Abhyanga: The Ancient Art of Self Healing Massage


One of my favorite new body beauty wellness routines is to practice an Ayurvedic massage called Abhyanga (“ahhhh-buy-anga,” because it feels so good!) Abhyanga is a practice of self-massage that entails, in simple terms, annointing one’s body with oil. Now, this might sound a bit much: “Won’t it get on my clothes???” “Am I going to slide all over the place?” “Can I do it and go to work??”

There are various ways to perform Abhyanga, and depending on one’s dosha (constitution in Ayurveda) one might use different oils, but the most universal oil is cold-pressed organic sesame oil. Sesame oil is naturally soothing and slightly warming. I pour about a quarter size drop into my palm and rub my hands together to warm the oil and then I rub my joints: the shoulders in circular patterns, elbows, wrists, clavical bone, hip/butt joint, knees, and ankles. Then I focus on my feet and hands, pulling at the digits, getting in between, and generally vigorously massaging my entire body. I don’t massage my face with the sesame oil, since I am very sensitive about what I apply to my face. Here is a little more how-to from the Chopra Center.

Some people perform this massage and then gently rinse in the shower. I choose to massage after my shower in the morning, especially in the winter on these dry days. It takes only a few minutes if you are in a hurry, or you can devote more time to your body and really rub those muscles, joints, and even your scalp (pre-shower for that one is most likely best, unless you can sleep with the soothing oil.) Your skin will be glowing and grateful. This nourishing self-touch is truly healing.

Here are some of the benefits of self-care through Abhynga:
-Produces softness, strength and color to the body
-Decreases the effects of aging
-Bestows good vision
-Nourishes the body
-Increases longevity
-Benefits sleep patterns
-Benefits skin
-Strengthens the body’s tolerance
-Imparts a firmness to the limbs
-Imparts tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
-Stimulates the internal organs of the body, including circulation

Happy New Year!

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About Kimberly Jordan Allen


  1. Great reminder of how we should take care of ourselves. I love using sesame oil after showering in the winter. In the summertime, I use coconut oil!

  2. I’ve heard good stuff about coconut oil; I usually use it to make healthy smoothies or to cook with! I practice this kind of self massage for my shoulders….writing can be hard on them after sitting at a computer all day, and just five minutes’ massage makes a huge difference…

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