Ayurvedic Self Care Practices: Abhyanga


Abhyanga — the Ayurvedic oil massage — is an integral part of the daily routine recommended by Ayurveda for overall health and well-being. Traditional texts wax eloquent about the benefits:

 "The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much, even if subjected to accidental injuries or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, strength and charm, and they are least affected by old age.” — Charaka Samhita: Sutrasthana: V: 88-89.

Sounds pretty great, eh?

OTHERS BENEFITS: Increased circulation  — Reduced anxiety  — Improved joint mobility & lubrication — Increased mental alertness and stamina — Better elimination  — Softer, smoother skin  — Deeper sleep

FUN FACTS: The Sanskrit word sneha means both “oil” and “love,” and the effects of abhyanga are similar to being saturated with love. Both experiences can give a deep feeling of stability, warmth and comfort.


  • Warm about ¼-½ cup of sesame or almond oil (Vata balancing — grounding, warming)
  • Use coconut or sunflower oil for Pitta balancing — heat reducing, soothing
  • Use mustard, sunflower or olive oil for Kapha balancing —  invigorating, warming
  • Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room on a towel that you don’t mind ruining with oil accumulation.
  • Apply oil generously to your entire body.
  • Massage the oil into your body, beginning at the extremities and working toward the middle of your body
  • Use long strokes on your limbs and circular strokes on your joints. Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions.
  • Give a little extra time and attention to massaging the oil into your scalp, ears and feet, at least once a week. Apply oil to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes.
  • When you massage your feet, be sure to wash them first when you shower, so you don’t slip.
  • Enjoy a warm bath or shower.
  • Sleep well, my friend!

Sachi Doctor

Elemental Alchemy, 90 Rio Vista Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94611

Sachi Doctor is an Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health coach who founded Elemental Alchemy with the mission to provide a resource for those navigating their way towards optimal mind-body health.

Diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at a young age, Sachi has spent over twenty years exploring different health modalities, treatment plans, diets and mindfulness practices to help alleviate chronic pain and restore balance.

After years of looking to others for a model of health with no relief, Sachi realized that the answers she sought were not hidden in someone else’s prescription for wellness but unique to her, and that the first step towards discovery was actually tuning out what was right for others and tuning into herself.

As she tapped into the wisdom of her own body, she discovered that the elements foundational for health  — the blueprint she so fervently sought — was within her, within each of us. Since then Sachi has been passionate about helping others also cultivate clarity and inner wisdom for vibrant health.

In addition to her Ayurvedic and nutrition education, Sachi has completed over 800 hours of yoga teacher training and continues to study with her mother, her first yoga teacher, for whom these practices are a way of life.

Sachi is a board member of the Prison Yoga Project at San Quentin State Prison and serves as an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit that raises funds within the US yoga community to support microcredit programs for women in India. She holds a Msc in Development from the London School of Economics.