Living Ayurveda: Abhyanga

It's been about a month and a half since I started this Ayurvedic journey, and I've been doing pretty good. The diet is becoming more and more natural, and I'm not stressing over what I can't eat. I'm not craving coffee anymore, and when I do have it, I rarely finish a full cup.

I've had a few days where I felt light-headed, but Jessie says to make sure I'm drinking plenty of water before bed. She also mentioned that the effects of Ayurveda don't happen overnight- that all the work I am doing now, will actually kick in in a few months time. She says my body is getting stronger and changing, so this could also be a reason for the light-headedness. 

A now for the good stuff. I went for my Abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage) the other night. Oh man, was it worth the wait. First of all, here's what Abhyanga is:

Abhyanga is a gentle, full body cleansing massage that involves touch, warm oils and herbs to improve the overall wellbeing of a person. Utilizing techniques based on traditional Ayurvedic principles of the Doshas – Vata, Pitta, Kapha – the massage therapist selects a natural oil specific to the current season and each person’s constitution. Abhyanga Massage addresses imbalances within the body and works to bring a person’s Dosha back into its original state.
— Jessie Malacarne, Ayurvedic Therapist & Doula

Daily Abhyanga

When stimulated through therapeutic touch or massage, the skin releases a pharmacy of healing chemicals that have health-promoting effects on the physiology. In addition to feeling good, regular massage and loving touch detoxifies the body’s tissues, increases circulation, calms the mind, and enhances immune function.

Giving yourself a daily self-abhy with aromatherapy massage oils is a deeply healing and deeply enjoyable ayurvedic practice that activates the body’s inner pharmacy and slows the aging process.
— Chopra Center for Wellbeing

Benefits of Abhyanga massage:

Improvements to quality of sleep

Balances the nervous system

Eliminates toxins

Increases energy

Boosts the immune system

Tones skin and lowers blood pressure

Slows down the aging process by regenerating tissue

Reduces joint pain and increases flexibility

Relaxes muscles

Cleansing for the lymphatic system

Reduces fatty tissues

Enhances fertility

Nourishes the mind

Builds strength and promotes creativity

Eases stress-related problems

A wonderful way to heal after birth and helps to increase the mother’s milk supply

As I lay there, Jessie explained a bit about the technique, and the oils that she was using. She used mostly circular motions, and some up and down movement, but always outward from the limbs to make sure toxins were being released. Jessie used sesame oil on my body to balance Vata and Kapha. Rose oil was placed on my head to balance Pitta. Since the weather in Toronto that night was close to zero, she steered clear of coconut oil since it has a cooling effect. If she had used it, it may have actually caused me to develop a cold. 

After the hour was up, I just laid on the massage bed for an extra few minutes, letting the experience absorb.  I was advised to take it easy for the rest of the night, and to make sure I had something warm when I got home. 

I took the greyhound from Toronto back home to the country. The long ride gave me a chance to unwind even more. I had a cup of tea when I got home, and was in bed by midnight. 

I slept like a log... a straight 10 hours of deep sleep. It was divine!

For the next while, I'll be keeping up with my Vata-Pitta pacifying diet. I'll go back to see Jessie in a couple of months for a follow up... and another massage of course.

Shop Dog

Benny and his new friend, the papier maché boston terrier

Benny and his new friend, the papier maché boston terrier

watching the passersby  

watching the passersby  

Benny recently spent the day with me over at Camp Ho-Ba-Chee, while we prepared for a photo shoot for an upcoming project. He's used to being with Sonny all day, but since he's my trusty sidekick, I figured it's about time he tag along so he could explore his new neighbourhood. He did just fine, and greeted everyone that came in with warm hugs and a sniff-down to see if they had any food for him. 

I got a couple of shots of him looking pretty among all the vintage fare, and just had to share them with you. 

Happy Friday!