So when I heard that Abhyanga can influence your restful night in a positive way—along with beautifying your skin—my skin-care obsessed (and moisturized!!) ears perked up. Abhyanga is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that involves body oil and self massage. I had always imagined that it was a very extra ritual done in spas, but Shel Pink, beauty guru and founder of SpaRitual, says that's not the case—you can DIY the whole thing in your own shower... and it'll help you sleep better.
"Abhyanga is a traditional massage technique from the Ayurvedic tradition that's performed by either a trained massage therapist or you can do this massage daily as a self-massage," Pink tells me. "This massage technique is excellent for overall health and wellbeing, helps to reduce anxiety and calm the nerves, improves and deepens sleep, helps increase circulation, improves mental alertness, nourishes the skin and tissues, and allows toxins to be released from the body. A healthy oil used in the massage lubricates the joints, tones skin, and makes it really soft and nourished." Sounds like a whole lotta perks beyond your body's glow.
All you need to do is lather a good quality body oil onto your skin post-toweling off after a shower. Pink recommends doing it in the a.m, because it gets movement going within your body which can impact your circadian rhythm, and then helping you naturally feel more sleepy when it's time for bed. "This self-massage technique releases muscle tension, and calms the central nervous system, allowing the body and mind to relax and allow for a better night’s sleep," she says. Though you could do it at night, too.
"I recommend doing this practice daily in the morning after your shower," says Pink. "As you become more proficient [in the ritual], listen to your body's needs, applying less or more pressure in parts as needed. It gradually becomes a very personalized and intuitive technique, and when you slow down, and give yourself this type of love and TLC, you're better able to tune into what those needs are."
Ready to slather on some body oil in the name of better sleep and skin? Keep scrolling for Pink's instructions for a 5-minute Abhyanga massage.
1. After bathing, warm a quarter-sized amount of the body salve or oil between your hands to release the scent.
2 Starting at the top of your toes, massage the body product into your skin, using the open part of your hand.
3. Working up your body towards your heart, use circular motions at your ankles and knees and long, quick, back and forth strokes on your calves, shins, hamstrings, and thighs.
4. Gently reach around to your buttocks, back, and spine, massaging up and down as well as you can without straining.
5. Massage your stomach and chest using a straight up and down motion over your breastbone and a gentle clockwise circular motion over your abdomen. Return to your thorax region (heart and lungs) and apply an extra clockwise circular motion with a bit of extra pressure.
6. Massage your arms, using a circular motion at your shoulders and elbows, and long, quick up and down strokes on your upper arms and forearms.
7. Massage the front and back of your neck using an open palm to create friction and use your fingers to relieve any extra muscle tension in the neck and shoulder area.
8. Gently massage your face and ears, paying special attention to your temples and behind and under your ears.
9. Allow the body salve to absorb into the skin. Indulge in this daily ritual and reflect on self-love, and voila.
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