MARCH 2012
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Ayurveda

Ayurveda and Love

DENISE O’DUNN

By DENISE O’DUNN,
CAP, LMT, E-RYT500

 

Ayurveda is India’s ancient Science of Life. In developing this science, the observers of the known world, the Rishis, categorized every aspect of human health, well-being and longevity. Their observations included the elements of happiness and it has long been held that the basis of all happiness is love.

Love has three dimensions: Self Love; Romantic Love; and Divine Love.

As modern pilgrims on our varied paths of fulfillment, sooner or later, we confront the realization that Self Love is essential for well-being. In Ayurveda, self care is the process by which one expresses one’s love for one’s self. The way you go about your day, the foods you eat, the company you keep; the exercise you practice are components of how much value you place on you. Ayurveda, as the Science of Life, gives us a complete system of self care based on achieving balance. When you put yourself first in care, you are expressing love of self. When you are in balance, love is most available to you.

Romantic love is the basis of the most longing in our culture. The longing is not unique to this time as the themes of operas and classic literature reflect. Most popular music is focused on themes of romantic love. Our culture has an almost insatiable appetite for dramas that express the seeking and winning and the losing of romantic love. Romantic love is the juice that lights the fire of committed relationships but it is not possible to sustain romantic love without Self Love as a component.

Divine Love is pure love. For love to work at any level, Divine Love must be present. Divine love is either the love of the Divine or the love that dwells in the depths of your heart and transcends all the noise of discomfort and illness and distrust and hate on Earth. For one to be available to Divine Love, one must first love Self and commune with the Divine within.

It is not possible to love yourself when you are distracted by imbalance. Imbalance is easy to achieve in that your Doshas are susceptible to changing based on any number of factors. A cold day will make a Vata person uncomfortable or even miserable. It is difficult to be loving when you are not up to par. A hot environment can make a Pitta person angry; no one wants to be around an angry person. Kapha people, when out of balance, will withdraw from social environments and make themselves unavailable to loving.

Ayurveda is a tool for health. Health is the gateway to everything good that the Earth and Universe has to offer. Ayurveda is based on love and love is …


ABHYANGA – Self care oil massage

Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic oil massage; traditionally using a combination of oils and herbs specific to your individual needs, and can refer to a daily self-massage technique.

Its main purpose is to enhance the flow of vital energy (prana) by anointing your body with oil (sneha), while being attentive and loving. The Sanskrit word sneha translates as both "oil" and "love." Abhyanga allows the subtle nature of the oil/love to move through the channels of the body and find their way into the deeper layers of bodily tissue. Ayurveda explains that being saturated with oil in abhyanga is comparable to being drenched with love. Similar to the experience of being deeply loved, abhyanga can provide a profound sense of comfort and strength.

The Ritual of Abhyanga
As a daily ritual of self-care, Abhyanga is traditionally done before bathing in the early morning to help remove toxins from your body that have accumulated through the night and to prepare your body and mind for the day ahead. Most important is that it is done at a time that you are not rushed and can maintain an attitude of nurturing attention toward yourself.

The Oils for Abhyanga
Choose natural, organic, cold pressed oils available in health food stores and the health food section of your grocery store. Warm oil is recommended as it is comforting and can penetrate the layers of the skin better. You can warm your Abhyanga oil by immersing the bottle in a bowl of hot water.

Preparing for Abhyanga
Start by brushing your skin with a natural dry brush or coarse washcloth to remove dead skin cells. Wash and dry your face, hands and feet. Warm your Abhyanga oil. Take a few deep breaths and become fully present. Rub palms together to stimulate heat and energy in your hands, and you are ready to begin the applying the oil.

Classical Technique for Abhyanga
Use straight strokes over long bones and muscles and clockwise circular strokes over your joints, chest and abdomen. Use the ball and palm of your hands and the length of your fingers to apply the oil and perform the massage. Don’t let “technique” get in the way of your intuitive and loving touch. The key to Abhyanga is to remain centered, connect your breath with the movement of your hands and give thanks for your body, especially the areas where you may have issues.

“Abhyanga is the act of anointing the body with oil through loving hands.”


Denise O’Dunn, president and founder of Balance & Bliss Inc., is a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist (ma58502) and yoga teacher. She received her degree in Ayurveda from the Florida Vedic College and is a professional member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. She can be reached at balanceandbliss@gmail.com or visit www.balanceandbliss.com

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