Massage therapy is an old ancient healing tradition and the varieties available today come from a diverse mix of styles and cultures. Massage therapies are split into two categories – eastern and western massage. This article gives the background and differences of each style and helps you understand the amount of thought, science, and tradition that goes into your favourite holistic massage.
What are Holistic Massage Therapies?
A holistic approach to massage therapy touches an individual’s whole being – physical, emotional, and mental. Holistic massage therapies hold the possibility of reintegration, are person-centred, and guided by principles of awareness, sensitivity, and quality of touch. These attributes help us as holistic massage practitioners to work with clients, applying skills and techniques appropriately.
As a form of healing, holistic massage therapy aims to achieve optimal health and body wellness. It aligns all your parts, including your body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Holistic massage therapies like Tuina and Shiatsu are part of holistic healing; others include reflexology, acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, and reiki.
Eastern vs. Western Massage Therapies
We refer to eastern massage therapies when we talk about holistic massage therapies. These practices take a holistic approach to massage and healing by balancing the body and its part, including the digestive and nervous systems.
Eastern Massage Therapies
Eastern massage therapy addresses your body’s energy flow and balance. It stimulates and soothes specific points along your “energy meridians” to create the required effects. It helps attain a balance in your mind and body based on your energy flow and balance.
Eastern massage therapists will first determine where your body’s energy imbalances lie to find areas to focus on during a session. Therapists use several ways to do this, including examining your pulse at three different positions on your wrist.
Below are types of eastern massage therapies:
- Tuina: It’s a Chinese massage that focuses on stretching and kneading muscles. It’s most similar to western massages, but its end goal is relieving tension over the body by focusing on entire muscles. What is tuina massage?
- Zhi Ya: It’s a Chinese massage based on acupressure. It addresses issues and attempts to bring clients into balance by pinching and pressing specific acupuncture points that connect to the nerves.
- Shiatsu: Incorporates Tuina and Zhi Ya massage techniques and other vibrations, strumming, and rolling methods. Therapists use their palms, fingers, and thumbs to apply pressure to muscles.
- Ayurvedic Massage: It purposes to bring the entire body into balance. It balances energies through various methods, including yoga and meditation. In addition, therapists use heated herbal oils to relieve tension.
- Thai Yoga Massage: It’s a form of yoga that combines acupressure, assisted yoga, and Ayurvedic massage techniques.
- Balinese Massage: Developed in Bali, Balinese massage combines different techniques to relax and heal. These include skin rolling and flicking, percussion, firm and gentle stroking, essential oils, and acupressure.
Western Massage Therapies
Western massage therapies promote relaxation, circulation, and motion to relieve muscle tension. It leans heavily towards the physical when diagnosing and addressing issues and focuses on individual body parts, unlike holistic massage therapies. It uses the general five strokes of tapping, gliding, friction, kneading, and vibration. Below are the different western massage techniques:
- Swedish massage
- Deep tissue massage
- Myofascial release massage
- Soft tissues massage
- Trigger point therapy
Differences between Eastern and Western Massage
Eastern and western massage therapies differ in their approach, but both have applications and benefits. Below are the differences between eastern and western massage therapies:
- Eastern massage therapy uses pressure points along the body’s energy meridians. Soothing and stimulating these particular areas improves the energy flow outwards, positively affecting the body areas regulated by each point. The techniques therapists use to stimulate pressure points include rocking, rolling, and striking. As a result, they are more vigorous than western massage techniques.
- On the other hand, western massage therapy promotes higher relaxation levels by using circular motions to help relieve muscle tension. It uses the five-stroke techniques, including vibration, kneading, friction, gliding, and tapping.
Reiki is a holistic energy healing technique that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety and stress through gentle touch. Practitioners deliver energy to the body to improve its flow and balance and support healing. A reiki practitioner uses their hands by placing them on or just above the body.
Mikao Usui developed Reiki in Japan in the early 1900s. It comes from the Japanese words rei (universal and ki (vital life force energy flowing through all living things). Hawayo Takata brought reiki to the western world by starting her practice in Hawaii.
So what is the benefit of reiki?
It promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and relieves symptoms to improve your health and well-being. It can:
- Induce a meditative state
- Foster bone and tissue healing after surgery or injury
- Promote natural self-healing
- Stimulate the body’s immune system
- Relive pain and tension
- Support the well-being of patients receiving medical treatments like radiation, chemotherapy, and kidney dialysis
- Create feelings of peace, wellness, relaxation, and security
Benefits of Holistic Massage Practices
Holistic massage therapies have multiple benefits due to their comprehensive approach. These include increased energy and mental clarity, concentration, relaxation, better circulation, posture, muscle tension relief, and skin elasticity. In addition, over the long term, holistic massage and healing lead to other benefits such as a strengthened immune system, a higher quality of sleep, and improved self-esteem.
The Bottom Line
Holistic massage therapies are vigorous but have numerous benefits. They focus on your energy points and leave your body and mind feeling relaxed, centred, and revived.
At Seity, we connect people with the leading holistic practitioners in the UK. We handpick the practitioners in our network of multi-discipline professionals to provide outstanding, one on one holistic healthcare. Contact us today to connect with a practitioner.