Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Head Massage Techniques

Do you know how many facial expression we make in a given day?! Well we don’t know the exact number either, but we guarantee that it is large. It is probably larger than you may even care to consider. This being the case; throw into the mix an ever-present host of stresses and bad emotions, and our facial muscles are a wreck. From our jaw to our scalp, most of us have no idea the beating our heads take in this day to day struggle.

We have broken this article up into two a series of massages techniques that can be used on the face and scalp. Although any one of the techniques can be a great way to pleasure your partner, we highly recommend that you experiment with those that you like so that you can learn how to move smoothly from one to another.

Before we get into it, there are some tips that we can’t stress enough:

  1. Wash your hands, its amazing how much dirt and germs they can pick up
  2. Make sure you don’t have sharp fingernails that may reduce the pleasure
  3. Make sure to be gentle on facial skin, you don’t want to stretch it
  4. Make sure to use face massage oil for deeper facial massages (refer to tip number 2)
  5. Too little oil is always better then too much… you can always add a little more.
  6. Have open feedback with your partner so that you can learn their preferences
  7. Unless it is required, do not rest your hands on your partner’s head while giving.
  8. Success comes with practice, so relax and learn.

Now that we’ve covered the warnings, let’s get into it. There are many positions to get into so that you can perform head massages, but we recommend that you follow the lead on the experts on this one, we did. To perform the massages, you’ll want to be at the head of your laying partner who is either face up or down depending on what you want to do.

Petting the Kitty

With your partner laying face up, and you square to them, you want to perform a series of pets that start right between the eyebrows and with next to no pressure, pull upwards towards the scalp. Your hands should be alternating, ideally in a fashion where your partner can’t tell where one hand is beginning and another is ending. That being said, you don’t want to keep doing it exactly the same on every single stroke, feel free to mix up the tempo.

Stroking the Brows

With your thumbs starting just inside of each eyebrow right above the edge of their eye socket, with only slight pressure, pull each thumb across the brow and outward to the scalp. The stroke should end when you get to the scalp.

Ladder to Heaven

Similar to the previous technique, the only difference here is that you repeat the technique along the lines of the forehead until you get to their natural hairline before repeating.

Relaxing the Jaw

Place your hands on either side of your partner’s face, and with either your thumb or your three middle fingers, using medium light circles, move up and down between the corner of their jaw and the bottom of the ear lobe. You can mix it up by changing the size of the circles, the direction of the circles, by making the circles figure eights, and by changing the pressure.

Scissor Hands

Put your hands in a “knife hand” position, and spread it only between the ringer and middle fingers. Position your hands on the side of your partner’s head, and slide them up and down in line with their ears. On the down stroke, you want to make sure to leave at least 1 inch between the open webbing of your scissors and the top of their ears; you don’t want to tug at them. When you first start, keep both strokes gentle, but once you get the hang of it, try to be gentle on the down stroke and apply a little more pressure on the upstroke.

Praise the Temple

Couple your middle and index fingers on each hand, and place them on your partner’s temples. Using slow circles and medium light pressure, repeat a few times on the temple getting larger each time, then pull lightly towards the scalp, then repeat.

Rubbing the Lobes

Using your index fingers and your thumbs, gently squeeze on the edge of your partner’s ears with a circular motion. Travel up and down the ear lobe, making sure to watch out for shrapnel (earings).

Kneading the Dome

Using as many finger tips as you have and light to medium pressure, explore their scalp. You can perform small circles, large circles, or just back and forth motions, either way your partner is going to enjoy it. You will want to pay some special attention to the back of the skull, but make sure to spread the love out. As usual, diversity will help keep things from getting stale, so make sure to change it up.

Scratching Post

We’ve heard that some people do not like this one, but those who do like it tend to like it a lot, so we are mentioning it despite the fact! Using your nails, very gently, scratch your partner’s head. Starting above the neck, slowly and gently explore your partner’s head.

