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What is an Asian Massage?
Asian Massage is a type of bodywork that follows the principles of traditional Asian medicine, which usually translates to touch-based therapy with very specific purposes. This is why there are many kinds of Asian massages with different effects on the body, although they all aim to rejuvenate the body and promote some degree of physical and mental relief. Be sure to call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.
1.Different Kinds of Asian Massages
Most Asian massages employ techniques that work with the body’s energy flow or chi. Basically, the goal is to create balance within one’s inner elements or chakras so that the body is reset. This is in contrast with western massage techniques that are mostly meant more for relaxation. The other difference is that Asian massages can be performed while the person is fully clothed, as opposed to its Western counterpart that applies the techniques on the bare skin.
Having been developed by Chinese medicine over 5,000 years, this is a type of massage that uses pinpoint pressure on certain parts of the body. By specifically targeting these specific parts, tensions that normally build up within these areas are released, giving the person significant relief. The acupressure massage uses the same principles as acupuncture treatment in that they target the same acupoints. However, they don’t use needles to “puncture” these spots. Instead, they apply pressure, which is where the massage got its name.
What’s interesting about this massage is that it can be done on yourself if you know how. When done properly, it can provide immediate relief for certain sickness and conditions.
3.Amma or Anma
This is a kind of therapy that is based off traditional Japanese massage techniques introduced by Gan Jon Osho, a Buddhist Priest who practiced the Chinese anmo back in the 6th century. It was further developed in the 17th century by Waichi Sugiyama, who established schools for the blind. Being blind himself, Sugiyama taught the blind the ways of amma and they became quite common in the 20th century.
Amma uses a technique that combines application of pressure on acupoints with deep-tissue massage. This aims to cure the imbalances in one’s system, refreshing the entire body after.
The Ayurveda Massage gets its roots from India. It’s a technique that focuses on the body’s chakras and marmas, which are similar to the acupoints in Chinese medicine. According to tradition, the body is filled with countless marmas. The massage, however, will focus on 107 major marmas that are all found at the junctions where the joints, bones, arteries, tendons, flesh, and veins meet. This is also where most body pains meet.
The massage also uses oils in order to employ techniques that aim to open and cleanse energy channels that could be blocked over time. The technique also stimulates all the senses, which also contributes to the healing process.
5.Chi Nei Tsang
This is a Chinese detoxifying massage that is said to treat the emotional conditions that have been associated with diseases. It targets the body’s organs, specifically the ones affected by any illness, in order to help with healing and recovery.
Chi Nei Tsang uses old Taoist techniques where the organs are gently but deeply massaged, which results in physical, spiritual, and emotional relief. When translated, the phrase “Chi Nei Tsang” means to work the internal organs. The abdomen is normally oiled up so it feels warm before it is subjected to massage strokes with the palm. Sometimes the person would feel some pain because the organs are indeed being targeted, but feels relaxed after.
6.Jin Shin Jyutsu
One way to look at Jin Shin Jyutsu is to see it as an incredibly simple version of acupressure massage. This is because it follows the same principles of accupressure, except that it only focuses on 26 points, which are few compared to the 300 points that acupressurists work with. These 26 points are called SELs, which stand for Safety Energy Locks and are located along the body’s energy pathways. Using his hands, a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner will hold on to a combination of these SELs and gently massage through them, allowing the client to experience the flow of energy, which can be as relaxing as it is healing.
The word means “finger pressure” in Japanese, but the massage actually uses a wide variety of techniques such as soothing, pressing, kneading, tapping, and even stretching in order to induce relaxation of the mind and body. Although a kind of Asian massage in itself, Shiatsu further branches out into different styles, with all having some association with one of the three massage systems that originated in Japan back in the 1900s. This kind of massage is actually commonly known even in the west. Unlike other well-known treatments, however, this kind of massage does not use any oil at all, and can be done while the client is fully clothed.
Thai massage is a full body contact massage that uses a combination of Indian Ayurvedic principles, acupressure massages, and yoga poses. It generally does not use oil and can be applied with the client fully clothed. During the massage, the therapist will be following identified lines along the body, and the client will be positioned in a way that they follow these lines. Hence, the client can expect being put into different positions on top of his fingers and extremities of the body being pulled and some knuckles being cracked. Of course, much like actual yoga, the client would feel relieved after the session, which normally lasts for up to two hours.
