What Is An Ayurvedic Massage & Why It’s Amazing

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One of the most popular and well-known therapies is Ayurveda massage, because of the instant physiological and psychological benefits it produces!

The word snehan means “to moisturize.” This is a broad Ayurvedic term that includes internal as well as external moisturization. Ayurvedic massage is a part of the Ayurvedic body moisturization process. It is also called Abhyanga in Sanskrit.

Ayurvedic massage is integral to an Ayurvedic lifestyle. All the ancient texts like the Charak Samhita, and Sushrut Samhita praised daily Ayurvedic massage. According to ancient Ayurvedic texts, blood travels at a 100 times faster rate with Ayurvedic massage! Improved circulation, thus leads to a host of health benefits.

Due to the recommendations for a daily massage, ancient Indian society had a special class called Nai. These professionals were skilled masseurs, chiropractors, and acupuncturists.

In this article, we are going to explore:

  • The importance of a body type specific massage
  • What the massage involves
  • The benefits of an Ayurveda massage
  • How to perform an Ayurvedic massage, step-by-step
  • Massage Contraindications
a couple of massage therapists give a woman an ayurvedic massage

The importance of a body type specific massage

Body type (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) is the foundation of all Ayurvedic treatments including Ayurvedic massage. Using this information, one can select the base oil and herbal ingredients that are most compatible and enhance the massage benefits.

It is important, but not essential, to perform an Ayurvedic body type analysis before a massage. However, for a general massage, you must use oils and herbs suitable for every body type and health condition.

Try choosing sesame oil as a base if you are getting a general body massage for the first time without determining your body type. Olive oil is your next best choice. Why? Since other oils may not work well on certain body types.

For instance, a hot-bodied pitta person may not be able to handle a massage with mustard oil that generates heat. She may end up feeling overheated and dizzy.

Moreover, coconut oil makes a wonderful option for body massage, though it may not be suitable for the cool Kapha type of person. After a massage with coconut oil, some Kapha people report feeling heavy in the head, especially when the weather is cold.

a woman has oil dripped on her head during an ayurveda massage

Key features of an ayurveda massage

  • In the main procedure, the physician, or the masseur chooses the most compatible oil according to your body type.
  • To ensure better penetration inside the skin, she may warm the oil to a lukewarm temperature.
  • The masseur must massage the body in the direction of the hair. The direction of massage is crucial.
  • A typical Ayurvedic massage may last 30-60 minutes.
  • According to Charak Samhita, massaging three parts of the body is essential for health – the head, the ears, and the feet. It is in these three parts where there are the most vital acupressure points. Make sure your masseur massages each part thoroughly.
  • Your masseur may finish the massage by applying a warm herbal poultice to your body. This procedure is called swadanam. It is an important component of an Ayurvedic massage. Depending on your health condition, it may or may not be mandatory.
  • Following a massage, take a warm bath. Taking a warm bath may help to dilate the skin and absorb the massage oil.
ayurvedic oils on a table for an ayurvedic massage

11 Benefits of an Ayurvedic Massage

1. Ayurveda says that Ayurvedic massage is an excellent anti-aging treatment! A regular massage can keep you youthful for a long time.

2. It relieves stress and anxiety and calms the mind. Ayurvedic massage triggers your body’s rest and repair process.

3. If you want to enhance your concentration or memory, Ayurvedic massage is a must-try. It improves the supply of nutrients to the brain cells and promotes a stronger nervous response.

4. It is an excellent option for natural, lasting, and side-effects-free pain relief.

5. An Ayurvedic massage is said to be exceptionally beneficial for the eyes. It boosts blood circulation in the head region. Consequently, the eyes receive a rapid fluid replacement. (Aqueous and vitreous humor)

6. It is a valuable source of nourishment for the body, especially the muscles. If you want to gain weight or build your body, go for regular body massages!

7. Ayurvedic massage increases the body’s tolerance to exercise and injury.

a woman wearing a towel gets a shoulder massage

8. Ayurvedic massage is called Swapna kara or the one that brings good sleep. Furthermore, it also works on the marma or vital points of the body. Therefore, if you suffer from insomnia, Ayurvedic massage is a side-effect-free option that you can use every day.

9. Bright and healthy skin is the most immediate and obvious result of Ayurvedic massage. It appears smoother with an even skin tone. Various skin problems can be treated with Ayurvedic massage therapy, including acne, scarring, and blemishes. It also strengthens and tightens facial muscles, thereby preventing wrinkles.

