Be sure to carve out enough time to practice abhyanga so you can keep your movements slow and consistent and leave the oil on your skin for 15 to 20 minutes. But even if you can only relax for 5 to 10 minutes with the oil on your skin, you will get a big benefit over not doing it at all.
As you cover your body with oil, you’ll follow a specific pattern that works with the vayus, five vital airs in the body, which are the subdoshas of vata dosha.
Here’s how to practice abhyanga:
1. Lay a towel on the floor beneath you that you have designated to be your “oil towel.” It will get oily!
2. Warm oil in a stainless steel, copper, cast iron, or glass pan. Some people use butter or tea warmers and warm the oil over the candlelight.
3. Using the palms of your hands, apply the oil first to the front side of your pelvic area, including your low belly and pubic bone. Move around to the sides of the hips, then the sacrum. Use a circular motion on the hip joints, starting with the left hip first.
4. Next, work down your left leg and foot with long strokes on the muscles and circular movements on the joints. Repeat on your right leg and foot.
5. Moving up to the navel, apply oil up and down the front side of your torso. Then work in vertical movements around the left side of your chest and along the side of the torso. Do the same for the right side.
6. As much as your flexibility will allow, apply oil to your back, using up and down movements from the waist to the upper back, working on the spine as much as possible. You might like to get assistance with your upper back. Do your best to cover the entire body.
7. Next, work the oil from the navel, spiraling clockwise very slowly. Move up the right side and down the left side as you spiral out. Finish down the left side of the belly.
8. Move up to your left shoulder and work down your left arm and hand. Work long movements on the muscles and circular on the joints. Do the same for the right side.
9. Finally, apply oil to your neck, face and head using smooth, even strokes. Be sure to give your hair a good amount of oil, as it will revive its strength and vitality and increase the quality of your hair.
10. When you are finished, you can cover with an “oil towel” or clothes you have designated for this purpose and relax for 15 to 20 minutes before taking a hot bath or shower without soap. You can also remain without clothes as long as the room is warm.
Daily practice of abhyanga will bring a sense of peace and calm to your life. Even if you can only practice a few times a week, you will certainly notice the difference in how you feel.