Updated: May 12, 2021
Cultivating a Daily Ritual for Self-Care & Self- Love
We all know the importance of daily routines & how they contribute to your overall health and well-being. Right?
Incorporating a little self care into your daily routine doesn’t have to be overwhelming or a big production. Starting with something small to focus on first, will lead to larger change and growth overtime. I promise.
If you are anything like me, I struggle with instant gratification, even though I know that anything worth a damn comes with time & cultivation. Daily routines are arguably one of the most grounding and nurturing things you can do for yourself.
However, they are not one-size-fits-all. Going through the process of finding the appropriate ritual for you can have an amazing effect on your life & overall well-being.
As we have discussed before every person has unique & different constitutions and life-styles. These call for different rituals, or sequencing of rituals, to accommodate the individual. The spirit of the daily routine is to support your system in returning to balance.
A great place to start would be learning what your current state of balance is, then learning what needs support and building a ritual around that. A pro tip is to keep track of your progress and to revisit your rituals and readjust a couple of times a year in order to stay in balance.
Just as the seasons change, we need to remind ourselves that we are a part of our environment and our needs adjust too. The subtle changes, and sometimes drastic changes, that ta
ke place throughout the year have an effect on our minds, bodies & souls.
One of my favorite daily routines is called abhyanga. Abhyanga is daily self-massage with hot oil and has benefits beyond relieving tension and easing stressed muscles. Just ten minutes at the beginning or (my favorite) end of your day can have seismic effects on your physical and mental state.
So, what is self-massage and how do you go about it?
Well, just as the name suggests, it is the act of massaging yourself!
However, it is important to note that abhyanga is more than just slathering oil on your body. Remember, we are talking about cultivating rituals into our daily routine. Much like anything else we do, the intention we put into our actions matters greatly. It is recommended to spend a minimum of 15 minutes applying your herbal oil with love & attention each time you practice.
Self massage and practicing Abhyanga sounds great, right? But you need oil...
Getting started by purchasing a daily massage oil or carrier oil such as sesame seed oil is great and will work wonderfully as you begin your journey. After all, we are building habits and cultivating a daily practice. It is important to not get hung up on the details. But as you develop your routine, seeking out a balancing oil for your body and your constitution furthers the benefits of this daily practice.
A good place to start is thinking, “like increases like” and since abhyanga is rooted in Ayurveda, we can take into account our doshas (see my previous posts on what doshas are). If none of your doshas are out of balance, choosing an herbal oil to maintain your dominant dosha or Ayurvedic constitution, prakriti, is recommended.
However, if you are out of balance, we look at vikriti, your current state of balance. Then, we choose an oil that will help to pacify that constitution and bring you back into balance.
The third thing we take into account is our environment. Just as I mentioned before, as our environment changes and the seasons change, our bodies adjust (or try too) as well.
So, HOW do you perform abhyanga?
Start with warming your oil. Place your oil bottle filled with ¼-½ cup of oil in a warm cup of water for a few minutes as you prepare for your self-massage. We are looking for warmth, not scalding. While your oil warms up, turn on some relaxing music, light some candles or incense and settle in. I like to place a towel where I will be seated and have an extra on hand in case of a mess.
Beginning with your extremities, working toward the middle of your body, make long figure eight motions. There are a wonderful and soothing way to relax tension in your muscles and ease stress on the nervous system. On your joints, circular motions are recommended, starting with counter-clockwise circles to release negative energy and closing with clockwise circles to bring in balance and good energy.
Pro tip: after you massage your feet, remember to wipe them with a warm towel before stepping onto the floor or into the shower to prevent a fall!
Massage your abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine - picture a large “?” on your abdomen to ensure you are following the correct path.
When massaging your scalp and head, give yourself a few extra minutes to focus here. It can feel incredibly relaxing. Starting at the crown of the head, apply your warmed oil with circular motions, moving outward from the crown to the ears in the same pattern.
After you are done with your massage it is time to enjoy a warm bath or shower, remembering to not wash away the oil right away, but to allow the warmth of the water to facilitate deeper trans-dermal penetration of the herbal oils. There are Ayurvedic “dusting powders” you can apply to help remove the excess oil without washing it away, because the longer it stays on your body, the more benefits you receive. However, using a mild soap on strategic areas is totally fine.
To complete my ritual, I like to put on warm, cotton socks & calming essential oils to my wrists before I climb into bed fully relaxed for a wonderful night of sleep!
Ayurveda provides these additional benefits of daily self-massage:
Musculoskeletal and nervous system health
Proper circulation and lymph drainage
Improved sleep patterns
Softer, stronger skin
Lustrous hair (There is a specific herbal oil blend for healthy hair!)
Tone and vigor for the body’s tissues
Nourishment for the whole body
Need help finding out what oil is best for you or questions on massage techniques? Get a hold of me and we can discuss all the things!