What is an Abhyanga and what is it for?

Abhyanga is a term that comes from the Abhi roots whose meaning is “around” and Anga that can be translated as “part of the body”.  In Vedic literature, specifically in the Rig Veda, there are verses that speak of the virtues of the hands: “This, my hand, is wonderful. My hand is wonderful because it has healing value. The mere touch of this hand heals all illnesses”. As these texts rightly say, touch has healing power; the positive energy of one body is transmitted to another by touch.

A particularity with respect to other massages, is that in Abhyanga different oils are used depending on the constitution of the patient, that’s why:

  •     Sesame oil will do well for Vata.
  •     Coconut oil or Ghee will go to Pitta.
  •     Mustard oil is better for Kapha.

Although as we have already commented  on another occasion, the massage can be done with oils medicated with herbs or other substances like Vasa (subcutaneous animal fat) or Majja (spinal animal cord) These two are used in case the body is sick and they will be applied according to their pathology.

The indications of this massage are related to the aggravation of Vata dosha:

  •     It nourishes the skin.
  •     It nourishes body tissues.
  •     It combat exhaustion.
  •     It’s good against insomnia.
  •     It avoids stiffness.
  •     It is used against vascular problems and improves blood circulation.
  •     It  fights infertility.
  •     It is used to fight stress.
  •     It unblocks and releases body channels.
  •     It eliminates toxins.
  •     It promotes longevity.
  •     It improves mental and physical strength.
  •     It improves muscle strength and tones the body.

There are some contraindications that must be taken into account:

  •     Indigestion.
  •     Presence of Ama (toxins).
  •     Diseases and disorders related to aggravation of Kapha dosha.
  •     In the first phase of fever.

Abhyanga, has a series of movements that is done gently by five large areas: back, legs and feet at the back and front, abdomen, chest, arms and hands. There are two things to keep in mind:

1- The depth with which it is given or occurs. The longer we are massaging the area, the more dathus we can reach.  Dathus are the tissues of the body.

2-Depending on which dosha we have, we will go in one direction or another.

It is a massage that in some areas of India, is done as a ritual every day between the components of the same family.  Although it would be excellent to receive an Abhyanga every day by a professional, many times it is difficult to go to one daily, for multiple reasons. That’s why Ayurvedic therapists advise (in many cases where a patient needs to perform a daily Abhyanga) to do an oleation at home with the necessary oils for recovery.