There's a book called Yoga Anatomy, by Leslie Kaminoff. Let me tell you about it...
Originally when I purchased this book and attempted to read it, I was pretty new to yoga and anatomy. Because of this, it was actually difficult for me to follow along. Since taking a college anatomy course I find the book absolutely necessary in my yoga studies. I especially love how the writer ties the concept of anatomy to the foundation of yoga philosophy. I'm not quite through with the book yet, so I will continue to update you as I go along and finally rate it between 1 and 5. 1 meaning that I think you could live without it and 5 meaning you must take a gander at it.
Here's a nice quote from the chapter about tadasana:
"Nothing lasting can be built on a shaky foundation. This may be why tadasana is considered by many yoga traditions to be the starting point of asana practice..... the foot has evolved over millions of years in a world with no roads or sidewalks. In today's world in which many uneven surfaces have been leveled and paved, it's clearly over-engineered. When the adaptability of the foot is no longer needed for locomotion, the deeper muscles that support the arches inevitably weaken, eventually leaving only the superficial, non-contractile plantar fascia responsible for preventing the total collapse of the foot. This frequently leads to plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. The practice of standing postures in general, and tadasana in particular, is one of the best ways to restore the natural aliveness, strength, and adaptability of the feet. Once your foundation is improved, it's much easier to put the rest of your house in order."
Click on the following button and you'll be able to take a look inside the book yourself and even read a few pages from it on Amazon.com. Enjoy!
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. - Rumi
The Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga
Niyama: personal observances
Asana: seat or posture
Pranayama: breath control, development of energy
Pratyahara: sense withdrawl
Samadhi: absorption, enlightenment
My thoughts are on my mother and grandmother at the moment... the loss of them and the process of recovering from that loss... or rather, the current moment and it's appearance due to that loss.
"The psyche knows how to heal, but it hurts. Sometimes the healing hurts more than the initial injury, but if you can survive it, you'll be stronger, because you've found a larger base. Every commitment is a narrowing and when that commitment fails, you have to get back to a larger base and have the strength to hold to it."
I read that yesterday and it made me think of all that has happened since losing the two women who played the largest roles in my life. It made me wonder about this "larger base". What does "larger base" mean? Can it be a place? Does tragedy result in strength? Is it possible that all is going to be okay?
I sat with those thoughts a bit.... contemplating whether Cusco was supposed to be a part of that "larger base" or not. Contemplating whether or not I am doing the right thing... settling here, breathing normally again, pausing my adventures around the world.
Joseph Campbell once wrote:
"Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called "the love of your fate." Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, "this is what I need." It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment - not discouragement - you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.
Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You'll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes."
This day, four years ago, was the day my mother was in a car accident that eventually took her life and soul out of this world. She took her final breath, on her own, in literally about 10 more minutes, 3:31 pm, four years ago. It feels so crazy to write that. And it feels even crazier that I am able to breathe right now. For so many years this day has come around and I have found myself unable to breathe, unable to sit still, unable to look at anything beautiful without crying, unable to feel loved.
But, this year is different. I am still sad. I still have this tension in my chest, like tears welling up that need to seep from my eyes eventually, but it's not so painful. What I find the most amazing is the journey to this point. The tears shed, the adventures, the letting go, emotionally, physically, etc. The base finally forming like strong steady stone beneath my feet instead of like an ocean of tears.
The yogi principle of non-attachment has been my mantra for as long as I can remember. This concept that everything is temporary. Nothing lasts. Death is inevitable. However, of course, when something or someone is snatched from you, as a human, it is a natural reaction to grasp at it a little tighter and to crave its presence. It's that craving though that causes the suffering. It's the suffering that causes the numbness that sometimes cynically follows. And yet, somehow, there's supposedly a balance that can evolve from the tragedies. One can find gratitude in all the temporary.
I think I've finally reached that point where I am able to feel gratitude for the tragedies, and love for the experiences, for the results.
Because my mother lost her life like she did, when she did... because my 8 year relationship ended suddenly and without warning a couple months later, because I lost all the family I felt I really had since most had been non-participatory in my life... because of the depression and sadness... I was able to leave the country and end up here.
I am now here. Present. Awake. Open-Hearted.
And to be honest, there's nowhere else I'd rather be. I feel very lucky. I feel very blessed. I feel very strong. I feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair and I simply desire nothing more than another June 25th. Another memory. Another breath. Another day.
