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Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage

“The act of massage stimulates the rhythmic dance between one’s hands and the physiology, communicating with the deep connective tissue, inviting the return of harmony and innate intelligence, which is the music of the body expressed as perfect health.”

Abhyanga is a technique that is unique to Ayurveda. It involves mindfully anointing the body with oil to balance one’s physiology and present health conditions. The skin is the largest organ of the body and performs several important functions, including: providing a protective barrier, regulating body temperature, synthesis of vitamin D, maintaining water-electrolyte balance, providing a storehouse of fat, water, salt, and glucose, and maintaining acid-alkaline levels.

It is recommended to do abhyanga daily in a warm environment with an oil that is balancing for your Dosha and present condition. Use a towel or sheet you don’t mind throwing away to prevent oil from staining the floor. By allowing the oil to penetrate the skin, before bathing, it protects, nourishes, and supports one’s mind, body, and spirit.

Vata-pacifying oils: sesame, coconut (in summer season), jojoba

Pitta-pacifying oils: sunflower, coconut, safflower, olive

Kapha-pacifying oils: sesame, mustard, corn (organic), flaxseed, olive


  • Calms the nervous system and sense organs
  • Balances secretions of hormones and neurotransmitters
  • Improves health of the skin by making it softer, stronger, and more lustrous
  • Lubricates the skin and revives its tone
  • Reduces the effects of aging
  • Nourishes the body by removing toxins and providing nutrients to all tissues
  • Enhances immunity
  • Supports restful sleep
  • Stimulates the internal organs and improves circulation of blood and lymph
  • Promotes healthy appetite and strong digestion
  • Nurtures and supports positive feelings and emotions
  • Balances elimination
  • Supports the growth of soft, thick, healthy hair
  • Reduces coarseness, stiffness, roughness, fatigue, numbness, and cracking joints
  • Pacifies Vata dosha
  • Certain oils, such as sesame, provide anti-oxidant actions which benefit overall health
  • Increases ojas, energy, and vitality
  • Helps reduce pain
  • Slows the aging process and increases longevity


  1. Warm approximately ½ cup of oil. Slowly and thoughtfully apply the oil to your entire body in the following manner.
  2. Begin at the top of the head, massage oil into the roots of the hair, oil the face including the nostrils and ears, but avoiding the area around the eyes.
  3. Next massage oil into the extremities and work your way toward the center of the body.
  4. Use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes around the joints. Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise circular strokes.
  5. Be sure to thoroughly massage your hands and feet.
  6. Let the oil penetrate for approximately 20-30 minutes.
  7. Be very careful when entering the shower or bathtub as your feet may be slippery from the oil.
  8. It is recommended to rinse off in a shower or bath using soap only in areas where needed, and to wash the oil out of your hair (this may require 2 applications of shampoo).
  9. It is recommended to use a special towel for drying off after bathing as it will accumulate oil.


  • acute flu, fever, chills
  • common cold
  • diarrhea
  • heavily coated tongue
  • moderate to severe indigestion
  • immediately after taking emetics or purgatives
  • during pregnancy or menstruation
  • open or infected lesions
  • extreme obesity
  • edema
  • blood clots or bleeding disorders
  • alcohol toxicity
  • extreme emotion
  • acute hypoglycemia
  • insulin-dependent diabetes
  • severe dehydration
  • during chemotherapy

Clean-up and Maintenance

Oil may accumulate in your bathtub or shower drain over time. A couple of times each month, pour approximately ¼ cup dishwashing detergent into the drain, followed by 2-3 cups of boiling water. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Then run hot water down the drain for 2-3 minutes to flush the residue.

To clean the oiled towels and/or clothing, wash with your chosen laundry detergent and add approximately 1 cup of rubbing alcohol, or approximately ¼ cup diswhasher detergent with a full load. Experiment as needed.

Please Note

The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, nor to replace the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. By entering this site, you agree to the Terms and Conditions.
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