One thing that my holistic doctor did when I had my first consultation, was to check my pulse and tell me what my body type was according to Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine. The word 'Ayurveda' literally means 'knowledge of life' in Sanskrit. Ayurveda can be defined as a system, which uses the inherent principles of nature, to help maintain health in a person by keeping the individual's body, mind and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature. Inherent in the Ayurvedic way of healing is the concept that you are capable of taking charge of your own life and healing. Sounds perfect to me!
There are three different body types according to Ayurveda; Vata, Pitta & Kapha. To get an idea of what type you might be, you can do a quick questionnaire here. My type is Vata.
In general, Vata types are creative, enthusiastic, active and restless. Physically they tend to be very short or very tall and thin with bony limbs. Their hands and feet are usually cold and they prefer warm whether. They crave for salty, sweet or sour foods and prefer warm/hot drinks. All of these traits I can agree with and relate to. Some things I'm not so sure about include: "They have little will power, tolerance and confidence. Eyes tend to be small, sometimes sunken with a dull lustre and teeth are generally irregular and protruding with receding gums." Come on! They don't sound like nice traits!
Anyway, Vata types can also have problems with circulation and can benefit greatly from a daily oil massage.
So, as directed by the Doc, I went off to the organic food store and bought a bottle of organic, cold-pressed sesame oil. I heated a small amount of oil on the stove, being careful not to let it get too hot as I didn't want to scold myself, obviously. It's important to do this in a room where you will be warm, so I moved the heater into the bathroom and set myself up in there. I covered most of my body in a thin layer of the oil and massaged it in, working towards my heart to help improve circulation.
Afterwards, I had a shower to wash it all off and felt amazing. My skin felt so beautiful - soft and supple, and not oily at all. I felt balanced and warm. I would definitely recommend doing it on a cold morning to warm you up for the day, no matter what type you are. It felt very therapeutic to take the time to give myself a massage.
It only takes about 20 minutes in total, so it's something you could incorporate into your morning routine right before a shower. I try to do it most mornings and I do feel a difference.
I just came across some specific instructions on how to perform the massage so next time I will incorporate these points as well. I haven't applied the oil to my head or my feet (slippery!) yet, but it seems that these parts are important.
1. Gently heat the oil to a warm temperature and use the open part of your hand (rather than fingertips) to massage.
2. Use circular motions over rounded areas, such as joints and head, and straight strokes over straight areas, such as neck and limbs. Apply moderate pressure over most of the body and light pressure over your abdomen and heart.
3. It's best to start with your head. Pour a small amount of oil on your hands and vigorously massage it into your scalp. With the flat part of your hands, use circular strokes to cover your whole head. Spend more time massaging your head than other parts of your body.
4. Next, massage your face and outer ears, remembering to apply a small amount of oil as you move from one part of your body to the other. Massage this area more gently.
5. Massage the front and back of your neck and the upper part of your spine. at this point you may want to cover the rest of your body with a thin layer of oil to give maximum time for the oil to soak in.
6. Vigorously massage your arms, using a circular motion on your shoulders and elbows, and long, back-and-forth strokes on your upper arms and forearms.
7. Now massage your chest and stomach. Use a very gentle, circular motion over your heart and abdomen. You can start in the lower right part of your abdomen and move clockwise, ending up at the lower left part. This gently massages your intestines.
8. Massage your back and spine. You may have trouble reaching your entire back.
9. Massage your legs, vigorously, making circular motions over your hips, knees and ankles. Use long, straight strokes over your thighs and calves.
10. Finally, massage the bottoms of your feet. As with your head, this important area of your body deserves more time. Use the palm of your hand to massage your soles vigorously.
11. Follow your oil massage with a warm bath or shower, using mild soap.
You'll be happy to know that you actually do not smell like a curry, or even a hint of sesame oil, after your shower! This was something I had feared. :)