The dark night of the soul
comes just before revelation.
When everything is lost,
and all seems darkness,
then comes the new life
and all that is needed.
A spirit that lives in this world
and does not wear the shirt of love,
such an existence is a deep disgrace.
Be foolishly in love,
because love is all there is.
There is no way into presence
except through a love exchange.
If someone asks, But what is love?
answer, Dissolving the will.
True freedom comes to those
who have escaped the questions
of freewill and fate.
Love is an emperor.
The two worlds play across him.
He barely notices their tumbling game.
Love and lover live in eternity.
Other desires are substitutes
for that way of being.
How long do you lay embracing a corpse?
Love rather the soul, which cannot be held.
Anything born in spring dies in the fall,
but love is not seasonal.
With wine pressed from grapes,
expect a hangover.
But this love path has no expectations.
You are uneasy riding the body?
Dismount. Travel lighter.
Wings will be given.
Be clear like a mirror
Be clean of pictures and the worry
that comes with images.
Gaze into what is not ashamed
or afraid of any truth.
Contain all human faces in your own
without any judgement of them.
Be pure emptiness.
What is inside that? you ask.
Silence is all I can say.
Lovers have some secrets
that they keep.
“Isn’t it time
to turn your heart
into a temple of fire?”
There is an aloneness that is not loneliness, and not despair, and western medicine hasn’t got a clue. It is something like a profound closeness with your own being, an intimacy with the quiet passing of things, friendship with the broken and the transient within and without. While you quietly grieve over yesterday’s dreams of tomorrows that never came, you hold today so close in your arms. You are the mother of today.
There is a fragility that is not weakness. An exquisite sensitivity to the sad majesty of this ordinary world, a vulnerable openness that has nothing to do with how much money you have made, how you have succeeded or failed in your quest for perfection, or how beautiful or immune to infection your body is, but something to do with the tenderness with which you are willing to touch the broken parts of the world, the depths of aloneness to which you are willing to plunge.
There is an exquisite melancholy that is not depression, contains no pathology, for it contains no self at all. It is as if the heart is broken open and cannot be closed again, ever. Like everything is made of the finest crystal and could shatter at any moment. The sun could burn up without warning, the breath could seize up, a loved one could pass away quietly in your arms. That tiny bird on the tree over there is made of finely woven thread. The neglected pool of water by the supermarket door has infinite depths but no surface, no surface. The moon takes on the quality of a reflection of a reflection in a dream, and everything is so close. You can touch the horizon, whisper to galaxies.
This melancholy, sometimes it arrives unexpectedly in the middle of the night, when you cannot sleep and the moonlight is casting tender shadows on your forearm, or it comes sometimes as you walk through the forest with your dog (you love how he waddles now that he’s getting old, your little companion) and you remember what it is like to be free, or at least alive; or it comes unexpectedly at the dinner table with friends, with delight at … the salt, yes, delight that the salt could exist at all, that there is a world with salt and food and friends, and the possibility of meeting.
Do not medicate away this melancholy. Go deeper into it. It contains information, important information, and longs to release its healing energies. No, they won’t understand you, they will call you depressed, self-indulgent, mad, but you will smile, for you are like the daffodil, and you never wanted to be understood. Your being is too vast to be understood. You will take this imperfect life over no life at all, you will take this broken world blasted through with gratitude over a perfect world half-touched or half-remembered, and the judgements of others will be a small price to pay for never being able to turn away.
Running naked through the streets, throwing off the last of your clothes, you will laugh as they come to lock you up. You are free! You are free! And this beautiful melancholy will keep you from ever closing your heart!
- Jeff Foster
“All things are in process, rising and returning. Plants come to blossom, but only to return to the root. Returning to the root is like seeking tranquility. Seeking tranquility is like moving toward destiny. To move toward destiny is like eternity. To know eternity is enlightenment, and not to recognize eternity brings disorder and evil. Knowing eternity makes one comprehensive; comprehension makes one broadminded; breadth of vision brings nobility; nobility is like heaven.” ~ Lao-tse
I had a cat named Oscar that recently died (named after one of my most favorite authors and poets, Mr. Oscar Wilde.) He was my first cat and I loved him. I arrived in Peru a week ago with the intention of returning to the states soon to see my pets and family. It had been so long since I had been home, so the idea of holding my super soft cat had often brought a smile to my face. However, my step-father contacted me a few days ago and informed me gently that Oscar had died in his sleep. Oscar was six years old. Maine Coon cats are ‘supposed’ to live to 20, so this was a shock to me. And so I cried. I spent a whole evening crying and looking through pictures and videos of him. I felt sadness that I would never hold him like a baby in my arms again or pet him in the morning as he woke me up with kisses.
