In Ayurveda, there is a strong connection between the use of healthy fats and a sense of nourishment, and well-being. In fact, according to Ayurveda, our own fat tissue is connected to a sense of contentment and healthy self-love. Furthermore, nourishing oils such as ghee and ghruta build ojas, essential vigor and vitality. There are many ways to benefit from healthy oils in Ayurveda. One avenue is by way of abhyanga, or oil massage. You can purchase pre-made abhyanga oils from Ayurvedic product suppliers. Or, make your own! Let’s take a look at one abhyanga oil recipe and some tips for making your own abhyanga oil.

What is Abhyanga?

First of all, let’s clarify what abhyanga is. Abhyanga is a special type of Ayurvedic oil massage that you can receive in an Ayurvedic clinic or spa. Traditionally, abhyanga is done by two practitioners giving massage in a synchronized fashion. However, sometimes abhyanga is done by one practitioner. Or, you can do abhyanga for yourself simply by massaging warmed oil into your skin from head to toe, moving in circular motions and taking time with the spots that need a little extra attention. This can be done on a daily basis. However, if your time is limited, you can set aside special time for abhyanga once or twice a week as part of your daily routine or dinacharya.

Base Oils For Abhyanga

Abhyanga can be done with simple one-ingredient oils such as sesame, sunflower, coconut, almond, or even ghee! Though we often think of ghee for cooking and eating, it is a wonderful skin oil as well. In fact, you can use small amounts of ghee as a facial moisturizer. In addition, melted ghee or ghruta makes a rich, nourishing body oil that the skin easily absorbs. Ghee is one of the most easily digested oils—your gut likes ghee and so does your skin! If you want to perform abhyanga with one oil, simply put about 1/4 to 1/2 cup oil in an 8-ounce bottle. Place the bottle of oil in a saucepan of hot water until the oil is pleasantly warm. You can also fill a mug with hot water from the sink, and place your bottle inside to warm.

Abhyanga Oil Recipe

If you want to infuse herbs into your abhyanga oil for added health and dosha-balancing benefits, here is one idea for an abhyanga oil recipe. This recipe is both calming and nourishing. For the dried herbs, it is best to use cut and sifted herbs rather than powder (herbs that are dried and in rough form, so to speak). However, you can use powdered herbs if that is what you have available. Ingredients
  • 1 ounce of dried herbs (use any combination of herbs such as ashwagandha, tulsi, lemon verbena, lavender, licorice, cinnamon, and/or shatavari)
  • 6 ounces oil (choose from any combination of ghee, sesame, coconut, or sunflower)
  • 16 ounces of filtered water
  1. Place your desired herbs in the bottom of a clean, glass jar.
  2. Pour gently warmed carrier oil into the jar, leaving about 1-inch of space at the top for the herbs to expand
  3. Seal with a lid and gently shake the herbs and oil.
  4. Place the jar in direct sunlight, like on a window sill.
  5. Let the oil infuse in the sun for 4-5 weeks, or a full lunar cycle.
  6. When ready, strain the herbs with a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer. Pour the infused oil into glass bottles and store in a cool, dry place.
Alternatively, you can add herbs and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low-medium and simmer until most of the water evaporates. Then, you can add your chosen oil and gently heat, but not boil, until all of the water has evaporated and only oil and herbs remain. Then, strain the herbs from the oil using a cheesecloth. Pour oil into a clean, dry glass container. Leave container uncovered until infused oil cools. Cap and store in a cool, dry place.

Abhyanga Oil

There are many abhyanga oil recipes to choose from—and to create! The above recipe is one guideline, but the most important ingredient in any abhyanga massage is the carrier oil. Make sure whatever oil you use is organic and high quality, like PIOR Living's Ghruta, which has been made according to ayurvedic traditions. Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. She is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville. You can learn more about Greta's work HERE.
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