Terri & I were recently invited to an Essential Oil Winter Blending Workshop at Shine Yoga by our friend, Julie Melton (Yoga Instructor RYT 500) .
Terri and I aren’t experienced in yoga whatsoever, but have heard so many great things about it and thought this would be a great opportunity to get a peek inside the yoga world.
Self-Massage with Essential Oils: An Ayurvedic Medicine
Julie and her friend Stacy Mallow (500hr E-RYT, Ayuryoga instructor with Complete Yoga & Ayurveda) taught this special class.
They included the basics of Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga) and the techniques for protecting skin in the winter season, including abhyanga.
The Wikipedia definition of Ayurveda is this: “a system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. Globalized and modernized practices derived from Ayurvedic traditions are a type of complementary or alternative medicine. In the Western world, Ayurveda therapies and practices (which are manyfold) have been integrated in general wellness applications and as well in some cases in medical use.“
Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic massage style to soothe the nervous system, promote better circulation during the colder months, rejuvenate and restore the skin, and provide relief from symptoms like soreness, tension, or common aches and pains.
Here is Wikipedia’s definition of Abhyanga: “a form of Ayurvedic medicine that involves massage of the body with large amounts of warm oil. The oil is often pre-medicated with herbs for specific conditions. Abhyanga can be done as part of the steps of panchakarma therapy, especially in the first stage: Purva Karma (pre-treatment), or as its own therapy. It is often followed by svedana therapy, a warm bath, yoga or laying out in the sun. Many times abhyanga is performed by two or more massage therapists working in sync but it can also be done by oneself. Oils used can vary depending on the season and the individuals constitution (prakrti) but commonly used oils include sesame, coconut, sunflower, mustard and almond. In addition to the oil abhyanga massage differs from many Western massage techniques in that it is not very deep.“
Our class was given an overview on Ayurveda and Abhyanga.
“Abhyanga is a healing and enjoyable Ayurvedic practice that activates the body’s inner pharmacy and slows the aging process. It is an anointing of the body with warm oil often infused with healing herbs and balancing essential oils. This regular self-massage and loving touch detoxifies the body’s tissues, increases circulation, calms the mind, and enhances immune function.”
Here are step-by-step Abhyanga instructions from Julie and Stacy:
- Abhyanga is best performed daily before bathing or showering.
- Place a towel on the floor of a warm room.
- Begin by running some hot water over the bottle to gently warm the oil.
- Vigorously massage your arms, using a circular motion at the shoulders and elbows, and back-and-forth motions on the upper arms and forearms.
- When massaging your chest and stomach, use a gentle circular motion and a straight up-and-down motion over the breastbone.
- After applying a bit of oil to both hands, gently reach around to the back and spine and massage them as well as you can without straining.
- Vigorously massage your legs as you did your arms, using circular motions at the ankles and knees, back-and-forth motions on the long parts.
- After massaging your legs, spend extra time on your feet. Using the open part of your hand, massage vigorously back and forth over the soles of the feet. Be careful not to slip!
- After the warm oil is massaged into the skin, it is best to sit for 15 to 20 minutes in a warm room to allow the oil to penetrate deep into the tissues.
- After letting the oil soak in, shower or bathe with gentle soap. Keeping a thin, almost imperceptible film of oil on the body is considered very beneficial for toning the skin and warming the muscles throughout the day.
After hearing the steps of the Abhyanga practice, each class participant had the opportunity to custom blend a base oil with some yummy essential oils that were carefully chosen for their various qualities.
It is very important to blend the oils using the below formula in order to prevent any type of toxicity from the oils.
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- 1/4 cup carrier oil – Sesame oil is considered the ‘king of oils’ and is inherently warming
- We used Banyan Organic Refined Sesame Oil – a favorite of the instructors
- 2 drops of the ‘top note’ oils –
- Lemongrass (supports healthy digestion, purifies and tones skin and nails, repels insects)
- Eucalyptus (revitalizes skin, promotes, vitality, soothes tired, sore muscles, cleanses surfaces)
- We used Majestic Pure Therapeutic Grade Lemongrass & Eucalyptus Essential Oils
- 10 drops of the ‘middle note’ oils –
- Lavender (calming, relaxing, soothes occasional skin irritations, eases feelings of tension)
- Rosemary (supports healthy digestion, supports healthy respiratory function, helps reduce occasional fatigue)
- We used Majestic Pure Therapeutic Grade Lavender Essential Oil & Radha Rosemary Oil
- 1 drop of the ‘base note’ oils –
- Peppermint (promotes healthy respiratory function & clear breathing, alleviates stomach upset, used for oral health)
- We used Majestic Pure Therapeutic Grade Peppermint Essential Oil
Remember to go light rather than heavy with the essential oil blending. Less is more! You want to use the least amount to encourage your body to use its own resources to promote healing and health.
The fun part was getting our jars and adding our oils.
We could choose our top notes and middle notes based on our scent preferences.
We each were able to blend two jars of oils to bring home with us.
Not only can these blended oils be good for slowing the aging process, detoxifying your body’s tissues, increasing your circulation, calming your mind, and enhancing your immune function, but it can also make a great substitute for your everyday lotion.
Ayurveda and specifically Abhyanga is a practice that, for me, takes some time to absorb.
BUT the idea of using something natural and clean to rid your body of ailments and to enhance your well-being is very alluring.
Julie ended our class with a meditation.
In her words, “Choose a word describing the energetic quality of the oil you blended; Like uplifting, peaceful, calming, balanced, happy. Rub oil into your palms and hold them in a prayer pose in front of your heart to breathe in the aroma of the oil. Inhale represents the phrase “I am”. Exhale becomes your quality. The aroma of the oil is a tangible reminder to allow that quality to flow in and through you.”
Julie and Stacy are doing another workshop Sunday, 1/31/16 from 2:30 to 4pm. You can contact Julie for more info! firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get more information about Ayurveda, Abhyanga or anything yoga related, contact Julie Melton at Shine Yoga or Stacy Mallow at Complete Yoga & Ayurveda.
Do you practice Ayurveda and Abhyanga?
If so, tell us in the comments how it has changed your life.
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