Ayurvedic Beauty Ritual - by Kirsten Alexander

Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic beauty ritual designed to promote health, youth and beauty. Follow this daily practise for a holistic healing morning routine. There's nothing quite like a soothing, full-body, warm oil massage to melt away body tension. Combine that with a daily practice of self-love and you have the incredible power of Abhyanga. This massage routine is a part of the daily practices specified in Ayurvedic medicine; a steady ritual promoting health, youth and beauty.
The ancient Sanskrit text on Ayurveda, the Charaka Samhita (Vol. 1, V: 88-89) expresses the benefits in a quaint and endearing manner: 'The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age' BENEFITS OF ABHYANGA There are numerous proven benefits to this daily practise; from stress-reduction, to improvement in muscular dystrophy. Though, best of all may be that it consistently dissolves accumulated stress and toxins built up in the body and mind over the course of a day. This is the secret to unlocking all the benefits of the abhyanga massage. Abhyanga helps the skin - the largest organ in the body - perform its diverse functions efficiently; whether it's allowing toxins to be released from the body, or nourishment to be absorbed by the tissues. It's like oiling the engine of your car ' if you do it regularly, your engine will be in peak condition, and give you years and years of trouble-free performance. Dull, dry skin makes you look older, while youthful, happy skin shines with radiant health. According to Abhyanga advocates, after daily oiling, you'll notice an improvement in your complexion and more colour to your skin. Your skin will appear smoother and feel softer giving off a youthful glow. THE ONE FOR YOU Ayurveda maintains there are seven layers of tissue in the body called 'dhatus'. Each consecutive layer offers more intense and revitalising benefits. Also, everyone has a particular balance of doshas which must be concentrated on. The three doshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha - are derived from the five elements. Also known as mind-body types, the doshas express unique blends of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics. In Ayurveda, health is defined as the dynamic state of balance between mind, body and environment. With an abhyanga massage, a person's dosha informs what kind of oil should be used, and what kind of ingredients should be added. While sesame oil is strongly recommended, people with sensitive or pitta skin may find coconut oil or Jojoba oil more cooling. You can find Ayurvedic massage oils at most reputable health stores. Each of the Pitta, Kapha, and Vata massage oils are infused with Ayurvedic herbs to balance your specific dosha, and help turn daily abhyanga into a treat you'll look forward to. ART OF APPLICATION The Ayurvedic massage is traditionally performed in the morning, before a bath or shower, to facilitate the release of toxins accumulated during the previous night. When you wake up, massage your body with love and patience for 5 minutes in each area. Follow these steps for a well-rounded Abhyanga massage: Warm your oil before you begin. Pour a 1/4 cup of Abhyanga oil in a heat resistant mug or cup. Place your cup on a hot pan or in a small pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, until the oil is warm. It's best not to heat Ayurvedic oils directly so that you can retain their nutrient properties. Test the temperature by putting a drop on your inner wrist. The oil should be comfortably warm and not hot. Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room, close your eyes, slow your breath, and focus on the sensation as you massage your body with gentle strokes. First, apply oil to the crown of your head and then work slowly out from there in circular strokes. Spend a couple of minutes lovingly massaging your entire scalp. In a circular motion, massage your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws; always moving in an upward direction. Be sure to massage your ears - especially your ear-lobes. Use long strokes on your limbs, and circular strokes on your joints. Always massage toward the direction of your heart. Massage your abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On your abdomen, follow the path of your large intestine; moving up on the right side of your abdomen, then across, and then down on the left side. In tip-to-toe fashion, the massage ends with your feet. Feet are a vital part of the body, home to nerve endings of essential organs. Spend a few moments concentrating on your feet; thanking them for all the transportation they've given. Sit with the oil for 5-15 minutes, if possible, so the oil penetrates and absorbs through the deeper layers of skin. Enjoy a warm bath or shower to rinse yourself of oils and toxins. Use a mild soap on sensitive areas and avoid vigorously soaping and rubbing the body. Towel dry gently and blot the towel on your body softly.

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