Traditional Pregnancy & Postpartum Series

Abhyanga: The Art of Self Love through Massage For Pregnancy and Post Partum

The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.

  Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89


Giving birth is one of the most powerful experiences a woman will have in her life. To go through pregnancy and childbirth feeling clear, connected, blissful, devoted and loving, mama will transfer these feelings directly to the child.  By using the practices from the ancient science of Ayurveda, one can achieve a balanced body, peace of mind and bliss.

Everything that a woman experiences during this time is directly transferred into the growing life inside her body. Abyanga and sacred bathing will increase the connection between mother and her growing baby.


What is Abhyanga?  In Sanskrit abhy means to rub and anga means limb. 


Abhyanga is an anointing of the body with warm oil, often infused with specific herbs. It is considered distinct from massage therapy with the goal being oleation, self-awareness and comforting, healing or self-love inducing touch.

 In Ayurveda the healing aspects of Abhyanga include embodiment, calming of the nervous system, bring mindful attention to your own body, nourishment of the tissues via oils used, calming of vitiated dosas with appropriate herbs and energy balancing.

The act of anointing the body with warm, herbal oil is called snehana. The Sanskrit word sneha means oil and love.  The benefits of regular snehana invite the same qualities as being deeply loved, loving yourself and loving another: strength, stability, openness and warmth.


More benefits of Abhyanga as stated by the ancient Ayurvedic text, Astanga Hridaya:

·       Improves Sleep

·       Promotes sturdiness of the body

·       Promotes longevity

·       Nourishes the body

·       Promotes better eyesight

·       Prevents and corrects affliction of the nervous system

·       Overcomes fatigue

·       Prevents and corrects the aging process

·       Detoxification of the body


In the Charak Samhita, another ancient Ayurvedic text, abhyanga in the form of snehana is said to be like a pot smeared with oil and the impurities of vata, pitta, and kapha cannot stick to it.  In the same way, if the body is properly oiled with abhyanga daily, impurities cannot penetrate and disease cannot develop.


Abhyanga is best performed daily before bathing or showering.  After the warm oil is massaged into the skin, it is best to sit for 15-20 minutes in a warm room to allow the oil to penetrate deep into the tissues.

Depending on your current state of balance and the seasons you can choose the most balancing oil for you.


Using warm oil is very nurturing and nourishing to the entire physiology. 

For Spring and Kapha (cold and wet) types choose organic sesame oil, jojoba, olive oil or safflower oil.


For Winter, change of seasons and Vata (dry, cold, light) types choose organic sesame oil, olive oil, almond oil.


For Summer and Pitta (hot, inflamed, oily) types choose coconut oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, almond oil


How to Perform a self massage/ Abhyanga


Remember you are anointing your body with oil as a way of loving yourself and to increase your state of health in your mind, body and spirit. Take your time, be gentle and soft with yourself. You are also offering loving vibrations to your baby and encouraging their growth in a positive way.


1.    Heat up your massage oil. Warm the oil in its container in a sink full of warm water or a large Pyrex measuring cup filled with warm water.

2.     Begin by applying a small amount of oil to the top of your head. Massage the top of the head in a clockwise manner with the center of your palm.  This is the Maha (great) Marma point and regulates the amount of prana that moves throughout the body.

3.     Next apply oil to the entire body beginning with the neck and arms. Remember to do circular motions over the joints and long strokes on the limbs. 

4.      Clockwise circular strokes will be performed around the breast area and on the abdominal area.

5.     Continue sequence to hips, buttocks, legs and ending on the feet.

6.     Let the oil soak in for 15-20 minutes for maximum benefit. Be sure to stay out of drafts and in a warm space at this time.

7.     Take a warm bath or shower. Use chickpea flour or barley flour to rub over the body and remove the oil without stripping the skin dry.

9.     Repeat daily.


Enjoy the benefits of daily Abhyanga and your growing connection with your baby!

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