Padabhyanga comes from the Sanskrit words ‘pada,’ which means foot, and “abhyanga,” a massage using herbal oil. It’s a form of ancient foot massage or therapy that promotes healing and wellness.
Padabhyanga holds a sacred place in Ayurveda medicine as it’s often considered the “mother of all therapies.” Our feet connect us with the earth, and it is also where vital nerve endings meet.
According to Dr. Vasant Lad, a renowned ayurvedic physician from India and head of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Padabhyanga offers many health benefits. He said, “The doors to the body’s inner pharmacy are under the bottoms of your feet.”
In this blog post, we’ll learn about the remarkable wonders of the Padabhyanga massage. We’ll go through its many health benefits and how it can treat dosha or energy imbalance.
What Is A Padabhyanga Massage?
In Ayurvedic medicine, the body is ruled by 3 doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These energies govern how we act, think, and live. A dosha imbalance leads to fear, anxiety, fatigue, and other diseases or illnesses.
Padabhyanga is one of the Ayurvedic massage therapies that help bring the doshas into balance. It’s an Ayurvedic massage that focuses on the feet. It uses gentle and soft circular motions on marma points, or energy points on the feet, to promote healing and wellness throughout the entire body. It targets specific nerve endings on the feet to stimulate body organs.
The use of body energy points and herbal oils distinguishes Padabhyanga from traditional foot massage. While traditional foot massages use pressure points to improve blood circulation, Padabhyanga places importance on selecting suitable herbal oils to improve energy flow in the body. When applied to the soles of the feet, these herbal oils permeate through the skin until they reach the 7 dhatus, or the 7 tissues of the body.
It’s often done at night as a daily ritual before going to bed. Padabhyanga is a soothing, calming, revitalizing, and dosha-balancing foot massage that can affect your body, mind, and spirit.
Why Are Foot Massages So Important?
Ancient beliefs say that the feet are where the body and soul meet. According to Ayurveda, the feet are the center of all energies that connect our bodies to the earth. It resembles the roots of a tree, which connect the branches and other parts to the ground. It has over 7,000 nerve endings connected to every bodily organ.
Ayurvedic doctors know how to treat various ailments by applying pressure and oil to specific points on the feet that correspond to the affected body part. Padabhyanga stimulates and nourishes vital nerves with gentle massage and medicated oils.
This ancient massage stimulates the nervous system and clears any blocked or congested energy pathways. This improves blood circulation and helps to restore dosha balance.
Padabhyanga offers many health benefits from head to toe. By reducing stress, boosting our immunity, and bringing back the balance in our doshas, or body energy, Padabhyanga can heal our body, mind, and consciousness. We’ll learn some of the top health benefits in detail below.
10 Health Benefits of Padabhyanga Massage
We listed below the top 10 health benefits that you can get with Padabhyanga massage:
- Boosts Immunity
- Eliminates Fatigue & Exhaustion
- Alleviates Depression & Anxiety
- Strengthens Vitality
- Manages Pain & Migraine
- Enhances Good Eyesight
- Cures Cough & Colds
- Treats Insomnia
- Improves Lymphatic Drainage
- Leads To Better Digestion
1. Boosts Immunity
Dr. Lad explains how Padabhyanga can improve our immune response by using gentle massage motion and medicinal herbs. Rubbing herbal oil on the soles of the feet allows oil to permeate the skin. It travels from the lowermost layer of the skin, the superficial fascia, down to the deep fascia until the oil reaches the neural ending.
This stimulates the production of neuropeptides, which are amino acids that help regulate the activities of the gut, muscles, heart, and other vital organs. They help maintain immune tolerance by regulating inflammatory responses. This response protects us against illnesses, especially autoimmune diseases.
2. Eliminates Fatigue & Exhaustion
In Ayurveda, fatigue and exhaustion are results of a dosha imbalance caused by an excess of Vata dosha. Using warm herbal oil on your soles activates the nerves in your parasympathetic system, putting you into a calm and relaxed state.
Massaging sesame or bhringraj oil on your soles before you sleep reduces your stress levels and makes you sleep better at night. This is because sesame oil contains tyrosine, an amino acid that boosts serotonin, a hormone that fights stress and fatigue.
3. Alleviates Depression & Anxiety
Padabhyanga can also help alleviate psychological imbalances like depression and anxiety. This belief is supported by science since studies show that the severity of foot pain is often linked to depression.1
In Ayurveda, our emotions get heightened out of control when we have a dosha imbalance. We feel extreme emotions of anxiety, depression, nervousness, and others. When we keep suppressing these emotions, instead of rebalancing our doshas, these negative energies accumulate in the soles of our feet. These become “crystals” that clog nerves and energies until we feel pain or tenderness in our feet.
According to Dr. Lad, Padabhyanga’s circular motions break up these “crystals” so our body can eliminate these wastes and negative energies. Using Ashwagandha oil is excellent at managing anxiety, stress, and depression.
4. Strengthens Vitality
Padabhyanga strengthens your vitality by promoting good nerve health. The ancient foot massage has access to thousands of nerve endings connected to vital body organs. With gentle massage motions, Padabhyanga stimulates these nerves so they will be free from blocked energy or accumulated metabolic waste. This improves blood circulation, leading to healthier and better functioning cells. Thus, giving you renewed energy and vitality.
Mahanarayana Thailam is an Ayurvedic medicated oil that can help nourish nerves and muscle health while restoring the Vata balance.
