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Hot Oil Massage in the Winter

These cold months are a perfect time to develop a routine for the ayurvedic practice of Abhyanga – a full body oil massage. A regular practice of giving yourself a full body oil massage is an essential part of yogic health.

Ayurvedic medicine complements and completes yoga and is the traditional healing system of India. As old as yoga (5000 years old!), ayurveda uses the same Sanskrit language as yoga and struggles as well with the translation of certain concepts and attitudes which originated in a very different language, rich and with deep roots. Ayurveda, like yoga, encompasses more than the physical. In Sanskrit, Ayur means “life” and Veda means “science or knowledge.” So ayurveda means science or knowledge of life. Therefore, in ayurveda, good health address all of life – not just the physical organs.

Snehana is the Sanskrit term for massaging herbal oils into the skin. The root of this word highlights a vital aspect of this practice. Sneha means love, and the literal translation of snehana is to love your own body. So as you do this, you really need to feel affection for your own skin and what’s underneath.

Abhyanga is any massage treatment that uses oil, and here I describe how to administer a self oil massage.

Abhyanga is also a Sanskrit word and with ang meaning “movement” and the prefix abhi meaning “into” or “toward”, Abhyanga literally translates as moving into the body. Moving what into the body? Energy, love, prana.

I used to heat up the oil on the stove. But my own yoga teacher showed me an easier way, with some tools easily available from from Bed Bath & Beyond. First I looked for a hot plate for a mug. Turns out an electric candle warmer does the trick. I’d never heard of a candle warmer before, but it’s just the right size. You can check them out here. I got the Valmour brand. Electric power heats the plate and on top I place a Faberware “melting pot. You can check that out here. It’s just the right size and has a pouring spout.

Then all you need is the oil and the time. Check out the link with instructions above.