10. Ayurvedic massage followed by ubtan or Ayurvedic skin mask can also help to remove body hair naturally.

11. Ayurvedic head massage is the perfect solution for all your hair care needs. Whether it is hair fall, early whitening, or dandruff, Ayurvedic head massage can help. Besides, it increases circulation to the scalp and improves nutrition to the hair follicles.

Ayurvedic Massage Prescription

The Ayurvedic massage is often prescribed by an Ayurvedic practitioner for all types of Vata disorders and many more health conditions. Some of these are:

  1. Stiffness in joints
  2. General Joint pain 
  3. Arthritis
  4. Body pain
  5. Backache
  6. Chronic headache
  7. Insomnia
  8. Chronic stress
  9. General weakness
  10. Hair loss
  11. Dandruff
a woman receives an Ayurveda massage on her back

Ayurvedic self-massage: Step-by-step

If you do not have time to go to a trained masseur, you can also try Ayurvedic self-massage. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:

1. Unless you are comfortable with other oils, choose sesame or olive oil for massage.

2. Rub the oil evenly into the toes, letting it sit overnight. Inspect the toes next morning for signs of an allergic reaction, swelling, redness, or itching. If you don’t have any problems, then you’re good to proceed with your massage oil.

3. Early morning, one hour before breakfast is the best time for a massage. However, you can also do it in the evening before lunch.

4. First, warm the massage oil and begin with your head and ears. Use circular motions to massage your head and ears.

5. Spend most of your massage time on your head, ears, and feet.

6. Make sure to massage in the direction of the hair.

7. Apply anticlockwise movements to your abdomen.

8. On the chest and back, move your hands from the spine towards the lateral part of the body.

9. Following the direction of the blood circulation in the arteries, massage the limbs up and down.

10. Leave the oil on your body for at least 15 minutes after the massage. This is a good time to do slow yoga or other exercises.

11. After 15-20 minutes, take a warm shower and wash off the oil with herbal body wash and shampoo.

a woman lies face up and has oil dripped on her forehead during an ayurvedic massage

Ayurvedic massage Contraindications


According to Ayurveda, oil massage increases heaviness or oiliness in the body. Thus, it increases the Kapha dosha.

Indigestion is the result of excessive Kapha dosha, which cools down the digestive fire. Therefore, an Ayurvedic massage may make your indigestion worse. So, take care of your indigestion first, and then go for an Ayurvedic massage afterward.

The best time to indulge in an Ayurvedic massage is one hour before the meal or one hour afterward.

It is a good idea to speak to your Ayurveda physician before getting an Ayurvedic massage. Generally, try to avoid it if you suffer from Kapha-related disorders such as cold, cough, severe breathing problems, heaviness, et cetera.

Immediately After Food

After eating, the body goes into kapha mode. Most of the blood collects near the digestive tract to absorb the digested nutrients. Ayurvedic massage, however, can cause the blood to rush to the peripheral parts of the body – the limbs.

This is not what you want because it could hinder the absorption of food. Hence, do not exercise or perform Ayurvedic massages immediately following a meal, especially lunch.

a man lying face down and getting an ayurvedic massage

After Panchakarma

Panchakarma is a five-step detox process that helps to cleanse all the major channels in the body. Through this deep cleansing process, all the pores of the body are opened and toxins are eliminated.

Getting an Ayurvedic massage immediately after undergoing panchakarma can impede the cleansing process and cause complications such as indigestion and heaviness.

For this reason, it is recommended to avoid Ayurvedic massage for 2-3 days after undergoing panchakarma.

If You Have Fever

During the first day of fever, Ayurveda suggests no medicines or therapeutic interventions except a diet change. During the first phase of the fever, you should avoid an Ayurvedic massage.

To Conclude

According to Ayurveda, the body reaps countless health benefits from a traditional massage. It is believed that Ayurvedic massage is beneficial to almost every part of the body. Not only does it benefit the body, but also the mind.

Make sure that you get an Ayurvedic massage at least once in your lifetime to experience its incredible benefits.

Dosha Quiz | Discover My Ayurvedic Body Type

a group of women smiling and laughing together

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! 

Photo of author
Dr. Kanika Verma is an Ayurveda physician from India, with 10 years of Ayurveda practice. She specializes in Ritucharya consultation (Ayurvedic Preventive seasonal therapy) and Satvavjay (Ayurvedic mental health management), with more than 10 years of experience.

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