Just add oil

As the Sun and Moon came together in the sign of Libra, we received our first snow here in the wilds of Montana. My body was not ready for the cold. Hot, spiced chai helps, as do hot baths, and hot food. A basic (and intuitive) principle of Ayurvedic wellness is to balance a quality such as cold with the use of its opposite.

Another quality of late summer and fall is dryness. Even if it is rainy or damp outside, the late heat of August and September may have dried out our systems. And the inside of our homes can become desert-like as we fire up wood stoves and furnaces.

Sesame oil is traditional for abhyanga, but olive oil is my favorite.

The cold and dry season is hard on the nervous system, especially for those of us feeling stressed in the first place. One of the best remedies I know to soothe the nervous system is self-massage with oil. Called abhyanga in Ayurveda, it is a simple practice of massaging warm oil into the skin, preferably before bathing. Various types of oil are recommended for various constitutions, but you can use any good quality oil.

I once saw a quote from a centenarian in the Mediterranean crediting olive oil “inside and out” as one of the keys to her longevity. Ayurveda would agree. Besides nourishing the skin and protecting from the drying effects of a shower, massaging our own body with oil is a way to physically express self-love, something we can all use more of.

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