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Lymphatic Massage: Garshana & Abhyanga Explained

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Garshana & Abhyanga treatments are designed to help stimulate and aid in the removal of toxins as well as create a deep sense of balance. Each therapy is focused on the client's specific needs at the time of service.

This traditional Ayurvedic massage is done using warm, medicated herbal oils in a soothing and rhythmic long stroke pattern. According to the classical text, this massage is indicated daily to prevent aging and degeneration.

Garshana & Abhyanga is an ancient Ayurvedic massage featuring a dry lymphatic drainage with silk gloves, followed by an individualized herbal oil treatment. The silk gloves increase circulation and stimulate the pores for accepting the warm herbal oils applied in the Abhyanga part of the treatment.

Abhyanga is a rhythmic massage using herbal oil that is specific for current imbalances. This massage deeply relaxes, calms the nervous system, and nourishes the body. It is also termed Snehana, as it encourages the emotions of love and tenderness in the mind. It is an ancient practice which predates the Vedic period. Early humans practiced life sustaining ways of manipulating the body to produce strength, mobility, flexibility, and fluent memory; memory that interlaced with the cosmos.

Abhyanga massage affects blood, nerves, and lymphatic circulation, providing the body with a direct line of defense against disease by stimulating the lymph nodes. The lymph system is operating through ducts, nodes and passages, and does not have capillaries to carry its fluids independently as does the blood system. The lymph system's function is to supplement blood circulation. Further, the lymph system serves as reservoir for muscles to float in. Its lymph nodes assist blood circulation by draining excess fluids from the bloodstream thus, easing the labors of the heart. They also provide the body with its direct line of defense against disease.

By stimulating the lymph nodes, massage therapy, especially when performed with warm oil, serves to cleanse and revitalize the body.

The goals of external oileation is to dislodge and circulate toxins for removal, as well as stimulate the subtle channels and systems through marma points with healing properties of the oils used.

Garshana & Abhyanga treatments are adjusted with variant speed and types / amounts of oil. It is a method of pressing oil into the skin and stimulating the circulation of lymphatic system.Generally done with sesame oil, this massage can be done with one or two therapists, consisting of 2, 3, or 5 positions, lasting 30, 45, or 60 minutes. Oil is warmed or cured before applying to the skin to make it digestable, and is followed by a hot towel compress.

During the session, a client is completely undressed and is draped with a towel, or wearing disposable undergarments. If it's comfortable, the upper body's lymphatic system is worked briefly with the breasts exposed. This is a wonderfully healing and integral part of this treatment. We wish to be sensitive to those who are uncomfortable with this exposure and will adjust the treatment accordingly.

Text credit: Chayaveda Integrative Healing Arts -

Photography: Andrew Leon -

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