Spa menus can be baffling for almost anyone who isn’t too familiar with spa services. How different is a Balinese massage from a Thai one — aren’t they from the same side of the world? Would a Swedish massage be good for my body ache or should I go for the intense sounding Deep Tissue? I’m not comfortable stripping so is a spa a non-option for me? As an answer to your questions, here’s a brief guide to help you in choosing spa therapy the next time you plan a solo spa date or one with friends.
Interestingly, this most popular massage therapy neither originated in Sweden nor was it invented by a Swede. How the term came about is a blog for another day. Let’s just limit it to the fact that the Swedish therapist Peter Ling is wrongly attributed as the Father of Swedish Massage. In Europe and Sweden in particular, this therapy is known as ‘Classic Massage.’
The Swedish/Classic is a basic massage therapy recommended to first-timers. A therapist uses simple techniques or movements like sliding, kneading, rhythmic tapping, friction and shaking. Swedish massage is beneficial to people seeking pain relief.
Did you know that Thai massage is also known as the ‘lazy man’s yoga’? Probably not. A traditional Thai massage session takes places on a floor mat with a therapist ‘assisting’ your body into yoga postures. So if you’re not too comfortable with a stranger standing over you, contorting your body into shapes, we recommend choosing another therapy.
However, modern Thai massage take place on a spa table. It also does not require you to shed your clothing, so if you are not comfortable with nudity, this is the therapy for you. It doesn’t use oil either, so you can get this.
When you are not in the mood for something strenuous but wish to simply relax a tired body and stressed mind, try an aromatherapy massage.
Although the massage might seem like the most attractive part of the therapy the real magic takes place when one inhales the aromas. Some commonly used essential oils are chamomile, lavender, geranium for calming; ylang-ylang, clary sage, rose, neroli for uplifting and rosemary for energizing.
Any massage can be made into an aromatherapy massage by adding essential oils to the routine. However, be care of two things. Firstly, make sure that your therapist is using actual essential oils with healing properties and not synthetic fragrance oils. Secondly, essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin, since they are heavily concentrated and can cause a reaction. They should be mixed with sweet almond, olive or any other ‘carrier’ oil.
More intense than its Swedish counterpart, A deep tissue massage focuses on relieving chronic muscle tension or pain. To reach the deepest layers of muscle tissues, tendons and fascia, the therapist uses a lot more pressure than in any other massage therapy. Sign up for this message only if you’re comfortable with intense physical touch.
A deep tissue massage is often recommended by medical experts to those suffering from chronic pain as an alternative to medicines. The stimulated blood flow helps reduce inflammation causing the pain. It also dissipates scar tissues, post-injury scarring at the muscular level which causes difficulty in movement. It is also recommended to people suffering from blood pressure. Oh, and it certainly beats the stress out of the system!
Balinese massage uses a variety of massage techniques: the intense pressure of a deep tissue, Reflexology, the gentles stretches of Thai massage, the focussed therapy of acupuncture and the healing essential oils of aromatherapy. So while a Balinese massage session is designed to help you unwind, it can also address physical problems like strained tissues, tired muscles and joints.
The core principle of Balinese massage is on stimulating your body’s ‘qi’ or energy flow by focusing on blood and oxygen flow. Keeping this in mind therapists start with the limbs and work their way towards the torso before finishing at the limbs again.
It’s easy to take feet for granted. Which is why it deserves the most amount of care. Although Reflexology area of focus covers the limbs, it’s most common application is the feet.
Reflexology makes use of pressure application to specific areas of the feet, sometimes with the aid of rubber balls, rubber bands and wooden sticks. Therapists use a foot chart to guide them around key pressure points. The science is that pressure applied to these points affects the organs in a beneficial way. Whether for pain relief or relaxation, who can resist a good foot massage?!