Massage Therapies, Training and Benefits
by James Khan
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 therapies. There are over 80 different types of massage and relaxation therapies, and over 250 types of complementary or body work therapies which 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.
Holistic Five Pillar Massage Therapy
Holistic Five Pillar Massage Therapy is an inclusive, non-clinical form of massage therapy that has been devised to address the conscious and unconscious needs of the whole person. This includes the physical, the sensuous, the energetic and the spiritual needs of a person.
This inclusive approach contains the best from ancient eastern massage traditions including Tantric, Taoist, Shiatsu and Traditional Thai Massage; as well as the best from modern western massage and bodywork practices including Swedish Massage, Aromatherapy, Hot Stones, Contact Improvisation, Reichian Therapy and Psycho-sexual Release work.
Each "Pillar" is an independent, self-contained body of knowledge and training that together with the other four makes a comprehensive whole.
The five pillars are:
1. The Art of Breathing and Connecting
2. The Art of Touch: Sensitivity and Skills
3. The Art of Rocking and Releasing
4. Yoga Asanas: Postures, Positions and Movement
5. Massage Techniques and Routines
We offer regular practical Holistic Five Pillar Massage courses, covering the theory and practice of five pillar massage, energy work, body work and meditation. Like learning to drive they need to be practiced, practiced and practiced again, rather then read about. Think of it as a sacred physical and spiritual practice, where the thinking mind is allowed or persuaded to rest and not interfere with the enjoyment 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.
At our detox and massage retreats and at the Healthy Living Centre in North London, we offer Holistic Five Pillar Massage Therapy and Training.
The massage training includes and builds on the following massage modalities:
1. Swedish Massage
This is the basis of many modern massage techniques. The form was developed by Henrik Ling (1776-1839), who was physiologist and fencing master who had studied in China. Swedish 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.
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.
Before a practitioner performs this healing work, he or she first recites a mantra to this enlightened soul in Pali, the ancient sacred language of Theravada Buddhism, the language in which the Buddha taught.
This mantra is translated as:
We invite the spirit of our founder, the Father Doctor Jivaka, who comes to us through his saintly life.
Please bring to us the knowledge of all nature, that this prayer will show us the true medicine of the universe.
In the name of this mantra, we respect your help and pray that through our bodies you will bring wholeness and health to the body of our client.
The goddess of healing dwells in the heavens high, while man kind stays in the world below.
In the name of the founder, may the heavens be reflected in the earth below so that this healing medicine may encircle the world.
We pray for the one whom we touch, that he/she will be happy and that any illness will be released from him/her.
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.
11. Tantric Massage
Based on Indian Tantra, Buddhist Tantra or Tibetan Tantra. This is a spiritual 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 or ecstasy.
It could take over 10 years of massage therapy experience and body work before a therapist is suitably qualified emotionally and spiritually to give such a massage.
Benefits of Regular Massage
A. 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.
B. Non Physiological Benefits from Massage
Touch is an essential need for humans. Touch is comforting, it can help you feel connected, loved. You can feel the sensuous pleasure of being alive, if you allow yourself to feel rather then mentally decode sensory data.
Massage allows you to get out of your mind, out of your concerns, fears, worries by focusing on the body.
The common state where we are continuously thinking something is actually an illness. Imagine if someone kept talking to himself, you'd say that he's mad. Well this is what we do all the time, except that our incessant internal chatter is not spoken out loud.
Are you aware of a time when you were not thinking something?
Where is all this thinking taking you - to life or to dusty death?
All our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death
Macbeth, at the end of his life.
In the modern world, we spend all our conscious time occupied by mental activities of one form or another. We allow them to occupy us because we 'think' that these mental 'occupations' are so important, so absolutely necessary, so all encompassing that we don't have time to relax and drop them.
We don't have time for the body, we don't even know how to switch the occupying mind off, how to be free from it.
Life becomes One damn thing after another as Winston Churchill put it when asked to summarize the "History of The World"
Or so we 'think'. We are very proud of our mind, of our very important thoughts. The mind is said to the one thing that distinguishes man from nature - well indeed it does!
What other creature in Gods green earth tortures, kills, maims and mutilates its own kind?
As William Blake says in his 'Songs of Innocence' about the Divine Image:
Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secrecy the human dress.
This is because in the mind, unobserved, is a kind of illness, a mental affliction that chains one to the ego and allows such cruelties to take place. It is only when one is able to drop this identification with the robotic, occupying mind that the human heart and love can flow forth. Blake expressed this as:
For Mercy has a human heart
Pity, a human face:
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Eastern techniques of meditation are specifically designed to allow one to drop the mind, drop the thoughts the plague and trouble one, and for a while, be free of the occupier - the Monkey mind.
Massage therapies, in particular the non-clinical approach, can in the hands of an experienced therapist allow you to get out of this mental occupation, by bringing the awareness into the breath and the living body, allowing you to genuinely enjoy being alive before it's too late.
Massage Training: Clinical and Non-Clinical
Regardless of the type of massage therapy, or the techniques used, there are two basic approaches that can be used to distinguish the massage: Clinical or Non-Clinical.
Clinical is concerned more with 'Professionalism' - Uniforms, Bureaucracy, the Therapist-Client power relationship (where the Therapist is in charge), Contra Indications, Hygiene, Towel Draping regimes, No-Massage Zones of the body, Indemnity forms and set massage routines.
Non-clinical forms are more concerned with the pleasure from the touch and are more suitable for highly experienced therapists, who are trained in a wide range of massage types, and have a wide range of massage techniques at their disposal.
The therapist, or giver, needs such human qualities as the joy of giving, unconditional love, empathy, loving kindness, ability to connect with another human being, good verbal an non-verbal inter-personal skills. These are qualities that can not be taught in a classroom, but are taught by life itself.
This page looks at Massage Training - Clinical and Non-Clinical
In London these Massage Therapies and Massage Training is available at:
The Healthy Living Centre
639 Green Lanes
London, N8 0RE
Tel: 020 8340 8548
Email: retreats '@' detoxifynow.com