House CallFeb/Mar 2015 Issue

At-Home Massage

Natural oil, fragrance and massage are a recipe for romance.

Photo of young man receiving a massage

Photo by Shironosov/istock/thinkstock

A good massage relaxes tight muscles, relieves tension and boosts circulation. Combine massage with natural oil and pleasant fragrance and the experience is delightfully enhanced.

You don’t need expensive commercial products to create the right environment for a therapeutic massage. Light oils, such as sunflower, almond, avocado and canola, are readily available in the cooking section of many supermarkets and natural food stores. Easily absorbed, these natural oils keep the skin smooth, soft and energized.

Fragrance (aromatherapy) and massage are a natural fit, a practice dating back to ancient times. The Egyptians used perfume and aromatic essential oils in their massage to heal and help elevate mood. The Babylonians, Greeks and Romans also combined aromatic ingredients with oils as part of massage.

Today, different types of massage are practiced around the world. Basic techniques can be mastered by anyone.

Here are a few simple tips:

Select a natural oil or lotion. This can be a commercial product designed specifically for massage or you can use your favorite light natural oil. Introduce fragrance by adding a few drops of all-natural essential oil of your choice. To energize, try scents like citrus or peppermint. To relax, try lavender, chamomile or rose.

Create a relaxing spot. Make sure the environment is calm–no bright lights, no loud noises. Dim the lights or use candles. Play soft music or nature sounds as soothing background.

Choose a firm, stable surface. A massage table is ideal but you can use a yoga mat or layer heavy blankets on the floor to create a comfortable spot. Avoid using a bed, as most mattresses are too soft; they absorb the impact of massage, stealing benefits from your body.

Use smooth, flowing movements. Massage is a physical activity for both giver and receiver. It should be done without interruption or sudden moves. Stroke toward the heart, not away from it.

Communicate. Like any relationship, massage requires good communication and listening skills. When giving a massage, be alert to subtle body signals. Ask if things feel okay and what needs attention.

Linger. After receiving a massage, relax for a few minutes and savor the moment. Time your massage to avoid sudden re-entry into the all-out stress of a busy day.

Janice Cox (janicecox.com) is the author of Natural Beauty at Home (Henry Holt and Company).

Next: Make your own (safe) massage oil.

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