When we arrived at our first stop in India, the doctor who oversees the Ayurvedic clinic and spa for the Chennai Taj Hotel was most excited to meet us. He was thrilled that I was a Western teacher who knew about things like Ayurvedic assessments, Marma Adi and more. He gave us a lecture on the importance of daily Abhyanga, including a mini-variation of the technique that's easier and more accessible for many of us. I was so taken with it I'm now incorporating it into the grounding practice after daily meditation.
Abhyanga is a massage practice, traditionally done with sesame oil to quiet excess Vata. (If you are pacifying Pitta, you might use coconut oil; for excess Kapha, a menthol or eucalyptus. Or if you prefer a lighter oil, there are many mixed massage oils.) Particularly as the seasons change, we experience a lot of shift in our physical and energetic states, and this practice helps to settle our energy.
Full Abhyanga practice can seem time-consuming, messy or daunting. This simple variation takes only a few minutes, but has a profound grounding effect. Practice this after your seated meditation, or whenever you are able.
With a small bowl of sesame or your chosen oil, gently dab a small amount into your palms, rubbing them together until the oil warms. Rub a touch of oil gently on to the fontanelle (Sahasrara Chakra) and the side temples of your head. If you're coming out of meditation, draw the energy down from your head through the midline of your body as usual, until you reach your legs.
Rub oil lightly into your knees with a circular movement. (Replenish the oil on your hands whenever necessary.) Then, up and down the shin and the calf. Find the middle line of your calf muscle, and massage along that line from behind the knees to the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel. Rub the line of the outside (pinky toe side) of your shinbone, down to your ankle, and then circle the ankle several times. Finally, massage first the arch of the foot, from the heel end towards the ball of the foot; then the five lines of energy from the heel to each of your toes.
Leave the oil on for 20 minutes, if possible. Or you may wipe it off using a cloth warmed with hot water and then wrung dry.
Let this soothing practice bring you back into your body, your root and the earth. Enjoy! Hari om, om tat sat.