After a period of time I took a deep breath, put the pictures aside, laid out my yoga mat and forced myself to practice surya namaskara. I was in downward dog, taking deep breaths, when my heart opened and a smile came to my face. I smiled because I had loved. I smiled because he had existed. I let go of the sadness and I embraced the love. I felt blessed… blessed that he had been in my life and that I had all those moments with him… and blessed that I experienced such sadness over the loss of him. I experienced true loving feelings. It’s amazing how yoga opens the energy channels of our body. How it can guide you to the answers to that you have long pondered. How it can bring you peace when you need it the most.
I have had the blessed experience of losing family/animals/jobs/friends/lovers in my life. I say ‘blessed’ because without these experiences I believe I would still be asleep. I would continue to take advantage of the time I have with people that I love, but instead I now feel more aware, awake and appreciative of the people and moments in my life. I have developed a living understanding of the temporariness of everything and everyone in my life. I have come to learn that every second is precious. Every moment is a treasure to be loved and cherished… and let go of. I’ve learned that when the person, animal, lover, thing departs (as all things will inevitably do), that it’s okay… that the love will live on.
“For that which is born, death is certain, and for that which is dead, birth is certain. You should not grieve over the unavoidable… The Supreme Self which dwells in all bodies can never be slain… Weapons cut it not; fire burns it not; water wets it not; the wind does not wither it. Eternal, universal, unchanging, immovable, the Self is the same forever… Dwelling in all bodies, the Self can never be slain. Therefore you should not grieve for any creature.” ~ Bhagavad Gita
We will all inevitably experience loss in our life. Pain. Misery. Sadness. Heartache. It’s these feelings and experiences that make us human. We have hearts and we tend to love so much! And we all struggle some. When I held my grandmother's hand as she left this world I felt like a part of me had died. I didn’t quite grasp the concept of the temporariness of everything though. So, when I lost my mom I struggled! I thought I had more time! I did! I floundered and felt so much loss. Overwhelming sadness. And it took me a long time and many yoga poses and moments of solitude and mistakes made and countries seen, to cope with the loss of them both… But now, looking back on it all, I would not change a thing. I am more alive because of these losses. I am more open-hearted. I love and I love hard. And now that Oscar is no longer here, I am still okay because I loved him fully. I loved him truly. And I have no regrets.
A long while ago, during the loss of my mother, I began reading Nietzsche… and it was Nietzsche that sort of did it for me. At a certain moment in Nietzsche’s life, the idea came to him of what he called “the love of your fate.” He teaches that whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, “This is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but you should go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment – not discouragement – you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life.
Nietzsche also says that then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.
Recently I’ve been speaking with a very dear friend of mine about a friend of hers that is experiencing the inevitable death of her beloved father. To this friend and anyone else experiencing loss, I want you to know that it’s going to be okay. You will recover and the strength that you need will be there for you. Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” Keep loving! Keep smiling! Embrace the moments you have left with the ones you love… and let them go… because they are not really gone… they will live on in your heart and memories and smiles and tears. And when he/she finally does pass… It will at first feel so new and all you’ll see is the empty space, but that is not how it is in the landscape of the heart. There, there is no empty space and he still laughs and grapples with ideas and plans and nods wisely with each of us in turn. And you can continue to live proud that you knew him, loved him and cherished him until the very end.
I just want to say to her and anyone else experiencing loss or the feeling of overwhelming sadness that I hope that my experiences and studies help you to handle loss in your life a little better and to please know that you are not alone. In short, love the moment, the experience, the happiness and sadness… you will come out of this stronger than you ever thought possible.
While women are still the majority in yoga classes, there's a strong movement of men not only trying yoga, but striving both on and off the mat. Men benefit just as much from a regular yoga routine as women. Here's how:
Yoga alleviates pain and injury
Most men come to yoga with injuries and pain, particularly in the back, knees and joints. Yoga uses controlled movements, expert alignment, biomechanics and breath to open your body efficiently while minimizing the risk of injury.
