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  • All You Need To Know About Ayurvedic Dry Powder Massage (Udwarthanam)

    All You Need To Know About Ayurvedic Dry Powder Massage (Udwarthanam)

    The Ayurveda Experience August 05, 2023

    Picture yourself in a tranquil setting, enveloped in soothing aroma and relaxing music accompanied by the massage of skilled hands! Needless to say, your imagination gives way to a much-awaited Ayurvedic oil massage that relaxes the body and soul. Hang on! What if the massage is done in a different way, without oil, but adhering to Ayurvedic principles with added benefits? Read on to know more about “udwarthanam”, the art of Ayurvedic dry powder massage that comes with a range of positive effects on your body and mind. 

    Udwarthanam is a combination of two Sanskrit words - urdwa, meaning upward and varthanam, meaning, to move. Thus, udwarthanam is a special type of massage where the strokes are done in the upward direction unlike the regular abhyanga (oil massage). Simply put, the massage is done with dry herbal powders, opposite to the direction of hair growth.  

    The ancient Ayurveda Acharyas have beautifully penned down about udwarthanam in their literature works. Acharya Charaka has used the word “sharira parimarjanam” instead of udwarthanam1. He explains sharira parimarjanam after oil massage, which explains the logical way of performing dry massage after a mild abhyanga so that it doesn't break the skin due to friction. The presence of oil on the skin helps reduce friction between the skin and the dry powder, enabling smooth strokes throughout the procedure. Acharya Vagbhata while explaining daily regimen also advises udwarthanam to be done daily after abhyanga2. 

    Acharya Susrutha gives a more detailed explanation regarding dry massage. He elaborates udwarthanam as that which brings about pravilapanam (dissolution) and vimlapanam (destruction)3. What better way to explain the therapeutic procedure that causes the dissolution and destruction of toxic materials in the body, including vitiated Kapha dosha and accumulated fat!  


    Dry massage can be done with dry herbal powders alone or mixed with suitable oils, depending on condition. When the powder is not mixed with any oils, it is called ruksha udwarthanam and the later, snigda udwarthanam. Although ruksha udwarthanam fits more into the term dry massage due to the absence of oil, snigda udwarthanam holds immense benefits on its own. 


    • If you belong to Vata prakriti
    • If your body is weak, thin and needs more stability
    • If your skin is devoid of luster and looks unhealthy


    • If you belong to Kapha prakriti
    • If you have severe Kapha dosha vitiation 
    • If there is accumulated subcutaneous fat deposition
    • If you want to lose body weight 
    • If you feel heaviness and rigidity in the body

    A registered Ayurvedic practitioner can assess your body type and suggest the appropriate type of dry massage for you. 

    Know your DOSHA here!

    READ MORE: Know Your Body Constitution To Attain The Best Of Health


    In Ayurveda, any therapeutic procedure begins with some preparatory procedures, just like warm-ups we do before an exercise. Before starting dry massage, the person undergoing therapy is subjected to a full body oil massage for around 15 minutes. This helps to provide a smooth lubricating surface when the dry powder is rubbed and massaged over the body.  

    Suitable herbal powder is selected according to the condition and prakriti of the person. It is then rubbed all over the body and a massage is performed with bare hands in the opposite direction of hair growth. If the skin is very dry or if the condition indicates, the powder may be mixed with herbal oil to prevent any sort of skin breakage. Unlike regular oil massage, dry massage is performed in a rigorous yet comforting manner in different positions, to provide optimum benefits. 

    The procedure requires around 45 min to complete. A warm steam bath may be performed afterward to further open up the pores and flush out toxins from the body. Ayurvedic scriptures advise baths to be performed about one hour post the therapeutic procedure.  


