If you're like most car owners, you take your car in for regular oil changes. Doing so keeps it running smoothly and efficiently, and serves to clear out gunk and debris. Believe it or not, doing this to our bodies serves a similar purpose! By taking time to oil your skin before showering, you lubricate joints, organs, and muscles inside - a practice even more beneficial during the cold months when some of us exercise less and many spend more time indoors, often exposed to the drying effects of artificial heat.
The Sanskrit word sneha means both “oil” and “love,” and the effects of lavishly applying oil to the body are similar to being saturated with love. Thus, the ancients tell us that this is a wonderful practice of 'self-love". The experience offers the feeling of stability, warmth and comfort to body, mind, and soul. Sneha—oil and love—is sukshma, or “subtle.” That means that the proper oil for your constitution, like love, easily passes through minute channels in the body to penetrate deep layers of tissue. Doing so, it, soothes and nourishes us, almost from the inside out.
Ayurveda teaches that there are seven dhatus, or layers of tissue in the body. Each is successively more concentrated and life-giving. It is taught that for the effects of sneha to reach to the deepest layer, it should be massaged into the body for 800 matras, roughly five minutes. If we consider that the entire body needs this kind of attention, a 15-minute massage is the suggested minimum amount of time to spend giving yourself this rejuvenating gift of self-love.
There are three classical ayurvedic texts (the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hrdayam) and all three reference the benefits of applying oil to the body (abhyanga).
The benefits include:
Herbal oils specific to your constitution or current condition are especially good choices for full body massage. This can be determined by an ayurvedic pulse reading, which may be scheduled throughout the year in the Mountain Wisdom Studio. I craft unique oil mixtures that combine the subtleties of an essential oil (plant essences) with a suitable base oil. Inquire today, and begin the practice of nourishing yourself with the energy of love.
Winter Special: In a visit that may last up to an hour, receive an ayurvedic pulse reading to determine potential imbalances to your dosha, a breathing assessment, a short reiki energy clearing, and one bottle of ayurvedically inspired body oil made expressly for you. $47 (discounted from $132)
Do you, like many people, experience heightened levels of stress during the holidays? With parties, and celebrations added to what may already be a full schedule, it’s no wonder some succumb to a headache, digestive disturbances, colds, or even bouts of anxiety or depression.
The to-do list alone, especially at this time of year, can foster significant levels of overwhelm. And that's all the reason to maintain, or even up-level, your self care. Do your best to pay attention to how you're feeling on any given day. Elevated stress levels may manifest in physical symptoms which you want to address before they get worse by resting, simplifying your diet, hydrating with adequate consumption of fresh, clear water, and even making time to get outdoors for a walk in nature.
How do you handle elevated challenges to your health and well-being?
For additional tips and suggestions from one online resource, click here.
Also, know that the mindfulness practices outlined in my recently published book: Learning to Breathe, Learning to Live: Simple Tools to Alleviate Stress and Invigorate Your Life may help.
How? Well, I'm sure you've experienced how taking a deep breath can calm you almost instantaneously. Doing this a few times each day helps even more. I have written the book to elevate well-being around the world, one breath, one person at a time. And I could use your help...
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from stress, please let them know about this book.
Better yet, considering giving it as a gift. Their health will thank you.
There are many positive ways to address and even reduce the levels of stress you may experience at this time of year, and all throughout the year, for that matter. Taking a time out to up your level of self care is important. Reading my book, and practicing what you find in it, will also help you feel better in body, mind, heart, and soul! Buy it today.
And... if you're interested, I'll be offering three week courses in the new year that use material from the book. Join us!
Wishing you and yours a magical, memorable, and healthy holiday season.
Sharon Harvey Alexander
Certified Stress Management Educator and Professional Yoga Therapist