Ayurvedic Wellness Clinic & Spa In The Heart Of Orchard, Singapore

Holiday Inn Orchard City Centre 11 Cavenagh Road
B1-01 Singapore 229616

Abhyanga: Warm Herbal Oil Massage

Abhyanga procedure

The Abhyanga is a body massage done with warm oil. Massage has been used for centuries for both therapeutic and prevention purposes. 

The oil is applied to the entire body, from the scalp to the soles of your feet. This special massage , which uses medicated oils to target specific diseases, usually lasts about 45-60 minutes.  

Meaning of Abhyanga

Abhyanga is a Sanskrit (Indian language) word derived from “abhi” and “anga”. Abhi means “towards” and anga means “body part”. In a literal sense, Abhyanga would mean “on body”.

Abhyanga is a form of Ayurvedic therapy that involves massage of the entire body from the head to the toe with Dosha-specific warm herb-infused oil. 

In Ayurvedic texts, Abhyanga is mentioned as part of the daily routine (dinacharya). It is also an essential preparatory step of Panchakarma treatment.

Different types of Abhyanga

Ayurveda classics have mentioned various types of Abhyanga. This classification is done based on the body part being massaged:-

  • Sarvanga Abhyanga: Complete body massage.
  • Shiro Abhyanga: Massage is done especially on the head. 
  • Ekanga Abhyanga: Massage is done on specific parts of the body, to relieve pain or stiffness.
  • Pada Abhyanga: Foot massage done for the foot and toes. It helps to provide relief from aching feet and related problems.

Abhyanga procedure

Depending on the specific disease, medicated oils are determined by the Ayurvedic physician. Generally, sesame oil is used for the body and coconut oil for the head irrespective of doshas.

Clothes other than undergarments of the person whose Abhyanga is to be done are removed so that massage can be done on body parts.

The person is seated on the Droni massage table. 

The therapists then warm the oil to a soothing temperature. Oil is applied to the head first and then the whole scalp. 

Then oil massage of the ear, palm and feet is done. After this, the person is made to lie down on his backThe heated oil is applied uniformly to the body by the therapist.

Afterward massage of the head is done and subsequently moves down to the neck, upper back, shoulders, upper arms, forearms, hands, chest, abdomen, lower back and lower limbs. 

The proper procedure of Abhyanga is that it is performed in seven (7) sequential postures. These are: sitting, supine (lying on the back), left lateral, prone (lying on the stomach), right lateral, supine (lying on the back) and sitting.

Overall upward and downward strokes are done by therapists while doing Abhyanga on hands and legs. Circular strokes are used for massaging joints, chest and abdomen.

The whole Abhyanga procedure normally takes 45 minutes.

How Abhyanga works

Skin is the body’s largest organ, so applying oil on the skin can help bring the vata into balance. By ensuring the body is well-lubricated, it can combat concerns such as roughness and dryness. All this can delay the effects of ageing, and remove fatigue, firm the skin and improve sleep. Here, other ways it works: 

  • Physical – Rubbing the body produces heat and increases blood circulation, it affects the lymphatic system and supplies more nourishment to the blood.
  • Psychological – Through touch, massage works on the nervous system and affects the circulation of growth hormones.

In Ayurvedic texts, limited description is mentioned on how Abhyanga works for the body.  The application of touch and pressure in various manners constitutes the maneuvers of massage. 

The modern view is that internal fluids of the skin are subjected to movement in the massage because of osmotic pressure. Massage causes mechanical hydrostatic pressure in the extracellular compartment. Massage helps fluid enter the viscera, tissues and dilute the accumulated toxins.  The diluted toxins are brought into general circulation and during the course; they are expelled out via elimination procedures.

Benefits of Abhyanga

General benefits of Abhyanga are:

  • Abhyanga enhances the skin condition by improving the function of the sebaceous and sweat glands, which keep the skin lubricated and clean.
  • It increases the secretion and excretion functions of the body. It also increases the production of gastric juices, saliva and urine. There is increased excretion of nitrogen, inorganic phosphorus and salt also. All this results in better digestion and metabolism. 
  • Abhyanga provides a gentle stretching action to both the muscles and connective tissues thereby making muscles and tissues more elastic. 
  • Abhyanga promotes recovery from fatigue, aches and pains.
  • Abhyanga may also stimulate the release of endorphins and reduce the level of certain stress hormones.