Ayurveda Massage: The Abhyanga Massage


Abhyanga massage is one of the most beneficial and useful forms of treatment. In addition to nutrition and yoga, massages are also part of the Ayurvedic health teachings

Translated from ancient Indian, Abhyanga means “great oiling with loving hands.

It combines several techniques that serve the deep relaxation and vitalization of the body. The high-quality oils not only penetrate deep into the skin but are also valuable for healthy skin texture.

In Europe, you can get the Abhyanga full body oil massages at different institutions. In hotels, wellness facilities, practices for holistic treatments, or at Ayurveda doctors. Also, alternative practitioners or Ayurveda therapists offer this massage. In Ayurveda therapies such as PanchaKarma, the Abhyanga massage is an integral part.

Abhyanga Tradition

In the Rigveda, one of Hinduism’s most important scriptures, the following words indicate an intensive effect of the Abhyanga massage.

“My hand is God. Boundless bliss is my hand. This hand holds all the secrets that make you whole with its gentle touch.

A distinction is made between the inner anointments “Abhyantara” and the outer anointments “Bhahya Snehana.” Furthermore, the Abhyanga is divided into a pressure massage “Mardana” and a light, gentle massage, “Smvahana.”

Abhyanga is a Morning Ritual.

Ayurveda helps you to rejuvenate the mind and body. In the classic morning routine, various rituals are performed to promote your health and mental and spiritual development.

The following points belong to an Ayurvedic morning routine:

  • Getting up before sunrise
  • The Abhyanga Massage (2 – 3 times a week)
  • Drink a glass of water on an empty stomach
  • The oiling of the body and the gargling of oil

The Effect of the Massage

The Abhyanga full body massage relaxes, rejuvenates, and strengthens the immune system. Everyone who enjoys an Abhyanga massage immediately feels how intensive this oil massage is.

The classic Abhyanga massage uses two stroking directions. One is the “Anuloma,” which means with the hair direction. This has a calming and balancing effect. The second variant is the “Pratiloma,” i.e., against the hair direction. This has a stimulating and revitalizing effect.

Each Ayurveda therapist decides for himself which direction to use for your Abhyanga massage. The therapist selects the oils for your treatment according to the indication.

For the body rather than heating, oils are used. For the face, however, somewhat cooling oils are used.  In principle, only cooling oils are used for the front and head, so no heat is generated in the head.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Abhyanga massage

There are some classic indications that speak in favor of a massage and some contraindications that speak against a massage.

Here are some classic indications for Abhyanga:
  • Dosha imbalance, especially of Vata (the principle of movement)
  • People who perform intensive physical exercises every day, such as athletes
  • With much intellectual work
  • In geriatrics, as Rasayana (rejuvenating agent)
  • To promote the regeneration of tissue and organs.
  • To reduce stress
And some classic contraindications:
  • Cold with a severe mucus
  • Immediately after a detoxifying treatment, like the Panchakarma cure (Ayurvedic cleansing cure)
  • Acute fever
  • If the food is not yet wholly digested
  • Fragile clients, muscular fatigue
  • Heavily blocked shrotas (body channels) caused by ama (undigested)

The Unique Types of Oil and Their Effects

The special oils of the Abhyanga massage are very time and material consuming. The production can sometimes take days.

But the high quality of the oils is important because otherwise, they have no therapeutic use. The oils specially adapted to the patient make up to 70 percent of the treatment. The therapist, on the other hand, only about 30 percent.

The following points are essential before the actual massage:

  • Are you allergic to anything?
  • Have you had an operation in the last six months?
  • Is there a pregnancy?
  • Do you currently have your menstruation?

These questions help the therapists tailor the massage, oil, pressure, and rhythm and the duration and follow-up treatment to you. The therapist should also inform you about possible reactions.

The following points are essential to maintain the balance you have achieved:

  • Do not walk barefoot
  • Protect yourself from drafts and wind
  • Cover the head
  • No sumptuous food and no extreme activities after the massage
  • Drink hot ginger water

The Abhyanga helps with back problems, tension, stress, and severe headaches. But it is also pure self-love. Try it out – whether with an Ayurveda therapist or as a morning ritual – the Abhyanga is always a pure pleasure


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