5. Relieves Pain
Padabhyanga’s gentle massage relieves pain by improving blood circulation, especially on tense and numb muscles. The warm herbal oil stimulates the muscles, easing tension and reducing pain.
It also aids in preventing and treating sciatica by improving blood circulation and peripheral vascular circulation.
For those suffering from headaches or migraines, rubbing coconut and castor oil on the soles of the feet lessens the pain. Both oils contain anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that work great for arthritic joints, sore muscles, and inflammation of your nerves.
Read More: Best Yoga Positions For Low Back Pain
6. Enhances Good Eyesight
Studies show that Padabhyanga using sesame oil is beneficial for preventing eye strain. Sesame oil is an ideal Padabhyanga oil because it works in 2 ways to take care of your eyes. It is high in antioxidants, nourishing and restoring moisture to the eyes.
It also supports a healthy liver, which is vital for good eyesight because the liver supplies blood to the eyes.2
Another study also shows that Padabhyanga can improve eye health due to stimulation of the nerves. It states that there’s a link between Pada (foot) and Netra (eye) as two opposing poles of the body. Applying massage on one pole (foot) stimulates the other (eye), leading to the chakshusha effect, or better vision.3
7. Cures Cough & Colds
In Ayurveda, cough and colds are symptoms of a Kapha imbalance. By rubbing mustard oil at the root of your toes, it can help decongest and relax the bronchi to stop the irritation of the bronchial tree. Since ancient times, mustard oil has been used to treat colds, coughs, and other respiratory illnesses and allergies.
Nutmeg oil on the soles of your feet at night also provides congestion relief. It has camphene that has a cooling effect which helps loosen up the mucus and helps cure cough.
Read More: Best Acupressure Points For Cough
8. Treats Insomnia
Studies show that Padabhyanga using Brahmi taila has a positive effect on the treatment of insomnia. Brahmi oil is derived from Gotu kola, a potent herb with a sedative and calming effect. The herbal oil is massaged at the base and between the toes. It resulted in the lowering of the stress hormone cortisol and increased neurotransmitters dopamine, calming the mind.4
India’s National Health also recommends the practice of shiroabhyanga and padabhyanga as preventive treatments against insomnia.5
9. Improves Lymphatic Drainage
Padabhyanga accelerates the removal of toxins and waste in the body. It stimulates specific vital points to improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Lymphatic drainage is the immune system’s mechanism for maintaining fluid balance by retaining nutrients in the blood and excreting excess metabolites and waste. The Padabhyangas’ gentle massage helps expand lymphatic vessels, improving flow and drainage.
Read More: Best Herbs For Lymphatic System
10. Leads To Better Digestion
Padabhyanga also restores Agni, the energy responsible for all digestive and metabolic processes in the body. Many Ayurveda herbal oils can stabilize Agni like ghee, seeds oil with dill seed and coriander, ginger oil with fennel, and many others. These herbs can help strengthen your body’s digestion, absorption of nutrients, and waste elimination.
A specific point in the sole of your feet is connected to your stomach. When stimulated through gentle massage, it helps increase blood flow to your gut. This results in better function of the stomach, improving digestion.
How To Experience Padabhyanga Massage?
Dr. Lad shares his simple steps to perform the Padabhyanga massage so that you can maximize its health benefits.
- Padabhyanga is a cleansing and healing ritual, so as you begin, calm your mind and free it from negative thoughts.
- Start preparing the right herbal oil. Ayurveda medicine gives importance to herbs, so it’s best to research which oil is best for you and your doshas. Warm oil is better since it’s calming and is easily absorbed into the skin. Sesame oil is often the preferred oil in Padabhyanga because it is a powerful antioxidant and quickly absorbed into the skin. Cow ghee, Ksheerabala tailam, and Eranda are also popular oils.
- Prepare a pair of socks that you will use after the massage.
- Begin with your right foot. Gently rub oil using small circular motions from your ankle towards your toes. Then continue from the ankle to the heels and the soles of your feet.
- Press your thumb where your shin meets the top of your foot. Drag your thumb across the top of your foot to the big toe.
- Go back to the ankle and drag your thumb in the same way toward the second toe. Repeat the motion until you finish all five toes. This motion promotes circulation and activates marmas.
- Then, cross your right ankle over your left knee and cup your left hand around the side of your right heel. Put your right hand on the top of your foot, interlace your fingers between your toes, and push your foot inward, outward, and then in a circular pattern.
- Continue activating energy points by making a fist and pressing it against your foot.
- Repeat the process with your left foot. After that, soak your feet for 5 to 10 minutes in a bucket of warm water with 1 teaspoon of salt. This aids in the removal of stress and toxins from your feet.
- Wipe your feet and wear a comfortable pair of socks. Relax and prepare to sleep.
There you have it! I hope this post was helpful to you as you learn more about the health benefits of Padabhyanga massage. This divine massage can truly work wonders for your body, mind, and spirit. It heals you from body pains, balances your doshas, and promotes overall health and wellness. As Dr. Lad reminds us, “All the bodily organs are there within the feet.”
So if you’re looking for a treatment that will improve your health, well-being, and state of mind, consider the holistic healing of Padabhyanga massage!
For more Ayurvedic massage treatments, you can also read our post about Udwarthanam massage, the health benefits of Abhyanga Massage, our guide about Elakizhi treatment and the benefits of Shirodhara treatment.