I consider myself a minimalist in many ways, however, when it comes to self care I do love to splash out on products and services. For instance, whenever I travel, especially after a long haul flight, I make sure to pre-book a full body massage for when I reach destination. Getting a full body massage helps me restore back my energies quickly. This way I get to learn about how the locals master the technique and when I´m back home I seek an expert who can carry out the same type of massage.
Below are details of three different techniques from three well-known Asian countries and that are popular worldwide. All methods are beneficial for the whole body system; great for circulation and to release those knots if you happen to be stressed out. It is hard to tell whichever is best as it depends on your fancy, but I like them all.
3 Asian Body Massages – What´s The Difference ?
The three methods embrace a holistic approach in that they treat the body, mind and spiritual being as a whole and each massage is personalised for every single guest.
Abhyanga Full Body Massage – An Indian Technique
Abhyanga is an Indian Technique and I have already written about it in another post.
The most important feature of Abhyanga massage is oil application. In Ayurveda, massage is considered an essential daily routine to improve your health. If the massage is done for body maintenance and prevention, then using just oils is fine. Oils like sesame, coconut or olive oil are good. However, in Ayurvedic clinics and during treatments, herbal medicated oil is utilised.
Abhyanga in Ayurveda is one of the 5 procedures included in the panchakarma detox therapy. A detox program always begins with an Abhyanga massage. Reason being, the toxic accumulation in the body is the main cause of many health problems and Abhyanga massage acts as a lubricator to open the body channels and makes it easier to eliminate the toxins.
The Abhyanga massage is usually customised for every individual. This means that the pressure applied and the type of oil and the temperature of oil used depends on the dosha type and health condition.
Assisted Abhyanga usually starts from the head, continuing with the face, neck, shoulders and back and then continues with the rest of the body. You are usually naked during the massage except for your underpants. In most places they give you the tanga style disposable ones.
Abhyanga massage is ideal for good preservation and also for healing purposes.
Among the many benefits, the massage;
- improves the skin quality, keeping it young looking and well hydrated.
- Slows down the ageing process, prevents early wrinkles.
- Induces good sleep.
- Strengthens the joints.
- Manages stress.
- Stimulates the nerves.
- Improves circulation.
The end result after an Abhyanga massage is a peaceful and soothing feeling of physical and mental balancing.
Tuina full body Massage – A Chinese Technique
Tuina is more than 2000 years old massage based on the principles of ancient Chinese medicine and is a technique carried out by putting pressure on different points on the body. Tuina follows the guidelines of acupuncture but no needles are used.
Various massage techniques are applied to harmonise the flow of energy within the body, through the meridians or body canals, and helps the internal organs to maintain stability.
Usually the massage starts by the therapist applying light pressure onto the body to loosen up the muscles of the guest and as the massage advances the pressure will be more focused and putting stronger pressure. One movement will progress into another continuously throughout the massage. Tuina can be done wearing clothes or undressed except for underpants and the therapist goes covering the body parts not being massaged.
The movements are usually fast and some techniques used are;
Rowing to start the massage. It relaxes the body and increases circulation.
Finger and thumb manipulation. Pressing on the acupoints and the vibration tends to go deep down.
Circular kneading with the thumb along the meridians (channels). Also, kneading with the knuckles along both sides of the spine.
Squeezing is a method used mainly on tight areas and the muscles on the neck, shoulders and upper back area.
Rocking with the palm helps boost circulation on the area and also stretches and softens the body tissues.
In my opinion Tuina massage is not exactly the most relaxing as it usually hurts during the session. Besides with the above massage procedure the whole body of the guest is moving and there is no way you can relax. Of course, you can tell the therapist not to use much pressure but Tuina is more of a healing massage and ideal for when you have pain, muscle knots or for people who practice sports and have tight muscles.
I usually go for a Tuina session when I have a locked shoulder or stiff neck or dorsal pain from long hours at a computer and am forward bending most of the time.
The end result after a Tuina massage. If you were in pain before, most probably you will feel more pain right after the massage and then eases off in a day or two and it is when you get that sensation of balance and relaxation within.
Thai Body Massage – Naturally From Thailand
Traditional Thai massage was created as a combination of Indian and Chinese massage and it was introduced in Thailand by the Buddhists years ago. It is a mix of assisted yoga postures and pressure techniques.
By focusing and working on the energy lines or meridians of the body Thai massage is meant to help you relax and release muscle tension and stimulate circulation and restore the energies.
Thai massage is given on a futon or on a thick blanket directly on the floor. You are usually given loose fitting pants and shirt to put on before the massage. So yes, traditional Thai massage is done with clothes on.
Starting with the feet and moving upwards. I love this bit and I find it so relaxing. You are lying down and the therapist kneeling besides your feet. They twist your feet in opposite direction towards the floor and applies pressure on you. You can try this on the bed or when lying down. Just stretch out your legs and then curve both your feet outwards and press your toes towards you. It stretches the calf muscle and feels really good. Try it out!!
Hands, elbows, forearms and also the feet are used to give the massage. Usually it is male to male and female to female but unless the man puts a lot of pressure as he´s usually stronger then I don´t have any preference, as if the therapist is professional, they would know how to apply the correct pressure.
There´s a lot of intertwined postures during the session and the therapist also uses the feet to push and press whilst pulling with the hands in the opposite direction.
Thai massage is more intimate as unlike other massages where you have the therapist using just the hands and arms, in Traditional Thai massage there´s a lot of body to body contact. Literally you have the therapist moving on top and around your body doing stretches (assisted yoga postures) and applying pressure (acupressure) at the same time. It is discreet and doesn’t bother you because you are wearing clothes.
Thai massage is lovely and usually very effective. The end result; it really boosts your energy or quietens you down.
So Which Massage Technique Do YOU Like Best?
Some western therapists tend to combine techniques, especially if they studied various types, and that is the reason why many times you cannot tell the difference between one and another. One example is applying stretching and lifting and circulation of the leg from Thai massage during a Tuina massage. At the same time Asian therapists prefer to stick to their own traditional and professional techniques.
One great stretch I would like to share with you before I go. You can do it on your own and it is really beneficial. Lie down on your back, relax. Breathe in and out a couple times, stretch your legs, then bend one of your knees and twist it over the other leg and reach out towards the ground. Move your head to the side the opposite way. With one hand holding your twisted knee and the other arm stretching out the opposite way, press your knee down gently with your hand. You should feel the pulling on your lower back. Then do the same on the other side. Try it, it feels divine if you are in pain. It especially helps to stretch the dorsal and lumbar muscle area.
Don´t you feel like getting a full body massage right now?
My suggestion is that you shouldn’t wait until you need a massage. Take care of yourself and benefit from the massages to maintain your good health and longevity.
I hope you have enjoyed this information and please do share your views and experience on the matter. I love massages and go often and have tried many techniques in different countries.
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