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1 Amazing Self Care Practice to Try Right Now

Usha Anandi. 6 | APRIL | 2021

In a world that invests on, bets on, and relies on us being disconnected from ourselves, self care can be revolutionary.

While I’m a big fan of taking time to lavish yourself in love (Leo Sun here!), I’m also weary of tricky marketing schemes.

You know, programming that convinces us that in order to care for ourselves, we need to spend hundreds of dollars.

Capitalism has taught us to equate self-care with spending more… but my question is, how many face creams, massaging tools, and body lotions will be enough?

True wellbeing is built in the moment-to-moment decisions where we CHOOSE ourselves.

If 99% of life feels imbalanced, disconnected, and stressful – what weight does the 1% of time where you actually take care of yourself have?

Not much.

If we desire to foster true wellbeing, we have to find self-care practices that are accessible – not only financially, but energetically as well.

Because taking one day out of the month to go on a fancy spa retreat MIGHT make you feel good briefly, but if you go right back to your busy, unbalanced schedule – then truly, what’s the point?

We need practices that can help us build vitality over time, and that means practices that are simple enough and accessible enough (in alllll the ways) to do them EVERYDAY.

For me, a pivotal moment in my self-care journey was when I learned how to actually take care of myself.

Yep, I’m not talking about just scheduling out two hours every week to attend to my needs…

But rather, how to create from my life from a place that fosters true WELLBEING.

If you’re like me, you grew up in a world where running on fumes was seen as ‘normal’….

A world where the women in your family put others first, before even thinking of caring for themselves.

A world where starving yourself from food, disordered eating, or yo-yo dieting was seen as being “healthy”…

A world where taking naps, eating nourishing food, and listening to what your body needs was seen as a luxury…

And you have the feelings of exhaustion, burn out, and disconnection to prove it.

You’re ready to rewrite the narrative, and receive practical, POWERFUL tools to help you do it.

I’ve created a space with you in mind.

This month in our Inner Circle Virtual Membership, I’ve invited Ayurvedic Practitioner Staraya Mckinstry-Robinson to teach body-based wisdom from an ancient lens.

Through ceremony, embodiment practices, and an in-depth lecture, Staraya will share tangible tools to help you unravel body-shaming tendencies, unhealthy relationships with food, and reclaim the self-love that is your birthright.

And because I’m all about making self-care accessible, here is my go-to self-care that you can integrate into your life right now.

Self Oil Massage (Abhyanga)

As one of my herbalism teachers Kami McBride says… “oil for the body is like love for the soul.”

Yep, this practice is that good!

In Ayurveda, oil massage is known as abhyanga.

And although finding an Ayurvedic Practitioner or Therapist who can facilitate one for you is wonderful, doing it yourself is an incredible way to get to know your own body.

Self-oil massage or abhyanga combines a light pressure, rhythmic massage with the healing benefits of oil. In Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages in the world, the word sneha is used to describe both oil and love. After trying self-oil massage, you’ll see why.

For me, this practice is the crème de la crème of self-care. It’s simple, it’s easy, and the calming, grounding, and nourishing effects are felt immediately.

Perhaps that’s why one of the most famous Ayurvedic texts highlights the benefits of abhyanga in the passage below…

“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.”
~ Charaka Samhita Vol.1, V: 88-89.

Physical Benefits

The light, rhythmic, nourishing strokes used in abhyanga help…

  • Stimulate the lymph
  • Increase immunity
  • Support healthy sleep patterns
  • Promote optimal circulation
  • Remove toxins from the tissues
  • Slow ageing
  • Soothe achy and/or cracking joints
  • Lubricates the nerve endings which calms the nervous system

Ayurveda recognizes the skin as a pathway to the vital organs, so in taking care of the skin with daily oil massage, we care for the health of our body overall.

During pregnancy, self-oil massage can be used to reduce water retention, encourage skin elasticity, and strengthen the Mother’s experience of their mind-body connection – a bond that is essential for an empowering birth, postpartum, and beyond.

In postpartum, self-oil massage is traditionally used to support the pathway of elimination for ‘old’ hormones associated with pregnancy that are no longer needed.

The nourishing, grounding, and lubricating quality of the oil also supports the Mother in creating a protective barrier between their body and the cold, which will increase ease of overall physical, mental, and spiritual healing in a time where they need it the most.

Mental Benefits

Like many other indigenous forms of healing around the world, Ayurveda recognizes the mind and body as one. If there are physical benefits to a practice, there are mental ones, and vice versa. 

Physically, self-oil massage penetrates the tissues and lubricates nerve endings, which may help cultivate an overall feeling of calm in the mind.

Ayurveda associates feelings of anxiety, depletion, and ungroundedness with the elements of ether and air.

