Massage, Therapy & Treatment
How to perform a thorough whole body massage:
- Begin by heating a quarter-cup of the massage oil. It should be slightly warmer than body temperature. This is typically done by placing a small container of the oil – a plastic squeeze bottle works well – in hot water for a short time.
- Start by massaging the head. Put a small amount of oil on the crown area (the area on the head which remains soft in young children and subsequently becomes ossified) and give gentle dabbing strokes using your palm. Then pour more oil on the scalp and massage using open palms of the hands and the flat surfaces of the fingers rather than the fingertips for the whole massage. The stroke should be circular. Spend more time on the head than on other parts of the body, because it has marma points (vital points) which influences all the other parts of the body. Head massage in itself is a very important part of self care and can be a quick fix remedy for headaches, insomnia and stress.
- Massage the face and outer part of the ears, using the fingers. Massaging the ears is also said to influence the whole body, so give them some extra time, but don’t massage them vigorously. Massage the outer ear and apply some oil at the opening of auditory canal and massage using your little or index finger (trim the nails if you have long ones). At this point, you may want to spread some oil over the rest of the body: This will give the maximum time for the oil to penetrate the skin.
- Massage the front and back of the neck, and the upper part of the back using firm and long strokes along the direction of muscles fibers.
- Next, massage the arms using long strokes in the direction of the body hair (from shoulder towards the hand) and use a circular motion, on the shoulder, wrist and elbow joint. The palms, back of the hands and the individual finger and the finger joints should also be massaged with firm but gentle pressure using the thumb and finger of the other hand. Repeat for the other arm in succession.
- Now do the chest and stomach. Use moderate to light pressure particularly on the heart area. Use a circular motion over the pectoral area, and a very gentle, vertical motion over the breastbone and solar plexus. Use a very gentle circular motion over the abdomen, moving clockwise, in the direction of the large intestine.
- Massage the back and spine and the flanks as far as your hands can reach using firm and long strokes.
- Now massage the legs in the same way you did the arms: straight on the bones, circular on the joints from hip downwards in the direction of the body hair. Massage the feet spending more time. Massage the sole of the foot vigorously applying firm pressure from your palms. The toes are massaged individually as fingers. Feet also contain many vital points and nerve endings, and just like the head affects the whole body. A foot massage is a ritual in itself and we’ll talk more about that later.
- Take a warm shower after 20 minutes of massage. Use a mild soap, or make a paste from chickpea flour and use that. Rub it off once it starts drying. It will get you clean but still some oil will be left to nourish the skin. For taking oil out of hair a herbal shampoo can be used. Dab the body dry with a towel. It is a good idea to keep separate towels for the massage routine as ultimately they get oily and need to be changed out.