How to do Abhyanga

Becca ReddyHappiness, Health33 Comments

Do you want to:

  • Look and feel younger?
  • Sleep better?
  • Have better circulation?
  • Calm your mind and energize your body?
  • Rejuvenate your mind-body system?
  • Have glowing, youthful skin?

Then read on. This is part 2 of Abhyanga, which is a procedure for daily oil self-massage. Doing Abhyanga is so simple, it ought to be illegal. It’s simple yet powerful.

Stuff you need

You need the following supplies:

  1. carrier oil
  2. essential oils
  3. cup of hot water
  4. towel to sit on
  5. 10-15 minutes of time

Your carrier oil of choice serves as your base oil to which you could add some essential oils. What kind of carrier oil would I recommend for you? Depends on your body type as well as the season you’re in. Traditionally, cold-pressed, unrefined sesame oil is what’s used for Abhyanga, regardless of the body type.

Vata mind-body types (light and quick to change) can get away with sesame oil all year. Pitta types (fiery and passionate) may want to try sunflower oil or safflower oil. Kapha types (heavy-set, slow to get going) will do well with Mustard seed oil. Do avoid applying on the sensitive areas. As for the season, also note that sesame oil is warming to the body. So in summer when it’s hot outside, I’d recommend a cooling oil such coconut oil or olive oil.

Your carrier must be cured before use. To do that heat the oil carefully on medium heat in a pan until it reaches a temperature of 212 degrees F (boiling point of water), then take it off the heat immediately. Let it cool before use.

Next come the essential oils. Add a few drops of one or more essential oils to your carrier oil and shake it well. What kind of essential oils should you use? Again, it depends on your body type. Read my post Healthy Skin Naturally And
Listen to your body about how the various essential oils affect you.

And when it comes to essential oils, remember this: less is more.

You need the cup of hot water to warm your oil. As great as Abhyanga is, it is messy. So you need a separate towel (apart from your regular bath towel) to prevent the oil getting onto other stuff.

Best time of the day to do your oil massage? Early morning, between 6-8pm. You could go even earlier if you’re an early riser. If you can’t do it in the morning (because you like to get up later in the day) or because your circumstances prevent it, pick a time that works for you.

Whatever you do, stick to a routine. Keep the time of day you massage/shower consistent. And remember to listen to your body. Your body truly knows best!

Let’s get on with the show

When you have your oil, a cup of hot water and a towel, doing Abhyanga is as easy as 1.2.3. Here are the steps:
1) place your oil bottle in a cup of hot water to heat it up. I use a small 8-oz steel thermos cup into which I pour hot water. I keep my massage oil in a glass oil dispenser, which I insert into my hot-water thermos. You don’t want to heat the oil; you just want to warm it sufficiently so it feels good on your skin.

2) Place your oil towel on a bench or the edge of your bathtub so you can sit on it. You can start with your head and work downwards or with your feet and work upwards. Pour some warmed-up oil into the palm of your hand and rub it into your scalp. Massage with the palm of your hand in circular and/or back and forth motions and massage toward the heart.

Next massage your face, neck and shoulders using your palm. Use your fingers for your ears, nose or eyes. Massage your chest (or breasts) in a circular motion. Ditto with your belly. Do the best you can with your back; use the back of your hand if necessary. Don’t forget your bottom and nether regions.

For arms and legs, use long strokes on your bones and circular strokes on your joints. Using your palm, vigorously massage the bottom of your feet. Let your massage be firm enough to move your lymph along and gentle enough where it’s comforting. You must spend most amount of time on your scalp and bottom of feet.

3) Though not necessary, you can leave the oil on for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. I use this time to go start breakfast. Follow your oil massage with a warm shower and mild soap.

Abhyanga: this simple oil-massage ritual takes very little time everyday, but will pay you back manyfold. It’ll nourish you, balance you, promote healing, keep you well grounded, calm your brain and foster sound sleep.

To your health!
~Becca

33 Comments on “How to do Abhyanga”

  1. Hi Becca,

    Can’t find any answers to these.
    I use sesame oil but I am confused about using refined or unrefined, cured or uncured. Also If I wash it off with soap, my skin is dry again. I’m wondering if using it daily, the accumulation would clog the pores.

