Ayurvedic Skincare

Ayurvedic Massage 101: A Beginner's Guide to Transformation and Healing

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Ayurvedic Massage 101: A Beginner's Guide to Transformation and Healing

Introducing  Ayurvedic massage: an ancient massage technique that will transform your skin with a noticeable difference after one, single session! 

Rooted firmly in the holistic principles of Ayurveda, this therapeutic approach offers more than relaxation, it is also deeply healing. 

Ayurvedic massage is a full body massage that employs soft yet effective strokes, to induce relaxation, enhance blood flow, and strengthen muscles. It activates the lymphatic system, facilitates detoxification, and minimizes swelling. 

Wow! It’s a time-honored, traditional method that has proven results.

 If you’re considering trying an Ayurvedic massage or simply curious about its many benefits, read on!

What Is Ayurvedic Massage? 

I think we can all agree: we love a great massage! But which type of massage is your favorite? Is it a hot stone? Thai? These styles are great, but wait until you discover Ayurvedic massage! 

Ayurvedic massage is a traditional Indian therapeutic practice that integrates herbal oils tailored to an individual's doshic balance—Vata, Pitta, Kapha—to promote physical, mental, and emotional healing. It employs specific techniques to stimulate vital points, enhance circulation, and detoxify the body, aiming to restore harmony and well-being. 

How is it different from other massages?

What sets most traditional Ayurvedic treatments of massage apart from other schools of massage is that rather than concentrating extensively on physical muscle manipulation, it’s focused on adjusting your energy fields and alleviating emotional stress, which transcends physical kneading.

Plus: the oil. The oil offers numerous physical advantages, including easing tension, enhancing lymphatic flow, and deeply moisturizing the skin from head to toe. 

The massage techniques focus on the skin's health and vitality. Utilizing specially chosen oils based on your doshas, which we expand on below,  and employing motions that boost circulation, abhyanga massage provides a comprehensive treatment akin to a facial, but for the entire body.

Two bottles of Shankara Naturals Sundarya and Harmonizing Oils

10 Types of Ayurvedic Massage!

Within the realm of Ayurvedic massage, there are 10 types of Ayurvedic massages, each with its unique techniques and health benefits. 

Here is something unique about each of them: 



Key Benefit




Most popular, full-body massage with warm herbal oils chosen to align with your dosha.

Enhances circulation, soothes the nervous system, and promotes deep relaxation.




Warm oil is gently poured over the forehead, specifically targeting the third eye.

Renowned for relieving stress, insomnia, and headaches, facilitating mental and emotional balance.




This therapeutic approach focuses on activating Marma points—vital energy spots on the body.

Release blocked energy, stimulate detoxification, and encourage the body's innate healing capabilities.




Involves a dry herbal powder massage that exfoliates, detoxifies, and revitalizes the skin.

Supports weight loss, and improves lymphatic drainage.





Means squeezing, a luxurious combination of massage and heat treatment, Pizhichil bathes the body in warm herbal oils.

Ideal for enhancing muscle tone and alleviating deep-seated tension.Effective for cramps, arthritis, rheumatic diseases, and neurological issues.


Wait, there’s 5 more.

Massage  Uniqueness Key Benefit

Mukh Abhyanga


Performed on the marmas or vital points on the face and neck.

Relax, massage, and tone the facial muscles.

Kati Basti 



Involves forming a dam with dough on the lower back and filling it with warm, medicated oil.

A specialized treatment for spinal disorders, offering significant relief and improved mobility.





Involves administering medicated oil or herbal preparations through the nostrils, accompanied by a soothing massage of the head, neck, and shoulder areas.

Cleanses the sinus passages, and enhances breathing and mental clarity. Beneficial for headaches, sinusitis, and even improving voice quality.







A dry massage performed with raw silk gloves.






Energizes the body, stimulates blood circulation, and exfoliates the skin. It’s ideal for enhancing lymphatic drainage and kick-starting the body’s detoxification process, improving digestion and invigorating the body.




This therapeutic foot massage focuses on vital points relating to various organs and systems within the body.

