Foundation Friday: Abhyanga


Our Foundation Friday series delves into the basics of yoga—looking at its postures (asana), breath (pranayama), philosophy, and all the other essentials—giving you the foundations upon which to build a solid practice.  As this month is geared towards self-care, we are taking a look at the basics of Abyhyanga, or self massage, and sharing the foundations for you to give back to yourself.  


Foundation Friday: Abhyanga


Abyhanga is the Indian tradition of self massage, done ritualistically to honour one's body as a temple.  In India, this practice is done with babies until they grow old enough to do their own self massage and help the elders.  Different oils are used for different doshas, the three human constitutions in the system of Ayurveda, or depending on climate and time of year.  Sesame oil is the most common; be sure to opt for an organic, food-grade product as you are applying it to your largest organ.  This Ayurvedic practice is traditionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower, to facilitate the release of toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night.  Self massage is perfect after dry skin brushing, another step in honouring your temple inside and out.


Benefits of Abhyanga


  • Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings
  • Toning of the muscles and the whole physiology
  • Calming for the nerves
  • Lubrication of the joints
  • Increased mental alertness
  • Improved elimination of impurities from the body
  • Softer, smoother skin
  • Increased levels of stamina through the day
  • Better, deeper sleep at night
How do you do it?


1. Warm your organic oil by placing the bottle in hot water for a few minutes.
2. Lightly apply your oil to your entire body, waiting around 5 minutes to let some of it absorb into your skin.
3. Massage your entire body, using even pressure with your whole hand.
4. Use lighter pressure on sensitive areas - chest, abdomen, heart.  You may choose to use more oil and spend more time where your nerve endings are concentrated (soles of feet, palms)
5. Use circular motions over rounded areas like your head and joints, and straight strokes on straight areas like your arms and legs.
6.  Remember, the longer the oil is on, the deeper it penetrates.  Let your oil do its work!  Relax as long as you can before showering off.


If you're interested in learning more about Ayurveda, we have an upcoming workshop at Yogalife Studios North An Ayurvedic Approach to Food Digestion & Cleansing with Ian Hayward November 1 || 11am-6:30pm

register here!