“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.”
As Translated from the Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
According to the teachings of Ayurveda, oil massage should be done every single day.
The best time to give yourself a massage is about 15 minutes before your daily bath or shower. The massage can be as simple as slapping on some oil, or as elaborate as the one outlined below. Remember, a quick 5 minute oil massage each day is far better than a one hour self-massage every other week, so do what you can to begin with and feel free to build up the ritual over time.
The best way to begin the process of self massage is to start by choosing the most suitable oil for your doshic type. Generally speaking, vata types should choose heavy, heating oils, pitta needs a medium viscosity cooling oil, and kapha does best with a light, thin, warming oil. Refer to articles on vata, pitta, and kapha for suggestions.
Next, take a few tablespoons of oil and place it in an oil warmer, or in a glass container sitting in a bowel of hot water. Note – It is best not to use a microwave to heat your oil. You can also warm it on the stove (this only takes a couple of seconds).
Lay a large bath towel on a chair or on the floor in the bathroom. Situate yourself on the towel, oil in hand, and begin your massage.
The following steps will get you started. You can modify or elaborate on any of the strokes listed, or make up your own. According to the Eastern understanding of energetics in the body, it is traditional for ladies to begin with the lunar left foot, and gentlemen to begin with the solar right:
1. Put one hand on top of the foot and the other under the sole, then stroke smoothly from your toes to your ankles. Glide your hands back to your toes and repeat.
2. Support your foot with one hand and work on each toe individually. Squeeze it firmly, and gently stretch each toe with a gentle pull.
3. Stroke around the ankle with your fingertips. Stroke up the backside of the ankle, then over the top and down the front side. Finish by stroking the foot as you did at the beginning
4. Mould your hands to the shape of your leg, rest your foot flat, and bend your knee up. Gliding up with one hand on each side of the leg, begin at the foot and stroke smoothly up the calf, over the knee and up to the top of the thigh. Repeat five times.
5. Stroke clockwise around your abdomen with one hand following the other in a circle, using the whole surface of your hands.
6. Glide up and down your sides from your hip bone to your rib cage
7. Reach around your body and firmly glide hands upward from the hip to the bottom of your shoulder blades. Glide down with a gentle pressure.
8. Make fists and glide from hip to the bottom of your shoulder blade with your knuckles.
9. Reach your left hand over your right shoulder as far as you can. Pull with your fingers from in between the shoulder blades, up over the shoulder, ending on the front of your chest.
10. Starting with the left hand on the right shoulder glide over the top of the collar bone, across the chest to the underarm. Do the same with the right hand on the left shoulder. Alternate like this, repeating four times each hand.
11. With fingers pointing toward the head, glide in an upward motion on each side of the breast/pectoral muscle. Repeat five times on each side.
12. Place your left hand on your right shoulder. Mould your hand to the curve of your neck. Starting at the base of your skull, stroke down the side of your neck, over your shoulder and down your arm to the elbow. Glide back to your neck and repeat at least three times. Then do the other side.
13. Work up the neck and around the base of the skull, making circular pressures with your fingertips on both sides of the spine.
14. Knead each shoulder; squeeze and release the flesh on your shoulders and at the top of your arms.
15. Smooth your whole arm by stroking from the wrist to the shoulder. Stroke firmly as you move up the arm, then glide gently back and repeat.
16. Knead all the way up your arm, squeezing and releasing the muscles. Pay particular attention to the fleshy part at the back of the upper arm.
17. Stroke in between each bone in the hand from knuckle to wrist using your thumb.
18. Turn your hand over and support the back with your fingers. Do firm circular and static pressures with your thumb, working all over the palm and around the wrist.
19. Tilt your head to one side, mould your hand to the shape of your neck, and stroke from the collarbone to the chin, one hand following the other. Repeat on the other side.
20. Make small circular pressures all over your chin and around your mouth with the index and middle fingers of each hand.
21. Stroke from the corners of your mouth to your ears. Use one hand on each cheek and move them both out together. Then, stroke from your mouth to your ear, using the tips of your fingers.
22. Mould your hands to the shape of your forehead. Stroke up from the bridge of your nose to your hairline with one hand following the other. 23. Place both index fingers on the bridge of your nose and make short, firm strokes upward first, then across.
24. Make circular pressures all over your forehead, working in lines from the bridge of your nose to your temples, to cover the whole forehead up to your hairline. Press firmly, but do not drag your skin. Then stroke your forehead gently with your fingertips to soothe it after the last circular movement.
25. Stroke from the center of your forehead to your temples. Then, circle slowly and steadily on the temples to stimulate the muscle.
26. Stroke in a circle around your eyes with your middle fingers. Stroke firmly and evenly from the bridge of your nose out over your eyebrows, press on your temples, then glide lightly under your eyes, barely touching the skin.
27. Massage your scalp by pressing firmly with your fingers. Start with your fingers spread out, then bring them in toward each other. Most scalp mas- sage feels best with deep pressure.
28. Slide your fingers through the roots of your hair. Gripping large amounts of hair gently make a fist and pull outward. Do this all over your entire scalp.