Benefits of Abhyanga with an Ayurvedic Abhyanga oil
The Abhyanga is an important Dinacharya (daily wellness practice) explained in the classical Ayurvedic texts. An Abhyanga is a self-massage done with a properly chosen Ayurvedic oil. It is meant to be done everyday for good health, strength and overall wellness. Classical Ayurvedic texts like the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita & Ashtanga Hridayam give us detailed insights on the many deep-reaching benefits of what looks like a simple practice, the abhyanga.
What are the symptoms of Pitta imbalance?
Pitta dosha is an important dosha. It has an important role to play in proper digestion, skin health, hair colour and thickness, blood circulation, hormonal balance, good vision, memory & intelligence, when in balance. We have written a detailed post on pitta dosha and the qualities of pitta which you may read for more information.
When Pitta is imbalanced, we can see many symptoms like:
- Sensitive skin
- Excessive oiliness on skin & scalp
- Premature greying
- Hair thinning
How does a regular Abhyanga help when we have Pitta imbalance
An ayurvedic abhyanga , when done regularly, helps pull back all 3 doshas (vata, pitta & kapha) back to a state of balance. The combination of herb blended in the classical tila paka vidhi method in a blend of organic cold pressed oils like sesame oil, coconut oil penetrate the skin faster and work on the minor dosha imbalances in the body.
For pitta balance, we must choose a pitta balancing Abhyanga oil. The specific herbs, and the proportion of oils used in the blend work strongly on bringing back out of control Pitta back to a state of balance. The oil helps soothe the body, improves stability and calm and nourishes the eyes. It helps release excess stored Pitta energy from the body via sweat, and other Mala (wastes eliminated from the body).
When done continuously and regularly, we also begin seeing an impact in areas like hair thinning, hair greying, sensitized skin, poor digestion, etc.
What goes into the Krya Classic Abhyanga oil for Pitta balance ?
The Krya Classic Abhyanga oil for Pitta balance is made from 31 Ayurvedic herbs carefully chosen for their nourishing, pitta balancing and overall well-being imparting properties. Herbs like Bala, Ashwagandha, Amla, Vilwa, Shatavari, Usheera , Manjistha , Neem etc are chosen. The herbs chosen are soothing on skin, improve blood circulation, help in balancing pitta dosha, along with balancing vata dosha.
These herbs are then carefully extracted as either Kashaya (decoction) , Swarasa (fresh juice, or Kalpa (herb paste). The Kashaya, Swarasa and Kalpa are then processed in our oil base over 3-5 days.
The Krya Classic Abhyanga oil is specially formulated as a pitta-pacifying abhyanga oil. This is why it also makes an excellent pada abhyanga oil.
Why is it better to choose a specialized ayurvedic Pitta massage oil over using organic sesame or organic coconut oil for my abhyanga?
Traditionally, plain oils, even if they are cold pressed and organic like organic sesame or organic coconut are not suggested for Abhyanga. Oils which are uncooked and unprocessed with Ayurvedic herbs do not penetrate quickly into the skin. They could aggravate Kapha dosha and mucous in the body, especially if you live in a cold or windy place, or if the weather is cooler.
They also do not have the specialised dosha balancing action which is needed for imbalanced Pitta or imbalanced Vata dosha.
For these reasons, it is better to choose a specialised dosha balancing ayurvedic oil instead of a plain vegetable oil for Abhyanga.
What should I look for in my ayurvedic oils before buying them for abhyanga?
The best Abhyanga oils for Ayurveda are made using the classical Ayurvedic tila paka vedhi process. So first understand if this process is being followed by the brand you are interested in.
Ayurveda explains starting with whole herbs and then extracting them correctly depending upon the part of plant or type of herb used – fresh juicy herbs are extracted using Swarasa method. Drier, woody herbs are extracted using the Kashaya method, etc.
In Classical Ayurveda, ready-made commercial extracts are not used – Instead, we are asked to extract each herb separately and methodically. Check if the brand is following this process.
Similarly, no essential oils or fragrance oils are added in the Ayurvedic tila paka process . Many brands use essential oils with appealing fragrances like bergamot, peppermint, frankincense , sandalwood, etc to improve the experience of using an Abhyanga oil. These essential oils are extremely powerful and come with their own set of benefits as described in Aromatherapy. However, this is not a part of the Ayurvedic method. Moreover, there are not enough studies that examine the interaction of these volatile compounds with other ayurvedic herbs and oils , so it is better not to use such products.
Non-traditional oils like olive oil, sunflower oil are not used in classical Ayurvedic practice. Products based on such oils may also be avoided.
How often does Ayurveda recommend a self-massage?
The classical texts mention that we should be doing a daily Abhyanga / daily self-massage. For many of us, this might not be possible. Therefore at Krya, we recommend the following schedule:
- Mini abhyanga – 2-3 times a week – takes just 5 minutes
- Full Abhyanga – 1-2 times a week – takes 15-20 minutes
- Pada abhyanga – 4-5 times a week at night before sleeping – takes 10 minutes
What precautions should I take while doing an Abhyanga?
An abhyanga should be done in a warm room with the fan and a.c switched off. The windows should be shut to prevent any air draughts from coming in and chilling the body. The Abhyanga itself should be done with a high-quality Abhyanga oil. Massage briskly and firmly with good pressure to promote healthy circulation, encourage detoxification and ensure the oil penetrates deeply into the body.
