Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Controlling Hypertension with Natural Foods

Hypertension is a medical term given to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often referred to as the "silent killer" as it usually has no symptoms but can still lead to life threatening situations. However, there are ways to manage this silent killer.

Food is one of the main factors implicated for causing hypertension. Your blood pressure can shoot up or remain normal as a result of what you eat. This means that food can help you in controlling your blood pressure. You take in more salty foods and chances are that your blood pressure will go up. Which other foods can help you control your blood pressure?

Apples: One of the most valuable fruits, an apple is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and pectin. Pectin is the active therapeutic agent present in apple. Apples are considered invaluable in case of hypertension. It has a diuretic effect, which causes increased secretion of urine and brings back the blood pressure to normal. Due to increased urination the sodium chloride levels in the body goes down and this relieves the load on the kidneys to process excessive sodium chloride. At the same time apples being rich in potassium result in a fall in the tissue sodium levels.

Lemon: One of the richest source of vitamin C is lemon. For proper functioning of vitamin C, lemon has an abundance of vitamin P. This vitamin is essential for controlling hemorrhage as well as prevents the formation of fragile capillaries. As a result of this function lemon helps in preventing the adverse effects of high blood pressure. It helps in strengthening the entire circulatory system and at the same time helps in controlling many circulatory diseases.

Garlic: This is regarded as one of the most effective remedies to control blood pressure. Owing to its properties to reduce the spasms of small arteries, garlic helps in lowering the blood pressure. It slows the pulse rate while at the same time modifies the heart rhythm. Garlic also has the property of relieving the symptoms of dizziness, shortness of breath and acidity. One can take about two to three commonly available garlic capsules as an aid to control blood pressure. Studies have shown that due to its dilatory effect, garlic helps in widening the blood vessels, thereby reducing the pressure.

Rice: Whether rice helps in controlling blood pressure or it just prevents it is an controversial issue. Rice in itself is a low fat, low salt and vitamins rich food. It has been seen that communities where rice forms the main food have a lower incidence of hypertension. So it can be said that owing to its properties rice can help in preventing this silent killer.

Levels of sodium restriction
200 to 300 mg (extreme sodium restriction): no salt in cooking
500 to 700 mg (severe sodium restriction): no salt in cooking
1000 to 1500 mg (moderate restriction): no salt in cooking
2000 to 3000 mg (mild restriction): some salt in cooking can be added

Thus it can be said that natural foods are great healers to control hypertension.

Acupuncture: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

Your first visit to an acupuncturist may be full of apprehension, trepidation and many unanswered questions. You will probably wonder what the acupuncturist is going to do, is the treatment going to be painful, if it is going to bleed, how long the course is going to take and so on. Here are some answers to your frequently asked questions:

What is the practitioner going to ask me?
In your first visit the practitioner is going to ask you to list all the symptoms that you are experiencing. You need to let him know all the physiological and psychological effects. Your family history is going to be inquired. Next is going to be a physical examination.

What is the physical examination like?
The Chinese believe that the tongue and the pulse can signify all sickness. Thus he will examine the tongue, its colour and coating. Next will be the pulse. According to the Chinese, there are six pulse positions on our wrist and each of these positions represent two organs.

How long is the treatment going to take?
Each visit might take anything from 20 minutes to an hour or maybe even more if it is the first visit. The number of visits, however, is dependent on the ailment. If the sickness is chronic then it takes more visits (which could be weekly), and if the symptoms are severe then the visits required could be more frequent but stretched over a shorter period of time.

What if I am undergoing some other treatment too?
Usually it does not matter if you are undergoing some other treatment as acupuncture really does not affect their process. However, you must let the acupuncturist know whatever treatment you are taking.

Is the treatment going to be painful?
The thought of needles does make you apprehensive but the real truth is that the acupuncture needles are so thin that you will not feel any pain. In fact, the moment the needle reaches the right depth you will feel a dull ache or a tingling sensation. This sensation will hardly last a minute or two. So it's an all gain and no pain treatment!

Is it going to bleed?
The acupuncture needles are so thin that the question of blood oozing out does not arise. The needles are only supposed to prick the point and not draw out any blood.

Will I feel relieved immediately?
If you are suffering from something like a headache then you would feel some relief immediately but mostly you just feel a bit drowsy after the treatment. However, the acupuncturist can come to know if there has been some effect by feeling your pulse.

Is acupuncture safe for small children?
It is not really advisable to treat small children with acupuncture not because of the nature of treatment but because you need to be sure that the practitioner is experienced and really good. Children in fact are easy to treat because the sickness would not be chronic.

