For centuries oil massage has been part of the routine of Indian households. A ‘keep-fit’ tradition enjoyed by everyone from babies to great grandmothers, it is an excellent way to combat the stress of modern life.
How does massage keep you fit and healthy?
- Increases circulation and provides body tissues with more oxygen.
- Relaxes muscles and helps ease stress and tension.
- Eases stiffness in joints.
- Tones the body keeping it supple and young.
- Helps flush out wastes from the body.
- Stimulates and tones the skin.
- Increases energy and vitality.
- Makes you feel good!
The oil massage is a great way to start each day. It should not be rushed; so try and give yourself some time to do it leisurely, and follow it with a warm bath. Since mornings tend to be hectic, you might prefer to do it in the evening when you have more time for yourself.
THE TRADITIONAL HEAD-TO-TOE SELF-MASSAGE ROUTINE
Start with the head and work your way down, using upward strokes at the back of the body and downward strokes at the front. Circular motions should be clockwise. This is said to release tension. Use natural oils.
The face: Oil fingertips and massage from centre of the face, outwards and put some oil on the centre of your head and massage into the scalp towards ears with fingertips of both hands? Keep fingers behind the first spot, put some more oil and repeat the procedure. Next bend the head forward and put some oil where the back of the head meets the neck and rub towards the ears. Gently tap the whole head with your fists. Then rub the entire scalp gently pulling at your hair upwards starting from the forehead. Finish below the jaw, gently kneading the jawline. The neck: Keep hands well oiled for massaging the rest of the body. With the right hand stroke up the left side of the back of the neck. Do the same with the left hand for the right side simultaneously. Stroke down the front with both hands. Avoid pressing the wind pipe.
The arms: With the right hand, massage shoulder, elbow and wrist of left arm with small circular motions. Work down the inside of the arm, along muscle curves. Continue up the back of the arm, up towards shoulders. Repeat same procedure on the other arm.
The hands: Stroke down the back of the hands, pulling each finger. With thumb, massage palms working up to the base of the fingers.
The body: With the palm of the hands, starting from the shoulder, massage the front with large circular movements upwards and outwards. Massage abdomen in clockwise circles starting from belly button. Massage the back from the base of the spine working upwards and outwards from the spine. Finish by squeezing the top of the shoulders. Massage the buttocks in large clockwise circles. The legs: Apply oil generously to the legs. Use both hands to massage each leg, one hand on the inside and one on the outside. Starting from the hip, stroke down the front upper leg. Stroke upwards from just above the knee on the back of the leg. Stroke down the front of the lower leg from knee to ankle and then up the back of the leg from ankle to knee.
The feet: Stroke down the foot and pull each toe (similar to hand massage). Massage the soles and heels generously with oil and rub well. Finish with a gentle circular rub at the centre of your feet. Follow your massage with a small rest and then a warm bath.
OTHER FORMS OF MASSAGE
1. Swedish Massage: Though based on oriental techniques, Swedish massage is the first system of therapeutic massage in the Western world; developed around the eighteenth century. It primarily aims at speeding up venous return of deoxygenated and toxic blood from the extremities. Some specific strokes have been incorporated for this purpose. Swedish massage improves blood circulation, stretches the ligaments and tendons while also relaxing the nervous system.
2. Reichian Massage: It was developed by a psychologist William Reich, who believed that the body stores past emotions and psychological traumas in localized areas, blocking the vital life force energy. By massaging these blocked areas, this blocked vital force is psychologically released.
3. Acupressure Massage: Also known as “Shiatsu” or finger pressure massage. It is based on the Chinese theory of “Chi” the subtle energy circulating in the body meridians. This energy may be manipulated on specific points along the meridians, by varying pressure, stretching and nibbling. It deals with a level of body energy higher than just gross physical joints and muscles.
All these procedures though, may be performed only by experts.