How should I cleanse my skin after Abhyanga?
A good quality ubtan is traditionally used after Abhyanga to cleanse skin. Here are some special requirements you should keep in mind for bathing after Abhyanga:
- The bathing product must only remove excess oil on the skin’s surface. It should not strip the skin of the natural oils needed for skin health
- The bathing product must give the body a feeling of warmth without generating excess heat. This is essential to prevent any mucous aggravation after abhyanga snana
- For pitta-balancing Abhyanga, the Ubtan should also incorporate pitta-balancing herbs to continue the effect of the Abhyanga massage
- Pitta-aggravated skin is highly sensitized and quick to react to certain herbs. A pitta-balancing ubtan should therefore use pitta-balancing healing herbs that soothe and cleanse skin without irritating it.
- Only Warm water should be used for bath after Abhyanga
- If you have used a lot of Abhyanga oil, we suggest bathing twice with your chosen ubtan. This is also recommended if you are prone to mucous aggravation
What are the other measures I can adopt for Pitta balance and harmony?
Diet, lifestyle modifications and judicious use of external products can all help bring Pitta back to balance. However, if the aggravation is of a very high order, treatment with a vaidya may be indicated.
- Pitta balancing diet measures
- Shiro abhyanga / head oiling is an excellent practice to balance stress-related Pitta aggravation
- Use of external products like a pitta relieving body wash, a pitta balancing head mask are both relaxing and soothing and pitta calming
Frequently asked questions on Abhyanga oil for Pitta
Who should avoid Abhyanga?
Avoid Abhyanga if you have diarrhea, constipation or any digestive upset. Also, avoid abhyanga if you haven’t slept well, are exceptionally tired, have a fever or are menstruating. An abhyanga should also be avoided if you have a fracture / injury or physically not at your best in any way.
For safety reasons pregnant women should avoid abhyanga unless expressly okayed by their vaidya.
When should we avoid Abhyanga?
As explained above, an Abhyanga should be avoided in certain health and lifestage conditions. additionally, an abhyanga should be avoided at night (anytime after 10 am), and after a meal.
It is best done on an empty stomach, before 9 am ideally. Earlier if you live in a warm climate or in summertime.
Which Massage oil is best for Pitta dosha?
For Pitta dosha, it is best to choose a suitable pitta balancing abhyanga oil. From our range we suggest the Krya Classic Abhyanga oil for Pitta balance.
Is sunflower oil good for Pitta dosha?
Sunflower oil is not an oil used classically in the Ayurvedic texts for abhyanga. While the presence of oil in sunflower seeds is well documented, Sesame oil is considered a better base in Abhyanga oil compared to other Oils. For pitta balance, we generally use a combination of Sesame with Coconut oil along with other herbs.
Therefore we do not recommend Sunflower oil for Pitta dosha abhyanga. Both because it is not commonly used in ayurvedic abhyanga oils. Also, a base oil should ideally not be used for Abhyanga. An oil is made better for abhyanga and any other application only when processed with appropriate herbs.
Is organic coconut oil good for Pitta dosha ?
In Kerala Ayurveda tradition, we do see the use of pure coconut oil as a base in many hair and skin applications given the high heat and humidity in this state. At Krya also, for our Pitta range of skin , hair and abhyanga oils, we use coconut oil , along with sesame oil as the base .
However, plain coconut oil, even if it is organic or cold pressed or even virgin coconut oil is unsuitable as a standalone abhyanga oil product. We have explained the reasons in a longer blog post here. For abhyanga, hair or skin application the oil must be processed with suitable herbs to make it easier to absorb and improve its dosha-balancing properties.
Is Abhyanga good for Pitta dosha ?
Yes! A regular self ayurvedic massage is excellent for those with Pitta dosha imbalance, and helps bring the body gently back to a state of harmony and wellbeing.
How to reduce Pitta as per Ayurveda ?
Please see our earlier points above. Pitta balance can be achieved by a combination of the following:
- regular abhyanga practice with a good ayurvedic massage oil formulated for pitta balance
- diet & lifestyle modification
- regular shiro abhyanga
- nightly pada abhyanga
- Working on overall stress & anxiety.
Which oil is best for Pitta dosha?
We suggest the Krya classic Abhyanga oil for Pitta balance from our range. Using the correct pitta balancing oil can bring harmony and wellbeing to the body and mind.
How to heat oil for Abhyanga?
For pitta balance, it is not necessary to heat / warm oil , unless you live in a cold place or are doing abhyanga in cold weather. In such cases, please use a warm water bath to gently warm your abhyanga oil. While applying oil, warm it again in the palms of your hands and then use a brisk and firm stroke to do your abhyanga.
What is abhyanga oil?
Abhyanga oil is a special Ayurvedic oil formula designed for self massage. It helps nourish the bone & joint system and all important organ systems, drawing out impurities from the body and bringing the body to a state of harmony and balance. A regular abhyanga practice is grounding, helps the constitution recover from minor imbalances, helps cool and soothe the body if there is high pitta imbalance, and improves recoveries from minor injuries. The herbal oil that is an ayurvedic abhaynga oil, enhances the effect of the Abhyanga, helping bring more strength and energy to the body.