Safety and alignment are the absolute first priorities in yoga. Yoga demands that you do not push beyond what you are capable of doing safely. Clear physical landmarks and attention to the breath prevent you from pushing past your limits. There's always a variation or modification to keep you safe while still progressing and challenging yourself. Within the first month of a regular yoga routine, you will alleviate your pain and injuries – beyond that, yoga will help take your health to a whole new level.
Yoga keeps your body fit, flexible and strong
Many men say, “I'm not flexible enough to do yoga.” That is like saying, “I'm not strong enough to lift weights.” The poses are powerful and specifically designed to open and strengthen your body efficiently. Yoga will make you more flexible, light and in many ways stronger than any other exercise – without wrecking your body! With patience and steady practice, you will become more open than you've ever imagined.
The right combination of strength and mobility is key, whether you're a professional athlete or just trying to age gracefully. You will tone and strengthen muscles that you didn't know you had. The small muscles in your back that have been deteriorating from that desk job will be getting a long-awaited wake-up call. With a commitment to yoga, you will be a lean, mobile, strong and physically fit yoga machine.
Yoga will provide the fun challenge you crave
Yoga is more than just sitting around, humming and talking about your feelings. As a former collegiate wrestler, I can honestly say that some yoga classes are more challenging than any workout I've ever done. It will be humbling at times, but worth it. You will learn how to challenge yourself without being competitive. Competition will result in injury. Most men come from a strong athletic or business-minded background, where competition is fierce. Yoga teaches you to challenge yourself intelligently and completely without being overly aggressive. Learning new poses and noticing real progress is addicting! The light-hearted, compassionate attitude in yoga will help you to not take yourself too seriously, even while you're sweating it out.
Yoga will help improve diet, sleep and overall health
Once you're feeling the physical benefits of your yoga regimen, you naturally begin to shift your diet and sleeping patterns. You will no longer want to eat a pint of ice cream or stay out late on a weeknight knowing you're doing these healthy things for yourself. During yoga, you will notice your mind is so focused on what you're doing that it is impossible to think about your job, bills or anything else. You find yourself fully in the moment, and that complete focus puts your mind at ease. Afterward, you will feel grounded and relaxed. The combination of your body and mind feeling fantastic is a recipe for practical, healthy lifestyle changes.
Yoga allows you to do the things you love more efficiently and for longer.
The whole point of yoga is to live your life to the fullest. Whether you love to run, fish, golf, play basketball, travel or play with your kids without hurting yourself – yoga will help you do the things you love better and longer. While the yoga poses are fun and a strong tool, they're not the point. What matters is that when you feel great, you are able to truly savor life.
Yoga improves your performance and relieves stress
In the trenches of the workplace, sports arena, family reunions and even the grocery store, you will face many challenges. Yoga trains your mind to be grounded and calm, especially while in the fire of stress. Why would anyone want to put themselves in a challenging yoga pose, hold it and be asked to stay calm and breathe deeply? Because on the battlefield of life, you will be challenged far more than you will on your yoga mat. However, by practicing to stay grounded in very uncomfortable situations, physically and otherwise, you train yourself to be at your best when it matters most.
Yoga is the fountain of youth
Between all the physical, mental and overall health benefits, yoga will make you feel better and younger than you could have ever imagined. This only happens after you commit to a regular yoga routine. Anything worth doing will take patience and time. Yoga communities consist of the young and old alike who want to better themselves and live more vibrantly. You become the company you keep. When you surround yourself with people who willfully open their bodies and minds, you become more youthful and open to trying new things.
*This post originally appeared on USNews.com
In order to take flight, first develop the root.
Lightness is cultivated from grounding. Start here. With a number of opportunities to establish roots in the practice, when learning to ground, move the energy downward through the limbs. The rebounding energy, in turn, surges upward, allowing the subtle channels of the body to flow and energize, arising first from a place of stability.
Look in nature. The tallest trees in the world, the redwoods, have a vast intricate network of roots supporting their skyward stretch. I like to think of it the same way in practice. Whenever my hands or feet are touching the floor I consciously ground my awareness and energy down toward the earth. This is where I gather my strength. It’s an offering.
