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.
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.
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.
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.