Ayurveda is the sister-science of yoga, a discipline that promotes wholeness through self-observation and therapeutics such as diet, daily practices like meditation, herbal medicines, and Ayurvedic treatments.
The following is a fun recipe for a holistic Ayurveda Valentine’s experience which combines partner Abhyanga massage (an oil massage), The Heart Meditation, and a relaxing I Love You bath. Not only will this mélange of therapies wildly benefit your individual and collective body, mind, and spirit, but it’s also an inexpensive Valentine’s idea that will powerfully ignite your passion and prove to be downright sexy.
Plan on spending at least an hour for this event
Step 1: Get the Stuff You’ll Need
- 4-5 towels and a washcloth you don’t mind getting oily
- A space heater or method to warm up the bathroom to a comfortable temperature
- Abhyanga oil. Try getting 12-16 oz. of organic sesame oil, the purer the better. Pure olive oil or safflower oil are good too but sesame is the best. Avoid coconut oil—according to Ayurvedic prescriptions, it’s not the right oil for the winter time for most body types
- 40 pieces (minimum) of small paper notes, preferably cut into hearts
- 2 pillows or meditation cushions
- A timer—a kitchen timer or your phone works great but if you’re using your phone, make sure the ringer is off
- Optional: tea lights if you like the candle-lit vibe
- Optional: essential oils like lavender (calming), rosewood (passionate), ylang ylang (energizing), or sandalwood (grounding heart), to lightly sent your Abhyanga oil and perhaps bathwater
Step 2: Make the Preparations
- Start by warming the bathroom, especially if this will take a several minutes
- While the bathroom is warming, write your I Love Yous on the small pieces of paper. To do this, keep half of the small papers and give half to your partner. Each of you will spend a few minutes and write on each paper one phrase starting with, “I love_______” and fill in the blank. Several examples might be, “I love the way you smell,” “I love to wake up next to you,” “I love how nurturing you are to our children,” “I love to feel your kisses on my neck” “I love it when you (fill in intimate details here) me,” etc. Remember to make them personal and specific. They can be fun, silly, emotional, intimate, or sexy. One phrase per paper. Once you’ve both filled out your papers, don’t show them to your partner yet. Place them in individual envelopes and put them near the tub where they won’t get oily or wet
- If you’d like to use essential oils in your I Love You Bath, keep your oil near the bathtub for later
- Place one or two towels in the empty bathtub and one or two towels on the floor over the meditation cushions or pillows
- Prepare your Abhyanga oil (the sesame oil) by gently warming it on the stove. Use the entire jar. Don’t let it get too hot, you don’t want to cook it. You may wish to add a few drops of essential oils to scent it. Once warm, put the Abhyanga oil into a bowl and put it in the bathroom
Step 3: The Abhyanga Massage
Abhyanga is a full-body oil massage that can be done by yourself or by a therapist or in this case, your Valentine’s Day partner. This luxurious treatment has extensive benefits ranging from calming the nervous system, lubricating the soft tissues of the body, and creating an auric protection for you and your partner’s energy both individually and collectively. Couple’s Abhyanga will also create an emotional and energetic bond and serve to heal emotional wounds or to further strengthen the heart connection and passion between you.
To perform couple’s Abhyanga, you and your partner will remove your clothing and step into the empty bathtub onto one or two towels in the bottom of the empty bathtub to prevent slipping and to absorb the oil from going down the drain and potentially clogging it.
Bring your warmed (but not hot) oil with you. Now begin to dip your hands into the oil and each of you will simultaneously massage the oil slowly onto your partner’s body. It’s important to cover every surface of your partner’s body completely but be careful not to get the oil into your partner’s eyes, especially if you have used essential oils. Without too much oil on your hands, massage your partner’s scalp. Oiling the hair is itself an excellent treatment, but if you don’t want to get your hair too oily, don’t rub too much oil through the hair. The Abhyanga process should take several minutes. This will get . . . hot.
