You might be wondering why Ayurveda uses oils so much and talks about oils so much. Well, I've got five tips for you on why you it's a good idea to use oils on our insides and on our outsides.
1) Use oils in food because it lubricates our insides. One of the ways we prevent disease is to avoid getting very dry and brittle because then the body breaks down. Oils help prevent that breakdown as it seeps into our deepest tissues. Oils get digested and they actually turn into nourishment for all of our seven tissues (or, seven dhatus in Ayurveda). They help keep the inside of the body nice and stretchy, pliable, smooth, and unctuous. Oils bring a nice heaviness too, because we want our bodies to stay warm, and supple, and flexible.
If you are a vata person, you will need some extra oils in your diet. In fact, oil is vata's number one food because vatas are so dry. Make sure to cook with it. Olive oil is great. Coconut oil is great. You could drizzle flaxseed on some of your dishes if you like to do that. There's also ghee.
If you are a pitta, coconut oil is good and ghee is pitta's number one food.
If you're a kapha, you're not going to need as much oil because you're already quite oily.
2) Erm. Oil helps constipation! It helps us poop. YAY! Oils are good because it brings that heavy unctuous quality. If our body is not oiled enough, if there's not that heavy unctuousness (to pull the poop down and out), the poop will stay all up in there. Water is good for constipation but it's not enough.
If you're having a little trouble with the pooping, add some more oils into your diet (along with some water) to bring in the heaviness quality that moves those poops down and out.
3) The skin eats. Just like when we eat oils and it goes into our tissues, we can reach our tissues from the outside, too. Anything we put on our skin, we should be able to put in our mouth. That's just a rule of thumb for general skincare. Think about the things that you're putting on your face. If it's toxic to eat, it's going to be toxic for our skin as well.
Applying oils to our skin sinks in to our deepest tissues to keep our tissues toned, strong, flexible, stretchy. Keeps them from drying out, sagging, and cracking.
People who have oilier skin, while they might complain about it, are the ones that are going to look youngest! So go ahead and put those oils nicely on your skin to keep your skin feeling like a baby.
4) Massaging the skin and full body with warm oil. Massage is very calming for vata which means it's the perfect remedy when we feel anxious, worried, ungrounded, insecure. Even better, it's awesome prevention so we don't end up feeling that way!
Touching the skin uses sense of touch which is what we use in Ayurveda to calm vata. Add to that, putting some warm oil on the skin is extremely nourishing, which brings our racing, worried mind back to ease and brings our body back to a place where we feel like we're comforted, loved, held, and warm, instead of cold, dry, brittle and panicked and raising. All of that goes away with a nice warm oil massage on the skin.
5) Oil is anti-aging. When we use oil on the skin, it helps fill in dry cracks (kinda like dry mud that has cracked). When we use oils regularly, we look so much younger and get a little glow.
Do a little test.
Put a little bit of oil on your fingertips and you're going to *tap, tap, tap* (20-30x each) on your forehead, bones beneath the eyes, and jawline.
Then, see how many people are like, "Wow! You glow today!" For real! You just stimulated the marma points (energy points, like acupuncture) in the face with oil! Glorious mini facial! You're going to feel more alive. Your face is going to feel like it can s-t-r-e-t-c-h and smile because you're not all dried out!
Oils to use: Vatas can use a little bit of sesame oil. Almond oil is good for pittas and vatas. Sunflower or safflower oil is good for kaphas. You can find all of these at your grocery store. Get the cold or expeller-pressed oils.
Those are my five tips on why and how we use oils on the inside of our body and on the outside of our body in Ayurveda. I look forward to hearing about how this works for you and I look forward to seeing you soon as we keep bringing Ayurveda to life!