But another, less popular yet just as important part of this health system is using ayurvedic massage oils.
Ayurvedic texts instruct us to give ourselves a full body massage every day. We can use it to improve our skin health, balance the doshas and sleep better.
Depending on the ayurvedic massage oils you chose, you can fight a variety of specific concerns, such as joint and muscle pain or dry patches on the skin.
In this article we will explore:
- How to perform an ayurvedic massage
- The best massage oils for every dosha
- + Powerful Medicinal Massage Oils
Abhyanga – Ayurvedic Self Massage
Abhyanga is a word describing the daily ritual of self-massage. Rather than focusing on the muscles and deeper tissues like other forms of massage, ayurvedic self-massage focuses on the skin.
When massaging yourself, maintain a light and soothing pressure, like your main goal is simply applying the ayurvedic massage oils onto the skin.
Avoid using any synthetic oils or lotions, and opt for natural oils instead. In ayurveda, these oils don’t only have healing properties for the body, but also for the mind and your spiritual journey.
Except for abhyanga another word which is used to describe this ritual is “sneha”. This word translates to both oil and love – talking about the attitude one needs to take when massaging.Use this moment to let time stop, to turn to yourself, and immerse yourself in a daily act of self-love. Even five minutes may help bring comfort and grounding into your life.
How To Use Ayurvedic Massage Oils
Traditionally, the oils are heated before the massage, so they are slightly warmer than your skin.
- You can heat the oil using the double boiler technique – placing your oil in a pot, and placing that pot on top of a larger one that contains hot water. The hot water will steam the oil to heat it up. If you’re in a rush, you can also place the oil in a container and place the container under running hot water.
- When you’re ready, massage the oil into your palms, and begin applying it on your body.
- Start with your head, applying the oil to the scalp and face. Then, move down over your neck towards the shoulders, arms, torso, and legs, all the way down to the toes.
- Once you’ve applied the oil, you can begin to massage your body. Do so in the opposite direction, starting from the limbs and going up. The movements should go toward the heart.
- Use long and straight strokes on your arms, legs, and back, and circular strokes around the joints and the head. Let your strokes move up, towards the heart.
- When massaging the stomach and the area around the heart, use clockwise strokes and apply light pressure.
- Try to find a rhythm and use repetitive strokes to activate your circulatory and lymphatic systems.
- When you’re done, take a moment to relax and soak up the benefits of your massage.
2 Best Ayurvedic Massage Oils For Pitta Dosha
1. Neem Oil
Neem oil is one of the coolest ayurvedic massage oils, which makes it perfect for those with prominent Pitta Dosha.
It soothes skin conditions related with Pitta, including inflammation, irritations, rashes and breakouts.
Massaging with this oil can also help with digestion, and will calm the mind and soothe frustration and agitation.
Furthermore, it can help release joint and muscle aches which are caused by rheumatism and has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It is packed with Vitamin E oil, helping fight free radicals and detoxify the skin.
Undiluted Neem oil can only be used for spot treatment. If you are using it for full body massage, you need to dilute it with a carrier oil, such as Almond or Coconut oil.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a cooling oil, ideal for the Pitta dosha.
It is rich in Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant and can help combat skin disorders that are a result of free radical exposure. It prevents premature aging.
Coconut oil is packed with saturated fats and is great if you have dry skin. You can use it for hair massage too.
It is a carrier oil that you can use alone, or add an essential or medicinal oil of your choice.
2 Best Ayurvedic Massage Oils For Vata Dosha
1. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is one of the most famous ayurvedic massage oils. The renowned Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita celebrates it as the best of all oils.
The general instruction is – if you don’t know what oil to use for Ayurvedic massage, opt for sesame oil and you can go wrong. This is a carrier oil, so you can add other medicated oils to it to address specific concerns.
Due to its antioxidant properties, sesame oil reduces skin issues that are a result of sun exposure, including sunspots, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines.
The oil is also used to calm inflammation in the muscles and joints.
2. Almond Oil
Almond oil is another great oil for Vata dosha. This nourishing oil absorbs quickly into skin and works for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
Almond oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve symptoms of dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema, like itching and rashes.
Almond oil protects from sun damage and relaxes the muscles. You can also use it for scalp massage, as it promotes hair growth and gives the hair a healthy glow.
2 Best Ayurvedic Massage Oils For Kapha Dosha
1. Castor Oil
Castor oil is a slightly heating oil usually recommended for Kapha dosha, although it can be used to pacify overactive Vata too.
This oil is commonly used in Ayurveda for massage in those who have arthritis, nerve inflammation, sore muscles, or joint pain.
The oil doesn’t absorb quickly, so it’s perfect for moments when you want to massage painful joints or muscles for longer.
If you have small wounds or bruises, you can still use this oil for massage and it won’t further aggravate them. It can even help in healing due to its antibacterial properties.
2. Mustard Oil
Mustard oil is another fantastic Kapha dosha oil. It pacifies overactive Kapha and increases Pitta dosha.
For this reason, it can boost the digestion system and circulation. It can reduce or prevent joint pain, digestive issues, colds, and lethargy.
Reducing Kapha and boosting Pitta may help those who struggle to lose weight.
Mustard oil has anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a natural stimulant. This means it’s a great oil to choose if you want a boost of energy – perfect if you’re massaging in the morning.
5 Medicinal Ayurvedic Massage Oils
You can stop at the ayurvedic massage oils we listed above – or you can also boost the effect of your massage with specialty medicinal oils.
You can add a couple of drops of these concentrated oils to your carrier oil to treat a specific concern.
Here are some of the most popular options:
1. Mahanarayan Oil
Mahanarayan oil is a combination of 29 different medicinal herbs. This powerful oil is particularly intended to address weak and aching joints or inflamed and stiff muscles.
The oil works for all doshas, and can be used alone for spot treatment or with carrier oils for full body massage.
2. Ashwaganda Oil
Ashwaganda is one of the most important plants in Ayurvedic medicine, and it can also be used in oil form.
The oil is traditionally used for those who suffer from weakness – both physical and mental. Physically, it can help you build strong muscles and increase your vitality.
Psychologically, it helps with depression and nervous system disorders. It also combats issues related to hormonal imbalances and overactive Vata and Kapha doshas.
3. Dhanwantharam Thailam
Dhanwantharam thailam is one of the best ayurvedic massage oils you can use in pregnancy and in the postpartum period.
It’s blended with 29 herbs, and specially formulated to help pregnant and lactating women.
The oil reduces cramps and strengthens the pelvis muscles and uterus for childbirth.
Later, it helps new moms regain strength and combat stress.
Although this is its most popular use – this oil can also be used by other women and men who want a calming and nourishing massage experience.
4. Brahmi Oil
The oil is usually made on a sesame oil base and is used to relieve anxiety. It can be used whenever you need to calm an overactive mind, whether it is before sleep, meditation, or studying.
5. Bhiringaj Oil
Dubbed “the king of all oils”, Bhiringaj oil balances the three doshas and makes the skin radiant and healthy.
The oil is great for head massage and has a calming effect on the nervous system.
Dosha Quiz | Discover My Ayurvedic Body Type
Knowing your dosha can provide a window into your inner world.
Whether Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, or a combination of all three, you'll receive tailored information on your unique dosha composition at the end of the quiz.
Answer each question instinctively, try not to overthink!