Abhyanga Self-Oil Massage Sequence

Massage has been used for centuries as a therapeutic tool for various ailments, injuries, and athletic recovery.  Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage is a self-care ritual that supports the healing of inner and outer ailments the body might express. When pain or inflammation arises, it is often a call from our body that we need relaxation and self-healing. Self-Massage moves energy through the body which helps to clear the lymph system, relax muscles, and alleviate trapped emotion initiating a deeper connection to self.

Some of the many health benefits of abhyanga massage include: an increase in muscle tone and circulation, an increase in bowel regularity, calming of the nervous system and improvement in quality of sleep. Below you will find a sequence to start your Abhyanga practice.

Start with the head:  Pour a tablespoon of warm oil on your scalp.  Using the flat of your hand, not the fingertips, massage the oil in vigorously all over.  Cover your entire scalp with small circular strokes, as if you were shampooing, and adding a little oil as desired.  It is not necessary to soak your hair with oil.

Move to your face and ears, massaging more gently:  Gentle circles on the temples and backs of the ears is especially good for settling vata dosha.  Circle temples, cheeks. Stroke across upper lip and chin. Stroke across forehead.

Apply a small amount of warm oil to your entire body and then proceed with the abhyanga to each area.  This will allow the oil to have maximum amount of time in contact with your body.

Neck:  Massage back and forth and up and down the front and back of your neck, including the upper part of the spine (be gentle over the windpipe).

Arms – Hands:  Massage somewhat vigorously, using a circular motion at the shoulders and elbows and long, back and forth (or up/down) motions on the long muscles.  Massage back and forth on the palm and back of your hand and gently pull each finger.

Chest – Abdomen:  Make circles on the chest with both hands over pectoral muscles and gently sweep larger circles around the sides of breasts, and paddling towards nipples around them.  A gentle oval or up/down motion over your breastbone feels soothing. Also use circles on your abdomen, following the bowel direction clockwise.

Back – Sides:  Reach around without straining to massage your back and spine with up and down strokes or whatever you can do.  Pull forward on sides. If your spouse or mother is there have them do several long sweeps on your back and circles over the shoulder blade area.

Legs:  Start with full circles on your hip, then long strokes on the thigh.  Circles on knee with both hands, alternating, and long strokes on calf.

Feet:  Alternate (both hands) circles on ankle bone, one hand (fingers) up and down on achilles tendon down to heel.  Do some thumb work on soles if you have time. Work toes pulling gently. Back and forth with palms on top and soles of feet, in an alternating pattern.

Do a couple full sweeps over the face, the arms when you finish there, legs and feet when you are done there.

Allow time for rest and oil to be absorbed after massage.  Then follow with a warm bath, helps oil to penetrate deeper into the tissues.