Yet, I hear it all the time - clients are telling me that they simply cannot reach that state! They say they need to make a conscious effort to unclench their muscles during a massage. Why is it, that complete relaxation tends to happen so naturally for some, but pose such a challenge for others? Is there anything my ultra relaxed clients do differently? Lifestyle, job, level of physical activity, and mindset are all factors that play a part in determining one’s average stress level, or general daily mood. For some, letting go of life’s “stressers” for an hour is a breeze. They’re able to separate themselves from the chaos, journey inward, and truly engage in relaxation. I’m speaking to the tightly wound people - the ones with stiff arms, the talkers, the clenchers, the mind racers, the “can’t let go-ers.” I will present 5 techniques that can be incorporated into your massage, to help guide you into a deeper relaxation. If you’ve already taken the first step, by booking the massage appointment - you’re off to a great start!
1. Breathing: Focus on your breathing. What I mean by that is to actually concentrate on each breath. Feel your inhale filling up your lungs, and hugging your organs before turning into an exhale. You can imagine, with your eyes closed, that your breath is a glowing light, illuminating your insides, and filling the room with brightness when it escapes. Give your breath a certain direction. Breathe into your left foot, then the right. Breathe into each limb, finger, and toe. Take deep, slow breaths. You can inhale, and hold the top of your inhale for 3 seconds before exhaling. Count each deep breath. Make your breath colorful. Envision breathing in deep rich reds, or hues of blue. Do everything to keep your mind completely occupied by breathing. Allow thoughts to occur if they do, and then dismiss them. Let them come, and let them go. You can practice this throughout your entire massage session.
2. Stretching: Doing some quick floor stretches right before climbing onto a warm massage table is a great way to loosen up. I favor a short routine of stretching each arm, each leg, my neck, and lower back right before getting onto the table, and then again when I get off the table. If discussed beforehand, your massage therapist will incorporate stretching into the massage as well. If you’re worried about getting the proper stretch for a certain muscle, let your M.T. know. Stretching increases flexibility, increases blood flow to your muscles, increases your range of motion, and can improve your posture. All of those benefits, AND it feels good? Yes, please - your body will thank you.
3. Sound: Sound frequencies or singing bowls. Talk with your M.T. about bringing in your own music, or see if they can provide this for you. The vibrational hum created from singing bowls has been known to promote deep relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, and help to “get you in the zone.” It is a great tool for achieving that meditative and relaxed state.
4. Open communication: Communicate with your massage therapist. Our goal is to make your experience exactly the way you would like it. If you need a little extra help relaxing, let us know. There are several things we can adjust. Is the music volume too loud, or not loud enough? How is the temperature in the room? Too hot? Need another blanket? How about an eye pillow? Want me to respond with conversation, or just stay quiet? How about aromatherapy? Need any water? Being comfortable on the massage table is key, and customising some of your surroundings are excellent ways to reach your maximum comfort level.
5. Heat, heat, heat: Try incorporating heat into your massage. A hot stone massage is a great way to melt away muscle tension and pain. The stones can be used as tools to really get into the belly of the muscle, break up adhesions (knots, tissue sticking together), increase circulation, and ease the stiffness. Even placing heating packs or hot towels on the body, or wrapping the feet or face in heated towels will automatically relax you.
You will notice that some of these techniques are physical things you can do to help you relax, such as using heat, stretching, or making simple adjustments. Others require a mental approach of focused breathing, diving into music or sound, or quieting your mind. The collaborative effort of mind, body, and soul, working together to reach relaxation, is a truly beautiful thing. It is any hope that these techniques prove to be effective in helping you reach that sweet, melty spot during your massage. Once you’ve mastered the art of relaxation, the benefits of your massage will be amplified tenfold!
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