Excess of these elements can hang out in our digestive tract, our joints, and even in the subtle qualities of our mind.

Enter the life changing properties of oil to the rescue… 

The moist, grounding qualities of oil help balance the elements in the body, resulting in a calmness, ease, and clarity in the mind.

When choosing the oil for your self massage, keep the following in mind…

Your Constitution

Do you often feel anxious, suffer from constipation or invariable digestion, or have cold hands and feet? These are clues that you may need a warming, grounding, and building oil. 

Do you tend to run hot – both in the body and the mind? Perhaps you experience rashes easily, acne, or frustration, anger, or irritability. To cool off your internal fire, you may need a more cooling, soothing, and calming oil. 

Keep hitting “snooze” on your alarm? Calm, collected, and centered in conflict? But weighed down often with excess mucus, tiredness, or lethargy? To stimulate your system, choose an oil that is heating to help activate your inner fire and burn away stagnation. 

In Ayurveda, our constitution is predetermined and despite the different imbalances we may experience in life, never changes. This true nature, known as prakriti, can help us determine what food is right for us, activities that are balancing for us, and even self-care practices that are nourishing for us. 

If you don’t know your constitution, take this short quiz by Banyan Botanicals to help determine yours. And, if you’re interested in learning more about Ayurveda (specifically for women’s health) – be sure to check out the three months of pre-recorded content on Ayurveda available inside of our Inner Circle Membership. Access over 15+ hours of content that honors the ancient roots and sacred lineage of Ayurveda – featuring some of my beloved mentors and friends from India, as well as Staraya and I.

The weather and your current life stage

If it’s the middle of the winter where you live, it might not be the best time to lather your body in a cooling oil. And if you’re out in the blistering sun all day during summer, rubbing heating oil on your body might not be the best feeling. 

When choosing your oil, consider that you are a part of your environment – not separate from it. The seasons and the elements they expose us to impact our bodies, and the optimal choice of oil can help remedy that.

As women and people with wombs, we go through many different cycles and phases in our lives. In reference to self-oil massage, I’d like to highlight an important two… 

Menstruation

In Ayurveda, menstruation is seen as a sacred cleansing. To honor the natural downward flow of energy in the body during this time, as well as the powerful detoxification already taking place, self-oil massage is skipped – at least for the first two to three days of heavy menstrual flow.

Postpartum

Although many see time for rest, connection, and recalibration in postpartum as a luxury, in Ayurveda and other traditional forms of healing throughout the world, it’s a necessity.

Known as a ‘sacred window’ in Ayurveda, postpartum offers Mothers a profound opportunity to build their stores of inner-strength and vitality, heal health conditions that existed prior to pregnancy, and create the blueprint for a sense of wellbeing for the remainder of their lives.

During postpartum, Mothers can practice daily self-oil massage using a warming, grounding, and building oil to protect themselves from the penetrating, disease-causing cold and wind.

Choosing Your Oil

With your constitution, current environment, and stage of life in mind – choose the oil you’ll be working with.

Sesame Oil

Grounding, warming, lubricating, and deeply regenerating, sesame oil is the ideal oil for Vata types as well as those experiencing anxiety, achy/cracking joints, dry skin, or constipation. This oil would also be a good choice for postpartum mamas as well. 

For added benefit, heat sesame oil slightly before massaging it into your skin.

For all your oil needs, I recommend the high-quality, organic options offered by Banyan Botanicals. 

Coconut Oil

Cooling, soothing, and neutralizing, coconut oil is ideal for Pitta types, as well as those experiencing rashes, heat disorders, acne, frustration, irritability, or burns. 

Try this rich organic coconut oil from Banyan Botanicals for your massage.

Sunflower Oil

Light, invigorating, and revitalizing, sunflower oil (especially when infused with appropriate medicinal herbs), is an excellent remedy for Kapha types. For anyone feeling sluggish, lethargic, or stuck in the past – this oil can help put a bounce in your step. 

I love this medicinal oil formulated with Sunflower oil and indicated herbs by Banyan Botanicals. 

How to Oil Massage

The key to a transformational oil massage relies on two components… the oil and the technique.

The right self-oiling technique can be the difference between an invigorating massage that activates and awakens you and a calming, grounding massage that helps you sleep.

The trick is in the technique, and I want to make sure you learn from a master.

So I’ll leave the rest to Staraya, an Ayurvedic Practitioner who will be guiding a LIVE self-oil massage practice as part of this month’s ceremony inside of our Inner Circle Membership.

With her expert guidance, you’ll learn the tools to turn any massage experience into a seriously healing, transformational, and potentially life-changing event.

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2021-04-05T17:12:42+00:00
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