What if I am pregnant?
Acupuncture is definitely not advisable for pregnant women.

Can acupuncture help me lose weight?
Acupuncture can help you lose weight if excess weight is because of over-eating or a low BMR (basal metabolic rate). If it is due to overeating then acupuncture can help you by lessening the craving to eat. Excess weight due to a low BMR means that the body is not able to utilise all the food that it is receiving and is storing it away. In such a case, acupuncture can help increase your BMR thus help you shed weight!

These questions, though not exhaustive, will definitely help you in understanding this ancient science better.

Acupuncture: The Art of Alternative Healing

It has been quite some time and you haven't been able to get rid of that nagging backache. It started as a small twitch near the shoulder but has now spread to the lower back. Popping painkillers has had no effect except giving you a stomach ache! Your doc says to cut down on your stress and strain, but he doesn't tell you how? Is there any help?

Yes, there is! There is something better than popping pills day in and day out. It has hardly any side effects compared to those painkillers and it is called - Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese method of treating different physiological and psychological problems.

The Chinese treated patients for different ailments by observing their pulse and their tongue. The whole treatment was undertaken on the basis of these two. They realized that the human body was basically made up of energy or Qi, which flowed through a specific path called the Meridians. Each meridian is connected to some organ in the body. Over each meridian lie specific points that have the ability to increase or decrease the quantity and quality of energy flowing through the meridians. Thus by treating these points, specific ailments are cured.

An often-asked question is: Is Acupuncture effective? Research has proved that acupuncture has provided physical as well as psychological relief to patients. Today, Acupuncture is recognized as a complete science in itself and is extremely popular worldwide as an alternative form of healing.

There are two techniques in acupuncture:

1. Insertion of needles
First the acupuncturist collects the patient's detailed medical as well as family history, gains knowledge of his/her eating habits and lifestyle. Then comes the physical examination. There is a very strong stress on pulse taking. The Chinese have identified six main pulse points: three on each wrist and use two kinds of pressures to gain an in depth knowledge of the cause of ailment. The second most important thing is examining the tongue. The acupuncturist watches out for the colour, shape, area and coating of the tongue. This gives him knowledge of the inner physical condition.

Next the meridians and the points are identified. In the actual treatment tiny needles are inserted at specific points identified on the body. In fact this is what acupuncture means --puncture by the needles. After insertion the needles are stimulated either by twirling them or by passing a mild electric current which results in a mild tingling sensation. The needles are inserted for a length of time that ranges from a few seconds to 30 minutes.

2. Use of Moxa
After going through the preliminary examinations the acupuncturist will embark on the actual treatment. In this a herb called Moxa is used. Small cones of the herb are burnt and then rested on the skin to warm and supply energy to the acupuncture points. This energy is then passed through the meridians to the whole system thus striving to overcome the problem

Treatment time
The treatment takes anything from 20 minutes to 1 hour. The first session might turn out to be a bit long but things soon even out.

Frequency of visit
The frequency of the visit is dependent on the nature of the ailment. In the beginning it might be a couple of times a week and then weekly or maybe even less till none is required.

Acupuncture is known to have treated many ailments such as headaches, stress, insomnia, arthritis and many others and that too successfully. It is safe, without any side effects and leads to an overall feeling of well being.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Reiki and Breathing Exercises

Did you know that Reiki actually originated many years ago in Tibet? However, it was then rediscovered by the Japanese who developed and propagated it further. Reiki is a very popular practice today because it doesn't involve any side effects or any harmful techniques and chemicals. It is based on the most natural and basic concept of cosmic energy. This is referred to as 'ki' in Japanese, 'chi' in Chinese, 'prana' in Hindi or 'bioenergy' in science. All that Reiki involves is the replenishing of this 'ki' and it's correction.

If you are a beginner to Reiki or want to have an idea before you enroll into a course then this is just the place for you. Here are some simple exercises that will help you stay fresh after a long day and help you eliminate all the stress in your daily life.

You can do this either sitting down or lying down, and practice it anywhere and everywhere be it the office or home.

Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath, how it flows in and out, then in and out again in and out and carry on.

Once you have established this rhythm you will start feeling a bit relaxed but at the same time you will be able to feel a few tension points in you body. Put your hands softly wherever you feel the tension. you will be able to know the points or places automatically, don't strain yourself much.