Relaxing the Base

Using your thumb and index finger of your dominant hand, grip the back of your partner’s neck and massage it using small circles along the skull line. Experiment with different sized circles as well as a technique similar to “stroking the brows” in the same area. Massaging this area can be performed using both hands, but most people find it difficult to apply the right amount of pressure that way. Consequently, we recommend using one hand to get started, then adding in the second hand when you are ready to move onto something like “kneading the dome.”

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Basic Massage Techniques

Effleurage – means to lightly touch or stroke. Just by varying pressure & speed, you can easily massage the whole body. Especially good for back & chest. It improves circulation, stimulates lymph glands, eases tense muscles, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, relaxes Do not use over varicose veins


-Fan stroking

-Circle stroking

-Cat stroking

-Thumb stroking

Petrissage – Useful for deeper massage. Use only after warming up with stroking. Suitable for shoulders & fleshy areas like hips & thighs. It releases tension from stiff muscles, improves circulation, breaks down & eliminates fatty deposits. Do not apply on recent injury, scar tissue, area of inflammation, people with digestive disorders, pregnant women , varicose veins

2 main types

-Kneading (useful for light massage)


Pressures - involves applying firm penetrating pressure to specific areas. Best for shoulders, either side of the spine, bony areas such as base of skull, specific tension points. Releases muscular tension, increases blood flow.

2 main types

-Static pressure

-Circular pressure

Do not use over bruised, delicate, broken skin, scar tissue or varicose vein.

Percussion – Pounding stroke, used to stimulate fleshy, muscular areas like thighs, buttocks etc. Used as a wake up technique at the end of the massage. Stimulates the whole body, improves circulation, tones muscles

2 main types



Do not use on bony areas, over bruises & broken veins.

Knuckling – Use movement with light or deep pressure. Best on soles of feet, palms of hands, shoulders & chest. Increases blood flow, releases muscular tension Do not use on abdomen, any inflamed area, delicate or broken skin, recent scar tissue, varicose veins.

Acupressure Concepts

Acupressure is based on two concepts:

  • Yin and Yang concept. This concept, generally known as the negative and positive, is the energy responsible for the function of every phenomenon in the universe. It is the source of the universe and the governing principle of the functioning of nature and the human body with all its organs. They are like two sides of the coin.. Yin is to Yang what woman is to man, left is to right or night is to day. One cannot exist without the other. They complement each other like a lock and key. Both are necessary for life. A unit is incomplete or cannot survive without Yin and Yang.
  • Five functions or the five element theory. Like Yin and Yang, the five function theory is applied to nature, seasons, colours, stages of life and so on. In the human body, it is applied to the organs, functions, tastes, orifices, moods and senses.

These five functions have a very complex inter-relationship. There are intricate checks and balances that keep the cycle in progress. The synergism and antagonism among these five elements ensure that no one element becomes excessively strong or weak and each of these elements has the responsibility of creating one element and controlling another. This again gives us the next two cycles - creation and antagonism.

  • Cycle of creation: Each creates another and hence is the mother of the element it creates and the son of the element that creates it.
  • Cycle of antagonism: Each element controls another element and is in turn controlled by other.

What Is Acupressure?

Acupressure involves pressure points on the body with fingers or hands to alter the internal flow of a supposed vital force or energy called chi (pronounced "chee"), strengthening it, calming it or removing a blockage of the flow. Acupressure is one of a number of treatment methods regularly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, a system of healthcare that originated in China thousands of years ago, which is still widely practiced in Asian countries today.

According to TCM, acupressure points are aligned along 14 body meridians, or pathways. Twelve of the meridians are bilateral, that is, identical versions of them (with the same sets of points) exist on both sides of the body. The other two are unilateral, running along the midline of the body. The 14 meridians do not correspond to any known physiological processes or anatomical structures in the body, such as nerves or blood vessels. Nevertheless, some well-controlled studies suggest that acupressure can be effective for a number of health problems, including nausea, pain and stroke-related weakness. A single point may be pressed for relief from a particular symptom or condition, or to promote overall well-being of the body. A series of points can be worked on in a specific order.

