Do you self-massage with oil?
There are those of us who do it and rave about it. We have our favorite oils and laugh a little at the mess because we love the way it makes us feel—grounded and vibrant!
Then there are a whole group of folks who get overwhelmed by the potential mess of oil massage and opt out.
Here are some tips to help you break through the barriers and oil up.
Oil Massage (Abyanga) Tips
1. Pick the right oil.
Choosing the right oil entails a few main factors:
- Prakruti: Most of us are born dual-dosha, and to stay in balance really need to make choices to level out our strongest dosha. Kapha dosha play strongly in your make up? Corn oil or a mixture of corn and mustard can be the oil or oils of choice.
- Vikriti: The state of your dosha make-up in the moment is a factor to consider. What is out of balance, driving the bus right now? Pitta out of balance? Choose an oil to help keep things cool. Coconut is the traditional cooling oil. It is a semi-solid oil full of short-chain fatty acids that have been shown to be easily absorbed and used by the body.
- Seasons: In the northern hemisphere it is Vata season. Moisture is retreating into dry coldness. In Vata season our tissues crave deep moisture. Sesame Oil can be a great choice. It is warming with excellent penetration.
2. Pick the right grade of oil.
Whatever type of oil you need, be sure to buy a grade designed for oil massage. It can be a very unpleasant experience to try to do oil massage with sesame oil you picked up at the supermarket. This grade is designed for cooking and is too heavy for the skin. Ugh!
There are several companies who specialize in body oil and even make blended oils perfect for Abyanga. It is so worth it to source and use a good quality organic oil.
3. Give it time.
Less is more with oil. Spread it evenly and work it in especially around bends and creases. Allow time for the oil to soak in after you massage.
Do oil massage when it works for you: before morning shower, after morning shower or before bed.
4. Designate oil cloths.
Most of us don’t like to hang around cold and naked while the oil soaks in. If you do hang out in the buff after oil massage, be sure to protect your chair with a towel.
The idea is to stay warm and relaxed. I have an old flannel nightgown and cotton socks I wear. One of my teachers uses old sweats.
- Stay warm and comfy while the oil soaks in.
- Designate some old clothes to wear.
- Wash them with your oily towels
5. Clean up messy towels and clothes.
Use the older towels for after your oil massage. They are softer anyway.
Towels can go from guest towels to non-oil user towels to oil-user towels in a normal life cycle of use.
Here are a number of options to help with towel clean up:
- Wash towels more frequently.
- Use a special degreasing detergent. Massage supply houses sell them.
- In a pinch, most dishwashing machine detergents are also set up to degrease. You want the stuff for the machine that generates fewer suds while it cleans. The liquid for the person standing at the sink is no good. It generates way too many bubbles for your washer.
- Adding 12 ounces of cola is reported to work.
- Add 1 cup of vinegar.
- Add color safe bleach.
6. Clean up the shower.
Don’t let the oil build up in the tub or shower. At that point it is a bear to clean up.
Important: Clean after each after-massage shower! It takes 3 minutes.
- Run the hot water, and rinse the tub floor. (This is really important, to be sure you don’t clog your pipes.)
- Scrub the floor with a little baking soda or vinegar after each oil rinse-off or at least once a week. I bought a brush on a pole just for my shower.
Oil massage is an incredibly loving thing to do for yourself. Prioritize this practice as the Vata season of dryness progresses. Use these tips to push through any doubts you have about the practice…and oil up!
Let us know your experiences with Abyanga clean-up!