How to Do Abhyanga, Ayurvedic Self Oil Massage

Warm oil self-massage provides so many benefits. Here’s how to give yourself a luxurious Ayurvedic Abhyanga self-massage. Use a herbal oil selected for your constitution or complaints. Alternately, use untoasted sesame seed oil in fall, winter, spring.


Vata constitutions can continue to use sesame in the summer. Pittas can switch to sunflower at any time of year, but in northern climates in spring. Summer for Pitta means coconut oil! Kaphas need to alternate dry brushing and doing self-massage with sesame or a sesame/mustard blend.

  1. Pour 2-3 tablespoons into a small glass jar with a lid.
  2. Place that into a bowl of hot water, or baby bottle warmer.

Work a thin layer of warm oil all over the body, emphasizing any painful or weak areas. Give special attention to the abdomen (going the direction of the large intestine), head, and feet. Treat yourself to some circles at the heart center (center of the sternum).

Typically your practitioner will recommend you to keep the oil for 20-45 minutes, depending on which dhatu layer is being targeted:

  • 15 minutes the herbs will reach the rasa dhatu (plasma tissue)
  • 20 minutes to the rakta dhatu (blood tissue)
  • 25 minutes – mamsa dhatu (muscle and deep skin layers)
  • 30 minutes – medas dhatu (adipose fat tissue)
  • 35 minutes – asthi dhatu (bone)
  • 40 minutes – majja dhatu (bone marrow)
  • 45 minutes the shukra dhatu (reproductive tissues).

Even if you don’t have much time, leaving the oil on for just a few minutes will soften and cleanse the skin, and it will lay down the tracks to establish a good habit.

Keep yourself warm – put on your ‘massage clothes’, or old sweat-shirt & pants.

You may also like…Great tips on how to manage your Ayurvedic oil at home!

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