Ayurvedic Massage Buyer’s Guide

What is Ayurvedic massage?

Ayurvedic massage is an ancient Indian massage technique that detoxifies the body, mind, and spirit, maintaining or restoring the ideal state of dynamic balance and harmony, internally and externally, with the integrated use of personalized oils and touch, based upon vikriti, current condition, and prakriti, personal constitution.

Why Ayurveda?

Ayurveda, meaning life knowledge in Sanskrit, is the 5,000 year old holistic health method of traditional Indian medicine for wellbeing and natural healing.  In Ayurveda, the universe and all of its contents are comprised of five Panchamahabhutas, basic elements:  space, air, fire, water and earth.  Based upon three fundamental body principles or doshas, Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (water and earth), Ayurveda identifies your healthy individual balances of these forces, which shape our personal and unique physical, mental, and emotional natures.  Ayurvedic massage in conjunction with diet, herbs, aromatherapy and meditation, are tools for preserving and promoting health and wellness.

What are some typical Ayurvedic massage tools?

Ayurvedic massage tools have similarities with many other styles of massage, primarily using oils in conjunction with pressure from the hands, knuckles, elbows or knees.  However, there are some massage products precisely conducive to Ayurvedic massage.

Massage Mat

Some Ayurvedic practitioners prefer to work with the client sitting or lying on the floor.  These versatile mattresses provide comfort on the floor or attached to a massage table while also allowing for easy clean-up and storage.

Massage Table

The Ayurveda BodyChoice Massage table was specifically designed for the Ayurvedic healing arts with elevated edges to capture oil and prevent spillage that occurs with Ayurvedic massage therapies which typically incorporate large amounts of oil.  Also included is a Shirodhara face pillow engineered to collect oil which flows into an affixed container.

Sesame Seed Massage Oil

Oleation, the oiling of the body, is very important in Ayurvedic massage.  Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, sesame seed oil absorbs deeply, allowing vital nutrients to enter the body while also nourishing and protecting the skin.  It is an ideal carrier oil for other oils’ vitamins and minerals, super emollient, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal.

Massage Oils and Creams

An Ayurvedic practitioner can assess which specifically formulated oils and creams can be used to harmonize and balance an individual’s needs.  Oils are chosen based upon time of day, season, climate, and personal constitution.

Oil Warmer

In some Ayurvedic massage therapies, oil is heated to slightly warmer than body temperature to assist toxin removal, nourish the skin, and ease tension in deeper tissues.  Heat is known to relax muscles and increase circulation, making the massage more effective and soothing.


Steam is commonly incorporated in Ayurvedic massage to clear impurities, relieve joint pain and muscle soreness, improve circulation and reduce inflammation.


Massage Salt is sometimes encouraged at the end of Ayurvedic massage to aid detoxification by exfoliating skin cells and unclogging pores.

How do you clean the Ayurvedic tools?

Because of the copious amount of oil used in Ayurvedic massage, we recommend regularly washing the massage mat and table with biodegradable vinyl and leather cleaner, which disinfects and sanitizes, as well as protects and extends the life of the products.  Oil resistant table covers and face pillows, as well as protective non-woven and Disposable Three-Ply Table Sheets, are used to minimize oil stains and residue build-up.

What are some Ayurvedic massage techniques?

There is a vast range of Ayurvedic massage techniques that are chosen based upon personal assessment and needs.  Here are a few:

Personalized oil massage of the entire body, stimulating circulation, expelling toxins, fostering relaxation and rejuvenating the body

Forehead oil massage – a treatment during which a stream of oil is poured in the center of the forehead to help focus, concentration and relax the mind and body. Shirodhara synchronizes brain waves, enhancing awareness and improving memory

Deep muscular oil massage consisting of vigorous rhythmic treatment to break up adhesion, stimulate lymphatic flow and guide impurities out of the body, unblocking channels for awareness and encouraging blood flow to deep tissues

Deep neck, shoulder and head massage with oil application, facial lymphatic massage and aromatic steam to clear impurities, and open the sinuses, combat pollutants and soothe chronic head and neck problems like allergies, headaches, and asthma

Dry lymphatic skin brushing to increase circulation and prepare skin for oil reception, stimulating arterial and lymphatic circulation, relaxing the mind and body, enhancing cell nourishment and removing stagnant waste, ama (toxins created by undigested food)

Opening and balancing energy flow by stimulating Marma points, 107 main points of five organic principles (ligaments, vessels:  nerves, lymph, arteries and veins, muscles, bones and joints),  with oils and circular motions

Murda Thaila
Applying oil to the scalp for healthy hair growth, comforting and energizing the senses

Karna Puran
Applying oil to the ears to relieve aural disorders, and relax stiff jaw or neck

Oil applications to the feet to invigorate, heal and soothe, and enhance vision

What should I do before and after an Ayurvedic massage?

Check with your provider but in general, it is advised to eat lightly and drink purified water before Ayurvedic massage.  Relax after an Ayurvedic massage, refraining from large meals, alcohol, and over-exertion.  Wash off excess herbal oils and rehydrate, drinking purified water.

Can anyone give Ayurvedic massage?

Self-Massage at home is encouraged by some Ayurvedic massage enthusiasts, as Abhyanga is routinely practiced by many as part of a daily regimen.   However, it is suggested to consult a professional to assess personal doshas and needs for maintaining or restoring balance, and it is imperative to be educated and/or formally trained if considering practicing on others.  Schools in India offer Bachelors of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery, and Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery.

Are there any precautions for receiving Ayurvedic massage?

Let your Ayurvedic massage therapist know any and all health conditions, especially if you are expecting, breastfeeding, or menstruating.  Avoid Ayurvedic massage during aggravated body conditions like swollen painful areas or broken/infected skin, and acute illnesses like fever, cough, vomiting or directly post cleanse.  Communicate with all of your health practitioners so that an informed, aware, integrated approach can be used for your health and wellbeing.

Where can I go if I want more information?

The National Ayurvedic Medical Association represents the Ayurvedic profession in the United States.  Their website, www.ayurvedanama.org includes links to find a practitioner, enroll in a school or program, attend events and learn more about additional Ayurveda resources.