A massage can be soothing and invigorating. Our step-by-step guide to relaxing massage will teach you how best to give a massage. Hopefully — once you’ve given somebody a massage — you will get one in return.
Step 1: Create the right ambiance.
- Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature.
- Dim the lights to create a warm, cosy ambiance and ensure the drapes are closed, so that there are no distractions.
- Light a scented candle or an aromatic dhoop.
- Prepare a playlist of relaxing music beforehand. For relaxation’s sake we recommend you stick to instrumental composition.
- Ensure you won’t have any interruptions till you’re done.
The person you’re giving a massage to must lie down on a hard surface so that all the muscles are adequately supported. A firm mattress or a yoga mat on the floor is your best bet, if you don’t want to invest in a massage table. Also, ensure there is enough space for you to move around to massage different parts of the body. You can fold a blanket and leave it at the foot of the mat or mattress (the person lies between the mat and the blanket).
Provide either a folded towel or small pillow for the head.
It is important to cover the areas that you have already massaged to ensure that the heat you have generated while massaging doesn’t escape, leaving the person chilly.
Stock up on different types of body oils. You can choose to use herbal or aromatherapy oils like lavender and chamomile, both of which have relaxing properties. Some other good options include, jojoba oil, almond or coconut oil (which are also cheap), olive oil, grapeseed oil (known to be great for the skin and also, doesn’t leave a thick residue behind like most other oils).
Step 5: Prepare yourself
Cut your nails, take a bath and relax yourself. Put on some comfortable clothes and do some deep breathing before you get started.
Have the person take off his/her clothes and lie on his/her stomach. It would be ideal to take off all clothes, but if the person doesn’t want to, then it’s OK to keep the underwear on. If it’s a woman, you can open her bra during the back massage and close it before turning over.
Start the relaxing massage by pouring a small bit of oil on the palm on one hand. Now, gently rub your hands together to warm the oil with your body heat. Follow this method of warming the oil, every time you pour oil.
Step 7: How much pressure
Check to see how much pressure the person you’re giving a massage to wants and make sure you stick to that degree of pressure for the rest of the massage.
The neck and shoulders:
Gently rub the shoulders back and forth, then up and down to release any stress. Work your way to the neck muscles, the back of the neck as well as the sides. Don’t rub too hard or apply too much pressure, as said earlier.
Once you’re done, change the direction of your fingers and hands by moving them in circular motions.
Arms and hands:
Rub the arms, hands, and yes, even their fingers. Massaging the hands and fingers will help increase blood circulation.
Do the back of the arms when the person is lying on his/her stomach and the front when he/she is lying on the back, later.
The next area of their body is the back. A person’s back is the largest area of skin, so pour a generous amount of oil on to your hand. Once you’ve warmed the oil between your hand, start by placing your hands flat on the middle of their back. Massage the area up and down. Reach up their neck and down to their lower back to relax them.
Once you’ve massage the middle back, move on to the rest of the back. Use circular motions to relieve tension and stress from the back muscles. You could also fold your arm and use your elbow in circular motions.
Use the thumbs of both your hands. Place it on either side of the spine and gently move up and down the spine. Make sure you don’t do this on the spine, but on the two sides of the spine.
Use a kneading motion to soothe the sides of the back. Use this motion up and down the sides a few times.
Legs and hips:
Use a kneading motion on the hips to soothe that region.
Next comes the leg. Massage each leg, one at a time. Use a kneading motion on the thighs. Put pressure and press the sides of the thigh muscles. Do the same on the back of the calf. Massage the feet using circular motions. Pull the toes gently and release to ease tension in the toes. The foot has many nerve endings, so don’t leave this part out. Now repeat on the other leg.
The front of the legs must be done when the person turns on his back. Repeat the same kneading motion on the front of the thigh and calf. Use circular motions to massage the front of the feet. For the toes, gently pull them and release. Use circular motion on the nails to relax the toes.
Gently massage the forehead, temples and cheeks. But don’t get any oil into their eyes or mouth. Rub the temples in light circular motion, this helps relieve tension and stress. Use vertical strokes on the forehead to release stress.
Note: Oils like menthol or eucalyptus help open up clogged nasal passages.
Use your two thumbs in circular motion to massage the chest, three inches below the sternum to release tension around that region. This too is very soothing.
Gently rub the side of the stomach in a kneading motion. Use your whole hand and gently rub the stomach clockwise a few times.
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Photograph via sxc.hu