Rediscover the Power of Abhyanga Massage (oil massage) for Women’s Wellness


In the fast-paced modern life, women, more than anyone else, juggle several roles and responsibilities. Added to the traditional roles of nurturing families, they have added roles of maintaining social connections, and managing careers. Women’s wellbeing has always been a challenge as they undergo significant changes in their mental and physical health, especially due to hormonal change from menstruation to menopause, and added-on complexities of childbirth and post-partum fluctuations.

Ayurveda, which is focused on preventive health, understands these issues very well. One of the cornerstones is a daily routine or Dinacharya, which is designed to align the mind and body to promote overall health, vitality and balance. It prescribes ideal waking and sleep cycles, ablution and cleansing, yoga and mindful eating, aligned with the natural rhythms of the day and the year. Abhyanga massage or oil massage is an essential part of the daily routine, and if done appropriately can act as a preventive and therapeutic support for most of women’s health issues.

Abhyanga Massage

Why Oil Massage?

Massage or Abhyanga is recommended for supporting physical and emotional well-being, and even more so for women, whose bodies go through tremendous changes through every phase of life. Ayurveda recommends massage with oil as being the best practice. If the body is massaged when dry, with no lubrication, it can result in friction, heat and pain, and disturb the balance of the air element or gases within the body.

A regular massage, done in line with the structure of the human anatomy and energy flow works as a preventive and a therapeutic. Overall massage helps energize, improve circulation throughout the body of body fluids which carry oxygen, hormones and nutrients, relax the nerves simultaneously. It acts as a preventive as it helps in detoxification through the release of toxins like waste gases and chemicals accumulated in the system.

Last but not the least, an oil massage softens the skin, prevents most skin disorders like eczema, improves the temperature tolerance and enhances the beauty of the skin with an even-toned glaze.

Abhyanga Massage

Benefits of Abhyanga Massage for Women

For women, especially, the key benefits of Abhyanga are –

  • Improved circulation and digestion, which helps improve metabolism and improve vitality.
  • Reduced body stiffness and crackling joints through release of waste gases.
  • Stress and tiredness reduction through the soothing touch and oil penetration which relaxes the nerves.
  • Hormonal balance while easing menstrual and menopausal symptoms.
  • Relief for menstrual cramps, back pain and headaches during the menstrual cycle.
  • Relief for back pain and oedema, especially during pregnancy and post-partum.
  • Improved sleep, the most important ingredient for overall health, which gets badly impacted especially during periods of stress, post partum and during the menopausal phase.
  • Healthy radiant glowing skin, with oils that deep cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize and nourish the skin and slow down the ageing effects.
  • Healthier nourished hair, improved hair quality with lesser brittleness, reduced hair fall.
  • For pregnant women,and also women who are prone to weight fluctuations, a regular abhyanga practice and oil application helps make the skin elastic and reduces the likelihood and appearance of stretch marks.
Abhyanga Massage

Best oils for Abhyanga Massage

Ayurveda recommends several oils for Abhyanga, which are ideally suited for one’s constitution (Dosha), for a specific season (Ritu) or for alleviating specific symptoms (Vikruti). The best base oils are plant-based oils like Sesame Oil, especially Black Sesame Oil, Coconut Oil, Almond Oil, Olive Oil and Mustard Oil. Organic, cold-pressed oils are the best. They are pure and richest in the natural active ingredients, as the skin absorbs most of what is applied on it. When infused with herbs, the benefits are further enhanced. Mineral oils are best avoided.

But how does one decide which oil to use, since not everyone is aware of what their Prakruti, Vikruti or Doshas are. Besides, most people are a combination of different doshas, and one any given day, due to our lifestyles, we can have multiple factors that cause imbalances in all our doshas. Hence, for overall body application, using an oil blend of the most recommended oils like Sesame Oil, Coconut Oil and Almond Oils can be very balancing, and also universally applicable for anyone wishing to start the practice. Over a period of time, as one becomes more sensitized to one’s body needs, one can tweak the combination, if required.

Abhyanga Massage

Practical tips for Abhyanga Massage

Incorporating Abhyanga into one’s daily routine is the most beneficial for preventive healthcare, skincare and mental and physical wellbeing. Ideally begin with warm oil, gently massaging yourself from head to toe, allow your body to soak in the oil, before proceeding for your shower. During this 15-20 minutes time for application and waiting, one can enhance the self-care by listening to calming music or incorporating aromatherapy.

For busy modern lives, when one does not this leisurely morning time for ablutions, one can adopt the following routine. With these tips, the 15-20 minutes routine can be reduced to just 2 minutes each in the morning and at night before sleeping.

Abhyanga Massage
  1. For overall body abhyanga, apply an oil, like a moisturizer, post a warm shower. When the pores are open, the oil seeps into the skin, and it will not require to be washed off. A shorter routine is better than skipping it altogether when challenged on time. Choose an appropriate oil which is relatively quick absorbing. A plant-based oil enriched with herbs like turmeric or lavender, can also give the benefits of a body serum for soft, smooth and even-toned and problem-free skin.
  2. For head massage or shirobhyanga, apply the oil on the head at night before sleeping. If one is careful to apply only on the scalp, at the roots of the hair, the scalp is nourished and problem-free while preventing the hair from looking too oily. It will also not need much cleansing the next morning. This helps to keep the head cool, calm and stress-free. At the same time, an appropriate herb-enriched oil with brahmi, bhringaraj, amla, hibiscus, curry leaves can take care of common hair problems like an itchy or flaky scalp, premature greying or thinning hair.
  3. For foot massage or padabhyanga, keep the oil bottle next to your bed, and apply it on the soles of your feet, between the toes, ankles and even up to your knees. While important on a daily basis, this is critical during the premenstrual periods, pregnancy, post-partum and menopause. Choose a circulation-boosting and pain relieving oil for best benefits like a ginger-infused sesame oil through most times, or coconut oil during peak summer.
  4. For navel or belly-button oiling, apply on the navel for digestive comfort, abdominal bloating and uterine health. This can be applied before sleeping or at any time one can and also when one feels discomfort. The best oils for this are herb-infused oils which help in pain-relief and improved digestion like ginger (sunthi), carrom seeds (ajwain).
  5. For ear lobes (karnabhyanga) and specific pressure points like the back of your neck, shoulders, temples, wrists, apply a few drops of oil before sleeping. This is ideal for stress relief on days of overwork, and critical during the pre-menstrual days, perimenopausal and menopausal periods. Infusions with calming lavender or re-energizing ginger will work best.
Abhyanga Massage

In conclusion, a daily Abhyanga Massage practice can be a woman’s best self-care companion, because it works as a support for overall good physical and mental health issues, as a preventive and a therapeutic, while at the same time, helps her have a naturally radiant glowing skin.

“I have personally benefited from this over the last decade or so, ever since my journey into holistic wellness, and especially so during the last few years, through my perimenopause and menopausal period, especially when you also juggle many roles and interests.  I have also seen the beneficial impacts on several fronts close at hand with my colleagues, my daughter and friends. The benefits have been  corroborated by many of our customers, too. ” Geeta, Co-founder, Parama Narurals


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