Acupressure Points

Acupressure can be administered by someone trained in the technique or it may be practiced at home. The force used on different points varies, but in general, most points call for a steady, downward pressure lasting one to two minutes. If you are applying pressure to a point several times in succession, complete this process on one side of the body before switching to the other side.

The risks of acupressure are minimal, provided certain cautions are observed. During pregnancy, the points designated Spleen 6 and Large Intestine 4 should never be used; avoid the abdominal area entirely, if possible. Never apply pressure to open wounds, varicose veins, tumors, inflamed or infected skin, sites of recent surgery, or areas where a broken bone is suspected.

Healing the natural way

With the modern world being subjected to tremendous stress and the air, water and sound pollution taking its toll on the mind and body, excessive excitement and the various stimuli keep us moving continuously in top gear. Excesses in eating and drinking have further increased the imbalance. Our age unfortunately has become a pill popping age. We use a pill for reducing stress or to sleep. To combat real and imaginary pains, antibiotics, anti-depressants and steroids are used. What we do not realize is that our body has the power to heal itself of many ailments. Acupressure is one such science which encourages the body to heal itself in the natural and physiological way.

Tantric Balancing Through Massage

What is experienced on the physical plane will have far reaching effects on all aspects of a person's life.

This article is an overview, and not intended as a training session. Integrate these ideas with your own knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and decide for yourself if you feel comfortable with this form of bodywork. If you do, then seek out guides in both massage and yoga to balance yourself so that you can attempt to balance others. Remember, kundalini energy is incredibly powerful, and you could do more damage than good, to yourself and your clients, if you don't achieve a balance within yourself first. Read with interest, but practice with caution...

As a bodyworker, you are about to examine a unique form of therapeutic massage. It is not easy bodywork, for either the practitioner or for the recipient. Each Tantric balancing session requires a minimum of two hours of focused, concentrated effort. Some sessions have been known to last four or five hours, and frequently more than one session is required to complete the balancing and integration aspects of the work. After studying this information, you should have a clear understanding of the goal of Tantric balancing, and can decide for yourself if you are prepared integrate this form of bodywork into your practice.

Because of the deep massage techniques used during Tantric balancing to open, release, and channel the stored energy in the physical body, at times the work can be intense, penetrating, and emotional. The techniques used are based upon the solid principles of Tantra. These principles promote the integration and balancing of three "bodies" which make up each human being. This bodywork promotes the release and movement of powerful kundalini energy. What is experienced on the physical plane will have far reaching effects on all aspects of a person's life.

As a massage therapist, you need to understand that, before the kundalini energy can be released, the five regions of the vertebral axis must be relaxed. This is normally done through tactile manipulation of the adjoining spinal musculature. Starting upward from the lowest region, Tantric literature anatomically defines the vertebral axis regions as the coccygeal (which consists of the tailbone and first four incomplete vertebrae), lumbar (five vertebrae), dorsal or back (twelve vertebrae), and cervical or neck (seven vertebrae). These five regions correspond roughly with the lower five chakra centers.

Deviating further from allopathic anatomy, from a Tantric perspective, the spinal cord is understood to lie within the vertebral axis (spine) and extend downward from the fourth ventricle of the brain to the coccygeal region, where it narrows to a thin, hair-like ending called the filum terminale. The spinal cord itself is formed of two symmetrical halves joined together along a center line. The actual line of juncture is a minute conduit called the canalis centralis or central canal (sushumna). It is through this passage that the kundalini force, once released and guided upward, can vitalize the six chakra centers along an invisible course to the brain.

A Tantric Balancing session actually begins with a thorough massage of the back.

