Love Your Body Back to Wellness: The Art of Abhyanga Self-Massage

February 8, 2022 | 9455 views


Is there any greater expression of love than massage? According to Sanskrit text, the word ‘Sneha’ oh-so poetically means both ‘love’ and ‘oil’. Simply put, Abhyanga is the ultimate expression of self-love! Follow along for a brief overview of Abhyanga with instructions on how to do self-Abhyanga at-home and love your body back to wellness.

Every day, we make time in our busy lives to take care of the people we love, making sure they have what they need and feel special, but when it comes to our own self-care, it’s often a different story. The Ayurvedic tradition of wellness centers around mind-body wellness and offers simple tools like Abhyanga to help you stay connected with your body all the time rather than simply treating symptoms that pop up day to day. The art of Abhyanga self-massage is a simple practice that can help you to stay attuned to your body’s changing needs and express self-love as part of your wellness routines—regularly and often, the heart of Ayurveda.

What is Abhyanga Ayurvedic Massage?

Abhyanga, derived from ancient Sanskrit texts, means ‘stroking the body limbs’ derived from Abhi+Anjana or Abhyanjana. Abhi—towards, into, upon; Anjana— to anoint.

Abhyanga is performed by massaging the entire body from head to toe with warm herbal oils. Different oils are recommended according to your dosha type, but everyone can benefit from this practice. We’ll take you through how to do self-Abhyanga at home so you can make time in your routine to regularly experience this ancient wellness regimen.

Ayurveda invites you to explore the benefits of this rejuvenating self-care routine to balance the doshas, slow aging, strengthen the body, help prevent neurological disease, calm the mind, and promote sound sleep.

Benefits of Abhyanga

Abhyanga has a surplus of therapeutic benefits for mind and body and is known to induce feelings of being deeply loved. Here are some benefits of Abhyanga:

  • Slows aging
  • Enhances blood flow to the muscles and skin
  • Promotes circulation of blood and lymph
  • Minimizes excess fluid accumulation
  • Speeds up the removal of waste and toxins
  • Smooths skin and prevents wrinkles
  • Skin becomes more flexible, elastic, and less sensitive
  • Pacifies vata dosha and decreases pain
  • Relieves physical and mental fatigue
  • Improves musculoskeletal function
  • Improves vision

Abhyanga Self-Massage Step-by-Step:

Choose the best Ayurvedic oil for Abhyanga based on your dosha type, or use a tridoshic body oil for the most beneficial Abhyanga self-massage experience.

Abhyanga self-massage technique:

  1. Pour oil into a bowl if heating ahead of time.
  2. Warm the oil by placing the bowl in a container of boiling water.
  3. You can also simply rub your hands together and heat the oil to save time!
  4. Take the bowl out of the hot water once the oil is slightly higher than body temperature.
  5. Place a towel where you will be sitting or standing and remove your clothing
  6. Dip your fingertips into the oil, bringing the oil into your palms.
  7. Start at your head and massage your scalp.
  8. Next, move down to the face and onto the rest of your body
  9. Massage your limbs using upward and downward strokes.
  10. Use a circular motion for the joints, chest, and abdomen.
  11. Massage for about 15 minutes, then let the oil saturate the skin for another 15 minutes which allows the oil to penetrate the deepest tissues of your body.
  12. Rub off any excess oil with your towel and shower with a natural soap.

Set aside time for Abhyanga at least a couple of times a week or whenever you need a little self-love! Don’t have time to anoint your whole body? Massage your scalp or the soles of your feet. Something is always better than nothing and Ayurveda is about self-acceptance…another wonderful expression of self-love!

**Always avoid Abhyanga if you have a fever, indigestion, or a kapha aggravation.

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