How to Practice Abhyanga (Self-Massage)

 By Angela Glaz

Ayurvedic Health Coach & 500 Hour E-RYT

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What you need:

When it comes to choosing an oil for Abyhanga, you will want to choose an oil that will be the balance your dominant dosha or the dosha you are currently experiencing an imbalance it. For example: If you are vata dominant, but it is the middle of summer, you might want to choose a pitta balancing oil or one that is more cooling in nature.

Vata Balancing Oils: Sesame Oil, Mahanarayan Oil, or a carrier oil that is infused with Ashwagandha or Bala. These two Ayurvedic herbs are known to helps decrease stress and promote stamina and strength, which vata dominant body types are often in need of.

Pitta Balancing Oils: Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, or Neem Oil. These oils are more cooling in nature and will help pacify excess heat and/or inflammation that is often found in Pitta dominant body types.

Kapha Balancing Oils: Kapha is already oily in nature, so kapha’s should practice in moderation. Kapha is also cool in nature, so when doing abyhanga should stick to oils that are more warming such as Sesame Oil, Almond Oil, Olive Oil and Corn Oil.

How to do:

The ritual of Abyhanga suggests massaging your entire body. You should begin at the crown of your head and work down toward your feet.  While performing, you should massage up along your arms and legs (moving toward your heart), massage in an upward circular motion around face and joints, and massage in a clockwise motion around your stomach and chest.

Enjoy a warm bath or shower shortly after. It’s recommended that you rinse off or bathe in only water and use a mild soap on the “strategic” areas. When done bathing, towel dry. Keep a special towel for drying off after your abhyanga because it will eventually get ruined, due to the accumulation of oil.



  • Increased circulation (specifically at nerve endings)

  • Lubrication of the joints.

  • Elimination of toxins from the body.

  • Makes deep tissues soft and supple, helping to remove stress and nourish the nervous system.

  • Helps reduce cases of pain, debility, and stiffness.

  • Helps reduces fatigue.

  • Increased energy levels.

  • Soft and healthy skin.

  • Decreases signs of aging.

  • Most beneficial for vata and pitta dosha.

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