ayurvedic health practices
ABHYANGA :: SELF OIL MASSAGE
Abhyanga is a luxuriously relaxing full-body warm oil massage practice designed to soothe accumulated stress and remove toxins from the body. Abhyanga is an integral part of the daily routine recommended in Ayurveda for overall health and well-being. Traditional Ayurvedic texts recommend it for its nourishing properties, especially for pacifying certain Vata and Kapha imbalances.
Benefits that can be expected from regular performance of this pleasant daily ritual include:
- Relieving fatigue and increasing levels of stamina through the day
- Increased circulation, especially of the lymphatic system, which generally improves immune functioning
- Calming for the nerves
- Maintaining optimal mobility of the joints
- Increased mental alertness
- Improved elimination
- Softer, smoother skin
- Deeper sleep at night
- Protection from negative emotions such as fear and anxiety
Abhyanga is traditionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower. Vata types use sesame or almond oil, kapha types can use sesame or sunflower oil and pitta types are recommended to use oils such as coconut or sunflower. Click here to find cold-pressed, chemical-free organic base oils provided by Banyan Botanicals. A 16 ounce bottle of organic sesame oil is included in the Scott Blossom/Banyan Botanicals Basic Cleanse Kit.
Herbal Ayurvedic massage oils are also used theraputically for people with deeper imbalances. These oils are infused with Ayurvedic herbs and slow-cooked in brass vessels to improve the potency and penetration of the oils into your skin. Two excellent sources for these specialized oils are Sarada Ayurvedic Remedies and Banyan Botanicals.
This self-massage is very easy and enjoyable. Before you bathe you will apply warmed oil over your entire body. A thin coating is all that it takes. Use long strokes on your limbs and circular strokes on your joints followed by a hot shower and a cold rinse. While you shower do not try to wash the oil off with soap, vegetable oil is a natural skin cleanser and the hot water will wash most of it away leaving your skin with a smooth, soft feeling.
When you dry off pat yourself with your towel rather than wiping the water away to prevent the abhyanga oil from being wiped off. Because there will be a small amount of oil left on the towels it can be helpful to pick an everyday towel to dry off with when you are doing abhyanga. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to your laundry to remove any excess oil that has stuck to your abhyanga towels.
What are the benefits of a cold rinse after a shower?
A cold rinse after a shower stimulates and strengthens the immune and detoxification systems of the body. Energetically, doing a cold rinse “seals” the surface of the body so that the warmth and prana (life force) of the body are conserved and protected from external pathogenic influences such as germs, viruses, cold wind, heat or dampness.
NETI :: NASAL RINSING
Many people today have heard of using a Neti Pot because it works. Neti originates from Ayurvedic medicine and is a form of nasal irrigation that has been used in cultures around the world for centuries to relieve sinus issues. Neti works by improving the action of the tiny hair-like structures called cilia that line the inside of the nasal and sinus cavities. The cilia wave back and forth to clear mucous out of the sinuses. Using a Neti Pot is a much more effective way to clear out mucous, dust, germs, and allergens from the nose than simply blowing your nose.
The beneﬁts of Neti are:
- Relieving congestion, sinus pain, sneezing, and allergies
- Improving respiration by clearing dust, dirt, or allergens from the nasal passages
- Preventing and treating sinus infections and colds
Using a Neti Pot is ideal, but you can using any cup that has a spout like a measuring cup. You can also use a paper cup that can be squeezed to make a “spout” if you are traveling and need a Neti. Fill up your Neti Pot using about 8 oz of body temperature water, ﬁltered water is the best. Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and stir it to dissolve the salt into the water. Avoid using table salt because it has additives that can be irritating to your nose. Now inhale as you lean over the sink, hold your breath in as you place the spout of the Neti Pot in one nostril and tip your head to the opposite side. The water will ﬂow in one side and out the other, then switch sides. To finish, stand up straight and exhale through both nostrils to help drain the saline solution out of your nose.
To make sure all of the saline water has made it out of your nose and sinuses you can move from an upright position to a standing forward bend a few times. If your nose burns or is uncomfortable, it is likely that you used too much or too little salt and you will need to discard the batch of saline solution you have made and start over. Be sure that you are using lukewarm (body temp) water and that the 1/4 tsp of salt dissolves completely. The finished product should taste slightly salty. If you find Neti Pot tricky at first you will get better with practice and the reward for your health is well worth the effort.
Common Sense Precaution
It is not necessary or advisable to use the Neti pot every day unless you are suffering from acute symptoms like cold, sinus infection, or allergies. Otherwise just use it as needed. If you do use the Neti pot on a daily basis, we recommend following this nasal irrigation with the practice of Nasya to keep the sinuses lubricated.
NASYA :: SINUS CLEANSING
Nasya means “nose” in sanskrit and this is the practice of applying a small amount of oil into your nose. Nasya oil can be used every day and has many beneﬁts.
The beneﬁts of Nasya oil are:
- Soothing, lubricating and nourishing the sinus tissues
- Improving ease of breathing through the nose
- Preventing colds and reducing allergies
- Pacifying vata dosha for calming the mind and nervous system, reducing pain from headaches, and improving memory
Sesame oil that is cold-pressed, organic and untoasted is a good, hypo-allergenic choice for Nasya oil. Ayurveda also employs medicated Nasya oils where herbs are infused into the oil to enhance the therapeutic benefit. Click here to learn more about the medicated Nasya oil offered by Banyan Botanicals. This medicated Nasya oil is also included in the Scott Blossom/Banyan Botanicals Deluxe Cleanse Kit.
You can use a medicated Nasya oil or simply place some sesame oil in a one-ounce amber dropper bottle. It is best to do Nasya sitting down or reclining in a chair because it requires that you tip your head backward. After you position yourself tip your head back as you exhale. Holding your breath out, position the dropper about half an inch above your nose and drop 2-5 drops in each nasal passage and inhale. You can ensure that the oil spreads well in your nose by gently tapping your nostril to wick the oil in. Relax for a few moments to allow the oil to absorb. Apply Nasya oil once per day, morning and before bed are the best times but you can use as needed. Using a Neti Pot in the morning before the practice of Nasya can be helpful to clear out any dust or foreign particles located in the sinuses.
“On The Go” Method
The simplest way to do Nasya is to simply place a drop or two of oil on your (clean) little ﬁnger and use it to coat the inside of your nose with the oil.
Prevent contamination of your Nasya oil
Take care not to touch the dropper to your nose and/or wipe off the dropper after use to prevent contaminating your Nasya oil with bacteria or dirt.