Most people associate massage with a masseuse or a spa. In other words, someone else massaging us. We all know how good it feels, but alas, it is that rare luxury only possible when time and budget allow. This is where Ayurveda shines brightly with a simple solution- just massage yourself! It one of the least known tools for maintaining health, and possibly one of the most effective ones.
Self massage is also taking time for oneself; the act of self-love; understanding that we first love ourselves and that love then overflows from within us to everything we do, and everyone we give to. But I cannot convey this in words, you will have to feel it for yourself!
Practically, this is what it looks like. Every second or third day is a great start. Just before you take your morning shower, take 5 or so minutes for a self massage. Any warm place is good- possibly the bathroom itself. You take a few spoonfuls of warm oil (coconut or a cooling oil if you run hot; sesame or another warming oil if you run cold) and put a few drops on the crown of your head. Rub that in. Then massage in the oil all over your body using long strokes on your limbs and circular movements on your joints. Finish with the soles of your feet. When you are done, your body will just have a thin layer of oil on it. Hop in the shower to rinse off, pat dry and you are done.
Really, this is all you need to know in order to start a practice of self-oiling.
On days when you have more time, you can rub the oil all over the scalp, put on a more generous layer on the body and let it absorb in for 15 minutes before your shower, or better still, have a warm bath!
There are many more details and nuances one can add in after the basic routine is established. For example, put in a few drops of oil into your ears at the start of your massage. Oil in the ears strengthens the bones and ear drum, keeps hearing sharp and loosens ear wax.
Ask me for more ideas when you are ready!
Sometimes it takes a little, simple step like this to bring down the invisible wall we may have up, that is blocking us from taking charge of our health. I find massage is particularly powerful as a first step because it brings us into feeling. The connection with ourselves becomes real, palpable. Once this connection to our inner guide is made, the rest of the path becomes so clear.
Hello fellow explorer-of-health!
My aim for this column is to share the self-balancing skills that I have discovered through Ayurveda and show how these ideas can be adopted by anyone (without the need to buy into a whole other cultural reality!)
Updated monthly, so check back in.