It Soothes tired feet but also promotes a sense of grounding, improves sleep quality, and aids in overall relaxation and stress relief.


Mukha abhyanga: Facial Ayurvedic massage

Woman getting a healing Ayurvedic massage by a Ayurvedic Holistic Practitioner with a soft and lovely atmosphere.

Mukha Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic facial massage, is your go-to natural solution for a youthful glow and tackling wrinkles—think of it as nature's own Botox.

This facial not only pampers your skin with special oils and targeted techniques but also taps into your facial pressure points to boost your overall health. It's like a revitalizing boost for your skin, enhancing circulation, purifying, and bringing new life to your skin cells.

Mukha Abhyanga deeply hydrates, adds a natural shine, and helps keep those aging signs at bay, all while balancing your energy, easing your mind, and melting away stress.

Regular sessions can elevate your skin's health, smooth out tension, and marry your inner and outer beauty in perfect harmony.

Delving Into The Doshas

Ayurveda, often nicknamed the "Science of Life," revolves around the understanding of the universe’s five essential elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. In various combinations, these elements form the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

Every individual carries a unique balance of these doshas, which are like a personal blueprint for both your body and mind. When you know your dosha, it's a game-changer for both your skin and how you feel overall.  

You can learn more about doshas in this article! If you wish to learn what your dosha constitution is, try our Skin Quiz!

Woman lying down after receiving a healing and soothing Ayurvedic Massage.

Every ayurvedic massage is bespoke to each person’s unique dosha balance. 

Armed with the knowledge of one's dominant dosha and the current state of imbalance, you, or your massage therapist, can personalize ayurvedic massage.

From choosing the right warm oil to determining the massage's pace and pressure, every aspect of massage treatment is tailored to bring about harmony and equilibrium and many health benefits for the entire body.

Top 4 Benefits of Ayurvedic Massage

Many sustainable benefits come with Ayurvedic massage:

  • #1: Holistic Detoxification and Immune Boosting

Ayurvedic massage goes beyond the physical, offering a deep, holistic cleanse. The specialized oils and techniques are chosen based on your dosha to draw out toxins from the body. This detoxification goes into the tissues, promoting a thorough rejuvenation that, in turn, bolsters the immune system function.

  • #2: Improved circulation

One of the standout benefits of Ayurvedic massage is its capacity to stimulate and energize the circulatory system. This improves blood flow, supporting your body’s natural intake of nutrients while supporting the removal of waste products. Good circulation leads to overall wellness and vitality.

Healthy woman eating a salad and drinking a healthy nutritious smoothie.
  • #3: Stunning Skin

The oils used in Ayurvedic massage aren't chosen at random. They’re specifically chosen! Whether it's to combat dryness, tackle acne, or heal scars, these oils saturate the skin with essential nutrients, leaving it radiant and youthful. 

  • #4: Mental Clarity and Better Mood

These massages are designed for relaxation! They are renowned for eliciting a significant state of calm, allowing the mind to slow down, and alleviating stress. Ayurvedic massage is like therapy, supporting the interconnectedness of body and mind. 

Three happy friends who live in a holistic manner.

Similarly, mukha abhyanga has benefits, too: 

  • A meditative and tranquil treatment, relaxing the mind, and releasing negative emotions.

  • Aids in enhancing the firmness of facial muscles, helping to counteract sagging.

  • Supports the expulsion of stagnant toxins from facial tissues, enhancing skin radiance.

  • Assists in the lubrication of facial joints, enhancing mobility and comfort.

Black woman with gorgeous radiant skin standing in the sun after performing a mukha abhyanga on her face.

How To Perform An Ayurvedic Massage

  • Step #1: Set the Mood

    Be sure to choose a serene, cozy spot for your massage. Ensure the temperature in the room is comfortably warm and the area has no interruptions. Turn off technology, and let the people you live with know (if applicable) that you are having some quiet time. You deserve it. 

