Nervous or Nourished? Self-Care to Soothe Anxiety Away
Did you know you can become so “head-driven” in a technology-obsessed, speed-of-mind lifestyle that you leave much of yourself behind as you race headlong through teeming work, errand and social days?
It’s great to feel busy, focused and in demand. But the old saying – “What goes up must come down” – couldn’t be more true!
The Ayurvedic bio-energy vata circulates in 5 directions through your system. One of these directions is “upward and outward,” the direction your energy is going when you project yourself through talking, typing, making quick decisions, responding to quick-changing situations and rushing around to get things done. This same upward energy is stimulated by exposure to electronics, by noise, by images and new ideas and by rapidly-changing information and events. It’s no wonder you can hardly feel your legs and feet anymore, with all this upward/outward energy leading you around!
While having some excitement in life can be great, over-reliance on–or chronic exposure to–movement and stimulation is imbalancing, depleting and strangely, even addicting. (Just gotta scratch that itch for excitement or new information all the time? Can’t sleep, relax or settle down?)
Ayurveda works with all your senses and mind to restore ease, function and balance. The high vata state so common in our experience of modern life can be remedied!
Nourish your nervous system, instead of racing, then crashing down in nervous crisis, depletion and deep fatigue. In the mad dash of life these days, don’t leave any part of yourself behind!
Nourishing your nervous system is a gift you can give yourself. Plus, it’s a gift that keeps on giving to and all those around you as you become more grounded, less-reactive and more content. Below is one good way to coax your energy to ‘come down,’ and receive your invitation to stay down. (This kind of self-care feels so deeply good!) Give this warm oil foot massage a try to nourish your skin and nervous system. Then, I’d love to know all about your experience, in the comments, below.
(Originally published in a longer article Niika wrote for Yoga Journal Magazine.)
Technique by Melanie Sachs, Diamond Way Ayurveda
Written and embellished by Niika Quistgard
“Just like caring for your complexion, there are three basic steps to beautifying your feet:
cleanse, nourish and protect,” says Melanie Sachs…
Before you apply any new substance to your skin, it’s wise to perform a patch test.
Click here to get instructions.
How to Perform:
Fill a basin, bucket or your bathtub with:
a teaspoon of ginger powder in warm water to improve circulation
or lavender, honey and rose petals in cool water for relief of stress and excess heat
or 2 handfuls of epsom salts for swollen or fatigued feet.
Submerge feet in water and soak a while. Remove feet and pat dry.
Beginning with your left foot:
Sit or lie down so your right knee supports your foot. Apply warm sesame, coconut or herbalized oil all over foot and ankle.
Massage in circles around the ankle. With your opposite hand, squeeze down from the base of the calf muscle all the way down to the heel bone, three times.
Holding your heel, pull back on ball of the foot, flexing and stretching several times.
With small circular movements, massage the spaces between all the toes – pinching the webbing.
Glide thumbs up and down along the grooves between the tendons on top of the foot.
Turn your foot so the sole is facing you, grasping it in both hands, with thumbs just under the ball of the foot. Press your fingers into the top sides of the foot, stretching the base of the toes apart. Then “milk” each toe, sliding from base over the tip of each toe many times.
Press into the top and bottom of the foot, moving toward the ankle. Massage vigorously from heel to toe using the heel of your hand.
Walk thumbs along outer edges of the foot, along the arch and deeply into the edge of the heel. Use your knuckles to massage the arch of the foot. (This can help relieve back tension.)
Hold the ankle with one hand and the top of the foot with the other, rotating the foot clockwise, then counterclockwise. “It’s a spinal twist for the foot!” says Sachs.
Grasp the big toe and rotate it fully, drawing a large circle with the tip of the toe. Then rub the big toe between the palms of your hands to ease neck pain and tension, and the base of the little toe to ease shoulder tension.
Using the flat palm of your right hand, massage the entire sole of your foot in a figure-eight pattern, then around the heel several times, and the whole foot generally, all over again.
To finish, press the palm of your hand to the center of the sole of the foot. Feeling the subtle energy here encourages a healthy flow of apaana vaayu, the grounding, downward movement of vata.
Repeat on the right foot.
Finally, to remove excess oil, sprinkle on some absorbent daal flour, leaving a bit on the skin’s surface. (Channa daal – also called besan – flour can be purchased at any Indian grocery.) If you prefer, rinse in warm water, forgoing soap. Dry off and put on cotton socks, allowing your feet to enjoy feeling protected, soft, comfortable and flexible.