In Ayurveda, the word snehana means oleation. It is usually referenced to the external application, but in sometimes internally as well. Sneha means something that is soft, oily and unctuous. It also means love.
One of the most popular ways one can love themselves is by literally applying oil on their body!
A self-massage is called abhyanga. Take 15 minutes to an hour to apply oil on the body in long strokes and circular motions around the joints. After applying slightly warm oil all over the body, face and scalp, wait up to an hour to allow the oil to penetrate deep into the tissues. Then shower with warm water and use soap only on your hairy parts. Doing abhynga is a form of self-love. But broadly speaking, what is self-love?
Self-love is connecting with your higher self. For some its a clear visualization of the higher self, for some its the energy and feeling and for others it cannot be translated into words.
Practicing abhyanga is a method, one of the best, to loving oneself. Think about it another way- how you would show your love and affection towards an object or person? You take care of it or them, and nurture it. Abhyanga is doing this for oneself. Many times we are so consumed by giving our love to others that we forgot to give our own self some love!
Which Type of Oil
For each dosha, different oils are recommended:
Vata: Sesame oil because their skin tends to be very dry but also internally they need the heaviness from sesame oil to nourish their bodies.
Pitta: Coconut Oil because they are way too fiery, overheated, and need the cooling properties of coconut to cool their body down.
Kapha: Mustard because its heating properties will get their bodies moving and internally move blood and lymph for better circulation.
If you are monodoshic, then follow using the oil recommended, and if you are dual doshic then combine oils and experiment until you feel them out a bit for the right amounts. Trust me you will know by how your body feels afterwards and it might take a few tries.
Ghee and almond oil are Tri-doshic, meaning regardless of what dosha or doshas you are, they will work effectively. Ghee is AMAZING because it penetrates very deep into the tissues.
How to Do Abhyanga
Warm up 1/4-1/2 cup of oil by pouring it into a bowl or cup and then submerge this into a pot of hot water using the double boiler method. Test the oil, remove when it is just slightly warm to the touch.
Set up a large towel on the floor with the lights dim or turned off. Begin by sitting on the towel, massaging the oil all over the body and in circular motions around the knees and elbows. If you would like, then put on a candle, incense, relaxing music. Focus on the abdomen area a little bit more and use counterclockwise direction. I would suggest putting hair up in a hair tie, so that it is easier to get the back area as well. Also, make sure to get the bottoms of the feet, face and scalp as well.
Keep the oil on as long as you can, ideally 30 minutes to 1 hour. When showering, only use soap in your private areas and hairy parts like underarms. The steam from the warm water will help the oil penetrate deeper. After showering, lightly pat dry the body and try not to rub too hard, you want the oil to stay on because it will continue penetrating deeper. If you want to keep the oil on your scalp overnight, then do not wash it. It is best done before bed, because you will feel so relaxed after doing abhyanga that you just ease into sleep.