Our Maven Sachi Doctor on Ayurvedic Wisdom, Self Care & the Power of Abyanga, Warm Oil Massage

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Later this month, we’ll be partnering with Sachi Doctor, Kismet maven and total light being, on a Routines to Rituals workshop. Sachi describes the details of her workshop below, where she’ll dive into her top Ayurvedic self-care practices, the body’s biological (circadian) rhythm and how it aligns with nature’s cycles, and the power of abyanga, a powerful oil massage. Scroll down to read about Sachi and her work, and please join us on 10/25 at Credo Beauty!

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Hi everyone! My name is Sachi Doctor and I am the founder of Elemental Alchemy, an Ayurvedic lifestyle company that offers handcrafted products and personalized holistic health services. I’m also an Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga teacher and tea maker from a lineage of Indian healers and doctors, which means I’ve been imbued in both Eastern tradition and Western medicine since childhood. After years of feeling like I needed to switch back and forth between these two worlds, I strive to marry the wisdom of both, blending Ayurvedic principles and yogic philosophy with physiology and functional nutrition to help individuals understand their mind-body composition, and ultimately, to empower them to reclaim agency for their own health.

To me, this awareness is foundational for the health and resiliency we seek because health isn’t a fixed state of being that once established we can ignore; Rather it is a dynamic, ongoing and in direct relationship with nature’s rhythms, the ebbs and flows of life. And when we invite a sense of childlike curiosity and wonder into this self-exploration, we have the ability to shift the experience of self-care and health from one of self-doubt and comparison to one that fosters self-awareness and mind-body harmony.

This is what the Routines to Rituals workshop is all about and why it is one of my absolute favorites! Covering East and West, we begin by discussing some basics: the body’s biological (circadian) rhythm and how it aligns with nature’s cycles; digestion and its key players; the senses and their relationship to stress. Then we dive into the juicy bits: the subtle energies present at different times of day; Ayurvedic self-care practices; the difference between outcome driven habits (the “do it because it’s good for you” logic) and sacred rituals that immerse you in the moment; aspects of ritual and how to create them for yourself... Ultimately, the workshop is an opportunity to move self-care from your to-do list into everyday actions that support your wellbeing. From aligning with the energies of the day to infusing more meaning and presence into daily habits, my hope is that you walk away with a deeper understanding of your body and practical tools to invite more richness and ease into your life.

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One of those tools is actually something you try tonight (and every night hereafter!). It is my go-to Ayurvedic practice.

 Abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage) is a self-administered massage that is an integral part of the daily routine recommended for overall health, and traditional Ayurvedic texts wax eloquent about it's benefits:

"The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much, even if subjected to injuries or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, strength and charm, and they are least affected by aging.” — Charaka Samhita: Sutrasthana: V: 88-89.

Sounds pretty great doesn't it?

OTHERS BENEFITS: Increased circulation  — Reduced anxiety  — Improved joint mobility & lubrication — Increased mental alertness and stamina — Better elimination  — Softer, smoother skin  — Deeper sleep

FUN FACT: The Sanskrit word sneha means both “oil” and “love,” and the effects of abhyanga are similar to being saturated with love. Both experiences can give a deep feeling of stability, warmth and comfort.

HOW TO: AYURVEDIC MASSAGE

  • Warm about ¼-½ cup of sesame or almond oil (Vata balancing — aka to feel grounded & warm)

    • For Pitta balancing — aka. to feel cool & calm — use coconut or sunflower oil 

    • For Kapha balancing —  aka. to feel invigorated & stimulated — use mustard, sunflower or olive oil 

  • Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room on a towel that you don’t mind ruining with oil accumulation.

  • Apply oil generously to your entire body.

  • Massage the oil into your body, beginning at the extremities and working toward the middle of your body

  • Use long strokes on your limbs and circular strokes on your joints. Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions.

  • Give a little extra time and attention to massaging the oil into your scalp, ears and feet, at least once a week. Apply oil to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes.

  • When you massage your feet, be sure to wash them first when you shower, so you don’t slip.

  • Enjoy a warm bath or shower.

  • Sleep well, my friend!

Natalie Rizzo