If you haven’t experienced it, you may have seen images of massage people lying face down with basalt lava rocks on their backs and thought, what is that? It’s called hot stone massage and it is an additional technique massage therapists use to aid in relaxation, pain, and muscle relief, and improve circulation in their clients. In addition, the rocks can create, for the client, a spiritual, grounded connection to the ocean and the environment.
Hot Stone Massage
The origins of Hot Stone Massage are rooted in Egyptian, Shaman, and American Indian traditions, with a long history of physical and spiritual healing properties. Introduced to North American massage therapists in the 1990s, today’s application has massage therapists positioning warmed, sanitized stones on key parts of the client’s body where therapeutic benefit is needed. The rocks are high in iron, which helps to rocks stay warm. Though techniques may vary from therapist to therapist, generally the stones are heated to 130 degrees F. and placed on the body. The massage therapist lightly rubs the stones into the muscles and tissues for greater healing.
Hot Stone Therapy can enhance the massage experience for a multitude of different populations, including those individuals suffering from chronic, painful conditions like fibromyalgia, is also helpful in relieving muscle restrictions after orthopedic surgery, and other sports-related injuries. As with any type of massage, individuals who have chronic conditions should consult with a doctor before trying hot stone massage therapy.
Lexington Healing Arts Academy offers a 20 hour continuing education workshop on hot stone massage therapy where participants will gain perspective regarding the use of hot stones in ancient and Native American cultures, the energetic properties of basalt stones, and the preparation, care and cleaning of the stones. They’ll also receive hands-on-training that will prepare them to safely and properly perform both Swedish and deep tissue massage using hot stones. For more information, click here.
Stress isn’t just an unpleasant feeling we experience when we’re overwhelmed, dissatisfied or fearful. Stress can actually contribute to a decline in physical health. When someone experiences stress, their hypothalamus (master gland of the endocrine system) releases a hormone called cortisol, which is something we all need for the “fight or flight” response. Cortisol is also responsible for regulating the body’s immune system. When there is too much cortisol in the blood, it can actually suppress the body’s immune system, leaving it vulnerable to disease.
When it comes to destressing, Palmer says focusing on the slower, more relaxing aspects of yoga is the way to go.
“Although a strong, heated vinyasa practice is an essential part of the limbering process and a crucial part of working synergistically with the systems of the body during winter, it is also important to recognise that the slower, more relaxing aspect of yoga supports immunity, particularly where high levels of stress are a factor in day-to-day life,” writes Palmer. “When the nervous system is relaxed, the immune system has a greater chance of attacking bacteria and viruses.”
To learn more about the specific benefits of winter yoga practice, read the full article from Australian Natural Health here.
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