As the month of April fades away and the spirit of deep detox is no longer in the air, I would like to suggest an ayurvedic practice to you that is not only delightful for the senses but will also nourish your tissues deeply as well as enhance your meditation.
The treatment is called oleation (Snehana) and you can do it everyday at home or have more deeply penetrating treatments with your ayurvedic practitioner. The benefits of this therapy are restfulness, strength, invigoration and cognition.
Oleation is used in ayurveda as a preliminary step in detoxification to loosen toxins (amma) in the body. Oleation consists of saturating the body with herbal or medicated oils, both internally and externally.
Internal oleation helps to loosen amma and move it from deeper tissues into the GI tract where other therapies can eliminate it.
External oleation consists of various treatments that saturate the body (or parts of it) with medicated oils. The choice of oils depends on the particular needs and constitution of the individual.
A medicated oil is prepared by macerating a fresh or dry herb material in oil over a period of weeks. The result is an extract that is very useful for external application. Unlike water, fats are readily absorbed when applied to the body, penetrating through the skin into the underlying tissues, and even entering into the bloodstream.
What I love about these treatments is that you can enjoy numerous applications on the body which can also positively affect the mind, according to which herb and oil we use, as well as which part of the body we apply it to.
Snehana or oleation therapy literally means love or tenderness.
I usually suggest this treatment to people that have difficulty giving themselves the time and space to relax or to people that simply do not have the habit of loving themselves. It is also a very powerful treatment that emotionally balances low self esteem, and heals any body conditions that are due to self-judgment and self hardness.
Mental oleation (application on the head) gives the mind a chance to have an “empty” window, where possibilities of self awareness may arise.
Let’s learn some terms for external oleation:
- Applying warm oil over the body and then massaging it. This is called Abhyanga (oil massage.)
- Warm medicated oil is poured continuously over the whole body. This is called pizichil.
- In the third method, called Gandhusha, the mouth is filled with oil and it then stays there for a while.
- Warm oil poured on the forehead is the fourth method. This is called Shirodhara.
- Method five is called Snehavagahana. A bath is filled with warm oil and you bath in it.
How to select your oil
You can use different oils to have any of the oleation treatments. The most common oils used for oleation are as follows:
This oil is good for all body types, especially Vatta and Pitta. This is the most popular general massage oil. Named for the patron deity of Ayurveda, it is a fragrant, earthy oil containing numerous herbs. Featuring a potent anti-oxidant effect, it rejuvenates the body and skin and increases immunity. Dhanwantharam oil is beneficial for neurological and rheumatic diseases and weakness, chronic Vatta conditions and pre- and post-natal care. It is also a good Shirodhara and head oil.
This oil is anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic and is excellent for muscles and as a pain reducer (it’s great for people of old age.) It helps heal tremors and convulsions, gynecological diseases and muscle or nerve damage. This oil is especially good for Vatta and Kapha types.
This Vatta-pacifying oil can be used to nourish and strengthen the muscles. It is useful for athletes and those weakened by debility due to old age or illness. Literally meaning "strength", ashwagandha oil builds muscle mass and provides energy.
Bhringaraj is a tridoshic oil traditionally used to encourage healthy hair growth and better sleep. It is an excellent choice for massaging the scalp and feet. It also cools the head and calms the mind.
One of my favorite oils to use on my head before meditation is Brahmi oil. It is a Pitta-soothing oil that is beneficial for calming and clearing the mind and enhancing peaceful meditation. Brahmi is said to bestow intelligence upon its user and can be massaged into the scalp to promote awareness and mental function. For the Vatta dosha, sesame oil is best used. Other oils can be used for specific purposes, such as ashwaganda oil to fortify the body or shatavari oil to enhance women’s internal balance.
How to practice oleation at home
1. Select the oil for your body type or condition (ask your practitioner if you are not sure.) You can also get a Pitta, Vatta or Kapha oil already made for your constitution.
2. Before showering, cover your entire body with the oil and vigorously massage all parts of your body with it.
3. Waiting a few minutes for it to penetrate before showering is greatly beneficial, if not simply rinse the oil with warm water and use a towel to remove the excess oil.
4. For this practice to have an impact, do it for 10 to 15 days consecutively.
5. You can also do oleation in the evening for a better sleep (use Brahmi oil.)
Relax and enjoy the richness of nature.
Where to get your oils:
Visit: http://www.banyanbotanicals.com. I love the quality of the products as well as their organic properties.
There are other sources in the market with no guarantees of being organic.