meredith carter

fuss-free abhyanga

meredith carter
fuss-free abhyanga

some people love the whole self-care production. i am not one of those people! heating the oil, oil clothes, and oil towels…everyday?! most of us do not need to do all that to reap the many expected and unexpected rewards of this practice. i’ve included instructions for each dosha and some info on GARSHANA or dry skin brushing since the two work in tandem. so this is abhyanga, HACKED but still HELPFUL!

BENEFITS. as you’d imagine, abhyanga helps with a number of SKIN ISSUES — itching, eczema, psoriasis, thin skin, aging and tone. perhaps surprisingly, this practice supports DETOXIFICATION. as you massage the oil in, you moisten and loosen waste products stuck in the extremities so they can be eliminated. also, it nourishes skin but bypasses the GI tract. this is great for people with absorption issues like IBS or Crohn’s. finally, abhyanga greatly reduces vata in terms of INSOMNIA, ANXIETY and NERVOUSNESS. my teacher says, when you do it, you feel ‘held’ all day and this could not be more true. you just feel subtly better inside your invisible, protective force field.

CONTRAINDICATIONS. PREGNANT WOMEN or WOMEN TRYING TO CONCEIVE can do abhyanga but should NEVER USE NEEM oil or any blend with even a trace of neem. if PITTA friends have fever or chills, they should avoid the practice. 

METHOD. skin should be relatively clean when you start. if you’ve been sweating, rinse and dry off. we don’t want to rub waste products back into the body.

i go in rounds — pouring a tbsp or so into my palms, WARMING it by rubbing hands together, then rubbing in. massage along the length of the bones and in circles over joints. AVOID FACE and GENITALS and be careful with UNDERARMS and BIKINI LINE if you’ve just shaved. i’m even cautious about putting it on my chest since i can get oily there from time to time. remember, like increases like and opposites cure, so adding oil to oil will just make MORE OIL! note that SCALP can be tricky since it is so beneficial to oil here but then hair will require washing. up to you…

massage the oil in for a couple minutes, then let it sit on the skin for at least 10, up to 20. you can be moving around or sit on the edge of the bathtub. just be careful not to slip! i don’t do the soles of my feet for this reason but i know some people who love to put it between their toes. while it soaks in, i like to be still and do my MEDITATION, MANTRA or VISUALIZATIONS. when you RINSE in the shower, the warm water will help some oil further penetrate and simultaneously wash the excess away. 

GARSHANA. do garshana on different days than abhyanga, alternating the practices. remember, we do not want to loosen the body's waste products and then rub them back in. when we use a dry skin brush, we should avoid wounds or raw areas, working around them. if the skin is dry and flakey in general, we skip the practice and do abyhanga until dryness subsides. this safely builds the skin first so we don’t strip too much away. know you should replace your dry skin brush every 3 months.  

VATA friends benefit most from abhyanga and can do it EVERYDAY. in general, they should use non-cooking grade pure SESAME OIL from the cosmetic aisle. they could also get an affordable, warming aromatic blend like THIS ONE from R U VED. vata only needs GARSHANA once or twice a week. it should be a light and gentle, not vigorous. they should AVOID THE PRACTICE IN AUTUMN.

PITTA will generally have more oil and moisture in their skin. they don’t need as much abhyanga and can probably get away with doing it 3 to 4 times a week. if they have insomnia, anxiety or skin stuff going on, they can do more. pitta should use COCONUT OIL or a blend like THIS ONE with NEEM for calming and clearing. remember, PREGNANT WOMEN or women who are trying to conceive should NEVER USE NEEM oil or any blend with neem oil. pitta can do gentle GARSHANA 3 to 4 times a week, being sure to rinse of before, if they are noticeably oily or sweaty.  

KAPHA is naturally grounded with such thick moist skin already, so they can get away with doing abhyanga only ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK. they should do invigorating strokes with ALMOND or SUNFLOWER or use THIS ONE with GINGER and EUCALYPTUS. kapha can do vigorous GARSHANA daily.