Once you have placed your hand at a specific spot imagine that your breath is energy. Now you are directing this energy towards your hands. Let it flow through your whole body and collect and expand in your hands. Relax at the same time. You will feel relaxation spreading in that specific part of your body. Next the relaxation will spread in your whole body through that area. Do this for about 5 minutes.

Now take your hands to another spot and repeat the same process. Breathe into your hands and feel the 'ki' flowing through the spot in your whole body. You might find your mind drifting towards past experiences and memories, don't get into them. However just let go of yourself and feel the flow inside your body.

Give the above step 5 minutes and then pick up 2 more places of tension, if you are not feeling any kind of physical strain and continue with the exercise. If you are feeling some strain, go to step 6.


Slowly open your eyes.
Stretch your whole body and breath deep.
Get back to your normal activities.

You will feel a new kind of relaxation pervade your mind and body and feel calmer and rejuvenated after doing this exercise.

Heal Your Mind, Body and Soul with Yoga

What is yoga?

Yoga is a complete science that originated in India thousands of years ago. It is the world’s oldest system of fitness, encompassing the mind, body and spirit. The word `Yoga’ means "union". It is derived from the Sanskrit word "yujir " meaning "to yoke" or "to join". Yoga is the practical aspect of a philosophy called Vedanta, which is laid out in the Upanishads and maintains that there is one absolute reality that underlies everything in the universe. Among the most important teachings of Yoga are instructions on how to control your body through your mind.

Yoga helps you in keeping your body fit and mind peaceful. In recent years, medical research has begun to pay attention to the effects of Yoga. Studies have shown, for instance, that relaxation in the Corpse Pose or Shavasana effectively relieves high blood pressure and that regular practice of asanas and pranayama can help relieve diverse ailments such as arthritis, arteriosclerosis, chronic fatigue, asthma, varicose veins and heart conditions.

Is yoga a religion?

Yoga is not a religion nor is it a mystic cult. It is a spiritual technique, which has something to offer to everyone, religious and the non-religious, men and women irrespective of age, faith or race factors.

Is yoga effective in modern life?

The pressures of work and home, coping with deadlines, and just the business of daily living has become too stressful today. You’ve probably tried everything under the sun from tranquilizers to pills to even dancing your blues away. But nothing seems to help you. Go for Yoga. It acts like a balm and soothes your mind, body and soul.

Yoga is an effective stress-buster and helps lower your stress levels. Here's how:

It controls stress not only on a physical level, but on a mental and spiritual level too.

Yoga asanas release the physical tension of your body and lubricates it. It keeps your muscles and joints running smoothly, tones all the internal organs and increases circulation, without creating any fatigue.
Pranayama gives vitality by increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain.

Finally, meditation stills the mind and enhances your powers of concentration.

Yoga improves the strength and flexibility of your mind and body, and helps you to relax. It frees you from stress both physically and mentally, often heightening your powers of intuition and creativity. Thus you can leverage this ancient science perfected by Indian sages over the centuries to work for you today.

Reduce Cholesterol with Natural Foods

Proper diet is the key to good health. An improper diet results in several disease conditions such as cardiovascular diseases. Increased cholesterol is the primary cause of heart diseases. The adage "prevention is better than cure" is particularly appropriate for heart diseases as you yourself can prevent the rise in cholesterol levels and hence prevent heart diseases. Cholesterol lowering trials have shown that with a reduction in cholesterol levels the incidence of heart disease can be significantly lowered. The use of natural plant foods can help you lower the cholesterol levels.

Plant foods are rich source of dietary fibre, which have multiple health benefits. Fibre binds the cholesterol and hence helps in keeping it under control. Consumption of whole grain cereals, pulses, vegetables and fruit ensures an adequate fibre intake. Which are the natural foods that help us control cholesterol?

Apple: Why is it that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Our ancestors believed this even without understanding the disease. But nutritional studies have now shown that this is actually true. Apples are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help in preventing the damage to the cells and hence help in preventing chronic diseases. At the same time, apples are very rich in fibre, which has the cholesterol binding property. Thus by eating apples you can keep a check on your cholesterol levels.

Banana: This is one fruit that is rich in almost all vitamins and minerals. At the same time it is a rich source of fibre. Banana, by itself is a zero cholesterol food. On going studies have shown that banana has the potential to lower cholesterol. So continue eating this wonder fruit. It might work wonders for your heart.

Carrots: This has wide protective properties. Scottish studies have shown that a carrot a day for three weeks lowered the cholesterol by 10 to 20 per cent in the study participants. Carrots are rich in fibre pectin, which has cholesterol-lowering properties.

