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Abhyanga – The Oil Treatment at Home

Abhyanga – detoxifying and rejuvenating your physiology
The ancient sages of Ayurveda considered a life with regularity, in accordance with the laws of nature, the most important foundation for good health. As part of the daily routine, they recommended using the healing power of various oil treatments. If you have been a guest at our Health Centre in Bad Ems, you have already experienced the beneficial and detoxifying effects of oil treatments. This article tells you how you can carry out a daily oil massage at home and thereby reinforce your physiological balance.

Ayurvedic oils for good health
Daily Abhyanga is recommended to cleanse the body as well as relax the mind. The skin is our largest organ and it is connected to all internal organs through nerves and reflexes. A suitable oil will loosen up metabolic debris in the cells, so that skin, kidneys, and bowel can then secrete these deposits.

Ideally, an Abhyanga is an integral part of daily body hygiene. Pampering yourself daily with an oil application takes time and attention. But you’ll gladly devote this time once you are aware of the wide-ranging benefits of Abhyanga.

An Abhyanga:

  • Dissolves and removes Ama (metabolic residues) from the cells
  • Removes toxins
  • Makes the inner intelligence flow
  • Keeps the joints flexible
  • Improves blood circulation in the skin
  • Makes the skin smoother, brighter and younger
  • Reduces bad body odor
  • Heals dullness and heaviness
  • Relieves itching
  • Strengthens and soothes nervous system
  • Improves sleep
  • Prevents diseases
  • Balances emotions and opens the heart

Regular, repeated use of Abhyanga increases health on all levels. At first, you may “only” notice that you feel more vital, that you have more bounce in your step, or that your muscles feel stronger.

Then just continue your daily Abhyanga routine. After a while, you’ll find that you don’t have colds as often, that your hay fever gradually becomes less, that your complexion looks healthier, and that your hands and feet feel warmer.

At the same time, you’ll notice that your mental well-being improves. Because, when metabolic residues are becoming less, our physiology’s inner intelligence can more easily permeate the body.

A few general points

  • The best time for Abhyanga is early in the morning, right after emptying bladder and intestines. It is not recommended before or after meals, or after sunset.
  • A large towel on the floor absorbs drops of oil and protects the floor. If you want to walk around during the “soaking” period, have another large towel handy to wrap yourself up.
  • It is recommended to wear oil resistant slippers. Walking on a towel would dry your feet, but with slippers on, you give them more time to absorb the oil.
  • Massage the bones of your arms and legs with longitudinal strokes back and forth, while the joints are oiled with circular movements.
  • Always apply the oil with your full palms. Don’t use your fingertips, but rather make smooth and gentle strokes.
  • Women start with their left arms and legs, men with their right arms and legs.

Using a good hand
In general, the oil should be applied and distributed using the entire palm of the hand, not just the fingertips. The exception to this rule is the scalp, the first area we treat.

The head
Dip your fingertips into the warm oil and pass them gently underneath your hair, over the skin of your scalp. Apply oil to the entire scalp and to face and ears. Stroke over the scalp with back-and-forth movements, then extensively over the

ears, which have a great many reflex points. Also in the face, you’ll feel which areas need extra attention.

Use straight up-and-down strokes. Reduce pressure on the throat, and give some more in the neck area.

Treat each arm individually, moving down from shoulder to wrist. Move in circles over shoulder, elbow, and wrist, and use longitudinal strokes on the long bones. Women start with the left arm, men with the right.

It’s nice to move the palm of one hand in circles over the back of the other hand. Also, movements like when washing your hands thoroughly are very good. Do the fingers one by one by enclosing them with the other hand and moving up and down.

Chest and belly
You can use even linear or circular strokes on your ribcage. Do the belly in large clockwise circular movements, following the large intestine. Clockwise means starting near your right leg, then up, then across your stomach to the left, then down towards your left leg. In this way, you support the natural intestinal motion.

Treat your back with longitudinal strokes – other movements are awkward when doing it yourself and therefore don’t give the intended healing relaxation.
Most people like making small circles on their lower back and large circular movements on the buttocks.

Treat the legs with both hands working in synchrony, starting from the hip joint. Give a little extra attention to the joints: hip, knee, and ankle.

It’s good to really pamper your feet. Remember to use planar, smoothing movements treating larger areas evenly as much as possible, whether you make circular or longitudinal movements. Don’t forget the toes and the spaces between them – there are a great many sensitive reflex zones on your feet, and by attending to them you can enliven all organs in the physiology.

How much time to take for your Abhyanga
Take some 5 to 10 minutes for the actual oil massage, as it takes time for the oil to be absorbed into the upper skin. After about 2 to 3 minutes, the oil starts to penetrate to the deeper skin layers and reaches them after about 10 minutes. There it starts to bind the fat-soluble metabolic deposits (Ama).

Ideally, leave the oil on the skin for at least 10 minutes more, to allow the dissolved toxins to be transported towards the capillaries or back to the surface of the skin. While the oil is being absorbed, you can do small activities like brushing your teeth or putting on water. If necessary, wipe your palms on a paper towel.

After 20 minutes, you can wash off the oil with a warm bath (tub or shower). If you don’t use soap or shower gel, you don’t need to apply cream afterward. A protective oil film covers the skin, but without sticking to clothing. Wash your hair with shampoo, once or twice as necessary.

Warming the oil for your body type
Well-heated oil gives the most profound cleansing effect for all Dosha types, with the average recommended temperature being about 40 degrees centigrade. Depending on your constitution, you may want it a little warmer or a little cooler. You can put a small bowl with the amount you need on the radiator to heat it up. Don’t heat up the entire bottle, and certainly don’t leave it on the radiator all the time. Another easy way to heat up the oil is to float the small bowl in a larger one filled with hot water.

This article is a summary from Dr. Karin Pirc’s book: “Abhyanga: Die Ölbehandlungen für zu Hause”.

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