Therapeutic massage kneads toxins from the tissues, activates lymph drainage, stimulates glandular secretions, tones the joints, muscles and tendons, and helps the mind and body to relax.
Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearms and feet.
Types of Massage Therapies
Massage is at the heart of most effective alternate bodywork therapies. There are over 80 different types of massage and relaxation therapies. There are over 250 types of complementary or body work therapies that have an element of massage.
See: A-Z of Massage and Body Work Therapies for a list.
Each different type of massage has its strong points and weak points, and it is worth trying out as many as possible to see which works best for you.
Alternately, consider Holistic Five Pillar Massage Therapy from an experienced therapist who can give you a combination massage that brings together the best from a wide range of modalities and healing therapies.
1. Swedish Massage
Swedish massage has its origins in China, and is the basis of most modern massage techniques. The form was developed by Henrik Ling (1776-1839), who was a physiologist and fencing master who had studied in China, and brought this massage form to the west.
Swedish massage techniques could therefore be considered a modification of traditional Chinese forms of massage.
Swedish massage techniques include:
Effleurage: Gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips
Petrissage: Kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingers
Friction: Circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingers
Vibration: Oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body
Percussion: Brisk hacking or tapping
Passive and active movements: Bending and stretching
2. Aromatherapy Massage
Aromatherapy dates from the Ancient Egyptians. It uses essential oil from plant materials for the purpose of effecting a persons mood or health. The massage techniques can be as used in other forms, in particular Swedish massage, but percussion strokes such as hacking and tapping are avoided to aid relaxation.
This is a modern Japanese form of an ancient art. It is a very through, very deep form of massage, provided the therapist is well trained. It is derived from the Chinese amma massage, with similar pressure points called tsubo. Shiatsu is a direct descendant of this ancient massage practice.
4. Traditional Asian Foot Massage/Reflexology
5. Traditional Thai Yoga Massage
Based on ancient Indian massage techniques, and very similar in practice to Shiatsu. Which suggests that ancient traditions of India and China either shared or developed the same knowledge of human body, in particular the bodies energetic systems.
Thai Massage is very similar to Shiatsu, and is some 2,500 years old. It originated from India and has elements from Ayurveda and Yoga.
Thai massage is said to have been founded by Doctor Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, who was from northern India and a contemporary of the Buddha and personal physician to the Magadha King Bimbisara.
Bhaccha’s work consisted of manipulative techniques as well as instruction in proper diet, herbs and other secret or occult practices.
6. Indian Head Massage
Based on Ayurveda and Yogic traditions. Indian head massage (called Champi) is very thorough form of massage that gives possibly the best massage possible for the head, shoulders and face.
7. Bare Foot Massage
Chinese, Japanese or Indian bare foot massage (called Chavutti) is given using feet. In one Indian style the practitioner often uses a rope an lots of hot, spicy oils.
The massage is given using long and short rhythmic movements of the feet.
8. Hot Stones Massage
Hot basalt stones are used, which help to relax the muscles, bring blood flow to the area and improve the effectiveness of the massage. Stones will be placed in certain areas, and typically the therapist will use Swedish massage techniques while holding stones.
Also called Zone Therapy, reflexology involves massaging specific areas of the feet, hands and ears to effect other areas of the body and to improve general health.
Whilst the art of reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China, it wasn’t until 1913 that Dr William Fitzgerald introduced this therapy to the West as ‘zone therapy’. He noted that reflex areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone.
In the 1930’s Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory into what is now known as reflexology. She observed that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body.
10. Tantra Massage
Tantra is the Royal Path of Yoga. Tantra massage therapy is a spiritual practice based on Indian Tantra, Buddhist Tantra or Tibetan Tantra. It is a sacred practice where sensuality and spirituality, rather then being mutually exclusive, are both considered necessary to achieving union or oneness with divinity.
Tantra can lead to a state of supreme bliss.
11. Holistic Five Pillar Massage Therapy
Holistic Five Pillar Massage is an eclectic form of tantra massage therapy.
Eclectic means that it is built on a broad and diverse range of sources. It is a synthesis of Indian and Chinese massage and healing therapies with modern understandings of anatomy, physiology and psychology.
It is an inclusive, non-clinical, holistic form of massage therapy that addresses the conscious and unconscious needs of the whole person. This includes the physical, the emotional, the sensuous, the energetic and the spiritual needs of a person.
It is a massage practice that enhances your life energy, essence and spirit – the Three Treasures. It harnesses the energy of the cosmos (chi/prana), brings it into your body and into your partner as a spiritual gift.
The practice incorporates ancient Indian and Chinese massage traditions including Tantric, Taoist, Traditional Thai Massage; as well as modern western massage and bodywork practices including Swedish Massage, Aromatherapy, Hot Stones, Reichian Therapy and Psycho-sexual Release.
Each “Pillar” is a body of knowledge and training that together with the other four makes a comprehensive whole.
The five pillars are:
1. Breathing, Centering and Connecting
2. Touch: Sensitivity, Attention and Focus
3. Rocking, Pulsing and Releasing
4. Yoga Asanas: Postures, Positions and Movement
5. Massage Techniques and Routines
More details at: Holistic Five Pillar Massage Therapy
Holistic Five Pillar Massage Training Courses
At our Retreats we offer practical Holistic Five Pillar Massage training courses, covering the theory and practice of five pillar massage, energy work, body work and meditation.
You learn and practice massage as a meditation – a sacred physical and spiritual practice, where the thinking mind is allowed or persuaded to rest and not interfere with the focus, flow, pleasure and other benefits of the massage experience.
Regular massage practice will make the process automatic, natural, requiring no thought, free flowing and enjoyable for both the receiver and the giver.
The five pillar massage training includes and builds on the 10 massage modalities listed above.
Benefits of Regular Massage
Physiological Benefits from Massage
Massage is a great way to relax the body. It allows the muscles and cells to relax, activates the para-sympathetic nervous system that works to slow down the body, and move you away from the stress filled, fight or flight mode of the dominant sympathetic nervous system.
Physiologically, massage brings increased blood flow to the area being massaged, which brings with it nutrients, oxygen and chi to the cellular system. It takes away waste products of metabolism, toxins and CO2 allowing the body to detoxify. Massage also helps the lymphatic system to flow and drain into the circulatory system, which helps the natural immunity of the body.
These and other physiological benefits from a regular massage are becoming more and more essential in counteracting the ill effects of the toxic, stress filled modern world.
It is well worth taking the time and expense to have a regular massage.
Massage work should be received on a regular basis, and particularly during a detox program.
Non Physiological Benefits from Massage
In addition to the physiological benefits, healing forms of massage can give you connection to another human being, relaxation, pleasure and healing.
During healing forms of massage, the focus is on the body, on relaxation and enjoyment.
This massage allows you to get out of your mind, out of your concerns, stresses, fears, worries by being in the body for a short while.
Touch is an essential, basic need. Touch is comforting, it can help you feel connected and loved.
You can feel the pleasure of being alive and connected to another being.