Particular attention must be given to relaxing the muscles adjoining the spine which will prepare the canalis centralis for the upward flow of kundalini energy. Once the back, shoulders, and neck are open, the lower back of the body should be vigorously massaged, including the legs, feet, and buttocks, to relieve tension in the lower extremities and to prepare the filum terminale to channel the kundalini upward.

With the back of the body relaxed, the lower pelvic area is prepared for chakra relaxation and opening through deep, penetrating massage strokes in the sacral and pelvic regions. This is done to cleanse the principal nadis or astral channels so that kundalini currents may later unite and flow between the subtle body and the physical body. The line of ascension is always from the lower upward to the higher and less dense. Because of this, the bodywork begins at the lowest level. Opening of the chakra centers and balancing of the physical, subtle, and casual bodies must be accomplished in sequential order, from the root, or muladhara chakra, upward through the other chakra centers into the sahasrara. This opening is in preparation for subsequent release and movement of kundalini energy.

As the lower pelvic cavity from the anus to mid-sacrum begins to open through deep massage, the higher chakra sites are prepared for opening with gentle touch in an upward direction along the spine to the neck. The highest chakra, the ajna, and the sahasrara area at the top of the head are prepared for opening through energy balancing without touching the body. Sequential opening of the chakras, which will come next, will provide a path for the kundalini force to radiate upward into all the chakra centers, laying the foundation for integration of the physical, subtle, and casual bodies. The portion of the process just completed, with the client lying face down, is preperatory to turning the client over on his or her back for the actual chakra opening process, covered in the next section.

Sequential opening of the chakras will provide a path for the kundalini force to radiate upward into all the chakra centers, laying the foundation for integration of the physical, subtle, and casual bodies.

Once the chakra centers are vibrant and glowing, the kundalini energy embedded in the muladhara chakra at the base of the spinal column is delicately released. The kundalini energy is often called "serpent power" because in its quiescent form, it lies coiled around the base of the vertebral axis. It is normally static and sealed off at the base of the spine just beyond the tip of the tailbone. Through release of this energy, the centripetal "Shakti" force can be directed upward to the higher chakra centers, there to complete a union with the centrifugal "Shiva" energy who's originating source is the sun. Harmony and balance, according to Tantric beliefs, comes from this union of these polar opposite energy forms.

At this point in the procedure, the massage therapist calls upon specialized training and experience to coax the serpentine like kundalini energy to emerge and rise through the spine. There is no set direction the bodywork might take from this point on, as energy channeling and chakra balancing are difficult to predict.

Often the mere experience of the first release of kundalini energy is so dramatic that the force never rises above the first or second chakra. After some practice, however, the complete yogic experience can be achieved. When full, mature kundalini release happens, the experience is unimaginable. Liquid fire races up the spine, through the head, and out through the top of the body with an incredible intensity. The human body is, for a brief moment, a lightening rod between the polar opposite forces of nature.

During this release process, and through the subsequent Tantric Balancing work to regain equilibrium, there exists a shared responsibility between the massage therapist and the person receiving the therapeutic treatment. There must be a commitment to work together within a close bond of trust, openness, and sharing.

Because the kundalini energy is so powerful, so fundamental, and so rooted in human sexuality, a clear element of professional intent and respect is paramount.

Because the kundalini energy is so powerful, so fundamental, and so rooted in human sexuality, a clear element of professional intent and respect is paramount. If the partners are lovers, than the sexual aspect of tantric yoga may be explored to accentuate the energy flow. If, however, this is not the case, the therapist must maintain intense focus to not deviate from professional treatment, even though the atmosphere is charged with the kundalini force. One method of maintaining focus for the therapist is to concentrate on opening his or her upper chakras, particularly the heart chakra.

