By Margaret Berger, LCSW, Certified Yoga Instructor
At The Juniper Center I am always encouraging my clients to do self-massage, an ancient technique called Abhyanga. Self-massage is a great way to care for ourselves that does not come with the hefty price tag of a private massage therapist and it can have a profound impact on our physical and mental health.
Our feet contain 7000 nerve endings and are a gateway to the nervous system which is overly taxed by daily modern life. You can find ordinary vegetable-based oils that have been prepared to apply to the body at your local Walgreens CVS or similar type stores.
Here’s a simple “how to” to get you started on your own self-foot massage:
- Soak your feet in warm water first for a few minutes to soften your skin.
- Find a comfortable position sitting on the floor, couch or bed, placing a towel under your feet first.
- Put a little of the oil on your hand and begin massaging. If possible warm the oil first by placing the bottle of oil in a bowl of hot water.
- Using circular motions, rub your feet from ankles to toes, one foot at a time (See this article from Yoga International for more details on how to massage your feet, apply the right amount of pressure and use your own hands to create a profound self-healing response.)
According to the herbal medicine of India, Ayurveda, the feet contain reflex points that mirror points in the body. If you feel a spot of tenderness on the feet then massaging into that point can help move and release the pains in the corresponding areas.
Stress according to Dr. Vasant Lad, the leading Ayurvedic scholar and practitioner in the US, accumulates in the connective tissue of the feet. By massaging our feet we are able to counter stress by inducing our body’s relaxation response.