    Massage is not always just about relaxation. Dry massage comes with a range of therapeutic benefits as well. Most often, a hot (ushna virya) and penetrating (tikshna) type of herbal powder is selected for dry massage. Massage in the opposite direction of hair growth ensures optimum absorption of the therapeutic benefits of the herbal powder. This helps in the dissolution of vitiated Kapha dosha and accumulated fat in the body. The general benefits of dry massage are listed below: 

    • Beneficial in reducing excess body weight: Dry massage accompanied by a healthy diet and regular exercise aids weight loss6
    • Helps break down the excess accumulation of body fat: Excess fat not metabolized by the body gets deposited as unhealthy cholesterol. Dry massage helps in breaking down this excess fat by generating sweat through friction7.
    • Revitalizes the skin: Dry massage with suitable herbal powders aid exfoliation. Thus, dead cells and debris are removed from the skin surface, enhancing the natural glow8
    • Cleanses the body and helps flush out toxins: Dry massage followed by a steam bath opens up the pores and helps remove the accumulated toxins out of the body9.
    • Enhances circulation: Continuous massage helps improve lymphatic drainage and blood flow through the body, providing an instant glow to the body and healthier body parts10.
    • Provides stability to body parts: Rigorous and rhythmic massage with bare hands gives stability to the muscles and helps improve joint stability11.
    • Revitalizes and rejuvenates the body and the mind: Dry massage brings about a sense of relaxation and aids a refreshing charm to the mind and the body.

    The benefits of udwarthanam extend beyond physical benefits. It establishes an emotional support, a mind-body connection, and a relaxing atmosphere altogether. The lightness that you feel after dry massage is not just limited to the physical body, but reflects to the soul as well.  

    Ayurveda recognizes the inexplicable benefits of massage compared to any other system of medicine. Different types of massages are described in the ancient literature as a treatment to different conditions. Even when there are different formulations indicated for various diseases, the power of human touch cannot be understated. Dry massage or udwarthanam is a hands-on healing procedure that involves manipulating soft tissues of the body using adequate pressure. It does not require enormous preparation and can even be done as a regular exfoliating massage at home.  

    In this century of lifestyle disorders, stress, and fast-moving life, dry massage or udwarthanam has rightfully earned its place as a popular practice around the world. Incorporating this as a part of your regular wellness routine helps in destressing and rejuvenating yourself periodically, apart from maintaining health. Embrace the power of touch and embark on an Ayurvedic journey towards a healthier, balanced, and blissful you. 

    Click here to try time-tested Ayurvedic Body Oils!

    Written by - 

    Dr. Arathi Vasudev

    Dr. Arathi Vasudev is a highly skilled Ayurveda physician and a creative content writer with a passion for promoting the benefits of Ayurvedic practices and principles. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S) from Kerala, where she honed her expertise in traditional Ayurvedic healing methods. Her dedication to the field is evident through her numerous additional certifications, including Ayurvedic dietetics and nutrition, Basic Ayurvedic Cosmetology training, and Certification on the management of common skin and musculoskeletal disorders.

    Dr. Arathi's journey as an Ayurveda physician began in 2014 with various prestigious organizations in Bangalore, India where she was in-charge of conducting OP consultations and supervising in-house treatments for patients.


    1. Chakrapani commentary on Charaka Samhita (Sutra Sthana) Chapter 5, Verse-93 ; https://www.arcjournals.org/pdfs/ijmpnp/v6-i3/3.pdf
    2. Astanga Hridaya Sutrasthana, Chapter 2, verse 15
    3. Ritu Wadhwa, International Journal of Medicinal Plants and Natural Products (IJMPNP) Volume 6, Issue 3, 2020, PP 24-27
    4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333866630_Udvartana_Ayurveda_Powder_Massage_A_Review_Article
    5. https://wjpr.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/article_issue/266d8b32d81d0b677a249f97bed53337.pdf ; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333866630_Udvartana_Ayurveda_Powder_Massage_A_Review_Article
    6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/360395312_Effect_of_Udvartantherapy_in_SthoulyaObesity-A_Review 
    7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6369601/#:~:text=Mode%20of%20action%20of%20Udvartana,for%20disposal%20from%20the%20system. 
    8. Namita Patel, Kamlesh Kumar Sharma, Effect of Udvartana to Promote the Beauty s.r. to Skin-A Review, International Research Journal of Ayurveda & Yoga,Vol. 5 (2),175-178, February, 2022
    9. https://ijmhsjournal.in/issu%203/Concept%20of%C2%A0Udvartanam.pdf 
    10. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333866630_Udvartana_Ayurveda_Powder_Massage_A_Review_Article
    11. Astanga Hridya, Sutrasthana, Chapter 2/15, Edited by Vaidya Yadunandana Upadhyaya, Chaukhambha Prakashan,Varanasi

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