Full Body Abhyanga Massage For You and Your Partner
17th Apr 2023
Step-By-Step: How to Do a Full Body Ayurvedic Abhyanga Massage For You and Your Partner at Home
In Sanskrit, Sneha is a word equally translated as both “love” and “oil”, making it easy to see the deep connection between the two! The same feelings of warmth, nourishment, and comfort evoked when you’re loved are also experienced through traditional Ayurvedic oil massage called Abhyanga.
This self-massage practice is a beautiful way to nourish your mind and body, attune to your specific needs, and balance the doshas. If you’re looking for a way to treat yourself or your partner this Valentine's Day (or any day!), read on to learn more!
What Exactly is Abhyanga?
Abhyanga is a full-body massage with warm oil that promotes overall health and wellness. It can help calm the nervous system, revive stamina, support healthy sleep cycles, support healthy circulation, rejuvenate the joints, and bring vigor and nourishment to the muscles and body tissues.
Regular self-massage with dosha-specific massage oils can pacify Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, and help maintain a balanced constitution in every season.
Abhyanga massage is a daily self-care practice that can be practiced in the comfort of your home, or by a professional Ayurvedic practitioner. It can also be a wonderful way to connect with your partner, particularly during the cold and dry winter months.
Abhyanga is contraindicated for pregnant individuals, those actively menstruating, and those with acute conditions that are aggravated by massage.
What Are The Benefits of Abhyanga?
In an award-winning 2021 study, 49 participants were divided into three groups: a daily self-massage without oil group, a daily self-massage with oil group, and a group that received 30 minutes of professional oil massage twice a week. Participants in both oil massage groups reported significantly reduced stress levels, improved quality of sleep, and improved overall quality of life.
Supplies You’ll Need for an At-Home Abhyanga Oil Massage
For each person who will be receiving an Abhyanga massage, you’ll need the following supplies:
- 2 old towels you don’t mind ruining with oil
- ½ cup of massage oil
- Massage oil warmer (squeeze bottle in a pot of hot water works well)
- Gentle soap for rinsing after the massage
- Dusting powder for cleansing (optional, best for Kapha types)
- Dish soap for shower cleaning
Double the supplies if you and your partner will both be receiving a massage!
How to Choose Your Abhyanga Oil
If you’re looking for a massage oil you may already have on hand, plain jojoba oil is suitable for all doshas. We have a line of specialized herbal massage oils blended to balance the doshas and support overall health and well-being.
Here are a few of our favorite Ayurvedic specialty oil blends:
- Dosha: Tridoshic (all doshas)
- Great for: Post-workout relaxation and supporting joint comfort and mobility
- Infused with: Bael, Shatavari, Ashwagandha, Turmeric, Boerhavia
- Dosha: Vata
- Great for: Grounding and mental stability, balancing seasonal and environmental shifts, maintaining moisture
- Sesame Oil Infused with: Licorice, Ashwagandha, Arrowleaf Sida, Turmeric
- Dosha: Vata & Kapha
- Great for: Soothing joint discomfort, supporting flexibility, fortifying skin’s lipid barrier
- Sesame Oil Infused with: Ginger, Moringa
- Dosha: Pitta
- Great for: Relaxing and cooling the mind and body, easing pitta-related restlessness and tension
- Infused with: Indian Madder Root, Indian Frankincense, and Indian Sarsaparilla
- Dosha: Kapha
- Great for: Energizing and invigorating the mind and body, supporting healthy circulation and blood flow
- Infused with: Ginger, Deodar Cedar, Mustard Seed, Galangal Root
- Dosha: Pitta & Kapha
- Great for: Relaxing the mind, supporting healthy sleep cycles, easing away tension
- Infused with: Sandalwood, Ashwagandha, Himalayan Cedar, Indian Madder
How to Heat Your Massage Oil
Abhyanga is best practiced with oil slightly warmer than your body temperature. The soothing effects of warmth on the skin encourage a calm and balanced state of mind. There are several ways you can warm your massage oil for Abhyanga.
The simplest method of heating your massage oil is to pour hot water into a bowl or large jar, pour your massage oil into a clean squeeze bottle, then submerge your massage oil in the hot water to warm it. You can also heat your water in a pan, or microwave.
If you prefer to warm your oil in a bowl or want to avoid warming your oil in a plastic bottle, you can use the double boiler technique. For this method, you’ll need two nesting bowls or a bowl and pan. Simply add hot water to the bottom bowl and place your oil in the upper bowl so it will rest on the water underneath.
If you’d like to use a special tool to warm your massage oil that will also add ambiance, a tea light oil warmer may be just right. It is particularly important with this method to monitor the temperature of the oil before application, and due to the open flame, you’ll also want to ensure proper setup with a stable surface.
If you enjoy the routine of an Abhyanga practice and want to easily warm your oil every day, you may find a massage oil warmer an investment well worth the $40-60 cost. A massage oil warmer means less mess and cleanup and offers the convenience of warm oil literally at your fingertips.
How to Give Your Partner a Sensual Abhyanga Massage at Home
For an at-home partner's Abhyanga massage, you’ll want to first warm about ½ cup of oil using your heating method of choice.
Next, cover the surface your partner will be lying on with an old towel. Over time, using a towel for oil massage will result in it being ruined, no matter how well you wash it.
Liberally apply oil to your partner’s entire body. Then, start your massage at the top of your head with the scalp. Use circular motions as you move around the scalp and make your way to the forehead, ears, jaw, cheeks, and upper neck.
As you move through the massage practice, add a little extra love by noticing what you love about your partner and showering them (silently) with adoration and acceptance of all the unique qualities of their body, mind, and spirit.
When you have finished their head, move on to their arms. Using long strokes on the arms and circular strokes on the joints of the arm, work toward the middle of the body. Use clockwise, circular motions on the abdomen and chest. Repeat the same technique with the legs, moving from the toes up toward the abdomen.
When you reach the abdomen, move up the right side, across, and down the left side. Along the ribs, massage inward towards the middle of the body. Lastly, massage the buttocks and back using circular strokes that work toward the middle of the body.
You can finish the message with a foot rub and ten minutes of meditation and relaxation to allow the oil to absorb into the skin. Remind your partner to be careful getting up and getting in the shower with oily feet. We recommend you wash your feet first in the shower or bath!
Offer your partner a gentle soap or dusting powder to rinse off the oil. At the end of the shower, you might want to squirt dishwashing soap on your tub and rub it around with your feet to break the oil down and rinse the drain to keep oil from accumulating in your pipes.
Please only do this if you are stable and have something to hang on to in the shower. You can also do this with your hands and a sponge after you’ve completed the shower or bath.
When your partner has finished rinsing their body, bring them a towel you don’t mind getting oily. Even though they have washed most of the oil off, their body will still be oily and accumulation of oil on your towels over time will be unavoidable.
Keeping designated Abhyanga towels separate from your other towels is advisable. You will also want a pair of socks or spa slippers for your partner after their shower to keep oily feet off of floors.
Related Topic: Finding The Best Ayurvedic Massage Oil For Your Dosha
Fostering Self-Love Through Massage
Giving an Abhyanga massage to yourself isn’t all that different from a partnered practice. Choose a day when you’ll have time to set up supplies for your massage, enjoy this self-love practice and clean up without rushing. And don’t forget to put love, intention, and appreciation into your own massage — you deserve the joy of sneha more than anyone!