Abhyanga is the Sanskrit term for the Ayurvedic oil massage. It relates to the word "Sneda" which in Sanskrit is translated as "oil" and "love." It gives a deep feeling of stability, warmth, and comfort. This practice moisturizes the skin, lubricates the joints, penetrating into the tissues (Dhatus) and organ systems.
Having a daily oil massage practice improves sleep, enhances vision, benefits the hair, pacifies Vata and Pitta while stimulating the Kapha dosha.
This practice (Dinacharya) has been done for thousands of years to maintain good health and well-being and is done in Ayurvedic clinics or can be done as self-massage at home. It is also done as part of the Panchakarma (detoxification) practice assisting in the movement of toxins in the lymphatic system and is nourishing, moisturizing, balancing, and grounding, nourish the body, bringing groundedness, softness, well-being, and vitality. It benefits the entire body, decreasing the effects of aging, increases stamina while lubricating the joints, and moisturizing the skin. Its practice improves circulation, stimulates the internal organs, and assists in eliminating impurities of the body because of its lymphatic actions. The benefits of Abhyanga are not only moisturizing the body but applying oil is grounding for the mind. It removes toxins from the skin.
When designing an abhyanga practice, an Ayurvedic the constitution and or imbalance and then decides which base oil, and or herbal infused oil is appropriate, and what type of application is necessary on the hair, scalp, ears or feet. Oils are chosen depending on your constitution, imbalance, seasonally, or location in the world you are located in. The go-to carrier or base oils for each dosha are:
Vata: Sesame, almond, or Vata balancing oil. Pitta: Coconut, sunflower, or Pitta balancing oil, and for Kapha: Sesame or Safflower or Kapha balancing oil. If Tri-doshic use Sunflower or Jojoba oil.
Warm the oil bottle by placing it in a mug of hot water (Optional, but recommended)
Massage the oil into your entire body for 5-15 minutes, beginning at your extremities and working toward the middle of your body. Use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints.
Massage the scalp, which rejuvenates the mind and nervous system.
After applying oils, try to leave oil on body for 20 minutes, and then enjoy a warm bath with Epsom salts or shower. Minimize the use of soap if possible.
Avoid doing Ayurvedic self-massage during pregnancy, menstruation or while ill.