abhyanga instructions

abhyanga instructions




Abhyanga is an essential Ayurvedic self-care practice and my personal favorite.
This ancient practice of massaging your body with warm oil is a beautiful way to saturate yourself with love and care. 
Massaging your body with loving intent not only helps soften and smooth the skin but, with regular practice, helps promote longevity, relieves fatigue, and facilitates the removal of toxins (ama). 
Abhyanga calms the nervous system, enhances sleep, lubricates the joints, and supports circulation. 
Here is a detailed guide on how to give yourself a self-massage. The most important thing is to allow yourself plenty of time to relax and slowly and lovingly apply the oil:


You will need the following:


  • Two towels. One towel to sit on and one towel under your feet. It is a good idea to reserve them exclusively for this ritual (the oil never seems to wash out).
  • Place a small bottle of body oil in a cup of hot water (about 5 minutes to warm it thoroughly). 
  • A peaceful room with candles, if desired. Usually, in the bathroom or anywhere, you are comfortable and warm. 


Start your massage by dispensing small amounts of warmed oil in the palm of your hand and gently rubbing your hands together. Do this as much as needed throughout your massage.


 Head, face, and neck:

  • At the top of your head, massage the roots of your hair and gently work the oil into your hair. 
  • Move to your ears, on, around, and gently in.  
  • Rub a small amount of oil on your face with upward, circular motions on your temples, forehead, cheeks, upper lip, and chin.
  • Work down your neck, to the collarbone, and across your shoulder. 
  • Pay attention to the sides and back of your neck and shoulders where much tension is stored.

Hands and arms:

  • Massage your hand, knuckles, wrist, elbow, and shoulder with circular movements. Pay special attention to each finger and the palm of your hand. 
  • Next, use long, firm strokes on the forearm and up to the shoulder. Massage your armpit towards your body. Finish with an up-and-down motion from the shoulder to the wrist. 
  • Complete one arm and then the other.

The heart center, abdomen, hips, and buttocks:

  • Very gently massage your heart center with clockwise circular motions. 
  • Move to your abdomen. Continue clockwise movements. Start on the bottom right side of your belly. Move up and over to the left; this follows bowel flow.
  •  Next, massage your sides, lower back, and buttocks with steady, firm pressure. Release any tension.

 Legs and feet:

  • Move to the feet and legs. Start on the foot with gentle pressure—circular motion on the toes, joints, and ankles. Spend time here, as the feet are receptors to many nerves. Work up to the ankle, knee, and hip with circular motions. Firm strokes on the long bones of the leg and thigh front and back. End by going up and down the entire leg.
  • Switch to the other leg.


  • Now it is time to relax, 15-20 minutes or even longer if desired.
  • Rinse off in a warm bath or shower, and pat dry. 
  • Remember, OIL IS SLIPPERY. 


The above is just a guideline. It is your massage. The goal is to work the oil into your skin lovingly. Be guided by your intuition.


No worries if you do not have time to do the following sequence. You can do a quick treatment in the middle or end of a shower:

  1. Turn the water off or step away from direct water contact. Apply a palmful of warmed oil to the entire body.
  2. Massage your body for a few minutes. Circular motions on the joints and long movements on bones. 
  3. Continue to rub for a few more minutes until all oil is absorbed and rinsed.
  4. Remember, OIL IS SLIPPERY.



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