by Andrea Sparks
There's hardly anything better than a massage, and being able to give a great massage is almost as rewarding as receiving one, plus there's the added benefit of being able to enjoy massage in the privacy of your own home. With the following tips and a few massage tools, you can learn how to turn a good massage into an incredible massage, just in time to surprise your loved one with a little relaxation after a stressful day at work or a romantic evening in.
Set the scene: The perfect massage requires a perfectly calming environment. Dim the lights or light some candles for soothing lighting to help your subject relax. Make sure the room is warm, especially if your subject plans on undressing; no one can relax when they shiver. Turn on some soothing music or nature sounds, but keep the sound low so as not to distract from the massage itself. Aromatherapy helps set the mood by tapping deep into the senses. Try some aroma therapy candles or essential oils in a diffuser. Lavender, chamomile, bergamot, sandalwood and mandarin scents all trigger relaxation and are the best to use for aromatherapy during a massage.
Oil it up: If you've never tried to incorporate oils in your massage, now is your time to give it a shot. Massage oils feel great when warmed up just beforehand, and they keep your subject's skin from getting pulled or rolled under your hands. Massage oils are great for the skin too. Popular massage oils, such as coconut or grapeseed oil, act as natural skin conditioners and can even be left on the skin to soak in after a massage. Many massage oils are scented for the added benefit of aromatherapy.
Keep in contact: Ninety percent of massage is tapping into the therapeutic experience of basic human touch. Try to keep both hands in contact with your subject's body the whole time. They'll love the continual contact, and with two hands to work with, you won't wear out as quickly. If you choose to use massage tools, such as hand-held massagers, hot stones and bolsters, the same rule applies: Keep both hands working on maintaining continual contact.
Slow it down: Don't feel as if you should complicate your method with dramatic flair or by faking some crazy chopping technique you vaguely remember from a movie. The best massages use long, slow strokes of even pressure. If there is one thing you want to invest in a massage, it's time. Relaxing the deep tissues of the body isn't a quick job.
Go with the flow: Pay attention to each stroke, keeping a continual flow as you slowly transition from one area of the body to the next: the neck, the upper back, the arms, the lower back and the legs. Give each area the time it deserves and respond appropriately to how your subject guides you.