You know all about the coconut oil craze, right? Daddy Yogi certainly does.
I think he keeps wishing it would die out. Unfortunately for him, and fortunate for my love of all things oils, our first foreign-feeling Ayurvedic “prescription” is a daily oil massage called Abhyanga.
Abhyanga is the first of many Sanskrit words we will use. Anyone who speaks multiple languages knows that sometimes words don’t translate from one language to the next. For this reason we still use many of the ancient Indian terms in our explanations
Seriously, Ayurveda has the oil massage down to a science! And that science is what we have been exploring over the past week.
When I say there is a science, I am not kidding. It’s not just the act, but also the oil type. That means that just because the internet told you that coconut oil solves 98 of your problems, it actually may be sesame oil, or safflower oil that will solve them. The good news is that you (yes, you!) can figure out which oil would be best suited for your body type.
Your body type is called a dosha and in Ayurveda is it said we each have a unique balance of the three types – vata (ether and air), pitta (fire and water) and kapha (water and earth) . This quiz says we are looking into your prakriti, or the doshic balance you were born with, but in actuality, most of us have some imbalance. Therefore this quiz will probably give you your vrikriti, or your present doshic balance. I’ll leave that conversation for another day though. For now, let’s just call it your “dosha type”.
I would recommend using the test on the Banyan Botanicals site. Then, if you are interested in an oil with herbs, they have different formulas you can buy. Otherwise it is suggested that if your dosha type is vata, you should use sesame or almond oil. If your dosha type is pitta, coconut oil is recommended. And if your dosha type is kapha, safflower or mustard oil is recommended.
Daddy Yogi took the test and has a vata imbalance. Mommy Yogini also has a vata imbalance. This makes for a simple shopping list. We use sesame oil. This is a highly revered oil in Ayurveda so we also use it for Miss Baby Yogini’s abhyanga as well.
Great, now what exactly do we do with these oils and why?
The short answer, abhyanga. Abhyanga is the Sanskrit word for self-oil massage. There is an interesting conversation to be had here regarding the Sanskrit word for oil. The word is sneha, which means oil, but also love. I’ll leave that for you to contemplate.
So what are the benefits?
The teachings say there are several subtle and physical benefits. The philosophical reasoning is that it is a practice of self-care (self-oil and/or self-love). In Ayurveda, the whole person is considered. We cannot be expected to make decisions of self-care, instead of ones of instant gratification, if we do not actively participate in the practice self-care. This concept I am only beginning to dig into, but it is a post (or 12) on it’s own.
The physical benefits are rejuvenation and tonification of the body. The skin is the body’s largest organ. It absorbs whatever is applied to it. In fact, Ayurveda teaches that we should not put anything on our skin, which we wouldn’t put in our mouth. (So yes, that includes those lovely scented lotions.) The act of massage helps to drain the lymph nodes, similar to the way dry brushing works. It helps circulation and to lubricate joints. Of course, I am not a doctor or professional of Ayurveda (yet), so please take these points only as guidance, because I too am learning.
For more about how to perform the massage, check out this video:
Daddy Yogi has noticed, in just 4 days, that his tattoos are clearer and that the colors stand out. I have noticed my complexion is sooooo much clearer. I wish I would have taken before and after pictures.
Daddy Yogi wears an iWatch and has already noticed that he is tracking at least an extra hour of deep sleep. It makes sense, who wouldn’t sleep better after having a massage?!
I have accepted the challenge, given to me by my Master Teacher at the California College of Ayurveda, to do the oil massage for 30 days. This also means that I dragged Daddy Yogini along to join in on the fun. Anyone else in? Let me know if you do it, please! And if you do, I’d love to hear your experience. You deserve it, we all deserve it. 30 minutes of self-care a day. We can do it! Join us!