FROM CHAPTER 1
Origins of Hot Stone Massage
HOT STONE MASSAGE HAS ITS ORIGINS in Hawaii, where it is called Pohaku (rock/stone) Wai (water) Ola (life, health, being healthy). Since ancient times, the people of Hawaii have used this type of stone therapy for physical and spiritual healing. The island inhabitants developed a very effective massage in which the smooth volcanic rocks were used as tools. Massage with heated stones loosens muscles and tensions, stimulates in a pleasant way the circulation and warmth distribution in the body, and calms the soul. This knowledge is based on ancient experiences and is thus also found in the natural healing art of many other native peoples. The wellness massage with hot stones is equally liked by therapists and clients because it makes the work easier for masseurs and allows the person being treated to feel the relaxing and vitalizing effects of the stones from the very first moment.
Hot stone massage deliberately uses primarily gentle and comfortable stimulations. For this reason, cold stones are usually not used, since the massage avoids very strong contrast. In his German book Aurum Naus the well-known masseur Ricky Welch nicely formulates the stimulation law of massage:
The Stimulation Law of Massage
Gentle stimulation stimulates.
Stronger stimulation increases vitality.
Strong stimulation blocks.
Strongest stimulation harms.
Remember: be stingy with stimulation!
This “stimulation law” of course also applies to massage with hot stones. We thus want to emphasize that a key part of this massage is about proceeding carefully and with empathy. Sometimes less is more!
Hot stone massage has a broad application spectrum with a range of effects. It is based on a comprehensive activation of body processes, and there is almost no aspect of the organism that is not affected by this type of massage. Its most important application areas are:
• Improvement of circulation
• Strengthening of lymph flow
• Improvement of soft tissue metabolism
• Removal of toxins
• Resolving muscle tensions
• Relieving joint problems, back pain, and sore muscles
• Calming effect
• Alleviating tension caused by stress and its effects (for example headaches, insomnia, digestion problems)
• Strengthening the immune system
This short list shows the main points of the massage, not the entirety of its possibilities. The combination of the deep power of the stones, the warmth treatment, and the massage calms, relaxes, and increases the metabolism of the tissue. This benefits especially those types of tissue that usually have a slow metabolism--for example, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. At the same time, the flexibility of these structures and the mobility of the joints increase. The treatment itself causes the blood vessels to dilate and thus leads to improved circulation, in turn leading to improved oxygen and nutrient, antibody, and protective cell supply for tissues. The lymph flow and the immune system are stimulated and the removal of toxins is increased. Muscle tensions are released and pain alleviated. Moreover, remarkable effects have been observed among people that suffer from chronically cold hands and feet. This is due to the positive influence of this application on our energy distribution system, which we know as the “Triple Warmer” from Chinese medicine. On the spiritual, mental, and soul level, hot stone massage encourages the resolution of energetic blockages and causes a deep letting-go and relaxing. Nerves that are sensitive to the touch are stimulated on a large area, the nervous system is soothed, and the traces that stress leaves on our body are washed away.
FROM CHAPTER 4
Body Massage--Lying on the Back
IN A TRADITIONAL HAWAIIAN hot stone massage, the black basalt stones are warmed in water or a heater to a temperature of 50 to 60 degrees Celsius. At first, the stones are placed on the body only to thoroughly warm it. Placing the stones on the energy centers of the hands, feet, forehead, neck, solar plexus, stomach, and abdomen causes the inherent powers of the stones to develop fully. This type of whole body massage is very intensive because both the physical pressure of the stones as well as their energy take effect immediately. The feeling of warm and oily stones on the skin is very pleasurable.
The massage itself follows this placing of the stones. Let the stones glide over the body as described in the following sections, sometimes with a light and soft touch, sometimes with more pressure. All massage treatments should be given generously and slowly. Each individual stone, each individual movement should be clearly identifiable. To amplify the deep effect of the stones, you can knock or vibrate the stones during the massage to further release their warmth. This helps to gradually release blockages so the body’s energy can once again flow freely.
Choose two stones of a suitable size, apply oil to them, and place them within easy reach. Stroke the leg with your hands, beginning at the ankle, before repeating the strokes with the stones. Then begin massaging the lower leg from the ankle along the calf up to the knee with gentle circling movements and then return back to the ankle. Repeat this three times, making sure that the circles are always oriented inward. Then massage to the left and right of the kneecap with circling movements and continue up to the thigh, which is also massaged with gentle circling movements that are oriented toward the inside. Make three paths--along the middle, the inside, and the outside--and repeat this three times. Conclude with strokes using the stones that end at the ankle. Massage the ankle placing the stone perpendicular, and then use the stone to massage the sole of the foot. Place the stone perpendicular and use small circles to massage the foot beneath the toes before moving the stone along the length of the foot. Now put the stones to the side and conclude the massage with strokes of your hand across the whole leg. Then switch sides and massage the other leg in the same sequence.