    George

    1. Hi George,
      Thanks for reading and what I would say to your questions is that the most important part about the sesame carrier oil is that you get the unrefined, cold pressed kind. Why? Unrefined sesame oil contains more natural antioxidants, than its refined counterpart. And a cold pressed sesame oil has a more stable shelf life for 6-12 months. As to your question of cured vs uncured: cured oil penetrates the skin more effectively and you can do it yourself. And last but not least, your pores will not become clogged with oil because the warm shower afterward removes the excess oil and the oil that has penetrated with be metabolized by your body. If after you wash you are dry as before consider using a milder soap/body wash. I hope this helps.
      To your health!
      ~Becca
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  2. You can do the Abhayanga before you shower in the morning or at night before going to bed. Abhayanga done before a shower or a bath facilitates release of toxins accumulated overnight. Abhayanga performed before sleeping will promote restful and sound sleep. Make sure Abhayanga is performed in a warm room and you are comfortable.

    If you feel fatigued or exhausted Ashwagadha or Bala herbal oil is great as both of them can increase strength and stamina.

    I have personally used or given my clients ‘Mahanarayan oil,’ for Vata conditions. This is special oil made from 20 different herbs that supports joint function, flexibility, and pain relief.

  3. Massage is believed to improve blood and lymph circulation. This is probably due partly to the physical manipulation of soft tissue and partly to the chemicals released as part of the relaxation response.

  4. Thanks for posting more on Abhyanga, I’m certainly going to share this information with my folks who too are not aware about Abhyanga. I want to try this out and find out how relaxing it is. Thanks again!
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  5. Hi
    This looks great. I am looking at trying this late in the evening to help relax me. Because sleep or should I say lack of proper sleep is getting me down. This looks like a good wind down mechanism.

    Thanks for great heads up lee
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    1. Healthy oils nourish the body so don’t worry about calories. As to what oils are safe to use it depends on your body type, season, and your particular imbalance. Given that you have a match there, any vegetable based oil will do. eg. Sesame, olive or coconut. Raw and organic are best.
      Rebecca Reddy invites you to read..Sinucleanse Neti PotMy Profile

  6. Becca,
    thanks for this information that is going to help me and my friends. I have been looking for a simple method to make part of my daily activity for relaxing and pampering myself.

    This is going to be an added plus after morning prayer. I will have my mind, body and soul in harmony.

    Becca, your a supporter of all and one who I feel is very passionate about quality care. Thank you for this needed share.
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  7. This is very interesting and I’m going to give it a try. But, one question: if you smear oil all over the bottoms of your feet, how to you keep from sliding around on the floor of the tub when you shower? (My grandmother-in-law recently died from falling in the shower so this is not idle curiosity).

    1. Lesa,
      I am glad you brought this point up. You do need to be careful. I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Personally I sit and do a visualization exercise while letting the oil absorb. You could also sit close to the tub and wash the excess oil before attempting to stand or wipe off any excess oil with a oil rag.
      ~Becca

  8. Thanks for posting more on Abhyanga, I’m certainly going to share this information with my folks who too are not aware about Abhyanga. I want to try this out and find out how relaxing it is. Thanks again!

    1. Dr. George Suarez,
      Thanks for reading and I am glad you think it recommendable! It is the mother of all homemepathtic remedies. Some benefits are more realized the longer you practice it. And like you say instantly relaxing.
      To your health and relaxation doctor!
      ~Becca

    1. Alan,
      Abhyanga is traditionaly a self massage, but also great when you have a partner! I would massage in the mornings given your desired outcome. If you just want all calm you could try the evening and add so lavender essential oil!
      Good luck!
      ~Becca

  9. Hi Becca,

    I am answering yes to all of the questions at the beginning of your post! I’ve never heard of abhyanga. It sounds quite interesting and as you noted, messy! How long have you been doing abhyanga and what benefits have you received from it?
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    1. Pastor Sherry,
      You are absolutely right. It is best to leave the oil on for as long as possible. However, if your like me, my body produces enough natural oil. lf I leave it on, I  walk around feeling like a oil well-remember it’s in your hair too. But besides the benifits Abhyanga has for the skin, It is penetrating  deeper ever so gently: you are helping your lymph to move and massaging your  muscles and your organs. So, wether you wash it off right away or leave it on you are receiving benefits.
      ~Becca
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