Abhyanga is probably the least effective form of treatment or activity for people who are predominantly Kapha, compares with Pitta and Vata. This is because the Kapha qualities of cool, heavy, slow and static are also qualities found in carrier massage oils. This does not mean that Kaphas should avoid Abyhanga however, because the addition of the correct essential oils to a carrier means that the resulting massage oil will contain the qualities of the essential oils or substances it is prepared with.
For oily skin (Kapha) choose a light carrier oil such as flaxseed, corn, canola or safflower and mix with an invigorating herbal oil. Alternatively, buy a pre-prepared oil from a reputable Ayurvedic company specifically tailored to the Kapha Dosha.
Benefits of Abhyanga for Kapha Dosha
If you bear in mind the above advice and perform Abyhanga in a vigorous, energizing way you will probably experience some of the following benefits:
- Improved circulation of the blood and lymphatic systems.
- Improved digestive system.
- Alleviation of joint and muscle pain.
- More motivation to engage in strenuous physical activity.
- Better regulated moods.
- Decreased symptoms of PMS.
- An increase in the desire to eat more healthy foods.
- Weight loss may become more manageable if that is your goal.
- More enthusiasm to engage with life and with others.
Techniques of Abyhanga for Kapha Dosha
Kapha types need less oil than the other Doshas, so aim to use only as much as will fit into the palm of your hand without spilling.
- Apply the oil to your thighs and calves in long slow movements. The aim at first is to distribute the oil evenly. Use excess oil from the legs to smooth over the arms and thence the abdomen.
- Return to the legs and rub vigorously in the direction away from the heart, so start at the top of the thighs and finish at the feet on both the front and backs of the legs.
- Use as much pressure as you can and think of squeezing the muscles as you massage in long strokes. Use vigorous circular movements on the knees and ankles.
- Repeat the same sorts of movements on the arms.
- Use a circular motion on the abdomen, starting at the right side massaging upwards to the area just below the breast bone. Then massage across the torso and back down the left side before repeating several times.
- Massage the chest with firm pressure in broad, sweeping circular motions.
- Reach over your left shoulder with your right hand and press firmly as you glide your hand in towards the base of your skull. Massage this area with a vigorous pinching motion and repeat it on the other side.
- Reach around your pelvic girdle to massage the lower back with firm, circular movements of your fingers. Begin in the middle of your back and massage out towards the hips.
- Use the pads of your fingers to massage your cheeks in gentler, but still firm circles.
- Take the fingers up into the hair and massage all around the hairline and ears.
- Take some time to relax for a while after you have completed what should have been quite a vigorous, energetic massage session.
- Shower the excess oil off with warm water and a gentle soap, then towel dry.
Abhyanga Tips/Instructions for Kapha Dosha
If you are predominantly Kapha and you wish to decrease its influence you should really avoid the type of commercial massages that claim to relax and de-stress you. Firstly, these treatments do tend to use heavy oils and more oil than is good for the Kapha constitution. Secondly, they also employ light pressure and slow movements, which is excellent for those who are tense, over-active or wound up, but not so beneficial for those who struggle to get moving.
An alternative to the conventional spa or “beauty therapy” massage might be a Sports massage, which uses much greater pressure and vigorous, energizing movements.