Oiling Up! Ayurvedic Practices of Oleation
The ancient Ayurvedas believe that by rubbing our bodies in oil, or by taking oils internally, we could increase our sense of well-being.
The Mind/Body Connection
The Charaka Samhita, one of the principal texts on Ayurveda, states: "The body and that which is called the mind are both considered to be abodes of disease, likewise of well-being. The cause of well-being is their harmonious or concordant interaction."
Furthermore, the Ayurvedic teachings tell us that the doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) can easily get out of balance, especially in our hectic modern lifestyle. Particularly vata, lack of water and warmth, can cause our skin to get dry. Ayurveda also equates oils with love. When we rub our body in oil, we send it a message (and a massage) of acceptance and nurturing.
Balancing the Doshas Through Massage
There are many ways you can balance the doshas through Ayurveda. First, find out what your dosha is through an Ayurvedic practioner, or an on-line quiz. Once you have determined your predominate body/mind type, you can purchase an appropriate oil for Abhyanga (self-massage). This massage is one of the most important things you can do to balance your body/mind on a daily basis. Daily Abhyanga has also been known to dramatically reduce emotions such as fear, nervousness, anxiety and even depression, with sustained use.
Oils for Doshic Types
The following oils are recommended for the doshic body/mind types:
Vata- Sesame, Dhanwantharam, Bala, Dashmool, and Sandalwood oils
Pitta- Ksirabala, Almond, Coconut, Cyperus, Rose, Geranium, Anantmul, Nutmeg, Palmarosa and Vetiver oils
Kapha- Almond Oil, Cedarwood, Turmeric, Ginger Lily, Agarwood, and Cinnamon Bark oils
How to do Self-Massage
Begin with 2-3 oz of the appropriate massage oil suited to your body/mind type. Place the oil in a plastic or glass bottle in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes, to allow the oil to warm. Squeeze some of the warm oil into your hands and starting with the head, apply the oil systematically down the body to the feet. Now massage the oil into your skin, dedicating ample time to each body part. Use long strokes over your arms and legs, and circular strokes over the joints, chest and abdomen. Take anywhere from 10-30 minutes for the massage. After the massage, take a seat on a mat or towel, close the eyes and take a moment to breath deeply. (3-5 minutes). Follow this by a warm bath or shower to remove the oil, using a gentle cleanser and gentle shampoo.