Ayurveda uses medicinal oils infused with herbs to help imbalanced doshic energy. Different oils can help remove toxins from the skin, treat certain disorders, replenishing moisture, and establishing a healthy barrier. Oil massage is the best for pacifying vata and pitta. Saturating your body with warm oil is very grounding and comforting, which is why we encourage it so heavily during this time of year! As we exit pitta season we should remove excess heat. Any remaining heat will travel up the body due to the upward movement of Vata. This will cause it to settle in our upper body, respiratory tract, and head which can lead to typical symptoms of excess vata; anxiety, poor circulation, asthma, dry skin, gas and bloating due to low agni (digestive fire).
In Ayurveda, it teaches that in order to reach the deepest of the seven dhatus (layers of tissue) you must massage the entire body for fifteen minutes. This has incredible benefits such as:
Softens body tissues
Decreases effects of aging
Allows for better nourishment and absorption
Improves sleep habits
Tones the skin
Stimulates internal organs
So what is your doshas and what oils should you use? Take our free dosha quiz here to find your dosha, and then talk to your Ayurvedic Practitioner first before starting Abhyanga.
Vata Pacifying Oil
Because the qualities of Vata are cold, dry, and light, the oil used to pacify it is opposite. Warm oils such as untoasted sesame oil, almond oil, and mustard oil are grounding. Warming them up before applying them to the body has tremendous benefits as well. Herb infused vata pacifying oil can be purchased or made. Mahanarayan oil is beneficial for joint pain and weakened muscles. You can make vata oil by warming a cup of sesame oil and mixing ginger, basil, clove, orange, jasmine, and rose, using either fresh ingredients or essential oils.
Pitta Pacifying Oil
Pitta is sharp, oily, and hot. Because oil is so similar to the qualities of pitta, herb infused oil is primarily used for treating an excess of this dosha. This is due to the fact that oil takes on the qualities of the substances it is cooked with so using herbs that are cooling help to make the oil cooling and pitta pacifying. Brahmi oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil are generally more cooling. Adding neem oil can also help reduce redness, rashes and irritation in the skin as well. Finding a good quality medicated pitta pacifying oil is going to be your best bet.
Kapha Pacifying Oil
Our fellow kaphas are cool, heavy, and slow. Warm oil is good, but just like pitta, oil and kapha share similar qualities. Herbal oils are best for pacifying kapha. Untoasted sesame oil and almond oil are warming oils that pacify the cold qualities of kapha, but adding in clove, black pepper, juniper berries, and orange will pacify excess of other qualities. An oil that is invigorating and refreshing reduces fluids and energizes stagnant kapha energy!
Remember that you should never massage on painful and swollen areas of the body, broken skin, if you have a fever, or if you are pregnant.
Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage; Dr. Claudia Welch