A natural healing art, massage, is a touch therapy that is not only a wonderfully pleasurable and relaxing experience, it brings about countless health benefits. Relieving tensions in the body, calming the mind, and nourishing the soul, the massage brings healing on a number of different levels simultaneously.
As one of the oldest therapies in the world, it’s almost impossible to discover the precise origins of massage. There is evidence that every culture throughout the world has used massage in some form or variation. Throughout history we can find descriptions and benefits of massage techniques passionately advocated in ancient Chinese medical texts dating back some 5000 years, in Indian Ayurvedic scripts from around 4000 years ago and in ancient Egypt at Pharaoh Ptah-Hotep. Centuries later Queen Cleopatra is recorded enjoying foot massage during dinner parties while the Romans widely used massage as a part of their bathing rituals. More then five centuries before them, ancient Greeks incorporated massage as an intrinsic part in their exaltation of the body to treat fatigue, sports and war injuries, as well as illness.
In the 5-th century BC, the reputed “father of modern medicine” Hippocrates stated that a successful physician must be experienced in the art of “rubbing”. In today’s world, speaking in general terms, there are two main approaches in massage: those that are “energy”-based, and those that are more concerned with muscular physiology, though the trend for quite a time now is towards increasing integration or fusion.
Influenced by ideas from the East, energy-based approaches stand on wide belief that a universal life force enters and leaves the body at energy centers known as “charkas” and runs through the body along special channels, (“meridians” in Chinese culture, “nadis” in Indian or “sen sep” in Thai). If these vital flows of energy become blocked through tension or injury, then pain or illness can result. For thousands of years, cultures in the East have known about the importance of energy systems that permeate the environment and its inhabitants. These cultures appreciated the importance of energy, understanding its power to refine and heal, bringing complete wellness and the potential access of higher planes of consciousness.
In the West, in accordance with allopathic medicine, we come from a tradition of muscular-based massage; this approach is much more concerned with physiology and focuses on the muscular-skeletal system. Introduced originally as a soft tissue based massage (Swedish massage), gradually a firm style of deep tissue, athletic and other styles of massage have grown out of this tradition. Gradually the non-medical massage has become increasingly popular and has gained widespread acceptability as a viable means for promoting health and recovery from many conditions. Health clubs, spas, the holistic health movement, and lately the medical establishment have done much to promote the value of massage for health, recovery and well-being.
With growing concern about physical fitness, more and more people are engaging in athletics and other forms of strenuous exercise. Because of added stress to the body, there are more people experiencing injuries and strains, thus massage is being used much more widely to help treat injuries. Although massage is used to treat sports injuries, it is perhaps even more important as a preventative measure. It has been clearly demonstrated that massage helps bring about increased physical endurance, greater relaxation, and stronger muscles and bones.
Increasingly, essential plant oils are used in massage for specific therapeutic effects known as aromatherapy. This lighter style of massage focuses on introducing oils into the body via the skin. As the skin responds to the massage, its nerve endings communicate with the internal organs, glands, nerves, and circulatory system, while at the same time the essential oils are stimulating and calming the body and brain through the olfactory system by sending odors to the limbic area, our emotional center. This type of massage is popular for its “feel-good” factor, as well as being particularly effective in treating emotional or mental stress. The effect this combination of the nurturing and relaxing powers of touch, with great penetrating force of essential oils is determined by types of oils used and the needs of the individual.
Another common massage therapy uses high energy palm stones. This therapy gains it effectiveness because of the stone’s thermal conduction effect which brings about local and systemic changes in the body while at the same time influencing the energy centers for the body and mind balancing. The lava stones, known as generators of energy, give to an area that’s been depleted of energy and helps move energy through places of excess. In combination with thermal stones, the process of moving energy through the body will open energy channels by grounding and focusing the individuals’ energy and calming the mind and emotions with a firm focus on the physical plane.
Increasing in popularity are the specialized and exotic therapies such as Prenatal, Ayurveda, Shiatsu and Thai massages. Each of these therapies offer specific benefits tailored for the individual unique set of circumstance and consultation prior to any of these treatments is highly recommended.
A few of the physiological effects of massage are lowered blood pressure, increased respiration, the release of endorphins into the bloodstream and the venous and lymphatic flow is also increased. The psychological benefits consist of pain relief, relief of anxiety and stress and a general feeling of well-being. Among the proven benefits of massage are:
-deep relaxation and a reduction of stress,
-relief from muscle soreness and stiffness,
-relief from tension-related headaches and eye strain,
-reduced blood pressure and improved circulation of blood and lymph,
-deeper and easier breathing.
-support health and fitness programs,
-combat negative effects of aging,
-enhance general health,
-complement other health care
There are numerous number of massage techniques used in treatments. A lot of them utilized in the world Spa Centers such as Ocean View Spiritual Retreat Spa in Costa Rica:
The classic (Swedish) Massage
Therapeutic (Deep Tissue/Sports) Massage
Healing Stone Massage.
Ayurvedic Abhyanga Massage
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