Preparation for a Tantric Balancing Session

Tantric literature states emphatically that, "True liberation can come only through experience. States of consciousness cannot be controlled and transcended until and unless they are lived rapturously, freely, and in all the fullness of their power." As a recipient of Tantric Balancing, you are encouraged throughout the work to actively participate in the process and fully experience what is happening on all levels. Breathing, sounds and visualized colors play an important role in moving the powerful kundalini force, as does your emotional clarity. The resultant merging or union of the Shakti and Shiva energy forces within your body is called samarasa in the Tantric texts.

"On their union, nectar (amrita) flows. Refreshment, increased power and enjoyment follow upon each visit to the well of life."

Tantric literature also states, "It is very possible that the greatest power of transformation is more in the attitude than anywhere else." Accepting the possibility of change, the potential for growth, and the capacity for true integration, especially during the powerful release and movement of kundalini energy, will help guide this amazing force upward through the chakra centers. With an accepting and positive attitude, "Tantric Balancing can move an individual toward a more satisfying plane of existence; one in which there is more love and, in a final sense, more stability.

Tantric Balancing can move an individual toward a more satisfying plane of existence; one in which there is more love and, in a final sense, more stability.

Massage Guide - Trigger Points

Trigger points are hyper sensitive/hyper contracted areas in muscles, which, when active, give a predictable pattern of pain referral. The main advantage of learning these patterns is that if you have pain in a particular area and it stems from a trigger point, knowing the patterns will help us to determine which muscle to work to help alleviate that pain. This is important since the pain can be as distant form the originating muscle as the length of an arm. For example, the pain referral pattern for the rectus abdominus muscle, which runs from your breast bone down to your pubic bone on the front of your body, can include pain in two bands across your mid back and lower back.

As well as causing refered pain, trigger points may cause stiffness and decreased range of movement and are also capable of triggering autonomic symptoms such as sweating, lacrimation, proprioceptive disturbances, dizziness and tinnitus.

Trigger Point Therapy involves applying ischaemtic pressure (pushing all the blood and fluids out of the area) in the area of a trigger point for 10-15 seconds. This can sometimes be applied when coming across unexpected hypersensitive areas as well as those we're looking for.

Trigger Point theory was originally developed by Dr Janet Travell and Dr David Simmons, and Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual by Travell & Simmons outlines Trigger Points throughout the body and their pain referral patterns.

Back Pain: How to Help Yourself

Learn simple hands on remedies for a range of common aliments and learn to take responsibility for your own health.

Back pain begins with an irritation. This can have many causes ranging from sneezing to diving into water. This affects the nerves in the back and can cause complications. The nerves can also be influenced by infection, direct or indirect injury, sudden changes in temperature, and illness. The psyche also plays an important role in the development of back pain. Back pain often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms. Special notice should be taken of bruising, swelling, abnormal bone protrusions, foot problems, and muscle cramps. All of these can lead to back pain. Back pain can be aggravated by bad posture and lack of exercise.

Pain in the lower back: In the mornings while you lay in bed, or while sitting in your office, press the knuckles against both sides of the spine in the lower back. This helps if you have hip pain and also calms the sciatic nerve. Raise the knees and stretch the legs and breathe deeply. You should feel warmth flowing through your body. This helps to disperse pain caused by bad posture and insufficient exercise. This exercise also helps to prevent cramp in the back muscles and stomach organs. Press the knuckles against the lower back

Pressing with the thumbs against the sides of the lower spine will help to remove toxins that have collected in the bloodstream at this point. It doesn’t matter if you do this while standing or sitting, so long as your spine is straight.

It is much more difficult to treat the vertebrae in the neck and upper spine yourself. One possibility is to lie on a golf ball. Lie so that the ball is under the point that is giving you pain, after approximately 10 seconds let the ball roll higher or lower depending on the point you started from. Feel with your fingertips for sensitive places between the neck and the shoulders. If you feel a hard spot, apply slightly more or longer pressure. Lie on a golfball!

Alternatively try working on the relevant area on your feet! Reflexology is easy to give yourself and the following tips will take only minutes to carry out. The results will very often be not only pleasurable but remarkable!