Asian massages have really come a long way since they were developed by ancient Asian tradition. But no matter how different they are, they all have the aim of promoting health and wellness to those who experience it. If you haven’t yet, you should make it a point to try them all out and see which one suits your needs and preferences best. Of course, don’t hesitate to ask your therapist if you want to know more about the treatment you’re looking to get so you can make the most of the experience.
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How to do the best Asian Massage?
Right before eating Asian food, after shedding off Asian traditional clothes, while listening to Asian music playing in the background – specifically, an Asian singer singing in Asian and playing Asian musical instruments – in a beautiful room outfitted with Asian decor and Asian furnishings, with a light spray of traditional Asian fragrances hanging in the air, and with your masseur being Asian – male or female, your choice – who was brought up in Asian culture, who upholds traditional Asian values, and who is a native speaker of Asian, but also fluent in American and European.
What is the history of Asian massage?
Asian massage has a long and proud history. Massage was practiced in China as early as 3,000 B.C. evolving into Amma Therapy, Tui-na and acupressure. Buddhist monks created Thai massage 2,500 years ago. And Japanese shiatsu was developed by Namikoshi Sensei in the 20th century, after he used “finger pressure” as a boy to heal his mother. All these traditions can be grouped under Asian massage, or Eastern massage. The easiest place to get authentic Asian massage is in cities that have large Asian communities like New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
What is the difference between Asian massage & Deep Tissue Massage?
To start, in reference to “Asian” massage- there are TONS of variations of Asian massages: Shiatsu (Japanese), Amma and Tuina (Chinese), Marma/Varma Adi (India), Nuad Bo Rarn (Thailand), Lomi Lomi (Hawaii/Pacific Island), etc, etc. These techniques and the manipulations vary GREATLY, so it would not be accurate to place them under one “Asian” umbrella. They are all very different.
Theoretically, what Eastern or “Asian” massages generally have in common is the belief that they work on invisible “energy lines”- these are referred to as different things depending on the discipline (example: meridians, sen lines, marma points, tsubo points..). Some of theses discipline lean on the channeling of a “cosmic force” and others are more “practical” in their approach. The treatment approach is to release or remove “energy blockages” to bring the body back into balance (homeostasis). I put terms in quotes because these theories have not been proven by modern science- yet, these techniques DO provide results. More research is need as to how exactly- but let’s just say the mechanics of our amazing nervous system could be the key- energy lines are actually lines of nerves and nerve branches. Basically, the application works but the theory behind it needs mega-updating 😉 Keep in mind, these theories were developed THOUSANDS of years ago, before the modern scientific tools of investigation and analyzation came into being. It is remarkable that they were “on to something” and these techniques are still effective today. However, it is important to understand exactly what is happening in the body and how it produces measurable results without vagueness- this is how the science and practice of massage evolves as a whole.
Swedish massage is based on physiology- each stoke (there are 5 main strokes- as opposed to many complex strokes found within each Eastern discipline) produces either a reflexive (indirect) or mechanical (direct) change in the body. Its foundations are based in science, rather than “unseen” forces. Its main function is stress-reduction (physical or mental), circulatory/medical, or general relaxation (this is what you get in a spa, however, properly done it has very powerful results).
Deep tissue massage is a blanket term and it is not based on a single technique. Basically, it is deeper than a Swedish massage (but based on the same theories)- enough pressure must be used to effect the deeper muscle layers (you get in there). The purpose of this is mostly for muscle rehabilitation (from injury or trauma), pain relief, and is often targeted for fixing stuff 😉
Can an Eastern/Asian massage be done in the style of “deep tissue”? It totally can! However, it cannot be done in the style of “Swedish”- as they are completely different techniques with completely different theoretical approaches. Make sense?
That being said, I practice both forms. I have an appreciation for the beautiful, poetic, creative approaches of Eastern techniques, but prefer to use those applications in an approach based in physiology, research, and by understanding the reflexes of the body. Explore works best, I say!