When you feel finished with the massage, either wrap a towel around you or remain naked, but exit the tub and sit on the towels you’ve placed on the bathroom floor over the meditation cushions or pillows. It’s important to allow additional time for the oil from the Abhyanga to continue to absorb into your skin, so you’re going to be an oily mess for a few minutes. Just enjoy it. Make sure the temperature in the bathroom is warm—nothing puts you out of balance and kills the mood like the cold.
Step 4: Prepare for the Heart Meditation and I Love You Bath
Remove the towel(s) from the bottom of the bathtub and begin to fill it with warm water. Remember to remove or unplug the space heater if it’s still on. Space heaters and water don’t mix. Even the magic of Ayurveda can’t heal electrocution! You want your bath water temperature to be very warm but not quite piping-hot. While the tub is filling, (apply essential oils to the water if desired), you may continue massaging each other. Since you’ve got a few minutes, try telling each other one of your favorite memories you have with your parter, or tell them how you fell in love with them. Once the bath is full, turn off the water and, sit (you’re still oily) on the towels covering meditation cushions or pillows and begin the Heart Meditation.
Step 5: The Heart Meditation
The Heart Meditation is a breathing, meditation, and energy practice designed to use tantric techniques to bring you and your partner closer together and strengthen and celebrate your heart-connection. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Then, begin gazing directly into each other’s eyes and maintain this gaze throughout the entire Heart Meditation. Attempt to keep unbroken eye contact during the entire meditation.
Begin the timer and establish eye contact with your partner and attempt to keep this gaze for the entire duration of the Heart Meditation. It’s incredible how quickly this will build intimacy. While gazing, begin to breathe slowly and deeply and match the breath pattern of your partner. Use ujjayi breath if possible. This tandem breath will cultivate your individual and shared heart energy.
As you inhale, relax and visualize your breath moving in through your nostrils, past your heart, and down into your open pelvis. As you exhale, contract mula bandha (the muscular floor of the pelvis) and visualize your breath moving back up, past your heart, and out the top of your head. This process will start your personal energy to flow through your chakras and illuminate Anahata, your heart chakra. Both on the inhale and the exhale, visualize your breath passing by your heart and picture your heart swelling and becoming more sensitive, able to give and receive feelings and love with each pass of the breath.
After a minute or so, begin to pay keen attention to your partner’s breath. Maintain eye contact. After several breath cycles, reach your heart energy outward toward the heart energy of your partner by visualizing a column of light or color connecting your two hearts. Picture this column strengthening and increasing intensity with each breath (again, this will really turn on the heart). Try to feel into the heart of your partner until you feel as if your hearts are one heart, breathing and beating together. Don’t be surprised if while you do this a range of emotions emerges, anything from laughter and silliness to caring and compassion and perhaps deep desire and passion. When the timer has rung, kiss your partner and bow to each other with “Namaste,” meaning I honor the divine light which we both share.
Tip: During the Heart Meditation, keep the tip of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth with your jaw soft. It sounds weird but this technique is one of the secret tantric techniques of yoga to establish a profound energy flow all the way through your energy channels, first for yourself then to connect deeper to the shared energy of you and your partner. Also, to maintain this heart-connection during love making or while making out, keeping your steady ujjayi breath moving, visualize directing vital energy into your pelvis and heart. Then touch the tip of your tongue to your partners and feel the shared energy moving through you. This process creates the oneness of truly blissful, transformational love making.
Step 6: The I Love You Bath
After the Heart Meditation, remove your towels if you’re wearing them and slip into the filled bathtub. This will allow the excess oil from your Abhyanga massage to dissipate and warm you up again if you got cold during The Heart Meditation.
While you’re soaking, grab your envelopes with your little papers of I Love Yous. Take turns reading all the things that you love about your partner. Read them out loud to your partner so you’re telling them what you love about them. Soak for as long as you like. Avoid using soap to wash away the oil. Instead, use a washcloth to wipe away excess oil. The point of Abhyanga is to absorb as much oil as much as possible through your skin. Much of the oil will dissipate into the bath and will eventually wash down the drain. After the bath, pat yourself dry using a towel you don’t mind getting oily and trying to keep a thin layer of oil on you.
Step 7: Finish
Finally, hop into bed for a cozy, romantic remainder of your evening.