Bedtime rituals are key for quality sleep.
One of my favorite ways to get my body ready for sleep is giving myself a full-body massage.
I first heard of practicing self-massage during my internship with Kellen Brugman, Ayurvedic expert, writer, and yoga teacher. Ayurveda is an ancient holistic healing system based on the idea of wellness coming from the balance of mind, body, and spirit. During one of our weekly phone calls, I confided in Kellen that I was having some anxiety that was affecting my quality of sleep, and she recommended trying abhyanga, a warm-oil self-massage. Download her original instructions for abhyanga off her website, here!
Abhyanga rejuvenates the body and mind.
There are lots of benefits to massaging yourself, including increased circulation, toning the muscles, calming nerves, releasing toxins, improving mental alertness, softening skin, and more. In the practice of abhyanga, you use warmed, herbal-infused oils to massage your body from head to toe, using different strokes on various parts of your body. You then allow the oil to soak in for 10-30 minutes, focusing on your breath or practicing meditation, and follow up with a warm shower.
It's an amazing act of self-compassion and love.
Everyone loves a massage — but we forget that we can massage ourselves, and we can actually do a better job than most people because we know what we need. This is a great time to just be with yourself, tuning into your body and locating all the areas you're holding tension or worry — then letting it go.
I love to include this in my bedtime ritual. I'll turn out all the lights except my couple night lights, light a lavender-scented candle, do a dab of a calming strain, pick out a few crystals to set out next to my candle, warm my oil, and start my massage at the top of my scalp. I'll go down to my temples, then my ears, and onto my shoulders and neck, literally rubbing away my tension. By the time I'm at my feet, I'll be sitting on the ground, completely relaxed and at ease with myself and my situation — no matter how hard the day was. I find that cannabis allows me to focus on the act of massage without distractions from my day, and then I wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Of course, I don't always have the time to do this ritual in full.
There are some nights where I just don't have the energy to do this entire routine then take a shower after, so I'll just lather myself in lotion, doing a quick massage along the way. There are sometimes where I just multitask and do it in the shower before bed, using my soap as my oil. In the end, it doesn't really matter how or when you do it — it's just the fact that you spend that little extra time each day loving on your body.
Try a self-massage for yourself.
Download and print this PDF for ideas on how to give yourself a great massage, and be sure to check out Kellen's abhyanga for an even more in-depth look at this incredibly beneficial practice!
Copyright © 2016 Kristen Williams, All Rights Reserved