Abhyanga (AYURVEDIC massage)

Ayurvedic massage is also called ABHYANGA. The word ‘ABHYANGA’ is the combination of two Sanskrit words, ABHI and ANGA. ABHI means ‘towards’ and ANGA means ‘movement’.

Ayurvedic massage is the synchronized massage of the body towards the direction of the arterial blood movement. This includes the body massaging in the direction of the body hair. This protocol’s scientific reason might be the increasing of the blood flow towards the most distal parts of the body and avoidance of the heart with increase in the venous return when the massaging is towards the heart. In other words, this takes place in the opposite direction of the body hair.

Benefits of Ayurvedic massage

Ayurvedic massage is done with the use of ghee, herbal pastes, herbal powder, or oil. It is part of the daily routine or dinacharya as advocated by Ayurveda. It relieves pain, tiredness, and stiffness. It is also the key to oleation or snehana that has been indispensible prelude to panchakarma treatments, the five therapies of Ayurvedic detoxification.

Abhyanga or Ayurvedic massage prepares the body for panchakarma and along with it helps mobilizing the dosha towards the core from the periphery in getting them eliminated through the body orifices. The Vata dosha is especially pacified by Ayurvedic massage, although even Kapha and Pitta may be pacified by various mediums of massage such as herbal powders and ghee respectively. Ayurvedic massage is an important treatment modality to balance the dosha.

Difference between Regular Massage and Ayurvedic Massage

The similarity between the two kinds of massage is that both involve the basic manipulation techniques having evolved from the experiences of various schools and being passed on through generations. The procedure details, however, is not provided by the Ayurvedic texts involving Ayurvedic Massage. However, it does mention ‘mardan’ meaning pressure massage, ‘peedan’ meaning squeezing and pressing, and ‘samvahan’ meaning rubbing. Different Ayurvedic Massage techniques have evolved for over centuries. The Kerala foot massage and Marma massage have traditional usage in healing injured warriors that have been carefully guarded secrets.

Ayurvedic Massage has difference with other massage in terms of the fact that it invariably uses oil to massage the body. Unlike regular massages used for relaxation and recreation, Ayurvedic Massage is a therapeutic procedure in a number of Vata disorders. Various oils are used in encouraging various therapeutic effects on the body. This kind of differentiation is not made by modern day massage therapy, unless it is being in conjunction with aromatherapy.


Oil massage is consistently used throughout Ayurvedic massage treatments. In an ideal world, Ayurvedic massage should be carried out every day to promote positive health, overcome fatigue, strengthen the nervous system, improve eyesight, nourish the bodily tissues, increase longevity, normalise sleep, instil flexibility and sturdiness as well as to maintain good health in general. An additional benefit of Ayurvedic massage is the potency of the herb-infused oils used. These enhance the process of purification and regeneration. Shown to completely permeate the dermis in 5 minutes and all seven layers of skin in 8-10 minutes, the oils used can be infused with up to 75 different herbs, increasing the therapeutic effect immeasurably. The oils have been scientifically proven to possess anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties. The Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic treatise states that “Ayurvedic oils strengthen the metabolic fires, purify the intestines, remove toxins from the tissues, rejuvenate the body, prevent ageing and bestow the user with a lifespan of 100 years.”

  • Nourishes the entire body—decreases the effects of aging

  • Imparts muscle tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body

  • Imparts a firmness to the limbs

  • Lubricates the joints

  • Increases circulation

  • Stimulates the internal organs of the body

  • Assists in elimination of impurities from the body

  • Moves the lymph, aiding in detoxification

  • Increases stamina

  • Calms the nerves

  • Benefits sleep—better, deeper sleep

  • Enhances vision

  • Makes hair (scalp) grow luxuriantly, thick, soft and glossy

  • Softens and smoothens skin; wrinkles are reduced and disappear

  • Pacifies Vata and Pitta and stimulates Kapha