Whether you’re giving, receiving, or giving a warm-oil massage to yourself, there is no arguing that it is a true act of love and an amazing, heartfelt way to express that love and appreciation to both yourself or a partner. Of course, a massage in itself has many benefits, but taking the time to warm the oil beforehand further heightens relaxation, taking the massage to another level.
The Indian tradition of Ayurveda, translating to “knowledge of life,” believes that health and wellness depend on a perfect balance between the mind, body, and spirit. They believed a necessity involved in maintaining this balance was found in the practice of “abhyanga,” a self-massage with warm oil. It was and still is considered a great act of love and a way to promote good health and help yourself or your loved ones maintain their physical, mental, spiritual health and balance.
Besides simply promoting rest and relaxation, abhyanga is believed to increase energy, alertness, physical strength and delay age-related changes to the body and muscles. If you are giving the massage to yourself, it is an opportunity to show your body and mind how much you care for it. It can be a very personal and uplifting self-care routine.
Why Warm It?
Taking the step to warm your oil can have many benefits for the muscles, helping the person relax, soothing aches and pains due to stress or an injury, and to help the oil to penetrate the skin better. Not to mention, it feels heavenly.
Relax the Muscles
The heat helps muscles relax and loosen. When a heat source is applied to a localized area, the body attempts to maintain homeostasis and regulate the body temperature. For this reason, the blood vessels in the region where the heat is applied expand to increase blood flow to spread the heat to the rest of the body. Ah, science.
For Aches and Discomfort
If you are massaging for stiff joints or an injury, heat helps soothe muscles and opens blood vessels which can assist in the healing process and help alleviate some pain. Heat also stimulates your skin’s sensory receptors, meaning it will decrease transmissions of pain signals to the brain and partially relieve some discomfort.
The warm temperature of the oil increases its ability to diffuse into that first layer of skin, therefore penetrating it easier. Warmer temps also affect the actual structure of the skin -- increasing permeability.
How To Warm Massage Oil
Warming massage oil is a simple, basic task that provides significant results and will make your massage that much better. How hot you want your oil depends on you, but always be sure to test the oil on your wrist before pouring it on your skin. It should be hot to the touch but not burn. It is also smart to have a glass container with a lid that seals, mason jars, or even a repurposed, cleaned pickle jar does the trick.
#1: In Your Hands
Good old friction can be enough to do the trick, too. Rubbing your hands together for 15-20 seconds prior with the oil on your hands can warm up the oil slightly, but it won’t be such a drastic change as if you use a more serious heat source. If you don’t plan on massaging for very long, just a quick rub down, this is a simple method, but if you plan on a full-body massage and take your time, you may want to go some more efficient routes.
#2: The Microwave
Ensure your oil container is microwave-safe, or pour it into a ceramic or glass cup or container that is safe. Stick it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds and carefully test how hot it is. The problem with this method is the oil won’t remain hot for very long.
#3: Hot Water
This is likely the easiest, safest, most effective DIY method. You can pour the hot water into your bathroom sink, a mug, or a pot, and all you need is a sealed container that won’t melt. You can boil the water in a small pot or kettle, anything you have on hand already.
- Pour the water into a mug, a bowl, or leave it in the pot
- Submerge the oil (in a sealed glass container) into the hot water
- Let the oil warm for 5-10 minutes.
At this point, your oil should be warm, and you can either remove the oil from the water and get to rubbing, or take the warming mug/bowl/pot with you and place the oil back in hot water throughout the massage to ensure the oil stays warm.
#4: Over a Candle
If you have pets that like to run around and knock things over, this probably isn’t your best bet. However, if you don’t, this is a thorough way to warm your massage oil as long as you can commit to supervising the open flame. It’s also a rather romantic and sexy and somewhat old school to warm your massage oil via candlelight.
You’ll need a massage oil warmer bowl, massage oil, tea lights/candles, and a thermometer.
- Place some candles underneath the bowl and light the candle.
- Place the warmer bowl over the candles
- Pour the massage oil into the warmer bowl
- Monitor the oil and check its temp from time to time.
#5: In An Oil Warmer
Suppose you feel quite enthused about this technique and think of adopting self-massaging or partner massaging into your regular self-care or partner routine. In that case, you may want to go all out on the accessories. One of the few tools you may want to invest in would be an oil warmer. There isn’t much to using massage oil; just be sure to read the reviews and unplug it when you’re finished.
More Accessories To Heighten Your Senses
Along with using warm oil, there are some more tricks to get the most out of your massage. If you’re going to do it, and you’re the go-big-or-go-home type, consider some of these upgrades for your massage routine.
This ancient Chinese healing technique uses a stone designed for smooth, broad strokes to promote healthy blood flow, improve circulation, relieve tension, and for lymphatic drainage. The practice of Gua Sha dates back to the Ming Dynasty, where farmers originally used it to ease their discomfort and irritations. Nowadays, it is used for all of the above with the addition of its body sculpting abilities. This custom-crafted tool by Bawdy is made of 100% Agate stone and will make your touch even more empowering -- helping to balance the mind, body, and spirit even more.
Aromatherapy Essential Oils
In addition to having a great, all-natural body oil, you may want to consider the powers aromatherapy can have over your mental and emotional state. Some of the key, clean ingredients of Bawdy’s body oil are CBD, marula oil, and patchouli oil helping to amplify and moisturize your skin. Choose a fragrance you love and get the most out of your relaxation you-time. Below are some of our favorites.
Lavender Oil - Lavender has a calming effect and carries easily through the air. People will instantly feel calmer when you enter a room, and if you always smell like lavender, their psyche will positively correlate calmness with your presence. Ever hear of Classical Conditioning and Pavlov’s dog? Check it out.
Eucalyptus Oil - This essential oil does double duty: it has you smelling refreshing and keeps the bugs away. It is used often as a botanical alternative to bug spray but smells nothing like OFF! we promise. Besides that fun fact, eucalyptus oil is known to reduce emotional stress and raise spirits.
Cedarwood Oil - Having a similar calming effect as Lavender, Cedarwood Oil is a more woodsy, musky alternative. It inspires tranquility and the soothing feeling of being outdoors in the quiet wilderness.
Adding CBD to your massage could help lower discomfort and irritation. You’ll want to purchase your CBD oil from a reputable company, and you can drop it into your oil of choice or opt for CBD-infused body oil. CBD oil is known to induce feelings of relaxation, stress relief and can be beneficial for the health of your skin. The key ingredients of Bawdy’s clean hydrating oil are 300mg full-spectrum organic cannabidiol (CBD), marula oil, patchouli oil, frankincense, and horsetail extract.
Incorporating this ancient Indian practice of self-massage or partner massage with warmed oil is a true treat. While you can give yourself a basic massage, warming the oil, getting some great tools, and making the most of this sacred moment with yourself or sharing it with a partner is the ultimate expression of love.