The Practice of Herbal Body Oiling

Using herb-infused oils is a simple, deeply healing form of self care, whose effects you can feel immediately. In Ayurveda, abhyanga (self massage, with oil) is a daily practice. The Sanskrit word sneha means, both, “oil” and “love”— in essence, you are saturating yourself with love; creating feelings of stability, warmth, and comfort.

Self-massage is the act of massaging yourself. It is more than just slathering oil on your body, as you would when applying lotion to moisturize. It is a ritual-- a gentle practice that involves taking the time to be with yourself, to support your mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda recommends devoting fifteen minutes (in the morning or before bed) for self-massage, ensuring love and attention is paid to each of the tissue layers as you nourish them with a warm oil.

Through self massage, the warm oil penetrates through deep layers of tissue in our bodies, directly accessing our nervous, lymphatic, and immune systems. By keeping the body hydrated, we keep these systems nourished and healthy. Some benefits of body oiling include:

  • improved musculoskeletal and nervous system health
  • softer, stronger, and healthier skin
  • relaxed muscles and pain relief
  • improved quality of sleep
  • increased mobility
  • stimulates internal organs
  • lubricates joints, tones tissues, and strengthens limbs
  • improved circulation and lymph drainage
  • clearer thinking
  • increased energy and stamina
  • a well nourished whole body



Perform abhyanga in the morning for a day of vigor and increased energy.Perform abhyanga before bed, for a more restful sleep.

  1. Heat oil by placing the jar in a pan of hot water, until it is a pleasant temperature for you. 
  2. Sit quietly and slow your breathing. Applying the oil, generously to your body, working your way down:
  • Crown of your head: work outward in a circular motion. spend some time here, to focus on your vital energy
  • Face: upward, circular motion on forehead, temples, cheeks, jaw, ears
  • Limbs (arms and legs): long, circular strokes, toward your heart
  • Joints (elbows and knees): circular motion toward your heart
  • Abdomen & chest: broad, clockwise, circular motion. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine by moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, and down on the left side
  • Feet: spend a few minutes here, there are many nerve endings
  1. Leave oil on to penetrate for 5-15 minutes. Take a hot shower or bath to help expand the pores, so the oil is absorbed even more. Avoid vigorous application of soap. It’s okay to leave some of the oil on.
  2. Gently pat yourself dry.

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