Abhyanga offers strength, longevity and pacification to the body and mind. But it is very important to know about how to do Abhyanga ayurvedic oil massage the correct way. If done correctly, it is one of the most nourishing practices that have been mentioned in the Ayurvedic scriptures. If you haven’t yet read about the amazing benefits of this daily oil massage practice, read my previous blog by clicking here.
Here, I am going to talk about which body oils are suitable for each dosha or body type, step by step instructions to perform Abhyanga as mentioned in Ayurveda and also what precautions one must take while doing Abhyanga. To know more about the different body types i.e Vata, Pitta and Kapha I would request you to read my previous blog by clicking here. This will help you to understand your body type so that you can choose suitable oil for your Abhyanga routine.
The best thing about Abhyanga is that you can do it on your own at home in the form of self massage. No need to go any special place to do it, and all it takes is 15 minutes!
Oils that are best for Vata body type
Sesame oil, Almond oil
The primary qualities of vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile. Most of these qualities are opposite to the properties of oils in general. This is why warm oils like sesame and almond are good for pacifying vata. To know more about the benefits of Sesame oil – ‘A fountain of youth’ read my previous blog here.
Oils that are best for Pitta body type
Sunflower oil, Coconut oil
The primary qualities of pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light, fleshy-smelling, spreading and liquid. Since pitta and oils in general share a lot of same qualities it is ideal to use cooling and neutral oils like sunflower and coconut.
Oils that are best for Kapha body type
Olive oil, Corn oil, Sesame oil, Almond oil
The main qualities of kapha are oily, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, cool and static. Abhyanga with these warm oils is best for kapha.
Oils that are good for All the three doshas
Jojoba oil has the potent to balance vata, pitta and kapha doshas.
How to perform Abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage) on your own:
- Carry out your daily oil massage in a warm, comfortable room. Make sure you are protected from any wind.
- Heat the oil to body temperature before applying to the body (either place a small amount of oil in a small stainless steel bowl and warm over a candle burner or place the glass/plastic oil container in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes before use).
- Sit or stand comfortably on a towel that you don’t mind soiling with oil accumulation.
- Apply oil first to the crown/top of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes. Spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp.
- Face: Massage in circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws (always moving in a upward movement). Be sure to massage your ears, especially your ear-lobes.
- Then massage the neck and shoulders. Remember to use your entire hand, including palm, fingers and thumb, not just the fingertips for doing the massage.
- Next, massage the arms, hands and fingers. Massage the long bones with long upward and downward movements and the joints using a circular motion.
- The chest and abdominal area should then be very gently massaged. Circular movements over the chest, straight up and down movements over the sternum and the solar plexus (middle of your chest till stomach). Massage the belly with slow, circular clockwise movements around the navel.
- Massage the back as far as possible for you. Here you can exert a little more pressure.
- Then massage the legs. Legs can be massaged with a bit more pressure. In the same manner as the arms, straight for the long bones and circling for the joints.
- Finally massage feet and soles. Here the finger pressure can be increased.
- Give at least 2 to 3 minutes for each step.
- Massage the body with love and patience.
- After you’ve massaged your entire body, enjoy a warm bath or shower. Try to use natural ingredients or soap for bath which will be gentle on your skin. Be sure to wash your feet off before entering the shower, so you that don’t slip.
- When you get out of the shower, towel dry by patting yourself dry instead of rubbing.
Ideally one should leave the oil on the skin for at least 15-20 minutes, before showering or taking a bath. This allows the body time to absorb the oil.
Precautions to take:
Itʼs best to avoid Abhyanga when the following conditions are present:
During menstrual cycle.
Systemic toxins (ama) in the body. You can check for this by noticing if your tongue has a something like a thick white coating on it.
Experiencing a cold or flu.
During pregnancy, without the consent of your health care practitioner.
Again, be sure to wash your feet off before entering the shower, so you that don’t slip.
Abhyanga is a simple, effective, and luxurious practice that puts the ‘ahhh’ in self-care. Investing time to nourish yourself in the morning will provide a sweet return of bliss throughout the day, as well as long term health benefits.