Although talk of New Year’s resolutions may surround us and we may wish our focus to be on living healthier, happier lives in 2013, I find January to be a month where I crave comfort rather than cleansing, a month where being swaddled in blankets sipping warm tea with honey is far more appealing than power juices and runs outside. At the same time, I do want to honour the natural sense I have at this time to year to renew commitments to myself and others, and set intentions for the year ahead – just in a way that feels right for the season.
I recently spoke to Erin Melvin, a Vancouver-based holistic life coach and maker of fine Ayurvedic oils, about how incorporating a daily oil practice into our lives can not only make our skin more beautiful but can help us find balance and better health.
Erin became enamoured with using oils during her time in India, where she took an Ayurvedic Therapy Training course. In the massage component of the course, oils (including some medicated oils) are used heavily, and Erin soon learnt the benefit of massaging oils into her skin on a daily basis. On her return to Canada she followed the advice of her Ayurvedic Master to source local ingredients for the oils she now makes so that others can share these benefits:
“The oils that I make today come out of Ayurvedic principles but the ingredients would be more familiar to us in the west, and include essential oils and carrier oils. In Ayurveda it’s about balance, so I’m always thinking, ‘what is my goal?’ – this person has dry cracked skin so that means something warming, unctuous to balance that. It’s the meeting of opposites, bringing opposites together.”
One of Erin’s favourite products is her Foot Oil, and it’s a perfect oil to use at this time of year when the weather is cold and we’re looking for a simple way to build in an element of self-care to our daily routine.
“The idea is to massage your feet at the end of the day … it’s about creating a circle of energy in the body, which is important because the energy goes out the end points, so I’m reconnecting to myself at the end of the day and I’m grounding the busy mind by touching my feet. It’s self-care and it’s so simple, you can sleep better and your feet are happy! The whole body map is in the foot – so if you spend 10 minutes at the end of your day massaging your feet you’re literally massaging your whole being, and you relax, you’re healthier, your feet are healthier. If you’re taking care of your body and your health then you’re better able to give out health.”
Erin has an intuitive understanding of oil making, which comes partly from the time she spent after her course in the north of India meditating on the elements:
“In India there are 5 elements and those 5 elements make up the basis of the Ayurvedic knowledge. After I finished my training I spent 4 months in the north and every day I would take an element and I would go outside and meditate on the element – it changed my life. I tapped into the elements and when you understand the elements you can balance them, and that’s what Ayurveda is all about – balance.”
While the Ayurvedic practice of oil therapy or daily use is primarily about body wellness and taking care of “the vehicle that you’ve arrived in”, the act of taking care of ourselves is important to our whole being – the physical and the spiritual realms. When we take care of the vehicle – the body – we are then better able to look to practices such as Yoga to help us take care of the spirit, creating space in the body for the spirit to be bigger.
“When I put each element into that bottle it’s like an investment of energy. I do believe what you put on your skin is like what you put in your body, you digest it – it’s love.”
Erin has found a way to transform her skin so it looks beautiful while enjoying a daily oil practice that helps her feel more balanced and healthy. She now wants to pass this gift onto others by making oils with a “pure intention”.
So, this January, my intention is to take care of myself so I am better able to take care of others and both show and receive love. I’ve been amazed at how quickly a daily oil practice has become an integral part of my physical and spiritual well-being. The love that Erin pours into each bottle of oil envelops my skin, soothing, balancing and beautifying.
For more information about Erin’s oils you can visit www.seaweedsalon.ca; if reading about these fabulous oils and the Ayurvedic tradition they were born from has inspired you to visit India there are still a small number of openings on the March journey to India with Sacred Earth Journeys. This is a spiritual journey to the soul of India’s historic culture with Master Storyteller, author and vedic scholar Jeffrey Armstrong.