Abhyanga: Soothing Self-Massage for Autumn | Ayurveda


Autumn is the season of the vata dosha—the subtle energy that governs movement. Literally translated as “wind,” vata is dry and often cold. It comes in bursts and can leave you feeling worn out, sapped, and susceptible to illness. If you’re experiencing some of the following symptoms, you may have excess vata:

dry skin
achy joints
restless, fitful sleep
irregular bowels
lower backaches
erratic thinking
erratic routines

Ayurvedic oil treatments offer the perfect panacea for these conditions. The sheer weight of oil applied to the skin slows down vata’s airy, hyper-mobile nature. Oil lubricates the skin, tissues, and joints and puts you back on solid ground. Try this nourishing oil regime and see for yourself!

Nourishing Self-Massage (Abhyanga): 

  • Warm about ¼-½ cup of sesame or almond oil (vata balancing).
  • Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room on a towel that you don’t mind ruining with oil accumulation. 
  • Apply oil generously to your entire body.
  • Massage the oil into your body, beginning at the extremities and working toward the middle of your body. Use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints. Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side.
  • Give a little extra time and attention to massaging the oil into your scalp, ears and feet, at least once a week. Apply oil to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes. 
  • When you massage your feet, be sure to wash them first when you shower, so you don’t slip.
  • Enjoy a warm bath or shower. 
  • When you get out of the bath, towel dry. Keep a special towel for drying off after your abhyanga due to oil accumulation.

Sachi Doctor

Elemental Alchemy, 90 Rio Vista Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94611

Sachi Doctor is an Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health coach who founded Elemental Alchemy with the mission to provide a resource for those navigating their way towards optimal mind-body health.

Diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at a young age, Sachi has spent over twenty years exploring different health modalities, treatment plans, diets and mindfulness practices to help alleviate chronic pain and restore balance.

After years of looking to others for a model of health with no relief, Sachi realized that the answers she sought were not hidden in someone else’s prescription for wellness but unique to her, and that the first step towards discovery was actually tuning out what was right for others and tuning into herself.

As she tapped into the wisdom of her own body, she discovered that the elements foundational for health  — the blueprint she so fervently sought — was within her, within each of us. Since then Sachi has been passionate about helping others also cultivate clarity and inner wisdom for vibrant health.

In addition to her Ayurvedic and nutrition education, Sachi has completed over 800 hours of yoga teacher training and continues to study with her mother, her first yoga teacher, for whom these practices are a way of life.

Sachi is a board member of the Prison Yoga Project at San Quentin State Prison and serves as an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit that raises funds within the US yoga community to support microcredit programs for women in India. She holds a Msc in Development from the London School of Economics.