Monday, April 2, 2012

Ayurvedic Facial Massage

Last week, I left a comment on another perfume blog mentioning that I practiced this. Several replies came back wanting to know the method, so here it is!

Ayurvedic medicine has been practiced for thousands of years. To grossly oversimplify, it stresses balance between the body’s fluids or “humors,”  the channels transporting them, and the freeing of constrictions in those channels. This type of facial massage boosts circulation and stimulates lymphatic drainage.

I’ve been practicing this three or four times a week for several months now. For me, has resulted in a clearer, more “lively” complexion with less pore blockage, empty sinuses and a more relaxed, rested-looking face. While everybody’s results will differ, at the minimum this feels wonderful, relieves tension in the head and neck and — best of all — it’s DIY, and free.

I use a base of almond oil (30 mls) to which I’ve added 2 drops each of essential oils of Eucalyptus and Lavender, and one drop each of Sage and Vetiver. (If I have a cold or allergic sinus blockage I’ll add a little extra eucalyptus, which really helps with that.) About two percent essential oil to plain oil is the desired ratio; use any essences that appeal to you, or just plain oil. Pure essential oil, however, should always be diluted for use on skin.

Facial massage, regardless of type, should always be done with upward strokes.

This instruction recommends 30 minutes, but who has that kind of time? I usually do 15 or 20. And, if you have access to a steam room, even better — just smooth the oil over your face and neck before you get in.  A hot tub or bath is an ideal place, too. 

Try to rely on your hands, not a mirror; it’s better to do this by sense of touch. Read through the instructions first, because your hands will be full of oil, which you certainly don’t want to get on the keyboard! (I kept these instructions on my desktop in a large type font until I had memorized them.) 

Sitting straight in a chair, you begin at the collar bones, firmly pressing beneath them at the breastbone (super-sternal) notch at least five times. Moving out to the shoulder area, firmly pressing with the balls of the fingers, you should feel the stimulation unlocking neck and shoulder tension. Then, using opposite hands, use three fingers to massage the shoulder muscles. Move back to the hollow behind your collarbones and “pinch,” thumbs downward, back and forth along the bones out to the shoulder muscles for several minutes. (Stimulating this area is an essential foundation to the facial massage.) 

Then, the neck should be “palmed”one hand at a time, rhythmically stroking upward, with the right hand stroking the left side of the neck and vice versa. This will stimulate the lymph glands in the neck area. The jawline is firmly pinched with your thumbs under the bone, from beneath the chin to the earlobes, in about four steps, ten times.

Now the face, with the first two fingers on each side, just under the cheekbones, from the jaw outward and back again, about five times.  Then the nose area. Start at the bridge, index finger on each side, and apply firm pressure, working down to the end of the nose and back again, for about one minute. This helps keep the sinuses clear. 

The skin around the eyes is thin and delicate, so make sure you have enough oil on the skin so there is no "drag.”  Use the ring fingers to gently trace around the rim of the sockets starting from the outside, going around in circles ten times. This helps to reduce puffiness and dark circles.

The forehead is massaged by spreading your fingers on either side of your nose with your thumb at the temple and the index between your eyebrows. Pinch very lightly up to the hairline and back again. There is very little excess skin here, so this is a shallow pinch, done for a couple of minutes. This releases muscle tension in the forehead. 

After this, rub any excess oil on your hands into other areas of your body as necessary, such as knees or elbows, and relax for awhile if you can. (I have found that this massage makes a good prelude to meditation.) 

When finished, wash the face and neck to remove any excess oil.

There are different methods for performing this type of facial massage — this is the one I use. I have “customized” it by pressing on the eye-rim notches located about where the eyebrows start, and gently pinching along the upper lip and rims and lobes of the ears — these are acupressure points. Other instructions I’ve seen involve circling the temples and pressing the area between temple and jaw to stimulate the salivary glands. Supplement with whatever seems right to you.

 The illustration of facial muscles is from the site


queen_cupcake said...

I can't wait to try this! Thank you very much for posting your method. I have heard about Ayurvedic massage, but never tried it. This seems like something I can do myself.

Olfacta said...

Hi QC -- Yes, definitely. That's the best thing about it!

Louise said...

Can I use something other than oil for the massage? It sounds lovely, but I am rather zit-prone and I don't want to end up with a pimple explosion.

Olfacta said...

Hi Louise -- I guess anything that reduces friction -- lotion or some silicon-based thing ("hair defrizzer") would do. I don't think the oil is essential except around the eyes anyway, since the skin there is so thin and prone to wrinkling.

viji said...
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