ways of being). And the way to bring my vata back into balance—it’s worked for me for years—is warm, sesame-oil self massage. I notice a difference before I’m even finished massaging myself. My skin takes on a rosy glow, I can feel myself retaining heat, and best of all, I’m in a calm, grounded state of well being.
According to Ayurveda, warm oil massage, or abhyanga (ab-hee-un-ga) also helps with circulation, detoxification and is youth promoting because it helps us process stress. It’s very simple to do. All you need is cold-pressed organic sesame oil (either food or massage grades are fine) and a means of heating your oil. I use a large essential oil burner (the kind that uses a tealight candle) and keep a close eye on it so the oil doesn’t get too hot. You could also use the hot-water bath method where you place a heat-proof glass jar in a pot of water on the stove top.
The Gold-Star Method
Do your massage in the morning. The oil will help soak up toxins that have been processed overnight. Massage all over your body towards your heart. Don’t forget hands, feet, face and any areas where you notice winter dryness, including your scalp. Then, hop in the shower and wash off all the toxins your oil has pulled to the surface.
How I Usually Do It
Truth time: I really love leaving the oil on my skin, so I massage myself after my shower. Sesame oil penetrates the skin very effectively so after just a few minutes, I’m ready to get dressed. I’ve been doing abhyanga this way for years and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I try to do it in the morning but fall is a busy time and I’m usually happy when I manage this gesture of self love at any time of day. Like any health protocol, it only works if you get it done!
Bonus Points for Dry Brushing!
Dry brushing is so worth your time. Five minutes of dry brushing before your sesame self-massage will amplify all of its positive effects. Dry brushing super-charges your circulation and helps your lymphatic system to flush out toxins where they can be excreted through waste and through your pores. Caring for your body this way helps do away with puffiness and over time, it can even help eliminate cellulite. All you need is a firm natural bristle brush; I like one with a handle so I can brush my back. Lightly brush all over your naked body. Make sure that you’re brushing towards your heart as this helps to protect your veins. If cellulite is a concern, pay special attention to the affected areas, knowing that your brushing is supporting your body in letting go of anything it doesn’t need.
That’s it! Gift yourself with little extra time and attention and your sweet self will be smooth, warm and well all winter long.