Release your best self with abhyanga


Abhyanga is a soothing and healing process of self-application of oil that offers grounding and balance for vata dosha. This practice is deeply calming for your nervous system and brings the healing power of oil and touch into your muscles and skin to help move out toxins.

Use only organic, raw and unrefined oil as the properties go directly into your largest organ – your skin. Sesame oil is great for colder times of year or to calm excess vata, as long as you do not feel hot. Coconut oil is great for warmer times of year or to cool pitta dosha, as long as you don’t feel cold. For kapha, try a lighter oil, such as sunflower. Medicinal herbal oils are most effective. The best herbal oil for you is based on your personal constitution and current state of imbalance, which we assess in our health consultations.

Be sure to carve out enough time to practice abhyanga so you can keep your movements slow and consistent and leave the oil on your skin for 15 to 20 minutes. But even if you can only relax for 5 to 10 minutes with the oil on your skin, you will get a big benefit over not doing it at all. 

As you cover your body with oil, you’ll follow a specific pattern that works with the vayus, five vital airs in the body, which are the subdoshas of vata dosha. 


Here’s how to practice abhyanga:

  1. Lay a towel on the floor beneath you that you have designated to be your “oil towel.” It will get oily! 

  2. Warm oil in a stainless steel, copper, cast iron, or glass pan. Butter or tea warmers can work well.

  3. Using the palms of your hands, apply the oil first to the front side of your pelvic area including the low belly and pubic bone, using very slow up and down movements. Move around to the sides of the hips, then the sacrum and buttocks in the back. Use a circular motion on all joints, the hip joints in this case, starting with the left hip first. 

  4. Next, work down your left leg and foot with long strokes on the muscles and circular movements on the joints. Repeat on your right leg and foot. 

  5. Moving up to the navel, apply oil in a circular motion starting from the naval spiraling out, moving the hand up the right side and down the left side of the torso.  Finish down the left side of the belly. Then work in vertical movements around the left side of your chest, including the breast area, and along the side of the torso. Do the same for the right side. 

  6. As much as your flexibility will allow, apply oil to your back, using up and down movements from the waist to the upper back, working on the spine as much as possible. You might like to get assistance with your upper back. Do your best to cover the entire body.

  7. Move up to your left shoulder and work down your left arm and hand. Work long movements on the muscles and circular on the joints. Do the same for the right side. 

  8. Finally, apply oil to your neck, face and head using smooth, even strokes. Be sure to give your scalp a good amount of oil, as it will revive its strength and vitality as well as increase the quality of your hair. 

  9. When you are finished, you can cover with an “oil towel” or clothes you have designated for this purpose and relax for 15-20 minutes before taking a warm bath or shower without soap. Being without clothes is okay as long as the room is warm.

Daily practice of abhyanga will bring a sense of peace and calm to your life. Even if you can only practice a few times a week, you will certainly notice the difference in how you feel. 

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