Monsoon health care: How about an Ayurvedic oil massage to boost immunity?

The first step is to pick the right oil that suits your body type. Photo: iStock/Deepak Sethi

Ayurvedic oil massages are often associated with touristy spa experiences or health issues, but did you know that it has many other rejuvenation properties too? From improving your immunity, and nourishing your skin to detoxification and calming effects, it has many benefits that will promote emotional and physical well-being during the monsoon season. Ayurveda mentions a practice called Abhyanga or self-massage, which can be easily done at home. Here's how to go about it:
1) Pick a warm oil
The first step is to pick the right oil that suits your body type. Sesame oil is the most recommended massage oil this season as it can help your body stay warm and balanced. It is particularly good for those who tend to get fever and cold in the monsoon season. It also penetrates deeply into your skin, moisturizing and nourishing it. You can also infuse it with herbs like tulsi, neem or turmeric to enhance its properties.

2) Warm the oil
Either warm the oil by placing it in a bowl filled with hot water or microwave a small amount in short intervals of 10 seconds. You can also just warm it by rubbing it between your hands. Before applying it to your body, test its temperature by applying a few drops inside your wrist. Once ready, you can use it to apply it all over your body. 
3) Make sure the massaging area is safe and comfortable
The area should be clean, distraction and clutter-free, should have a yoga mat or soft cotton cloth, have a comfortable room temperature, have soft lighting and have all the accessories like pillows, towels and the like you will need during the massage. If you prefer, play a soft instrumental music that you like as well. 

4) Start with your scalp
Apply a little oil gently on your scalp, and massage it into your skin in circular motions. Slowly, move to your ears, shoulders, face and neck. Then, continue by massaging your arms, chest, back, abdomen and legs. Areas like the neck, shoulders and lower back will benefit from special attention as those are generally the most stressed regions. Make sure you are massaging in the direction of hair growth. Do not rush the massage, take time to rub in the oil and be gentle with your body. Once done, let the oil penetrate your skin, and sit idle for 20 minutes. Make sure you are relaxed and tension-free at this time. 
5) A warm shower
Step into the shower with caution so that you don't slip and fall. Make sure the bath water is comfortably warm. Remove the oil from your skin using warm water and a mild soap by rinsing thoroughly. Once done, pat your skin dry, gently, with a clean towel. You can also moisturize your skin if your skin type is dry. After the shower, make sure the oil residue is wiped out from your shower area to prevent falls or slips. 

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