What is Ayurvedic massage?

Ayurvedic massage also known as abhyanga, employs holistic and integrative medicine principles used 3000 years ago in India, where it was first discovered. The main focus of this massage treatment is to balance out doshas within your body to achieve spiritual fulfilment and relaxation. It also helps to improve lymphatic drainage, release muscle tension and nourish the skin.

Doshas refer to the five elements which are earth, water, air, fire and space, practitioners believe that Ayurveda occurs naturally inside of us. These elements should be in perfect harmony within our bodies, however, due to many external and/or internal influences of modern life, the doshas become off balance in most of us.

Doshas are paired to one another and have a specific name. Air and space are known as Vata, fire and water as Pitta and water and earth are called Kapha. The body has a large number of energy points, hence, with a well-trained touch and understanding of energy flow, the massage therapist is able to feel if and what imbalances your body might be experiencing

What can I expect during  an ayurvedic massage?

The technique of the massage is quite different to the usual Swedish, deep tissue or sports massage. The massage therapist can combine the special techniques with essential oils to achieve the benefits. The technique largely focuses on the manipulation of the skin as well as the specific energy points, so you should not expect a therapist to apply a deep pressure to break down the ‘knots’.

There are lots of essential oils for ayurvedic massage. They are very similar to those used for aromatherapy treatments, however, expert therapists classify them as uniquely to promote the flow of specific doshas. For instance, if the massage therapist believes that you need some work done to promote the flow of the Pitta, he will use cold oils; whereas if a therapist believes that you need to improve the flow of your Vatta, it is very likely that he will suggest warm or even hot oils. 

What are the benefits of ayurvedic massage?

Ayurvedic massage has many benefits and this depends on the type of oil  you select.  

The selection of oil will also depend on your desirable outcome, for example, if you would like to improve your focus, memory, concentration or efficiency, the massage therapist may recommend oils such as verbena, rose, tea tree or ginger.

If you want to reduce inflammation, fight infections or illnesses, the therapist may recommend something like camomile, cedar or pine. You may have not heard much about ayurvedic massage, so if you read this post and it caught your interest, it is definitely worth trying it out.

Does Ayurvedic have side effects?

Some Ayurvedic herbs may produce side effects or can interact with conventional medications but only if you intake them.  Of Course check with your therapist first to make sure the oils are safe for you. Due to the lack of research,  massage therapists recommend no to use it during pregnancy, infants and nursing mothers. 

Types of Ayurvedic massage strokes 


One of the most traditional Ayurvedic treatments, abhyanga uses friction-based strokes and warm dosha-specific oils. As the oil penetrates your skin, it also penetrates the tissues to loosen toxins at a cellular level. This style of massage promotes circulation, boosts immune system function, and creates deep relaxation in the mind and body.


Gandharva combines touch with sound therapy to improve energy flow. During this kind of massage, the therapist uses warm, herbal oils and crystal singing bowls to vibrate and transform the body’s cells. This treatment promotes vitality and blissfulness.


Marma points are vital life or energy points among the body, mind, and emotions. During a marma massage, dosha-specific essential oils are combined with a light, circular touch to stimulate these energy points. Marma massage awakens the body’s inner healing system, manipulates subtle energy or prana, relieves stiff muscles, and boosts circulation.

 Most common Ayurvedic massage styles 

Odyssey Ayurvedic massage

This treatment includes five Ayurvedic techniques and is intended to work on the entire system—mental, physical, and energetic. One or two therapists perform the massage. It begins with Garshana, a dry-glove exfoliation that starts the detoxification process, stimulates the lymphatic system, and prepares the skin to absorb the oils.

This is followed by Abhyanga, in which  the therapist covers your body in warm herbalized oil from scalp to toes, using friction strokes that move the oil into the tissues to loosen and dislodge ama (toxins). Next, the slow, deep, penetrating strokes of Vishesh promote relaxation. The treatment concludes with Marma (see description above) and chakra balancing, using dosha-specific essential oils.


Pizichilli is typically performed by two massage therapists. It’s also sometimes referred to as an “oil bath,” as continuous warm streams of herbal oil are rhythmically smoothed into the body. This treatment warms, lubricates, and nourishes to enhance circulation, eliminate toxins, and purify the body.


Shirodhara is a meditative and tranquil treatment centered on a soothing stream of warm oil that’s gently poured over the forehead and onto the third eye chakra, the energy centre of intuition that’s also known as ajna. This treatment calms the central nervous system, and integrate the mind and body. After experiencing shirodhara, some say they feel a sense of restful awareness.


Vishesh is another rhythmic massage technique. It uses firm, slow strokes to elongate contracted muscles, break up adhesions, and help release deep-seated impurities. The therapist uses little oil. If it follows Abhyanga massage, much of the surface oil is removed. This allows for a higher level of friction on the skin and deeper access to the tissues. Following a Vishesh massage, some say they feel light, loose, and relaxed.

We hope this information is useful for you. If you have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill Broadway and Islington. If you like this blog, please share!

We are always happy to help.


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