Your At – Home Ayurvedic Spa to Nourish Body, Mind, and Senses!
Vata is in full swing this early winter with cold blustery winds, bone chilling temps and parched – for – moisture skin. Warm and nourishing essential oil infused self-massages are a perfect antidote to vata season driven mental stress, anxiousness, excessive nervous energy, painful joints and body. Abhyanga or self-massage traditionally applied with sneha (Sanskrit word for oil and love/affection) before or after warm showers is an essential component of dinacharya or daily routine in Ayurveda. Add to this, the healing properties of essential oils and you have powerful yet gentle self – care and healing at your fingertips.
A quick word about essential oils:
These are concentrated extracts taken from roots, bark, leaves, seeds or blossoms of plants with each containing its own mix of active ingredients that enhance one’s mood, cognitive, psychological or physical wellbeing. Inhaling essential oil molecules, or absorbing essential oils through the skin, transmits messages to the limbic system – a brain region responsible for controlling emotions and influencing the nervous system. Scientists have recently discovered that our skin contains olfactory receptors, in other words, our skin has the capacity to smell, and create healthy skin cells after sandalwood oil is applied to it.
A plethora of research continues to confirm that essential oils or nature’s fragrant pharmacy contain compounds with an extremely broad range of bio-chemical effects that are beneficial in many physical, mental and emotional conditions. For example, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently reported a marked decrease in stress level of their adult emergency room staff after essential oil diffusers were placed in the work environment.
The distillation process from plants to essential oils can be expensive, long and labor intensive: An ounce of rose essential oil is extracted from 300 pounds of roses whereas an ounce of lavender oil requires 6 pounds of flowers. The soil and regions in which these plants are grown further add unique properties and to each essential oil.
Here are two simple recipes that my clients have integrated into their daily routine to nourish their winter skin and senses:
1- Add 15-20 (more or less per one’s preference) drops of Essential Oil(s) of your choice – I like a combination of lavender, rose and Indian sandalwood – to 16 oz. good quality light sesame oil such as Neutrogena’s body oil.
Shake gently and massage on warm skin after a shower.
2- Add about 10 drops of EO(s) of your choice to 8 oz. of warm organic coconut oil.
Since coconut oil congeals upon cooling, you can gently warm single use portions of this infusion in a small Pyrex bowl on an electric oil diffuser in the bathroom while you shower and massage and moisturize your warmed skin.
Coconut oil is better than commercial body lotions as these contain lots of water, petroleum based ingredients and artificial scents. In contrast, coconut oil provides deep moisture, strengthens underlying tissues and like essential oils contain nature’s intelligence and healing properties.
• Essential oil from Lavender has been shown to promote muscle relaxation, reduce stress, insomnia, and anxiety, disinfect skin and enhance blood circulation. It should not be used by pre-pubescent boys
• Essential oil of rose may help relieve stress, according to a 2009 study published in Natural Product Communications. For the study, 40 healthy volunteers absorbed either rose essential oil or a placebo through their skin. Results revealed that those who received rose essential oil experienced a greater increase in feelings of calm and relaxation, as well as greater decrease in breathing rate and blood pressure, compared to those who received the placebo. Additionally rose oil is purported to reduce wrinkles, improve moisture, and reverse signs of aging.
• Essential oil of Sandalwood contains a chemical component that stimulates the pineal gland in the brain and creates a deep relaxation of the nervous system. This is why it has been used for centuries to enhance meditative experiences and a natural sleep remedy. It also soothes and rejuvenates skin.
• Rub a few drops of EO infused body oil to the soles of your feet for a good night sleep.
• Do not apply Essential Oils directly to skin or place them near open flame.
• Essential oils should not be used by pregnant women or persons with uncontrolled high or low blood pressure without medical consult.
Future posts will include further information on essential oils, Ayurvedic routines for changing seasons and other practical and simple healthy lifestyle and self-healing tips.