Padabhyanga: The Ayurvedic foot massage

Foot massage

Padabhyanga is one of the most important Ayurvedic massage techniques and refers to the foot massage in Ayurveda. It is an extremely soothing and relaxing treatment in which the feet, legs and knees are gently massaged with nourishing oil. After an Ayurvedic foot massage you are not only deeply relaxed, but also have particularly soft, supple feet! What exactly happens during the Padabhyanga massage and which complaints it helps particularly well with, you can find out in the following article.

How does the Ayurvedic foot massage work?

Thefeet (pada) are of great importance in the Indian tradition - because with them we are in contact with the earth. In Ayurveda, the human body is seen as an inverted tree: the roots are at the top, i.e. at the head, and the branches (legs and feet) point downwards. In the same way, the human body's feet show whether it has been well treated and nourished. This is why Ayurvedic foot massage has a very long tradition. It is already mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic scripture "Charaka Samhita":

"By massaging the feet with oil or ghee, roughness, stiffness, dryness, fatigue and numbness are immediately removed; tenderness, strength and firmness of the feet are promoted." - Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana 5, 90-92

In Ayurveda, the foot massage is a soothing and vitalising ritual. Before the Padabhyanga, a 5 to 10-minute relaxing foot bath with fragrant herbs is usually offered. The subsequent massage is then performed while lying down. The focus of the treatment is on the feet, but lower legs, thighs and knees are also included. The feet are first rubbed with a warm balm made of ghee or Ayurvedic oils.

Then the masseur begins to massage the toes with soft movements, followed by the back of the foot, the sole and the calves. The massage techniques used are gentle circular and stroking movements. The ankle, the arch of the inner side of the foot and the heel receive circular movements, while stroking movements are performed on the back of the foot, the toes and the spaces between the toes. If you would like to try Ayurvedic foot massage yourself, we have instructions for you here.

Padabhyanga instruction: Pure relaxation!

The soothing massage balances the dosha.

For a moment of relaxation in everyday life, you can also apply basic Padabhyanga massage techniques yourself.

All you need is 2 tablespoons of warm oil (e.g. sesame oil or ghee) and a towel.

Simply sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor or on a chair and place a towel under your feet.

A little oil is then gently rubbed into the whole foot and ankle.

Now perform various circular and stroking movements on the foot.

Proceed as follows:

1. first massage the spaces between the toes with your thumb, moving back and forth in the spaces.
2. then stroke the tendons on the back of the foot with your thumb.
Now circle the ankle with your index, middle and ring fingers and then stroke the Achilles tendon with your thumb and index finger.
4. gently flex all toes with both hands.
Also massage the vital point in the middle of the sole of the foot in a clockwise direction.
You can massage the inner edge of the foot in an elliptical shape with your thumb.
Finally, stroke the outer edge of the foot with your hand.

The massage is followed by a rest period of about one hour. Afterwards, wrap the foot up warmly with thick socks. You can practise the foot massage quietly as a daily ritual before going to bed and thus prepare yourself for a relaxing night's sleep!

The effect of a Padabhyanga massage

Like all Ayurvedic massages, Padabhyanga is designed to balance the doshas and thus promote holistic well-being and health. The massage of the feet calms especially the Vata dosha, has a grounding effect and reduces stress. During the Padabhyanga a deep state of relaxation sets in, which lasts even after the massage.

By stimulating the marma points, blockages are released and the life energy (prana) can flow more freely again. According to the Ayurvedic art of healing, Padabhyanga has a particularly positive effect on the lungs and eyes, as there are marma points for these organs on the foot. Other effects of Padabhyanga are:

  • Strengthening and revitalisation of the tissue
  • Promotion of blood circulation
  • Energy flow is stimulated
  • Strengthening of the eyesight
  • Relaxation of muscles, ligaments and vessels
  • better sleep
  • soft and well-groomed feet
  • Recovery of body and mind

The Ayurvedic foot massage: Application

If you experience inner restlessness and suffer from sleep disorders, Padabhyanga can help you to relax again.

In principle, a foot massage is suitable for all Ayurvedic constitution types, but the type of oil may vary depending on the type.

For Pitta types, for example, ghee, coconut oil or sunflower oil is recommended.

Vata types should use ghee, sesame oil or olive oil.

Kapha types are well advised to use ghee, sesame oil or jojoba oil.

In general, especially Vata types benefit greatly from a foot massage, as it works very well against Vata disorders such as stress, exhaustion and nervousness.

The areas of application of Padabhyanga at a glance:

  • inner turmoil
  • Sleep disorders
  • Headache
  • Relaxation difficulties
  • Burn-out symptoms
  • Lymphatic congestion
  • Calf cramps
  • Swelling of the feet
  • Pain therapy
  • Dry and cracked feet
  • Visual difficulties

When should the foot massage not be performed?

In principle, Padabhyanga is a very gentle treatment that is suitable for almost all people. However, in the case of foot injuries, acute thromboses, phlebitis or open wounds, you should refrain from an Ayurvedic foot massage. Likewise, you should rather refrain from it in case of skin diseases such as eczema or febrile illnesses.

The Marma points: What are they and where are they located?

The vital points located on the feet and legs also play an important role in Padabhyanga. According to Ayurvedic teachings, these so-called "marma points" have a subtle connection to the body organs. Stimulation of the marma points strengthens and vitalises the corresponding organs.

The marma points are the cross points of the energy channels (nadis) through which our life energy (prana) flows. There are a total of 108 of these vital points distributed all over the body. For example, one of the most important marma points is located between the eyebrows, another on the breastbone. Blockage of the marma points causes congestion and stress. However, if the points are stimulated and massaged, this has a relieving, stress-relieving and invigorating effect. Since the points are connected to specific organs, a marma massage can alleviate various complaints.

The following marma points, among others, are located on the feet and legs:

at the tarsus: "Kurcha" - affects the eyesight
Centre of the sole of the foot: "Talahridaya" - influences the heart-lung function
above the knee joint: "Ani" - promotes muscle relaxation
Ankle: "Indravasti" - harmonises the digestive organs
on the thighs: "Urvi" - responsible for the pancreas
in the knee joint: "Janu" - in connection with spleen and liver

Padabhyanga with the Kaash Bowl

A special variation of Padabhyanga is the foot massage with the so-called "Kaash bowl". The word "kaash" refers to the special alloy (mainly copper and tin) from which these traditional bowls are made. The foot massage is performed with the round side of the Kaash bowl.

It works like this: Before the massage, the bowl is slightly warmed and rubbed with oil or ghee. Then the masseur moves the bowl in circular and stroking movements over the different zones of the foot. The Kaash massage with herbal ghee is said to have a harmonising effect on the Pitta Dosha.

Whether with a kaash bowl or only with oil: after an Ayurvedic foot massage you are completely relaxed and your feet are pleasantly cared for. The Padabhyanga is suitable as an evening ritual for deep, restful sleep or a relaxing wellness treatment with a professional Ayurvedic masseur. Give your feet a break from everyday life - they deserve it!

Cover image: © Rido -

Do you have questions about the Ayurvedic foot massage Padabhyanga? Then use the comment function at the bottom of the page. We will be happy to answer your questions.

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