The most important self-care technique: Daily massage
When you hear the word “massage” it just feels indulgent.
Tell me I’m not the only one who imagines a quiet, dark space with calming music in the background (and lots of dollar signs swarming in your head afterwards). But, it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been hearing about this age-old healing technique being used as a daily form of self-care.
I know. Self-care gets such a bad rap lately. For most of us, self-care has actually become out of reach — with beautiful baths filled with rose-petals becoming the “norm” (or Instagram tells us so).
In reality, self-care is any way simple way that you could give yourself love and gratitude for being You each and every day. Rose-petal baths and a simple walk around the block on your lunch are both included.
As someone who has a date with her couch and facemask each night, I am (selfishly) interested in learning as many ways to show myself love as I can. I am equally as intrigued to learn about these traditional forms of self-care, which were the norm for centuries…and are now just becoming mainstream.
I have been encouraged by many healers as of late to take on this practice, and let me tell you — I will never go back to a simple slab of cream after the shower.
Where self-massage comes from
Self-massage, or Abhyanga, is an ancient Ayurvedic tradition rooted in the idea of nourishment and rejuvenation.
For those of you who are like Ayur-what — let me give you a brief history. Ayurveda is a health system created thousands of years ago by sages (yes, literally) in India. It is the first form of healthcare that is based on our mind-body connection; something that modern medicine is only catching up to recently.
I won’t get into the many facets of Ayurveda now (it’s extremely interesting and we talk a bit about it on Podcast Episode 2) — but know that Abhyanga is a daily ritual recommended for physical, mental and spiritual balance.
Why you should make self-massage a daily ritual
Self-massage isn’t something that should be luxurious, or only occur as a treat. It’s a simple practice that has many amazing effects.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of incorporating a few minutes of self-massage into your everyday:
- Increases circulation (you will notice this shift in your skin immediately!)
- Lubricates the joints
- Detoxifies the body (similar to dry-brushing)
- Simulates the internal organs
- Decreases the effects of aging
- Enhances sleep and relaxation
And, most importantly — you are learning to love your body as it is. By confronting all parts of You (literally staring at them in the mirror) while showering them with love, you’re turning off that inner critic. You’re quieting that voice in your head that nags and looks down upon and thinks you don’t measure up.
Self-massage is a beautiful form of confidence-boosting as well.
Okay, sign me up. How do I do it?
So, with all the talk of benefits and self-love, how does one actually go about incorporating this practice into their everyday?
When: Well, the way that I’ve done it is quite simple. After I get out of the shower each morning or evening, I’ve added about 5–10 minutes into my “getting ready” routine to practice some self-love. If I’m really feeling like I need some extra love, I will do this before I shower (this is the traditional version).
How: The actual practice of self-massage can be done in any way, but keeping one mindset consistent: as you rub the oil into your skin, be sure to move it towards the heart. So, if you’re working on your upper body, move clockwise and down; the opposite goes for below the heart.
With what: I am obsessed with Daughter of the Land’s body oils. They come in 3 different types depending on your skin needs, and only have a few simple ingredients. It also helps that it’s founded by an amazing woman, Ashley (who is on CtC Episode 12!!). You can also use any type of oil available to you — coconut, sesame, or almond are a few favorites (you could find these in the body section of Whole Foods).
Other special treats: Traditionally, the oil that you use is warmed and aligns with your “dosha” (or mind-body type). That being said, we’re all busy ladies here and we’re trying to make self-love as simple as possible. Do what you have time for. If it’s Sunday evening and you’re treating yourself to all types of things — go for it. But, remember to Do You.
Abhyanga is a perfectly self-indulgent and accessible form of love that you could show yourself Every Single Day. Not only does it have loads of health benefits for our bodies, but with practice, it allows us to realize that our bodies are beautiful, too.