If you've taken my class before I often say while your hands or feet are pressing into the mat, "Stop... look at your hands... look at your feet. These are your roots. Spread your fingers wide. Ground down into the earth at all four points... these are your roots and you are a strong, yet flexible tree." Do you remember me saying this?
I've been studying Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois's books and Youtube videos about Ashtanga Yoga over the past two weeks... preparing for my course next week. Currently I am reading, "Yoga Mala". Quite possibly, one of my favorite yoga books thus far.
Primary Series, among other things, is designed in a manner to ground and center, attaining an intimate relationship with our bodies. Starting from the gross level of awareness, then through time and practice, slowly, moving upward into the subtle reaches. It’s intelligently designed. Often I feel gathering strength originates from focus and awareness. Even if it hasn’t physically manifested yet, it doesn’t matter. We are working the most challenging muscle of all in between the ears. If we work with internal guidance the outward manifestation will start to form. It really isn’t the goal, think of it more as the byproduct of consistent, devotional practice. Practice is the goal. Then we taste the true experience.
Grounding doesn’t always correlate into working with the downward flow of the body, even though this is an important step. It is also about fully inhabiting the body from root to tip. Every inch, every layer, ALIVE. Every part of our bodies integrated with the greater whole. This doesn’t mean tensing, grasping or holding. This simply means awakening every cell of the body through the breath. If we can’t feel it, we can’t transform it. Equally stated, we can’t let it go either. Truly, what we are aligning to is the conscious awakening of the parts of ourselves that lie dormant or inert. We already encompass everything. Think of it as an excavation. Some may have to dig deeper than others, however in the larger of scope of things it doesn’t matter. Our body, our lesson.
There’s a pulsation. Feel it. Through the breath our sensitivity toward this pulsation arises as we channel the energy. Grace begins to take form. Join with it. It onsets by inherently listening, feeling the natural flow of the body emanating from the center, radiating outward. This too is grounding. The center is the area of Mula bandha up toward Uddhiya bandha. The entire area. Encompass this area. Even if it feels dead, it doesn’t matter, send your awareness there. Like I said, before it initiates in the mind, then in time, the body follows. We are creators, it takes consistent effort and patience. The refinement of the bandhas happen over a duration of continual practice. Don’t get too wrapped up into it if it doesn’t make sense, because it’s still a mystery, even to me. All I know is connecting toward center brings the energy down into the body where the intelligence resides. Ever had a gut feeling? It never lies. Does it?
“Start by doing what is necessary;
then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
As cliché as it sounds, the power is within. I like to say, in an Ashtanga yoga practice, it’s about having an in-body experience. We begin with what is tangible, and accessible, our bodies, and often before we have considered entering into daily practice we haven’t become intimately connected with what houses our souls. I remember when I first began my yoga practice at Devi Yoga in Sedona, AZ... a primarily Ashtanga yoga studio; I was amazed at what took place as I settled into the body. Through the power of the breath and the conscious connection centered on each movement the synergy created was a revelation. Ah-ha. The gateway to greater liberation is through the body revitalized by conscious breath. Of course there isn’t only one way to freedom. However, from this realization the power of practice started to unfold. Layer upon layer we lighten up, whether it manifests in our body, or better yet, in our hearts and minds, never forgetting the added element bringing in a sense of discovery and curiosity in the process.
Lightening up isn’t only about fancy entries and exists out of postures. It entails bringing a sense of devotional wonder into our hearts through the experience of yoga. Each conscious step we take to dive inside through this physically demanding practice will begin to shed the unnecessary. What holds us down, what blocks our light, through observation comes clarity. “Mind medicine,” as Guruji would say.
“We don’t use the body to get into the posture we use the posture to get into the body.”
– Bernie Clark
Yesterday, my friend Daniela and I went exploring and managed to climb 1008 stairs to the very top of the Chamundi Hill here in Mysore, India… all in order to see a temple. 1008 steps people! I think that’s the most stairs I’ve ever climbed in one attempt and I am totally feeling it today in my calves. Lucky for me, today’s blog topic is abhyanga (pronounced ah-bee-yawn-ga), which just so happens to be the perfect solution for my sore muscles.
Over the past few days we’ve some spent time exploring the importance of the Ayurvedic practice dinacharya (daily routine), as well as the benefits of jala neti. Today, we are going to break down the practice of anhyanga, which is one of the principle actions within a strong and healthy dinacharya, and we are going to answer the following questions:
Abhyanga – What is abhyanga?
