Instructions for the Abhyanga self-massage

Balancing stress with Ayurveda

Massage tips from Kerstin Rosenberg

The Abhyanga self-massage is a beautiful ritual in which we anoint our bodies, caress our souls and allow our spirits to grow wings. Float in a sea of warm oil and enjoy the deep touch of yourself.

Start your massage with the head and end at the feet. For the whole body, you will need about 40 ml of oil, which you warm up in the preparation phase and pour into a container that keeps warm. Maybe before your first self-massage the 40 ml oil seems to be too much, but you will see that (almost) all the oil is used, because in Ayurvedic massage we always oil until the oil is like a coat on the skin.

Before you start, relax again briefly and breathe deeply in and out. Do you feel relaxed and calm inside? Then you can start with the massage:


  • Drip some oil onto the middle part of your head and massage the oil into your scalp in small circular movements towards your ears, just as you would when shampooing.
  • Now bend your head slightly forward and apply some oil to the hairline at the nape of your neck. Now massage with light circular movements along the back of the head in the direction of the


  • To stimulate the circulation and the nervous system, you can now tap the head with your fingertips and gently pull the hair. Finally, gently stroke the head again and spread the applied oil evenly over the head.


  • Dip your fingertips into the oil and massage your forehead, starting from the center and working outward in a circular motion. Feel what pressure and speed is most comfortable for you.
  • Then stroke your entire face from the center outward - over your forehead, under and over your eyes, from your nose to your cheeks, lips and chin.
  • Finish the facial massage with a gentle stroking motion from the lower left side to the lower right side and vice versa.
  • If there is not enough oil left on your fingers, dip them into the warm oil again and again in between.


From the lower jaw, move to the back of the neck and then up and down the neck. Grasp the back of the neck from above and stroke forward down the neck. Apply light pressure to the downward strokes and no pressure to the upward strokes. Repeat this process 3 to 4 times.


  • Take some oil in the right hand and spread it over the left shoulder, elbow and wrist in a circular motion. The circles should be small and strong on the strongly defined muscles of the arms, and somewhat larger and delicate on the joints.
  • Now stroke out the muscles of the upper and lower arm along its contours from top to bottom, and gently run your fingers back up the outer arm. Repeat this process a few times in a harmonious rhythm and finally stroke the arm again from the shoulder towards the wrist.
  • Carry out the same massage sequence with the left hand on the right arm.


  • From the outer wrist, stroke down the back of the hand and treat each finger by stroking with the thumb and forefinger of the massaging hand towards the fingertip and then from there gently twist and pull on the finger.
  • Then stroke the palm of the other hand with the thumb of one hand. Start at the ball of the hand and work your way down the palms to the base of the fingers. Repeat the same massage process on the other hand.


  • Now comes an extensive oiling of the torso. Start at the shoulder and massage with large circles over the chest to the end of the ribs. Always work from the inner midline of the sternum outwards, making small vigorous massaging movements on the sternum bones and ribs.
  • Now take a little new oil and gently start from your belly button and circle in a spiral over the entire abdomen. To support intestinal peristalsis, always stroke in a clockwise direction and do not apply pressure in the lower abdomen.
  • Then gently massage the spine and back from the tailbone upwards as far as your arms reach up the back. Please do not put pressure on the spine, just perform a loving stroking motion.
  • Also massage the side of the back over the rib arches to the tops of the shoulders.

Legs and feet

  • The last thing to massage with oil is the legs and feet. Start on the buttocks with large clockwise circular motions. Now travel down the right leg and massage it with both hands, stroking the inside of the thigh with one and the outside with the other. If you suffer from water retention or cellulite, emphasize the movement leading to the torso with vigorous strokes.
  • Now stroke the front of the lower leg and gently circle around the kneecap. Then move downwards to the ankles, also circling gently around them.
  • Now go from the ankle to the Achilles heel to the calf and finally massage the leg again from the ankle up through the back of the knee to the thigh.
  • Repeat the same process with the other leg and finally turn your attention to your feet.
  • Gently stroke your feet from the instep to the toes, massaging them with small circular motions between the bones of your feet. Massage extra on each toe of your foot with small circles and gentle peeling, just as you have already done with your fingers.
  • Now coat the soles of your feet with the remaining oil and gently massage the sides as well. If you like, you can finish off with a little foot reflexology massage to treat the internal organs as well.

Sensory organs and after oiling

Finish your abhyanga by placing a drop of oil in each ear and nostril with the fingertip of your little finger or ring finger. Your body should now be coated in a layer of oil from head to toe. If the oil has been completely absorbed in some places, use a little more the next time, leaving a residue on the skin. Only then is the sufficient amount of oil on your skin. Through the oil massage, you could release deposited waste in the tissues and stimulate circulation to flush out the dissolved toxins. Now leave the oil on for 15 to 25 minutes while you relax, perhaps with a little meditation exercise.

Final cleansing

Now shower off the oil with water that is as hot as possible. The classic method is to use a paste of ground chickpea flour, water and milk, which is applied to the skin before showering. If this is too much work for you, use a pH neutral and particularly mild soap with oil substances so as not to destroy the effect of the Abhyanga.

Through the hot shower, the body channels (scrotas) in your body are dilated. Now the deposits loosened by the massage can be processed and eliminated. After the shower, rub yourself down vigorously to stimulate the circulation again and rest a little while lying down. This way the detoxification process can be completed.