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Oriental massage

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on February 22, 2008
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Etymologically speaking, massage comes from the Arab word mass, which means knead, massage and press. No wonder that massage has roots in the Maghreb (North Africa). Over there it is more than just a ritual: it’s an institution. Every week Arab men and women go to hammams (Turkish steam baths) to cleanse their bodies and minds and to relax.

Etymologically speaking, massage comes from the Arab word mass, which means knead, massage and press. No wonder that massage has roots in the Maghreb (North Africa). Over there it is more than just a ritual: it’s an institution. Every week Arab men and women go to hammams (Turkish steam baths) to cleanse their bodies and minds and to relax.

Origins

The development of hammams and massage in the Maghreb is attributed to the prophet Mohammed and originated in the 7th century. After discovering steam baths and massage from his neighbours, the Greeks and the Romans, he was immediately taken by their purifying powers on the body and mind. He incorporated them into religious practice and encouraged the construction of hammams as extensions to mosques. Later on, in the 11th century, Avicenna, a prominent Iranian philosopher and physician, wrote about the benefits of massage, stressing that it was intended to "dispel harmful substances in muscles that are not eliminated by physical exercise."

Practice
All oriental massage is preceded by a session at the hammam that lasts for around 20 minutes. Steam baths take place in an enclosed space with simple refined Arab decor. Sometimes essential pine or eucalyptus oils are used. Steam baths are hot and humid, and this relaxes muscles, eliminates toxins, opens up pores and relaxes the whole body and mind. The hammam is an important part of the process as it helps to prepare you for the massage.
After a few minutes of rest after the hammam, the massage begins. It is carried out on bare skin using hot argan oil.
Oriental massage is performed from the head to the feet, following the layout of the muscles. It alternates malaxing, kneading and smoothing movements. The masseur's expert hands detect knots and muscular tension, and focus on painful areas, especially the back. The masseur also works around the stomach, drawing circles in a clockwise direction. He pays special attention to the solar plexus and applies pressure to the rib cage.
The session usually ends with a few minutes of relaxation and a refreshing cup of mint tea.

Benefits

- The techniques used in this massage help eliminate toxins and relax muscles, promoting overall wellbeing.
- The argan oil used is very rich in essential fatty acids, Vitamin E and polyphenols. It enhances cell functions and nourishes the skin, leaving it soft and silky.
- Antioxidants in mint tea drain toxins released during the massage and add to the regenerating effect!

by Sarah Horrocks
Jouez et gagnez une eau de parfum La vie est Belle !
J'en profite !