Balance Your Vata With Healthy Fats
Have you ever felt like your skin is so dry and flaky you could use it as fish food? Are your joints so loud and achy you could grease them with WD-40? Do you have scattered, anxious thoughts? Do you often feel like you’re floating in the air because you’re so ungrounded? This blog post is for you! I am going to give you my tips on how you can return to a more grounded and balanced state using the amazing healing powers of natural oils and fat.
Fat Makes Us Function
Our bodies need fat to function, period! Some types of fat, such as dietary cholesterol help us create and maintain optimally functioning hormones like progesterone and testosterone. Other kinds, Omega-3 and Omega-6, help us feed our brain, which in fact, is the fattiest organ in our body, consists of up to 60% fat. We need fat to create the coating that protects and insulates our neurons. Fat is essential for proper function of our nervous system. We even use fat for fuel in the form of ketones to create more efficient energy for our mitochondria and our body to function at its best, better than when we use glucose for energy. Fat is essential for a healthy and proper functioning body.
If you’ve been on a low fat diet, please stop! Fat is important for good health. If you don’t consume much fat, start adding good healthy fats to your diet, it will aid you in becoming more grounded, nourished, and help your brain function better.
What Is a “Healthy” Fat?
It’s a common question that I love to answer! Healthy fats are found in many different types of food. Some examples are, avocados and their oil, nuts, seeds and their oils, fatty fish like wild caught salmon, olives and their oils, grass-fed butter or ghee (clarified butter), whole eggs, grass-fed and pasture raised meats, coconut and it’s derivatives, like oil, butter and full fat milk. These are just a few examples of great sources of healthy oils and fats that you can consume on a regular basis.
Your Skin Needs Healthy Fats To Thrive
Although eating fats and oils is great for our health, it doesn’t stop there. Our skin, the largest organ in our body, also needs oil to be fully nourished and cared for. The skin has its own microbiome, and oil is just one of the best ways to feed it and keep it alive, thriving, and beautiful. In fact, oil is what keeps the skin young, taut, and supple.
I use oil on my skin in the form of self massage, also known as abhyanga. Apart from delivering the oil directly onto the skin, abhyanga provides those that do it with nourishing love and deep care. Abhyanga nourishes the senses, calming and grounding the nervous system, reducing stress, improving digestion and circulation, and helping the body to flush out its waste products more efficiently.
I now do a daily practice of self massage. Before I did self massage every day, I would walk around with this feeling of vulnerability, exposure and anxiety. I felt un-protected and as I implemented the practice of abhyanga, I realized that abhyanga acted as a safeguard, like a kind of protective blanket. Abhyanga made me feel safe and cared for because the heavy quality of oil, helps me to get and feel grounded. For me doing this practice daily is worth the small time investment.
Give Yourself Some Love
In Sanskrit the word for oil is sneha and it also translates to” love” or “affection.” When we practice abhyanga, and use oil to massage our bodies, we literally coat our vessel with a layer of affection and love as well as a healing touch, providing comfort, vitality, strength and flexibility. Abhyanga increases the flow of prana in our bodies and minds. We are straight up loving our bodies through touch! As Katie Silcox points it out in her book Healthy, Happy, Sexy, touch is 10 times stronger than verbal or emotional contact.
Abhyanga is a great daily practice to have for all Ayurvedic constitutions, especially if you are Vata, and especially if you are an imbalanced Vata. Self massage will bring your scattered mind and thoughts back to center helping you feel grounded and embodied in your own physiology. An excellent oil to use to balance Vata constitutions is cold-pressed organic raw sesame oil, due to its warm, nutritive and penetrating qualities. To stabilize Pitta it’s best to use organic cold-pressed coconut oil, which is unctuous and cooling in nature and for Kapha constitutions it’s best to use organic sunflower oil, or maybe even skip the oil and do a dry massage just with your hands or a dry brush.
My Tips On How to Oil Your Body
- Start by warming the oil. We warm the oil because it cures it, allowing it to be more easily absorbed by the skin and tissues. You can warm your oil by putting the oil in a small glass bottle and placing the bottle in a coffee mug with hot water, letting it sit for 10 minutes or until it’s warm enough.
- Gently massage just enough oil onto the face and the rest of the body. On the arms and legs use back and forth strokes. On the joints, use circular strokes. Massage your whole body including head, neck and feet. On the belly, use circular strokes in a clockwise motion (if you’re looking down at your belly) as this is the direction in which our large intestine moves and it will stimulate proper digestion.
- Move from your head towards your toes for a relaxing feeling, from your toes to your head for a stimulating energy or massage towards the digestive tract for a detoxing action.
- Shower to rinse the extra oil off.
Take Your Time For Best Results
Take 15 to 20 minutes to carefully and lovingly massage your body. If time is an issue, spend at least 5 minutes in deep presence with your own vehicle. Notice the parts of the body you tend to avoid. Is it your belly? Is it your thighs? Spend a little more time in those places as these are your places that need the most love.
While you’re doing your Abhyanga practice, take advantage of the time and the oil you’ve got handy. Put a small amount of the liquid on your hand, dip your pinky finger in it and start rubbing the oil inside your ear canals as well as the inside of your nostrils for extra lubrication, especially when it’s really cold and dry outside. You can also rub oil in your belly button to keep it clean and moist. I hope these practices help you to feel fully embodied, nourished and comfortable in your own skin.