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Magic in the Morning

As I shared in my last post, I’ve been working on a new morning routine. And although it’s not set in stone, I’m loving how this change helps feed my soul and set me up for the day ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working on that snooze button, but I’m finding myself waking each morning a little less grouchy and a bit more pleasant. Yes, this certainly depends on how well I slept, which certainly plays into what I’ve ‘consumed’ the previous day, but that’s just it! The more committed I am to this new way of ‘waking up’, the more aligned my actions and intentions are throughout the day to choose to do the things that help me feel healthy, happy and fulfilled.

‘magine?! Positive action leads to positive experience... who'd have thunk?

What is this new morning routine you ask?

Well, 4-5 mornings each week, I’m giving myself a gentle warm oil massage before slipping (in the most carefullest of ways), into a warm bath and then soaking up the stillness of the morning. I usually keep the overhead lights off and a candle glowing on the counter, and then I just float, for 20 minutes or so, and breathe. I don’t think, I don’t talk, I don’t shave or wash, I just float and breathe and slowly let my body and mind wake up.

And it, is, delightful.

Woman soaking in bath

I learned about this practice years ago and certainly have practiced it before, but not consistently. It's called abhyanga, and it’s an ancient Ayurvedic therapy that is as much a treatment for the body as it is for the mind and heart. And thrity minutes gives you plenty of time to indulge in the profound healing this self-care practice holds.

For one, taking some time to gently nourish and massage your skin and muscles is incredibly beneficial and can help support 'issues in your tissues'. Plus, it's deeply calming for your nervous system. I know some mornings when I wake up, my mind is already on high speed even before my feet hit the floor.

Then there are the benefits of softer, smoother and healthier skin, including evenness in colour and tone; it cultivates a serene state of wakefulness in being; it’s anti-ageing because it promotes longevity and deeply nourishes the body, mind and heart; it’s an act of self love; and not to mention, the act of slowly massaging your entire body is a beautiful way to say ‘good morning’, and to show genuine appreciation for all that your body does and is going to move you through in the hours ahead.

Aside from the above mentioned, abhyanga is a practice that pacifies both vata and pitta dosha, while creating coherence with kapha dosha, and the dosha's function and responsibility in the mind-body continuum. (As this blog unfolds, I’ll be sure to define what all of that means).

Now the oil that you use is something to consider because everything that touches your skin gets absorbed into your body. In the colder and drier months of winter, a slightly heavier and more warming oil, like sesame, is a great choice. As winter turns to spring, you might find using a lighter oil like sunflower oil feels better. And then as the summer sun brings its heat, coconut oil is naturally cooling and a good option to choose.

Regardless, you want to make sure that the oil you use is organic, raw and unrefined, again because your body is going to absorb whatever you put on your skin. I love this oil, a Tridoshic Abhyanga Oil, that I purchase from Canadian supplier Sewanti, in BC. It’s a beautiful oil medicated with traditional Ayurvedic herbs that nourishes all three bodily humours, or doshas.

As for how to practice, it’s recommended to warm the oil before you begin. You can use a small bowl of hot water and then stand your bottle of oil up in it for a few minutes. Then, start with you feet and gradually work your way up to your head. I prefer to sit unrobed, on a towel draped over the tub, and a washable bath mat under my feet.

For the long bones, legs and arms, gently apply the oil up and down the limb, stopping to encircle joints and rough spots (heels, knees, elbows, shoulders, wrists). As you move up your torso, move in larger circles around your abdomen, and as best as you can across your hips and low back. Gently massaging the digestive organs in your abdomen certainly helps with the natural and necessary urges to healthy elimination and bodily function.

Continue up your chest, shoulders and arms, pausing as you need to and wherever it feels nice. Gently massage your throat, your jaw line, up the back of the neck and base of the skull. You can even massage your scalp and pull the oil through your hair.

Follow your intuition. If it feels soothing to linger in one place or avoid another, do that. But don’t rush. Take your time. Remember, this is as much a surface practice as it is a practice of self-compassion, nurturance and love. And then soak in the tub for as long as you can and want to. Ideally, keep the oil on your body for a few hours and don’t soap it off. Have a ‘washing’ bath or shower as need be, but use the abhyanga practice as a healing ritual.

Now as much as this is a beneficial self-care practice, there are some things to consider. Avoid abhyanga :

  • If you are experiencing swollen or painful bumps or masses on your body.

  • On broken skin or infected wounds.

  • If you are experiencing high ama (which is the Ayurvedic term for toxicity and is most often indicated by a thick white coating on the tongue).

  • If you have an acute fever, illness or indigestion, or are experiencing intense physical discomfort.

  • During your menstrual cycle or if you are pregnant.

  • If you have a medical condition that your healthcare practitioner advises you to steer clear of massage treatments.

Lastly, and as with all new therapies, treatments, exercises and dietary practices yo umight explore, it’s always best to consult your healthcare provider for clarification or to answer your questions as they arise.

So what do you think? Is abhyanga something you’d consider including at the start of your day? How else are you practicing self-care and is it taking care of you?

Until next time,


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