Healing Moments

Amita Nathwani

Abyhanga Practice with Amita Nathwani

Scientist, Psychologist, Founder and CEO of Consciousness and Healing Initiative (CHI)

From Integrative Touch, I’m Shay Beider, host of The Conversations on Healing Podcast, and this is Healing Moments. Healing Moments is a segment we’ve created to share moments of healing and wellness that you can incorporate into your everyday life. Today’s Healing Moment is with Amita Nathwani, who will lead us through an Abyhanga practice, which is a practice of self oil massage used in Ayurvedic medicine. Amita demonstrates the fundamentals of this practice on video, so be sure to check out our Integrative Touch YouTube channel so you can follow along. Take a moment, settle in and join Amita for this Healing Moment.

Shay Beider (00:00): From Integrative Touch. I’m Shay Beider, host of the “Conversations on Healing Podcast” and this is “Healing Moments”. “Healing Moments” is a segment we’ve created to share moments of healing and wellness that you can incorporate into your everyday life. Today’s healing moment is with Amita Nathwani who will lead us through an Abhyanga practice. This is a practice of self-oil massage used in Ayurvedic medicine. Amita demonstrates the fundamentals of this practice on video, so be sure to check out our Integrative Touch YouTube channel so you can follow along. Take a moment, settle in and join Amita and I for this wonderful healing moment.

(00:44): Well thank you Amita for being here for this “Healing Moment”, to show us a little bit about Abhyanga self-massage and I would love it if you would tell us and show us most importantly the technique.

Amita Nathwani (01:00): Absolutely. Thank you for joining me for the technique of how to do a Abhyanga. And as we talked about earlier, there are many benefits to doing it and I also always recommend doing this before taking a shower and um, and having um, things handy that will help you in your process. So the first thing I always recommend is always have a towel around. Um, you might want to, after doing your Abhyanga, wait a few minutes. You can lay it on the floor and you can sit, you can even just wrap yourself in the towel, um, if there’s things you want to do, but it is a good time of reflection. So if you want to be able to sit and do a little meditation practice at that time, a nice towel is good to have. Use a towel that you don’t mind that you will get some oil stains on it, um, and put it in the wash with other things that you don’t mind get a little oil on it as well. So keep in mind, uh, I have a dedicated uh, Abhyanga towel here. The second thing you’ll want is oil. So what type of oil to use is dependent upon your constitution. So generally when we do a Abhyanga, we’re actually helping to reduce Vata in the body. That’s generally the concept. However, the sesame oil, which is used for the Vata constitution can be a little heating for Pitta, for those who who have more heat. So in which case you can use coconut oil or almond oil for those who are Kapha in nature, the sesame oil is actually pretty good. It’s hot, it’s heating, um, but it’s a little extra oily. And so in cases like this, what I oftentimes will recommend for Kaphas is if you wanna go with classical route, you can do mustard seed oil. It’s very heating, but it’s also slightly astringent so it won’t keep all those excess oils on the body that Kaphas generally have.

(02:57): So normally we are unclothed during the session and so what I’ll do is I’ll show you the technique of how to do the Abhyanga. It should not take more than five minutes, um, but the rest time and the time you allow it to penetrate the skin will be a little bit longer. Some people like to heat the oil beforehand. It has the best, uh, ability to be able to be absorbed. So take your oil and place them in your hand and you don’t have to do too much, but make sure that you do enough that it covers the skin but simultaneously don’t douce the entire body with it because then that will be excess oil that you’ll be washing off anyway. So I always like to begin with the face and remember as I said, long on the muscles, circular on the joints and that includes the jawbone and the cheekbones and across the forehead, down in the nose area across the upper lip and into the chin.

