One of the greatest ways to positively impact our health is the simple, easy-to-do act of self-massage. Often overlooked, self-massage (or “abhyanga” in Ayurveda) is a cheap, effective method to promote healthy immune function, soothe frazzled nerves, relax aching muscles, and moisturize and protect the skin, our largest organ and immune system’s first line of defense. Performed daily, abhyanga can offer incredible benefits. By stimulating lymphatic drainage, massage can keep our immunity boosted without need for recourse to supplements or medications; it can also encourage better circulation and ease inflammation in stiff muscles or joints. The traditional Indian method of self-massage encourages a gentle, daily application of oil (always use natural vegetable or nut oils- the skin acts like a mouth, and can absorb harmful chemicals found in petroleum-sourced oils like mineral or “baby” oil) over the whole body, with special attention paid to the heart, feet and scalp. Even a simple rub with a good quality oil on the heart and torso can be amazing- try massaging some oil on an anxious or hyper child and just watch how they calm down; rubbing a bit of oil in a circular motion on the tummy can ease a colicky baby’s digestive discomfort, and help a stressed child fall asleep. At my house we have always put almond oil on our children after they get out of the tub, and now my youngest will ask for a massage whenever she gets nervous or feels run-down. It’s such a simple act, but a loving touch is deeply healing.
So, try it out for yourself. It’s these simple things that can make the biggest difference in our own healing.