Taking Time for Ayurveda: Oil Massage

When I first took on the abhyanga portion of the experiment, I expected to use some time in the
evening to unwind and enjoy the oil massage and shower before bed. As usual, my evening
activities, be them spending time with my children, grocery shopping, cleaning, or catching up
on paperwork, took me right up to the time that I typically fall into bed, exhausted. And, that
evening, I did just that, telling myself that I would start the following evening. The following
evening, I did exactly the same. The abhyanga was not going to happen in the evening. I
regrouped and decided that it was going to have to happen in the morning.

My morning routine is as full and hectic as my evening routine and I can’t say that I didn’t doubt
my resolve to follow through. Despite getting out of bed at the same time as any other day, I
held true and took the time to oil myself with sesame oil. And, much to my surprised and pleased
self, I was able to leave the house very close to the time I typically leave. This happened again
the following day, and even the next. I’m still trying to figure out how I managed to gain fifteen
minutes every morning.

My initial expectations for the oil massage were fairly low. I never particularly cared for the
feeling of oil on my skin and, although I enjoy a massage from time to time, it is not a practice I
can’t do without. My one hope, even if it didn’t extend into the realm of expectation, was that
the practice would help me feel warmer. Despite the fact that I am more pitta than vata (and
even less kapha), I’m one of life’s chronically cold people. This fall is particularly bad. I can’t
seem to get and stay warm. My heating and water bills are going to be astronomical.

After practicing Abhyanga for almost two weeks (with two one-day breaks), I haven’t noticed
much of a change in my body temperature (Excel Energy will be happy to continue to support
my efforts to stay warm). I immediately noticed that my skin and hair were much happier and
softer but hadn’t noted any other change.

The benefits from the practice were so subtle that I didn’t recognize them. It wasn’t until my
first one-day break, due to me making it out of bed at the ungodly hour of six instead of five-
thirty, that I even noticed a change. I realized that I missed it; much like one misses the good-
bye kiss of their loved one when they leave the house. I felt as if the day was incomplete. I was
less focused and less productive. I purposely took another day off of the practice before the end
of the experiment to see if my scattered nature returned. It did.

The days I spent the time oiling left me feeling calm and grounded. I am less spastic and more
able to focus and follow things through to conclusion without being side-tracked. Despite the
end of the experiment, I still plan to practice Abhyanga. It has become a beloved part of my
morning routine and I am loath to give it up; happily, I don’t have to.