Abhyanga is the anointing of the body with oil. Often this oil is chosen specifically for your particular dosha or condition while keeping the current season in mind. The oil is usually warm and is massaged into the entire body before bathing.
It is believed that the effects of abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. From my experience, I completely agree. Like the experience of being loved, abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth. There is no greater expression of self-love than lovingly anointing ourselves from head to toe with warm oil. Doing so allows the oil/love to pass through minute channels in the body and to penetrate deep layers of our bodily tissue.
Abhyanga — the Ayurvedic oil massage — is an integral part of the daily routine recommended by this healing system for overall health and well-being. Traditional ayurvedic texts wax eloquent on the benefits. Here's what one says:
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age”. ~ Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89 - (One of the Great ancient texts of Ayurveda
Benefits – What are the benefits of Abhyanga?
"By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age." ~ Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
Abhyanga provides the means for trans-dermal absorption of the healing qualities of the material used in the massage, and it helps the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, perform its diverse functions efficiently, whether it is allowing toxins to be released from the body or nourishment to be absorbed by the tissues. It is like oiling the engine of your car — if you do it regularly, your engine will be in peak condition, and give you years and years of trouble-free performance.
Oils – Which oils should I use?
Oils used can vary depending on the season and the individual’s constitution (prakrti) but commonly used oils include sesame, coconut, sunflower, mustard and almond. The seasons change and therefore if we are to live in harmony with the seasons, we must change as well. For example, during the winter, you may want to use a warming oil such as sesame oil which is particularly helpful for the cooler, lighter vata dosha. However, being that pitta is already a fiery dosha, you may want to balance it out during the winter by using sunflower oil, opposed to the heating sesame oil or the cooling coconut oil. No matter which oil you are using, attempt to find organic, cold-pressed oils as they are better for you opposed to regular cooking oils.
If you would like to learn what your dosha is and/or receive a recommendation of an oil for your abhyanga, feel free to look over my Ayurvedic Services and then contact me. I’m happy to help!
Sesame Oil: If you choose sesame oil, look for cold-pressed, chemical-free organic sesame oil for the best results from your massage therapy. Sesame oil contains antioxidant properties, and is helpful in protecting the skin from free radical damage. It is considered highly nourishing for the physiology and has heating properties.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil has keshya properties -- that is, it improves hair quality. In Southern India, women apply coconut oil to their hair every day – which gives them long, lustrous locks. Applying it to the body results in a cooling effect.
Sunflower Oil: Sunflower oil is basically a neutral oil which is good for every dosha at some point throughout the seasons. It can be mixed with sesame oil to lessen the heating properties of that oil or it can be added to coconut oil to increase the heating properties of that particular oil. Sunflower oil also has a natural anti-bacterial property which makes it great for infection prone skin.
• Vata Dosha: Sesame oil or sunflower oil
• Pitta Dosha: Coconut oil or sunflower oil
• Kapha Dosha: Sunflower oil
Routine – What are the steps of an abhyanga routine?
The ayurvedic massage is traditionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower to facilitate the release of toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night.
Enjoy the feeling of having nourished your body, mind, and spirit and carry that with you throughout your day. Daily abhyanga is generally followed by yoga or gentle stretching exercises and meditation.
Today I slathered myself in coconut oil and instead of showering it off, I left it on the entire day and it felt glorious! Take a look at my makeshift abhyanga station. I boiled some water and then turned off the heat. Instead of placing the plastic bottle of organic coconut oil into the boiling water, I placed some of the oil in a small metal bowl and then kept the bowl afloat with a large spoon. After a short period of time I dipped my finger into the oil to confirm that it was warm and then used a small spoon to repeatedly lift some of it out to place on my palm. I slathered it into my hair, my face (which I washed off at the end), my ears and joints, my body and feet. It was an amazing and super nourishing morning. I have felt so calm and peaceful all day. I hope you enjoy abhyanga as much as I do. You may not get to do it everyday, but trust me, just a few times a week makes such a difference in your overall well-being and health. Enjoy!
Oh! It's especially helpful before your yoga practice because it lubricates the joints, allowing you to sit in lotus more comfortably for example. Shower before the yoga though or you'll slip all over your mat!
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley