Massage is wonderful for de-stressing and promoting general well-being. Touch has long been used to facilitate healing and express care. It is an intuitive thing we all do, a hug to soothe someone in distress, the rubbing of an injured area. A relaxation massage provides an opportunity for both the mind and body to draw on its natural healing capacity.
How I started
I became a massage therapist quite by chance. After I left college, I enjoyed my administrative jobs but continued learning outside of work. I attended adult education classes in anything from Mediterranean cooking to counselling. One day I picked up a flyer about training as a massage therapist (with the Wilbury School), realised I could fit the learning around work and away I went. That initial training was as a holistic massage therapist and qualified me to provide a relaxation massage. I have since done many professional development courses. I love the variety of techniques I have learnt and being able to put together a treatment that is fitted to the individual, whatever their reasons for coming.
However, I remain just as passionate about the benefits of a holistic relaxation massage as I do the other treatments I offer. In fact, I often feel you cannot separate the two. The world is a busy place, the demands on our time seem ever increasing and consequently there is little left for oneself. The toll this can take on the body is significant.
A brief history of massage
The word massage comes from the Arabic word meaning ‘to press softly’. It has been a form of treatment for thousands of years. It can be traced back in some form to Ayurvedic practice in India in 3,000 BCE, then through the centuries that followed to China, Egypt, Japan, Greece and Rome where the physician Galen prescribed it for injured gladiators and it is understood Caesar’s neuralgia was treated with it.
Subsequently massage therapy in the West declined in popularity. Whilst it was still documented, little advances were made. Then in the early 19th century, inspired by Chinese massage therapy, Swedish physician Professor Henrik Ling developed the Swedish Gymnastic Movement System which incorporated massage with medical gymnastics and physiology. Since that time, massage has continued to emerge and evolve.
Massage for relaxation
Modern life. So exhilarating, vibrant, full of opportunity. So potentially exhausting, debilitating and energy zapping. It can be tricky to balance the positive and the negative, to make it work for us. We are all individual, what works for one person is not necessarily what works for another. Finding our way to the point that we know what is best for us can be difficult. The world is our oyster and yet navigating it can be tricky.
This is where relaxation massage can be so very beneficial. Working on the physical level of ‘tight’ muscles, aches and pains that let us know that our body maybe struggling. And the systemic level, a racing heart, a head that won’t switch off, a system wired into fight or flight more than is beneficial.
An hour on the table provides one with the space to ‘be’. Still work, energy work and a general calming presence in a safe space can help the system to settle and the body to let go of tension. Breathing may change and a sense of peace evolve.
Relaxation massages are sometimes felt to be a luxury that we only turn to when we’ve neared burn out. But I feel that used as part of a general well-being strategy, they can support our physical and emotional health. Those ancient practices endure in our modern times for a reason … the healing power of touch, space and time.