Ayurvedic Massage

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This continuing education course introduces the learner to Ayurveda, which is a form of traditional medicine dating back over 5,000 years. It makes up an integral part of traditional Indian culture. Ayurveda is a holistic practice that emphasizes not only the treatment of disease but the care of the mind and soul. In Ayurveda, daily massage in combination with specific oils brings a person back to wholeness and health.

Ayurvedic Massage Course Outline (5 CEUs):
  • Chapter One: What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a form of traditional medicine from the Indian subcontinent. It is over 5,000 years old, and makes up an integral part of traditional Indian culture.i It is a holistic practice that emphasizes not only the treatment of disease, but also the care of the mind and soul. The word “ayu” means “all aspects of life from birth to death,” and “veda” means “knowledge or learning” in Sanskrit.ii The whole term Ayurveda can be translated as “knowledge of life” or perhaps “right living.”iii

  • Chapter Two: The Temperaments or Tridosha

In Ayurveda, there are three basic mind-body temperaments, or constitutions. The three basic temperaments, or doshas, are vata (wind), pitta (bile), and kapha (mucus), as previously mentioned, which can combine to produce more temperaments. The doshas make up the chemical nature of all carbon organisms.iv

  • Chapter Three: Benefits of Ayurveda Massage

Massage is recommended as a daily practice in Ayurveda, no matter what constitution you have. It helps to balance the doshas to bring the person back in wholeness and health. Massage can be used to move vayu (wind) through the body, relieving aches and pains. It can be used as a relaxation technique, a digestive aid, and a way to balance circulation.

  • Chapter Four: Determining the Client’s Constitution

Assessing the client’s Ayurvedic body type before beginning the massage can help you decide which type of therapy or oil is most appropriate. Ayurvedic massage is not a medium for treating or diagnosing illness, however.v

  • Chapter Five: Oils

Oil is essential in many forms of Ayurvedic massage. Practitioners believe that massage with oil can help balance disturbances of vata (wind) in the body, as well as nourish the skin, calm the nervous system, balance heat distribution in the body, prevent friction, and prevent dryness.vi

  • Chapter Six: Ayurvedic Massage Strokes

There are four basic strokes used in Ayurvedic massage: tapping, kneading, rubbing, and squeezing.vii The strokes should be performed in silence. The pressure should be adjusted according to the dosha (vatas get light pressure, pittas get moderate pressure, and kaphas get strong pressure).lxii Some forms of Ayurvedic massage include two practitioners massaging the body at the same time- they should work in complete synchronicity and should use the same strokes, speed, and pressure at the same time.

  • Chapter Seven: Abhyanga

Abhyanga means “to rub limbs” in Sanskrit, and is the most well-known form of Ayurvedic massage. It can be done by a therapist, as a self-massage, and in a synchronized method using two therapists, one of either side of the body. It is “an herbal-oil massage that stimulates both arterial and lymphatic circulation, enlivening and revitalizing the body.”viii

  • Chapter Eight: Garshanaa

Garshana is a “dry massage done with wool, raw silk, or terry cloth gloves. This massage is performed quickly over the skin and removes dead skin cells, stimulating the circulation and the lymphatic system.” Garshana is one of the few Ayurvedic massages that does not require oil, and it can be done before any other Ayurvedic body treatment. It last about 15 minutes.ix

  • Chapter Nine: Udvartana

Udvartana is a form of Ayurvedic massage using an herbal paste or dry herbal powders. It is a good option for clients who don’t want a particularly oily massage. It is used to treat edema, obesity, lymph draining, and skin conditions. It is excellent for kapha people or pittas with skin problems like adult acne.x It can be performed with one or two therapists.

  • Chapter Ten: Shirodhara

Shirodhara is a common Ayurvedic practice that can be attached to the end of a regular massage, the end of abhyanga, or the end of a head massage. It is a “process of running a fine stream of warm liquid on the head or forehead. It is one of the excellent therapies for diseases connected with the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose, throat, and nervous system. Its therapeutic utility is proven for Vata alleviation and for patients suffering from Vata diseases such as insomnia and various mental disturbances.”xi

  • Chapter Eleven: Other Forms of Ayurvedic Massage

Along with the popular therapies of abhyanga, udvartana, and shirodhara, there are several other types of Ayurvedic massage therapy. Some of the therapies include vishesh, Ayurvedic prenatal massage, and beauty massage.




i Dr. Subhash Ranade and Dr. Rajan Rawat, Ayurvedic Massage Therapy, Lotus Press, 2008.


ii Ibid.


iii Harish Johari, Ayurvedic Massage, Inner Traditions International, 1996


iv Ibid.


v Dr. John Douillard, The Encyclopedia of Ayurvedic Massage, North Atlantic Books, 2004.


vi Johari


vii Ibid.


viii Douillard


ix Ibid.


x San Diego College of Ayurveda, “Ayurveda Udvartana,” http://ayurvedayogatraining.com/blog/2010/08/ayurveda-udvartana/


xi Ranade and Rawat



Continuing education units (CEUs) are provided via electronic download in PDF format. Review the course work at your own pace and then take the included test online. You can print your certificate immediately after passing each test! All coursework is NCBTMB approved (NCBTMB # 451897-12). NOTE: Each state has different requirements. Please be sure to check our state requirements page and contact your state to verify your requirements.