Serene Sanctuaries for the Holidays

The holidays are an exciting, fun-filled time of year. Meeting friends and family, entertaining, shopping, exchanging gifts, decorating your home and planning festive meals, revisiting memories of holidays past and creating new ones, celebrating the end of one year and the start of the next ... there is so much to do and experience! The holidays can also be a hectic time of year, sometimes accompanied by anxiety and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Those are the times to retreat to your own private sanctuaries, where you can recoup and recharge, and re-prepare both your mind and your body for the continuing demands of the season.

Start each day with the healing ritual of abhyanga — the full-body, warm oil ayurvedic self-massage. A deliciously relaxing and rejuvenating experience, the daily massage can rev up your mind and body, helping you breeze through a hectic day and enhancing the quality of your sleep at night. Whether you use the traditional Sesame Oil, an Herbal Massage Oil or a light, fragrant Aroma Massage Oil, Abhyanga balances the mind and emotions, helping enhance your ability to withstand stress. It strengthens the physiology, lubricates the joints and helps the process of elimination of toxins. It's wonderful for winter skin too!

Bath time can become a serene, fragrant interlude when you make aromatic healing herbs and the exquisite aromas of pure essential oils of plants and flowers a part of the experience. The senses can act as a powerful means to create balance in mind and body, and the sense of smell works to create balance through aromas. Washing with gentle, fragrant aromatherapy herbal soaps with cooling sandalwood or uplifting rose can wash away your cares while cleansing your face. Herb or aroma oil infusions in bath water are a time-honored way to pamper yourself. Try blends instead of a single oil — the synergy will make the effect exponential. Use rosemary and peppermint for an invigorating pick-me-up in the morning. Or lavender and ylang ylang for a soothing experience. Or the exotic combination of frankincense and sweet orange to feel renewed.

The Maharishi Ayurveda Vata Aroma Oil blend is perfect for the season. Make sure the essential oils are well integrated into the bath water before you step in. If you're using herbs, wrap your favorite potpourri of fragrant dried herbs and spices in muslin and toss into your bath as it's running. Dried rose petals and buds, lemon and orange rind, lavender, rosemary, peppermint - you can experiment with all of these and more.

Aroma candles can also make bath-time or bedtime a pleasant, relaxing time. With natural candles that use vegetable wax or beeswax and pure essential oils, you can be carefree and confident about using them everyday, and they are convenient ways to enjoy the healing scents. Try the Slumber Time Aroma before bed for restful, quality sleep. Light the candles a half-hour before you step into the bath or into bed to give the healing aroma time to diffuse in the room. Aroma lamps that diffuse essential oils are good alternatives. Remember to observe usual precautions with lit candles or lamps.

Carve out a few fifteen-minute breaks in each busy day to consciously do things to relax. The Transcendental Meditation® technique, for example, is an excellent way to combat the negative effects of stress. Or listen to uplifting music. Truly food for the soul, music such as the Rain Raga melody can "wash away" the cares of the day if you shut your eyes, relax, and just listen.

So this holiday season, take the time to take care of yourself. No matter how busy your schedule, all it takes is a few minutes to find and enjoy your own private sanctuaries.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.