Beans: Rich in fibre and low in cholesterol, beans are an ideal combination for lowering cholesterol. At the same time beans are also rich in lecithin, a nutrient that has cholesterol-lowering properties. A study has shown that consuming a bowl of lentils or kidney beans can lower cholesterol by about 19 per cent.

Garlic: Many studies have shown that a clove of garlic per day can help in lowering cholesterol by about 10 to 15 per cent. Garlic is recognized in Europe as a remedy for heart diseases.

Onion: Like garlic, onion has been shown to have a cholesterol lowering effect. So consuming garlic and onion along with meals may be a better idea to prevent a rise in cholesterol.

Sunflower seeds: These seeds are the most familiar of all edible seeds and contain a substantial amount of linoleic acid that has cholesterol-owering properties. Substituting these seeds for some high fat foods can have a beneficial effect on the health.

Consuming these natural foods can help you fight cholesterol, a deadly enemy of your heart.

Yoga and Meditation: Basics

Going back to basics. That is what meditation is all about. It is a state of consciousness that allows you to go beyond the limits of normal awareness. When you meditate, you focus the mind on one point and stifle all other thoughts. By stopping the waves of thoughts you understand your true nature and discover the wisdom and tranquillity that lies within you.

Meditation differs from deep sleep or relaxation in that it involves active mental effort rather than total rest. As well as relieving stress and replenishing energy, it can bring you physical, mental and spiritual peace. To achieve inner serenity, you must learn to quieten your mind and focus your mental energy inwards. If you meditate for half an hour daily, your thinking will become clearer and you will be able to face life with greater spiritual strength.

Do I have to adopt some special pose for meditation?

Yes. The ideal positions for meditation are the classic sitting postures, as these keep the prana, or vital energy, within your body. The Lotus, Half Lotus and Easy Pose are all suitable.

The ideal pose

Sit in one of the above mentioned meditation poses. Your head should be held straight and aligned with your back. Keep your spine and neck straight but not tense. Keep your eyes gently closed. Place your hands in a comfortable position. Form a circle with your thumb and index finger. Rest the backs of your wrists on your knees. You can also relax with your hands in your lap, palms upward, one on top of the other, or you may also clasp you hands gently and lay them in your lap as you meditate. Breathe quietly from your abdomen. Maintain a regular rhythm.

Focus all your attention and energy inward. Command your mind to be quiet. Begin by allowing your thoughts to wander, then select a focal point, such as an uplifting image, and concentrate on it. Bring your attention repeatedly back to the object of concentration so that you achieve an unbroken flow of thoughts. Initially, try to spend about half an hour every day in meditation.

Here's what you should remember before you begin meditation:

  • Set aside a special place for meditation - the atmosphere you build up will help still the mind.
  • Choose a time when your mind is free of everyday concerns - dawn and dusk are ideal.
  • Using the same place and time daily conditions the mind to slow down more quickly.
  • Sit with your back, neck and head in a straight line, facing north or east.
  • Instruct your mind to remain quiet for the duration of your meditation session.
  • Regulate your breathing. Start with five minutes - deep breathing, then slow it down.
  • Establish a rhythmic breathing pattern - inhaling then exhaling for about three seconds.
  • At first, let your mind wander - it will only grow more restless if you force it to concentrate.
  • Now bring the mind to rest on the focal point of your choice.
  • Hold your object of concentration at this focal point throughout your session.

Getting Fitter with Yoga

Did you know that yoga can actually enhance the benefits of your fitness plan? Yes, yoga is a good supplement to exercise. And if you thought that yoga was meant only for rishis and sadhus, you need to think again. There are several yoga exercises that act as a supplement to the whole process of exercising and preparation. Preparing yourself for exercise and training is equally important as the actual training. Yoga acts as a facilitator and works wonder for your warm-up and cool-down steps.

At the warm-up stage:

Yoga can be used as a means for increasing attention and concentration

It helps warm-up the muscles.

You can simultaneously improve your flexibility, body awareness, and self-control. Although these yoga exercises take only 2-3 minutes, you will find them very useful in reaching a more concentrated state. Through yoga, concentration becomes as much a part of the warm-up routine as your daily stretching. Like physical exercises, practicing concentration becomes a habit when done regularly and systematically.

Between training sessions:

Yoga is an excellent tool for relaxing and regenerating muscles between training sessions
Or when your body needs a short rest. It enables relaxation of the arteries and veins that transport blood to the heart and back which allows for a more effective workout.

