Winter season around the corner, typically during this time your skin starts losing moisture and of its natural tone. As the skin loses its moisture, skin starts to begin to feel dry, itchy, and tight. If we don’t take good care of the skin during this time skin may eventually form hard areas like callus or crack and open into unsightly wounds that may lead to developing a skin infection. 

There are some remedies suggested in Ayurveda to take care of skin, one of which is Abhyanga (The oil massage) is an integral part of the recommended to boost healing system for overall health and well- being. Traditional Ayurvedic texts eloquent on the benefits. Here's what one says — "Give yourself a full-body oil massage on a daily basis. It is nourishing; pacifies the doshas; relieves fatigue; provides stamina, pleasure and perfect sleep; enhances the complexion and the lustre of the skin; promotes longevity, and nourishes all parts of the body."

Here are some of the benefits traditionally associated with the regular performance of this pleasant daily ritual: 

  • Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings 
  • Toning of the muscles and the whole physiology 
  • Calming for the nerves 
  • Lubrication of the joints 
  • Increased mental alertness 
  • Improved elimination of impurities from the body 
  • Softer, smoother skin 
  • Increased levels of stamina through the day 
  • Better, deeper sleep at night 

Abhyanga provides the means for transdermal absorption of the healing qualities of the material used in the massage, and it helps the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, perform its diverse functions efficiently, whether it is allowing toxins to be released from the body or nourishment to be absorbed by the tissues.

The Ayurvedic massage is traditionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower, to facilitate the release of toxins to purify your body. One can use pure sesame oil,  massage oil fortified with herbs or coconut oil. 

Preparing oil for massage: If you choose sesame oil, look for cold-pressed, chemical-free organic sesame oil for the best results. Sesame oil contains antioxidant properties and is helpful in protecting the skin from free radical damage. It is considered highly nourishing for the physiology. To "cure" or purify the sesame oil, heat the oil to 100 degrees Celsius on low heat and then allow it to cool down. You can then store for use as needed.   

How to massage?        

  • When you prepare to do Abhyanga, you can place the oil container into a hot water bath in the sink or in a pot. Allow the oil to become warm, but not uncomfortably hot. If possible, make the bathroom warm—a space heater can be very helpful in the winter.
  • Take a small amount of oil in your palm and rub the hands together. Bring your hands to your belly and rub the palms in circles over your abdomen, clockwise (from right to left under your ribs, down on the left side, across from left to right at the bottom and then up on the right side). This pattern reinforces the healthy movement of peristalsis in your intestines.·       
  • Work your way up the neck, across the chest and upper back (as much as you can reach it) down the upper side of the arms and up the underside of the arms. Massage in circles around your chest·       
  • Reach around and massage the lower back making circles over the sacrum.  
  • Massage gently outside of the legs and the feet in a downward direction and then upward for inside line of the legs and inner thighs.   
  • Don’t forget to massage over the joints of the arms and legs in circles.·       
  • Hang out like this for a bit, allowing the skin to absorb the oil as much as possible. It’s great if your pores can open up and sweat a tiny bit before you rinse the oil off of your skin. It is recommended to do a little bit of light, seated yoga or meditation during this time. 
  • Rather anything you can do to connect with your sensation at this point will really deepen the benefit of abhyanga.
  • Bath using very little or no soap. The water will remove all but a thin layer of oil from the skin. Pat the skin dry with a towel after bathing and allow the skin to absorb as much oil as it wants to.  

Go ahead and enjoy your day with a deeper sense of zeal and resilience.