The Art of Abhyanga Snana


The Oil bath , also called Abhyanga Snana in Ayurveda is a highly revered health technique from ancient India. It is practiced regularly across India and parts of the world at least once a week, if not everyday before a bath. On Diwali and  festive mornings this becomes a very auspicious ceremony for health and prosperity that is widely practiced even today.

The Oil bath has two parts –

  • The Abhyanga part , which is the self-massage from head to toe with a suitable herb-infused Ayurvedic oil, here ABHA Massage Oil
  • The Snana part ,a bath to wash off the excess oil from the body with a herbal bath powder called ubtan or snana choornam, here DHANYA Cleansing Dust.

It is also customary to wait for a few minutes after the oil massage before the bath to allow the oils to soak and penetrate the deep tissues. In order to facilitate the deep penetration of the oil, warm it before use and apply with vigorous massage stokes till the skin is well saturated with it. A few minutes of exercise before the massage is also advisable.

The benefits of Abhyanga Snana is well documented in the classical Ayurvedic texts like the Charka Samhita , Susruta Samhita & the Ashtanga Hridayam.

Charaka Samhita - “The body of one who does a regular Abhyanga does not get affected by accidents or strenuous physical work. A daily Abhyanga endows one with good skin, good physique and the body becomes strong, pleasant to look at, has good lustre and is not affected by old age”.

The Diwali Oil bath ritual practiced all over India is called Ganga Snanam in South India, Pahili Anghol in Maharasthra. On Diwali day, Indians wake up well before sunrise and have an Abhyanga oil massage and Snana with an ubtan. This is highly auspicious as on this particular day, Goddess Mahalakshmi is represented in the Oil & Mother Ganga in warm water. Therefore this special oil bath removes sins, bad luck and enhances our health and prosperity.

The general technique of Abhyanga massage -

  1. Do a few stretches to warm your body. Then sit comfortably or stand on a cotton, non-slip mat.
  2. Pour oil into the brass bowl and place it in hot water to warm. Apply the oil to your whole body, including the top of your head. Massage the oil into your scalp and hair, moving in circular, kneading motions.
  3. Wash your hands before continuing to your face. (to prevent bacteria, dirt from the scalp to lodge itself in the facial skin) Then massage your forehead, ears, cheeks and jaws with gentle circular motions.
  4. Massage your chest and abdomen, moving in clockwise and circular strokes. On your trunk, massage inward along your ribs.
  5. Continue to your back and butt. Massage in straight, long motions on your arms and legs. Massage in circular motions on your joints.
  6. Carefully massage your feet, toes and soles included.
  7. Finally relax for 5-10 minutes to let your skin absorb the oil. By now you would also be perspiring because of the initial stretches combined with the massage. This is the toxins leaving your system. Perfect.
  8. Take a lukewarm bath using the cleansing dust to remove excess oil. Pat your skin dry.
  9. Drink a glass of cool water. Lie down and relax a few minutes.


Read also - Benefits of Abhyanga Snana



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