Abhyanga - Ayurvedic Self Care for Fall/Winter
In Ayurveda, Fall is a time of year associated with Vata dosha, and particularly the Wind element. It's a time of transition, which can feel hectic as we begin to move into the colder seasons. It's associated with experiences of cold, dry, rough, mobile & erratic. As you pay attention to the changing of the season, you may start to notice some of these sensations. Our hair may become dry and our skin tends to become rough. It can be hard to focus & stay on task, and our body begins to naturally crave more warming, moistening, nourishing foods. To balance increased Vata, we want to look for qualities that subdue it. For example, things that are warm, oily, nourishing, stable, and things that bring about a sense of grounding & routine.
One of my favorite Fall routines is practicing what's known as Abhyanga. It's a daily self-massage with warm oil. It is a really simple practice that can be done right before showering. Use an oil of your choice and apply to the entire body with lightweight and vigorous movement to bring blood flow to the skin and stimulate the lymphatic system. I tend to work from the extremities towards the core to help encourage the movement of lymph. If you have the time, hang out for about 15 minutes to let the oil absorb, then hop in the shower and rinse with warm water. Your skin will feel luxurious! If you don't have the extra time, it's ok, you can just hop in the shower right after you finish.
It can be done with any type of plain oil (sesame oil being the warmest) or you can get creative with herbal infused oils! Each of us is unique, so you will have to discover what works best for you as an individual. I have been using St. John's Wort Oil. St. John's Wort has so many benefits including: protecting the skin, reducing muscular tension & nerve pain, it also speeds and improves wound healing as it brings oxygenated blood to the cells. St. John's wort oil feels like the perfect herbal oil for me when moving into the cold, dark time of year. It is frequently used to aid in symptoms of depression and anxiety. It seems to have all the qualities we are looking for to pacify increased Vata. Plus, St. John's Wort works best when used regularly over an extended period of time, which even further encourages me to create a stable, daily routine! (***St John's Wort is generally safe to use, however, does have some dangerous herb/drug interactions with medications. Please check with your doctor, especially if you are taking prescription medications***)
I hope you explore this simple daily practice and have a lovely Fall!