Relaxing bathroom in a home with cozy white towels, candles, and flowers setting the perfect mood for a lovely ayurvedic massage.
  • Step 2: Apply Ayurvedic Approved Products 

Select the appropriate Ayurvedic oil that is best for your skin dosha, such as sesame, almond, or coconut oil. Slightly warm the oil before applying it. Employ circular motions to massage the oil, enabling deep skin absorption. 

When Massaging your entire body, try Harmonizing Oil. 

You can also enjoy massage techniques at the end of your skincare regimen when applying your Timeless Moisturizer to enhance skin softness and promote full and deep absorption of the products.

Shankara's Timeless Moisturizer Bottle, which is perfect for a Ayurvedic Massage


  • Step 3: Begin the massage 

Start at your hands or feet, moving in a direction towards your heart. For example, gently glide your hand from your right shoulder down to your wrist, and then repeat the motion on your left arm and legs, promoting circulation and relaxation. 

Use enough pressure so the oil gets deeply soaked into the skin.

When massaging the body’s more sensitive zones like joints, employ a tender circular motion to massage the oil in. This method is also advised for the belly, top of the head, feet, navel, and ears.

These points are believed in Ayurveda to be linked to vital organs and massaging them is thought to enhance tranquility and well-being.

After allowing the oil to absorb for a few minutes, wash the oil off in a warming shower or soak. 

Woman lying on a table getting ayurvedic massage with oil drops on her back.
  • Step 4: Focus on the Marma Points

Ayurvedic principles believe that marma points on the body can change and improve your biochemistry. To release stagnant energy and stimulate your internal organs, hormones, and other chemicals you need to target specific areas of the body. 

Technique: Gently press into these points with your fingertips using small, circular motions, and be sure to concentrate on crucial marma points such as the temples, forehead, eyebrows, and jawline.

This technique aims to open up energy channels, boosting energy flow, which can invigorate your skin's layers, improve circulation, and enhance lymphatic drainage, setting a perfect base for your facial stroke and other techniques. Win-win! 

A woman appling Shankara's body oil onto her arm during her Ayurvedic massage.
  • Step 5: Cleansing

After the massage, follow up with a cleansing routine to enhance relaxation and detoxification with a herbal steam! This consists of sitting or lying in a room filled with herbal-infused steam, allowing the pores to open and toxins to be released from the body.

The warmth of the steam further relaxes muscles, while the herbal properties penetrate the skin, promoting deep cleansing and rejuvenation. 

When doing a facial oil massage first, you can start with cleansing your face using a natural cleanser, like Shankara’s Deep Cleanser which infuses papaya, red sandalwood, clay, yogurt, and honey powders that remove any surface dirt or impurities. Gently pat your skin dry.

A woman appling Shankara's face oill onto her face after her Ayurvedic massage.

Get into it and don’t be shy! 

If you want a more personalized approach to your massage, contact an Ayurvedic practitioner!

Woman lying doing enjoying a stimulating Ayurvedic massage.

Best Massage Practices Based on Doshas

1. Use the Right Oils

Shankara's hydrating oil being used

Here are recommendations of oils you can infuse into your massages: 

For Vata Doshas - Sesame Oil


  1. Sesame oil, while not an essential oil but a vegetable oil derived from sesame seeds, acts as a balm for the cold and more erratic nature of Vata.
  2. This oil is rich in antioxidants, and skin while enhancing blood circulation, and calming the nervous system.


  1. Sesame oil supports joint health, aids in detoxification, and improves sleep quality.
  2. Its grounding properties balance Vata dosha, while its aromatherapeutic potential uplifts mood.
  3. Regular self-massage promotes self-care and mindfulness.
  • Hot Tip: Infuse this oil with herbs like Ashwagandha or Bala, to rejuvenate the body, reduce pain, and alleviate anxiety.

bowl of sesame oil which is perfect for Vata Doshas

For Pitta Dosha- Coconut and Sunflower Oil


  1. Pitta’s fiery nature calls for cooling agents!
  2. Cool off coconut oil, taken right from the meat of a fresh coconut, as its sweet and cooling attribute makes it an excellent antidote.
  3. It soothes inflamed skin, nourishes the scalp, and offers a calming effect.


  1. Sunflower oil, a vegetable oil, has a light texture, which won't aggravate the already intense Pitta.
  2. Its anti-inflammatory properties help soothe and reduce skin irritation, redness, and sensitivity.
  3. Its light and non-greasy nature also supports proper nourishment and hydration without creating oiliness.
  • Hot Tip: When mixed with Neem or Sandalwood, these oils can further counteract Pitta’s heat, promoting a cool and relaxed state!

Half a coconut and a bottle of sunflower oil perfect for an ayruvedic massage for a pitta dosha

For Kapha Dosha - Mustard and Safflower Oil


  1. To counteract Kapha’s sluggish and dense ways, it calls for something stimulating.
  2. Mustard oil, an essential oil, has warming and invigorating properties, improves circulation, reduces water retention, and can stimulate the metabolism.


  1. Safflower oil, a cooking oil, on the other hand, is light and has the innate ability to penetrate deep into the skin, while balancing Kapha's earthy and watery elements.
  2. It's extremely moisturizing without clogging pores, which is essential for Kapha skin that tends to be oily and prone to congestion.
  3. Safflower oil is rich in linoleic acid, which helps to nourish and soothe the skin.
  • Hot Tip: Mixing herbs like Tulsi or Turmeric can enhance their efficacy, supporting further detoxification and invigoration.

two bottles of mustard oil and safflower oil side by side for a Kapha Dosha skin

2. Use a Range of Tailored Massage Techniques 

black and white infographic of the different strokes and techniques based on Dosha for ayurvedic massages

Here's how Ayurvedic massage is customized for each dosha: 

Vata Dosha

Principle: To balance Vata, the massage should be unhurried. The massage aims to nurture, calm, and ground the Vata energy.

Technique: The strokes should be gentle and slow, keeping a nice rhythmic and predictable balance to offset Vata’s movement and instability with a steady and light to medium, pressure avoiding harsh and vigorous strokes. 

Pitta Dosha

Principle: Pitta is a fire, and water element, so to balance this, the rhythmic massage technique for Pitta should be cooling and sedative.

Technique: The strokes should be moderate, focusing on calming and releasing built-up heat and/or tension.

Kapha Dosha

Principle: Kapha is heavy, and slow,  and requires a vigorous and stimulating massage to counteract these qualities.

Technique: The massage strokes should be focused on breaking up any stillness. The pressure can be more intense, with robust and deep movements to support stimulating circulation and excess Kapha in the body. 

  • Super Tip!: For all doshas, the direction of the strokes is significant and usually follows the flow of the body's natural channels and marma points (vital energy points), moving toward the heart to enhance circulation and detoxification.
Woman receiving a beautiful ayurvedic massage with Shankara body oil.

3. Post-Massage Rituals Matter

The massage doesn’t end once you’re off the table or leave the bathroom from your self-massage. Post ayurvedic treatment rituals are vital. 

Here's what you can do to properly appreciate the process:

  • Take a warm bath to further eliminate toxins. The use of herbal bath powders can enhance the detoxifying effects. 

  • Relax and rest, allowing the body to assimilate the oil's properties. Allow at least one hour for the oil to soak into the body. 

  • Drink warm water or herbal tea to flush out toxins and stay hydrated.

  • Eat a light, balanced meal post-massage to complement the holistic healing process by ensuring that the body isn’t taxed with heavy digestion.

  • Do a sequence of mindful stretches.


Ayurvedic massage is a dance of energies, where the techniques, oils, and receiver come together in a symphony of healing.

Whether you're seeking physical relief, emotional release, or spiritual growth, this ancient practice offers a holistic approach that addresses the body, mind, and skin. 

So, if you haven’t yet, it’s time to embark on the luxurious and therapeutic world of Ayurvedic massage!

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Marissa Del Mistro
Marissa Del Mistro writer Marissa Del Mistro is a writer and editor with diverse interests. When she's not pursuing writing, she enjoys cooking, listening to podcasts, and traveling. She lives in the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, where she loves to explore her gorgeous surroundings.