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What is Balinese Massage?

By Jennifer Flaten
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Balinese massage is one form of traditional Indonesian massage. Originating on the island of Bali, this massage involves a combination of techniques, including massage, acupressure, reflexology, and aromatherapy into one session. Often used for relaxation, this type of massage can also help loosen muscles and ease pain.

Massage Techniques

This style of massage combines influences from a number of different cultures, including China and India. In particular, it is often linked to Ayurveda, an Indian holistic medical system which emphasizes bringing the body into balance. One of the main goals of the Balinese massage is a relaxed state of mind; to accomplish this, the masseuse may knead or fold the skin to promote the flow of blood, oxygen, and energy throughout the body.

Balinese is a form of deep massage and is designed to work almost every muscle in the body. The masseuse will use a variety techniques, including acupressure movements, such as press point and palm pressure, and standard massage techniques like sliding, long exploration, short exploration, and kneading. This massage is not a delicate one, and can typically be felt deep in the muscles; spa versions of this massage may be more gentle and more focused on relaxation.

Acupressure

One element of a Balinese massage is acupressure, in which firm pressure is applied to specific points on the body. This pressure helps to relax the muscles, and is believed to stimulate the body's ability to heal itself. Acupressure also may help promote blood flow, relieve pain, and relax tension.

Reflexology

Similar to acupressure, reflexology involves putting pressure on certain parts of the body — specifically, the feet, hands, and ears. These body parts are believed to have points that correspond to various organs and body systems; by applying pressure to these reflex points, problems with those organs or a person's general health may be addressed. The masseuse works on a client from both the outside in and the inside out.

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Essential oils are a key part of a Balinese massage. These oils are usually strongly scented, and they serve both to help relax the muscles and soothe the mind. A variety of oils are used; common scents are jasmine, rose, and sandalwood, while more exotic oils may include cempaka, sandat, and frangipani. The oils are used to promote relaxation and to relieve stress. To address a specific complaint, the masseuse may use a warm oil with an infusion of lemon grass, cloves, or ginger.

Preparing for a Massage

When getting a Balinese massage, a person should be prepared for a dynamic, sensory experience. He or she will typically be asked to remove most or all clothing, and lie down on a mat or massage table. The massage is very deep, and may last an hour or more. The body will be stretched and kneaded, and pressure placed on acupressure and reflexology points. Oils will be massaged into the body, so a shower is usually required once the massage is complete.

Benefits of the Massage

The combination of massage, acupressure, and reflexology allows the Balinese massage to bring a release to deeply tense and knotted muscles. The massage works especially well on achy joints and muscle strains, and it is often recommended after sports injuries. It has been reported to ease migraines, sleep disorders, and breathing problems. Many people find that the techniques are good for reducing stress and anxiety, and boosting a person's general sense of well-being.

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Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Jan 19, 2013

Which part do you guys think is the best part of Balinese spa massage?

I really like acupressure and the Ayurvedic elements. Acupressure feels like it's healing me and so does the medicinal oils used during the massage.

By serenesurface — On Jan 19, 2013

@fify-- Actually that's normal. Whenever deep tissue massage is involved, there's bound to be some soreness afterward. Getting enough rest and drinking lots of water for a few days should resolve it.

By fify — On Jan 18, 2013

I had a Balinese massage last summer. It was really great, very relaxing. My reason for getting it was because I have a herniated disc in my back. I know herniated discs have to do with too much pressure accumulation and stress. So I wanted a massage that concentrates both on muscle relaxation and mind relaxation.

I got the Balinese massage at a resort in Indonesia. It lasted one hour. It felt really good. I came out of the massage in a sort of trance and it felt like a bunch of weights had been lifted off of me.

The only problem was that the following week, I was extremely sore. The results of the deep tissue massage really kicked in the next day. I woke up sore, tired and slightly in pain as well. It took me like a week to recuperate.

I think I would like to get Balinese massage again in the future, but I might ask them to skip the deep tissue part or be more easy on me.

By honeybees — On Oct 24, 2012

I wouldn't mind having some aromatherapy when I get a massage, but a Balinese massage sounds like something that would be too rough for me. I would have a hard time having a relaxed state of mind if felt like the massage was too rough.

I don't even like it if someone rubs my shoulders too hard, so don't think I would like a deep massage like this over my entire body.

By myharley — On Oct 24, 2012

I am most interested in the acupressure and essential oils that they use with this type of massage. I am wondering how you find someone that will give a Balinese massage. This is something I have never heard of before and wonder what would be the best way to go about finding a place to have a massage like this.

I have had therapeutic massages that focus on deep tissue work but they never used any essential oils or acupressure, and I never had to take a shower after the massage. I know some people see a massage as just a relaxing treat, but I think many massages have a lot of health benefits that go along with them as well.

By Mykol — On Oct 23, 2012

Wow, this sounds like the kind of massage I need. I get such tight, sore muscles and find that I have a hard time relaxing. I have not had very many massages, but haven't felt that much different afterward. I am looking for a massage that will really make me feel relaxed, yet revived at the same time.

By John57 — On Oct 22, 2012

@anon152140-- I think a good massage therapist will tailor the massage to their client and whatever particular issues they may be having at that time. Once when I was getting a massage, she was doing reflexology on my feet and asked me if I was having any bladder problems.

I had not told her before the massage that I was currently taking antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. I was simply amazed that she was able to tell this just by working on my feet.

Once she knew this, she was then able to customize my massage to work on the parts of my body that would help with that infection. I don't know if every massage therapist is trained this way, or would pick up on this, but a good massage therapist should be able to.

By anon152140 — On Feb 13, 2011

Dudla, Massage Therapists learn a guideline sequence for various types of massage but they are rarely set in stone. All massage therapists use techniques and rhythms unique to their own style and this is a good thing!

By precious18 — On May 18, 2009

i am a massage therapist... and i say balinese is good because it's like all the types of massage are packed into one...the scent of the ols brings effect to the body, mind, and spirit as well:)

By dudla — On Aug 19, 2008

When I get a massage they offer scented, room temperature oils. But, I don't think it was a Balinese massage. It was just a regular old massage! :) Not a Swedish massage, not a Shiatsu massage, not a Deep Tissue massage. I guess some masseuses infuse a bunch of aspects of different massage styles into one to create their own unique massage!

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