I was teaching a workshop on meditation to singers the other day, and during it I realized that the vast majority of them had never thought about breathing as a tool to release. Now, these folks already know how to breathe; in fact, controlling the breath is what they do for a living. But there's a big difference between controlling the breath to make something happen, and focusing on the breath so you can let go of what you're holding onto.
Take a moment right now and try it to see what I mean. Drop your shoulders and release your jaw. Take a big inhale through your nose, pause at the top, and then slowly exhale through your nose until you're empty. Repeat that breathing pattern two more times.
Notice how you feel now. You let go of something, didn't you?
Whatever you were carrying, you didn't need to hold onto.
Ayurveda Skin Care for the Body
One of the basic tenets of an Ayurveda daily routine is massaging the skin. This technique, called abhyanga, helps with circulation, lymph drainage, and muscle tension. Give it a try! Before your shower or bath, spend a few minutes doing the following:
Massage plain, untoasted sesame oil (warmed, if able) into your skin beginning with the feet using broad, upward strokes. Then do the same with your arms, back, and chest, always working toward the heart to improve circulation. Don't be afraid to use some finger pressure, as we're waking up tissues. Finish with a clockwise circular motion all around the belly to encourage digestion.
You might be thinking, "Why sesame oil? Why not coconut or almond oil?"
Sesame oil is the base in nearly all Ayurvedic massages, though other oils can be added in for specific purposes. Coconut and almond oil have different heating and cooling properties that, when applied to your entire body on their own, can throw off the balance you're looking to achieve. Hence, this is why coconut oil can lead to breakouts in oilier skin.
While plain sesame oil works for all doshas, we can also tailor our abhyanga oil to specific imbalances in the body by adding to it. For example:
Add ashwagandha if you're attempting to build healthy muscle mass
Add Mahanarayan oil if you're needing to improve joint mobility
Add shatavari to help support the menopausal transition
Add Brahmi oil (gotu kola) to reduce overheating and improve mental focus