Massage has been used for healing for centuries. There are many different types of massage, but one of the most ancient is Oriental massage. This type of massage uses pressure and stretching to release energy blockages and restore balance and health to the body.
Acupressure is a form of Oriental massage that uses finger pressure instead of massage oil to stimulate key points on the body. Acupressure is said to be able to treat a wide variety of conditions, including pain, anxiety, and digestive problems.
Both Oriental massage and acupressure are based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM believes that energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”), flows through the body in pathways called meridians. Each meridian corresponds to a different organ, emotion, element, and other aspects of life. If qi is blocked or not flowing freely, the body can become unbalanced. This leads to illness and pain in the affected area as well as throughout the rest of the body.
Oriental massage and acupressure helps to restore balance by opening up blocked energy pathways through pressure and stretching on the key points that correspond with those pathways. The idea is similar to using acupuncture without needles; instead of puncturing the skin, these therapies use finger pressure to apply stimulation where it is needed most.
The first steps for both Oriental massage and acupressure are similar: find areas on your body that are tension spots and feel energy blockages. These may be places where you hold a lot of stress or where your qi seems to pool instead of flowing freely. Many practitioners find it helpful to use visualization when applying acupressure or massage. Imagine yourself surrounded by healing, purifying light as you make contact with these blocked areas of your body.
Once you have chosen an area for massage, begin slow circular movements with the heel of one hand into that area. Gradually add more pressure until the muscle under the heel starts to release and lengthen in a stretch. Hold this position for a few seconds before lessening the pressure and repeating in another place further down the back. Continue moving down the back in this way until you reach the bottom.
Now work your way back up the body, starting at the bottom of the feet and ankles. Use both hands to massage each foot, using circular and long strokes with the heel of your hand. Gently squeeze and knead each toe before moving on to the next one. Work your way up the ankle, calf, thigh, and groin area before returning to the starting position at the feet.
To begin acupressure, find an area on your body that feels tense or blocked and press firmly into it with your thumb or fingers. Apply steady pressure for a few seconds before releasing and repeating in another spot. Work slowly around the entire area, using a combination of circles, stretches, and taps.
When you have worked on all the areas that feel blocked, move on to the next step. This involves using your thumb and first two fingers to make a V-shape with your hand. Place the point of this “V” at the centre of the area you were just massaging and apply pressure. Hold for a few seconds before releasing and repeating in another spot.
After you have worked on all the areas that feel tense or blocked, take a minute to relax and notice how you feel. Do you feel more relaxed or less stressed? Does any pain seem to have diminished? Continue to use these techniques as needed to help restore balance and health to your body.