(04:01): And then you can continue to massage the base in the circular motion, come down to the neck and start to massage. I like to count, count to 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and then you’ll probably need a little bit more oil. Go all the way down the first extremity of the body, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. On the wrist, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 down the hands. And you can pull each of the fingers and we oftentimes will also just circular, circular circle the joints as well while pulling the fingers so we can get maximum circulation going on in the body. There’s also marma points in the body that we focus on and they’re not far away from where, um, the lymph nodes are. So I’ll show you those here in a minute. And then what we’ll do is we’ll move on to the right arm. So circular on the shoulder, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 long on the muscles down the arm.

(05:33): Don’t forget to go five under the arm from the elbow to under the armpit and we can do five there. And then the elbow, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, the top of the arm and then also underneath five there. And then the wrist circular on the joint on the wrist. And you can do both sides of the wrist if want. And in some cases some people even like to use both wrists on top of each other in order to create that circular motion. And then we go down the hand and you can actually go around each one of your joint fingers and pull on that. And this is such a beautiful nice way to also stay in the moment. It’s a great little meditation you can do while you’re doing it and just counting and being present. So next what we wanna do is we wanna be here right above the breast area, the chest area.

(06:31): Um, so you wanna go up and down, circular all the way across here. You can go across the sternum and then move both hands in between down the sternum and around the chest. So for women around the breast area and for men can go all the way around the chest going in an outward fashion and coming in into the center. There are lymph nodes that are located right here and underneath the arms. So be sure to just apply a little extra pressure there. You don’t have to do anything in particular. There isn’t a particular motion, but just applying that pressure, you two will notice that suddenly you’ll have a little more energy. Maybe you’ll be standing up straighter

Shay (07:15): And Amita, would you ordinarily remove jewelry when you’re doing this practice or how do you navigate that?

Amita (07:22): It depends on what kind of jewelry that you like to leave on or take off. If you always have a bracelet on, you can leave it on if you want to. This is something that will be dependent upon your personal preference. Um, I would recommend for your ears, you take your earrings off so you can really get those points. But if you are there earrings that you never take off, just be sure to get around the lobes and behind the ears too. And that’s something that we’ll be doing at the end. Okay, so, um, so then once we get to the stomach area, you wanna be able to go round on the stomach in a circular fashion. Some people ask, do you wanna go clockwise or counterclockwise? Because the, the way in which the digestion works is dependent on this. For the purposes of doing abi it does not matter. Um, we’re not applying enough pressure to create any, uh, changes in the digestion. So as long as you’re comfortable in the way that you’re going about it, go right really above like where the sternum ends into the upper part of the stomach area because then there is the lower part of the, um, digestion that will also be circulating. And you can do that again five times on the waistline. You wanna go in and out.

(08:40): And then if it is possible for you on your lower back, you wanna go in a circular motion on your lower back. Many times when this is done for you, um, the um, massage therapist go up the spine as well. So if you do this practice with somebody else, you can both have each other, help each other up the spine and then around the shoulder blades where you can go in a circular motion. Um, if you can reach your own shoulder blade and go in a circular motion, that is helpful, but if not, then you can just continue with the rest of it. Next we’ll get some more oil and what you wanna do is you want to get the hips. The hips are the large, some of the largest joints in the body. So make sure you go in large circular motions, five around each one of the hips. When you get more oil, you can start with one leg, you can start with the right leg or the left leg. I like to start in the area that I started first.

(09:43): So I started with my left side. So I will take my oil and I will apply it down my entire leg and onto my foot, making sure I have plenty of oil there. And then I go long on the muscles, 2, 3, 4, 5, I’m on the outside of my thigh. And then the inside of my thigh, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. If you have large hands, you can get both your, the front and the back while simultaneously making sure that there’s oil all over. And if you have smaller hands, you can actually just go under and over the thigh to ensure that you have enough oil penetrating throughout the entire area. Next, you wanted to go to the knee circular on the joints. I’m using two hands for this just simply because I can. And I’ve got one foot up on a bench that helps me so I’m not leaning over so much.

