When was the last time you indulged in a massage? Most often, we possibly won't remember the last time we splurged on a luxurious massage at a spa.
In Ayurveda, however, a self-massage is a daily ritual and not a far-flung, unaffordable luxury.
Oiling has been an integral part of Ayurvedic science & is renowned for its preventive, curative & skincare benefits.
Did you know that when you indulge in a massage with an Ayurvedic body oil, it completely seeps into the thickest layer of the skin within five minutes and the other layers in eight to ten minutes? Oils penetrate and nourish the body’s deepest cells & tissues, which is why it holds a special place in Ayurveda.
Read: Ritucharya in Ayurveda
Oils & Sanskrit Connection
Oil is the oldest skincare ritual and is renowned for its preventive, curative & skincare benefits in the field of Ayurvedic science. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Oiling’ translates to Sneha, which means ‘Love’.
When we wrap ourselves in warm oil, we envelop ourselves in love. It is much like the saying “You cannot pour from an empty cup”. Likewise, self-massage is one way to fill your daily cup of love.
Why Ayurveda oils?
Ayurvedic oils are extremely potent and fast-absorbing. Our skin’s outer layer comprises fatty tissues, and the skin recognizes oil as its natural extension, speeding up the absorption process.
Ayurvedic herbal oils are full of essential nutrients like fatty acids that help maintain moisture and protect the skin from radicals and environmental pollutants.
They also penetrate deep into the skin, which makes them a great carrier ingredient in skincare products, hair care & even dental hygiene to remove bacteria and prevent tooth decay through daily oil pulling.
Regular oiling helps balance doshas, improves sleep, promotes longevity, enhances stamina, boosts skin health and is essential for overall well-being.
Ayurveda Oils & Texts
According to the coveted Ayurvedic scriptures Charaka Samhita, oiling should be indulged in on a day-to-day basis (through Abhyanga –self-massage).
For the body, oiling is considered effective because an oil massage efficiently transfers the medicinal qualities of herbal oils deep into the tissues, which promotes healing.
Read: History of Ayurveda
There is oil for every-body
There is a list of Ayurvedic oils for different concerns and requirements, including Ayurvedic oils for muscle pain to provide relief, for wound or bone healing, oils for joint pain to strengthen joints and to relieve stiffness, exclusive oils for hair growth and face oils for healthy, glowing skin.
Accordingly, to each individual's dosha, it is recommended to use specific oils. For dry skin (Vata) warm, heavy oils like sesame, avocado or Bhringraj , for Pitta ; a more cooling, neutral oil like olive or sunflower to help destress the mind and for Kapha, preferably a more stimulating oil like mustard or flaxseed.
Read: Know your Doshas
It’s true that when our mind is well-rested, our body heals. When used regularly for self-massage (abhyanga) and a holistic lifestyle, Ayurvedic oils encourage better sleep, hair, skin and overall well-being.
The health benefits of a daily massage extend beyond all of this including supporting nervous system health, healthy vision, firm limbs, toned body tissues and nourishment of the whole body.
Taking time out of your daily grind for such personal practices may feel intimidating initially, so start by dedicating small pockets of time for self-love and a self-care regime. You will slowly yet steadily see a remarkable difference in how you feel inside out.