How to make your own lavender infused body oil for self-massage
How to make your own lavender body oil for self-massage
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for their exquisite aromas and natural healing powers. Rich in botanical activity and antioxidants, plant oils encourage radiant, healthy skin, working at a cellular level to keep your complexion soft and looking youthful. By harnessing their therapeutic properties, aromatherapy works to improve your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Lavender oil is packed with soothing essential oils. When applied externally, these have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are effective for skin health. Research also suggests that breathing in lavender’s aroma could improve sleep quality. A systematic review of 15 studies found inhaling essential oils, including lavender, had positive effects in people with mild sleep disturbances (1).
Why does Ayurveda love massage?
Our skin is our largest organ, is the first line of defence for our body and needs protection, nourishment and care. Ayurveda places great emphasis on regular massage. Indeed, the Sanskrit word ‘sneha’ is translated as both ‘oil’ and ‘love’ as it is believed the effects of a good massage are akin to the feeling of being saturated with love! Research supports that massage is an effective way to reduce anxiety and stress. Other benefits of massage [ER5] include
Softer, smoother skin and improved circulation
Lubrication of joints
Nourishment of the deeper tissues
Helps ‘prana’ (life-force) flow in the body enhancing the practice of yoga
Soothes vata dosha, calming the mind and nervous systems
The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to injury 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.” (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Sthana)
How to make your own lavender body oil
A large jar
Dried organic lavender (eg: from Neal’s Yard) or from your own garden
A base oil of your choice (eg: extra virgin olive oil, jojoba or sweet almond oil)
Muslin or fine sieve
A glass storage bottle (ideally brown glass if available)
To make your lavender infused body oil:
Lightly crush your dried lavender flowers in a pestle & mortar or crumble with clean hands
Place lavender into a clean jar until three-quarters full (make sure your jar is totally dry!)
Add enough base oil to completely cover the lavender, leaving some space at the top for expansion
Place on lid and give it a shake
Leave the jar in a warm place or sunny window sill for for 3-4 weeks.
Shake it every week or so
Use the muslin to strain the lavender out and pour your infused oil into a glass bottle. You can discard the lavender pieces in your compost.
Best stored in a cool, dark place and used within a year (depending on the shelf life of your base oil)
How to give yourself an Ayurvedic oil massage
An Ayurvedic self-massage is best done first thing in morning and takes about 20 minutes. The ancient texts advised this was done daily, but you will start to see the effects if you can fit it in twice a week to start with. If time is short, you can just focus on the head and soles of feet, both of which contain many vital points that connect with the rest of the body. If a morning massage is not possible, you can do one in the evening but make sure you leave at least 3 hours after eating. Don’t give yourself a massage if you’re not well, have just eaten or during your period.
Make sure your bathroom is nice and warm- you could even run a hot bath before your massage with some homemade bath salts and enjoy some steam therapy! Have an old bath towel to sit on.
Warm the lavender oil by placing the bottle in a bowl of very hot water.
Start with applying some warm oil all over the head and then working down the body.
Then apply oils to the soles of the feet to create friction and massage each part of the foot.
Work up each leg using straight strokes until you get to the knees. Use small circular movements over the knees. Then straight strokes again on front and backs of thighs to knees. Generally, movements are linear on limbs and circular on the joints.
Circle over hips and buttocks then straight strokes from lower back upwards. Use both hands to massage waist from back to front.
Massage your belly in a clockwise circle, then move up to shoulder and arms.
Use straight strokes from shoulder to fingertips, and circular strokes over elbows and wrists.
Pull each finger, massage base of each finger and rotate fingers. Rub palms and then tops of hands
Finish with facial massage, using small delicate strokes.
Sit quietly for another 5-10 minutes while the oil soaks in.
Take a warm bath/ shower. If it is a chilly day, wear a warm hat when you go outside after your massage.
Used daily, self-massage can really help us cope better with the stresses and strains of life. This is especially so in the cold, dry winter months or whenever we are feeling our nervous system needs nourishing. Using your homemade lavender body oil [ER8] brings the added benefits for skin health.
Lillehei, A.S. and Halcon, L.L., 2014. A systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(6), pp.441-451