(10:39): And then down the rest of the leg to the ankle, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and circular on the ankle, the top of the foot gets a little bit of attention, but I will do the bottom of the feet last because it can get slippery and uh, we don’t wanna fall before we get into the tub. So next I’ll move on to my right leg. Um, long on the muscles on the thigh, 2, 3, 4, 5, circular on the joints, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 long on the leg all the way down to the ankle and be sure to continue to get some oil, um, if you happen to run out or it’s getting drier. And then the top of the foot gets a little bit of attention there. So once you’ve gotten most of your body, then you wanna get to the little areas that have not been addressed yet. So you can get a little bit of oil.

(11:44): And the first thing I recommend doing is getting into your ears. So get inside the ear canal, and move your finger around. You don’t wanna get inside to far, but don’t be afraid to put your fingers in your ears and around the ear itself in the back, the ear lobe massage, the whole area that you have there. The next area that we recommend getting is for, um, for men. It is close to the prostate area and for women, it’s close to the vulva. You don’t wanna create too much pressure in this area, but you do wanna be able to massage. And so the external part of the body gets moisturized. We do focus on the perineum and that is that area between the anus and where, uh, the prostate is or where the vagina is. And so in that area there you wanna be able to create a little bit of massage and that’s where there’s a marma point.

(12:41): And then at that point, once you’ve done that, you can go ahead and take your last bit of oil or whatever is left on your hands, make sure that you do have a towel down and you get the bottom of your feet. So I will just show you, I will just put a little oil in the bottom of my feet. And this I recommend doing, um, for, uh, if you have trouble even sleeping at night, you can actually put a little oil on the bottom of your feet and not wash it off. So just a little bit, not too much. You don’t wanna get too slippery. And then I will recommend at that point have a seat, relax, do a little meditation, and give the body the opportunity to be with this Vata decreasing procedure process that you’ve just gone through. Once you have completed your five, 10, maybe 20 minutes.

(13:31): At that point, I recommend turning on a very warm shower and stepping into it and allowing the steam to permeate through the skin. Um, at that point, the first thing I would recommend doing is taking a little bit of soap and adding it to the bottom of your feet so you don’t slip. It’s very important that you do that first and then you can start to wash the body. So many people ask me the questions are, should you put it in your hair? So we do have specific processes where we put oil in the hair, but usually, it’s specific types of oil that really help to create a healthy environment for the head. Um, if you were to do this, I don’t recommend doing it every day. And remember that oil and water repel. So if you do put oil in your hair, don’t jump in the shower and put water on it.

(14:23): You’ll never be able to get the oil off. Start with shampoo before you even put water on your head. Um, the other thing that people oftentimes ask me is whether or not they should use soap to take the oil off. And that is completely dependent on how much oil is still remaining on the skin. Many people use oil as a means of extracting and pulling away dirt, debris, and excess skin. Um, there is something called dry brushing that’s sometimes recommended before you do your abian. And if that’s the case, then I would recommend using a little bit of soap and finding something that’s very gentle on the skin is important. Uh, I do recommend using soap in the genitalia area under the arms, just under the armpits, just to ensure that there is, uh, good hygiene as that oil can clog the pores. And if it’s in enclosed space, or even if you have folds under the skin anywhere, it’s important that you use soap in those areas in order to keep it clean.

(15:32): And so this is the technique of Abyanga. Um, I really enjoy doing it. I do it, um, at least every day. If I don’t do it on my whole body, I’m always doing it on my face. Um, I do think it helps with, uh, youthfulness and also clarity and it’s also a really good way to wake up in the morning, um, if you’re wanting to, uh, discontinue, uh, taking in caffeine. Um, it’s actually really surprising, we always look for substitutes to take internally, but there can be other things you can do to replace it, like going for a walk and also doing an Abhyanga works really well too.

Shay (16:13): We hope you enjoyed today’s “Healing Moment”. If you’d like to suggest an idea for a future healing moment, please send us an email at podcastintegrativetouch.org. If you like the show and wanna support our work, please go to integrativetouch.org. I’m Shay Beider. Thanks for taking the time for yourself and enjoying today’s healing moment.