Here’s a simple tip to help you stay warm in winter.
It doesn’t take much time, or cost much; it is very sensual and enjoyable, it helps to ground you, and it has multiple health benefits. Oh, and it helps to maintain youthfulness and vitality too …
Daily massage with sesame oil
Ayurveda extols the virtues of a sesame oil self massage to counter all kinds of ailments: to deal with stress, nourish the muscles, bones, joints and skin and improve sleep patterns; to relieve muscular pain and tension, make the skin healthy and glowing, improve circulation.
If you suffer from cold hands and feet in winter you may notice an immediate benefit from improved circulation.
Ideally, do this every day after getting up and before a shower. Use cold-pressed organic sesame oil. This is light brown and has a pleasing nutty aroma. (The black sesame oil that you get from a Chinese supermarket is made from roasted sesame seeds and will make you smell like a chop suey.)
Sesame oil is quite thick at room temperature and you need to warm it first so it will be absorbed. Put a little oil in a saucepan and warm it gently for a few seconds. (Please watch it carefully and be careful not to let it get too hot as it will start smoking and then catch fire.)
There are specific strokes that you can use, and if you know them then great. But for the purposes of this it is only important to get the oil onto your skin and rub it in in a manner that is comfortable and enjoyable for you.
Why does sesame oil have such a powerful effect?
In Ayurvedic terms, sesame oil balances Vata dosha. Vata is the principle that governs ‘movement’ in the body. It controls the nervous system and is quick, light, cold, rough and moving. When Vata is disturbed (as a result of lack of routine, travel, talking a lot, late nights, etc) we feel unsettled, jumpy, out of balance, and may suffer from disturbed sleep. Sesame oil has an immediate warming, calming and nourishing effect, and is a powerful means to balance Vata.
Note: Because sesame oil is warming, it may not be quite so suitable for those Pitta people who have a ‘hot’ temperament, and particularly not during the summer months.
The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much, even if subjected to accidental injuries or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts, and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.
The Sanskrit word for oil is sneha, but this also means ‘motherly love’ and ‘loving kindness’. Isn’t that great? A daily massage with warm comforting sesame oil will make you understand why.