These exercises produce calmness and a refreshing physical sensation that stimulates overall recovery.

At the cool down stage:

The process of regeneration is speeded up when yoga is combined with cooling exercises. The battery of yoga asanas speeds up the process of regeneration by applying pull, rotation, pressure, and the force of gravity.

This increases the flexibility, and elasticity of the leg muscles and ligaments.
In addition, yoga complements walking and running. Walking or running offer training benefits for a select group of muscles only. Prolonged practice of these results in a disbalance of muscles creating damage, loss and injuries. Doing Yoga as a supplemental exercise ensures a harmonious development of the body.

In racing, a synchronization of breathing with movement is very important. Yoga offers several exercises that regulate the movement with breathing for optimum effect. These asanas also give benefits such as rehabilitating the lower back, and prevention of pain and injury. Muscle stretching, increased flexibility and stamina are some other benefits you can get by practicing yoga.

Thus combining yoga with your exercise plan will go a long way in keeping both your mind and body fit and fine.

The Begining of a Yoga Session

To ensure that maximum benefit is obtained from yoga, rest in the Corpse Pose for at least five minutes before proceeding with a session. In between asanas it is essential that you relax, breathing deeply, so that the Corpse Pose is also held for a short time between poses, until you regain normal breath and heartbeat rate. After relaxing in the Corpse Pose, sit in the Easy Pose, Sukhasana, for pranayama and the neck, shoulder and eye exercises.

Sukhasana (The Easy Pose): It is a simple cross-legged position, often adopted naturally when sitting on the floor. In yoga, it is one of the basic positions used during meditation, breathing, and warm-ups. Sitting on the floor, bend your knees and clasping your arms around them, press them to your chest to make the spine erect. Now, release your arms and cross your legs, letting your knees drop down toward the floor, keeping your head and body straight. Sit upright and keep your spine straight so that it gives your body firm support. Place your hands so that they rest on your knees.

This asana is one of the classic meditative poses that help to straighten the spine, slow the metabolism and still the mind. If you find that holding the pose is uncomfortable, place a folded blanket under the back of your buttocks. In order to stretch the leg muscles evenly, be sure to alternate which leg you place on top in the posture. When you are ready, substitute the Half Lotus or Lotus at this point.

Neck and Shoulders Exercises: Practise each set of neck rolls 3 times, returning your head to the centre between exercises. Sit in the Easy Pose. In the first exercise, bend your neck forward slowly, hold for a few moments, then bend it back. In the second, tilt your head right, hold, then tilt it left. In the third, look over your right shoulder, hold, then look over your left. Finally, rotate your head thrice clockwise and anticlockwise. Now, raise your right shoulder, then drop it down. Repeat with the left. Lastly, raise both shoulders at once, then drop them down again.

Repeating these exercises eases tension, increases flexibility and tones your muscles. Do them slowly and keep your spine straight, your neck relaxed and your shoulders facing forward,

Eye Exercises: Move only your eyes in these exercises, taking care to relax them in between.

To begin, look up and then look down.

Open your eyes wide. Look from right to left, then from left to right, and finish by looking diagonally.

Move your eyes in circles. Start slowly, and increase speed. Do this movement five times in each direction.

To end, always "palm" your eyes. Close your eyes. Rub your palms together vigorously until they feel warm. Now cup them over your closed eyes, without pressing, for 30 seconds. The heat and darkness soothe and relax your eyes.
These exercises will strengthen your eye muscles, and help to prevent eyestrain and improve eyesight. Breathe normally while you are practising them.

Simhasana (The Lion Pose): Sit on your heels. Place your hands palms down on your knees, fingers splayed, and inhale through your nose. Now lean slightly forward and exhale forcefully through your mouth, making an "aaah" sound. At the same time, stretch your tongue out and down, stretch out your fingers and look up. Hold the pose for as long as you can, then close your mouth and inhale through the nose.

In Simhasana, circulation to the tongue and throat is increased, the voice is improved, and the face and throat muscles are made stronger. The asana also stimulates the eyes. Repeat four to six times.

The Four Forms of Yoga

There are four main paths of Yoga - Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga. Each of them is suited to a different temperament or approach to life. Each of them is briefly described below:

  • Karma Yoga or the Yoga of action is the path chosen primarily by those of an outgoing nature. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without thinking of the reward. By detaching yourself from the fruits of your actions and offering them to God, you learn to sublimate the ego. To achieve this, it is helpful to keep your mind focused by repeating a mantra while engaged in any activity.

  • Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, which appeases those who have an emotional nature. The Bhakti yogi is motivated chiefly by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of love. Through prayer, worship and ritual he surrenders himself to God, channellising and transmuting his emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Chanting or singing the praises of God form a substantial part of Bhakti Yoga.

  • Jnana Yoga is the Yoga of knowledge or wisdom. It is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta, the Jnana yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the the veil of ignorance. Before practising Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths -- for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realisation can become mere idle speculation.

  • Raja Yoga is the science of physical and mental control. Often called the royal road it offers a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy.

The Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga
Out of all the four forms, it is Raja Yoga that is practical to implement in modern life. It consists of eight limbs that are a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, ultimately leading the yogi to enlightenment. These eight limbs or disciplines are:
  • Yama: (Abstinences) Moral conduct, truthfulness, non-covetuousness.

  • Niyama: (Observances) of cleanliness contentment, self-discipline, study and self-surrender to God.

  • Asana: Right Postures.
  • Pranayama: (Breath control) Control of pran by regulating breathing processes of inspiration, expiration and retention of breath.

  • Dharna: (Concentration) Fixing the mind on one object at a place or point.

  • Pratyahar (Sense withdrawal) Turning the senses inward and withdrawing them from external objects.

  • Dhyana: (Contemplation) or meditation. Keeping the mind fixed exclusively on one object or idea for sometime without any interruption.

  • Samadhi: (Self-realisation) Super-conscious experience in trances where enlightenment or Union with self takes place. The first five steps are referred to as 'Bahiranga' (external) and the remaining three as 'Antaranga ' (internal). These eight steps of Raja Yoga will transform your being into a higher state where you will have absolute control over your mind and body.

Say Yes to a Swedish Massage

If you thought that a Swedish massage was something peculiar to Sweden then you were mistaken! It is known as Swedish massage not because it is a Swedish way of massaging but because a Swedish named Per Heinrik Link developed it.

What is a Swedish Massage?
A Swedish massage is a form of bodywork that makes use of specific movements and strokes on the body tissues and muscles in order to loosen the muscles. Here the rubbing is in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. Thus the primary aim of it is to soothe the tensed muscles and increase the flow of blood.

The Origin
This technique emerged in the late 18th century by Per Heinrik Link. He suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and travelled all over Europe seeking a cure. Ultimately he landed up in China where he learned the eastern techniques. He thus merged and combined the eastern practices with the western thoughts, specifically the gymnastic rehabilitative exercises to form this extraordinary massage.

It's techniques
Swedish massage strives to relax the tensed muscles by rubbing the deeper muscles and bones. Care has to be taken that rubbing is in the same direction as the return of blood to the heart. There are different kinds of strokes used that include:

1. Effleurage
This is generally given at the start of the session. It means "touching lightly" and the palms of both the hands usually give the strokes. However many a times the thumb, fingers and knuckles too are used. The stroke is given in the same direction as the return of blood to the heart. This stroke aims to relax the soft tissues, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It also helps the therapist know your body better so that he knows how to give the treatment.

2. Petrissage
This means "kneading" and in this stroke the muscles are kneaded, squeezed and rolled with the help of the hands, thumbs and fingers. This stroke aims at the deeper veins in the body and strives to increase the blood circulation in them so that the cells are rejuvenated.

3. Friction
Also called "rubbing", this is the strongest of all strokes. In it the pads of the thumbs and the fingers are used to stimulate the layers of tissue and rub them against one another. This stroke aims at increasing the blood flow and circulation so that the muscle fibers are realigned and get some nutrition. Thus this stroke breaks down the tissues that are scared and puts life back in the dead ones.

4. Tapotement
Tapotement means "tapping". The masseur cups his hands, fingers or the edge of the hand and pounds the body. Thus short, gentle but firm blows are given to the body. The main aim of this is to stimulate the circulation but when given for more than 10 seconds they assist in relaxing the body too.

5. Vibration
This involves "shaking" the body. The practitioner puts his hands on the body to shake them vigorously up and down. Vibration aims at stimulating the circulation and if done for a longer period at relaxing the body.

Benefits of a Swedish Massage

Though the primary aim of this massage is to relax the body, there are many other benefits too:
  • Improves the blood circulation in the body
  • Helps remove metabolic waste products
  • Helps get over muscle aches and pains
  • Stimulates the skin
  • Helps in getting over stress and fatigue
  • Improves the joint mobility
  • Improves the immune system
  • Helps fight insomnia
  • Leads to a feeling of general wellness.
Now that you know the benefits of this massage, just go for it.