Relaxation

Sweetheart Chocolate Massage

Sweetheart Chocolate Massage

 

Although we at Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole don’t offer chocolate massage, here’s a superb article, thanks to Yogawiz.com, that allows you, finally, to indulge in (literally) chocolate – especially for Valentines Day …and other days:

While there is no doubt that chocolate is the best pick-me-up around, it has always got a bad rap for being full of calories and fat. Chocolate has also been considered one of the culprits for bad skin as too much consumption can lead to acne and skin blemishes.

 

Of late though, the view on chocolate for the skin has taken an about turn. High-end spas all around the world have introduced the latest in skin care – chocolate spa treatments! From soothing chocolate massages and body wraps to indulgent chocolate facials and invigorating chocolate body scrubs, suddenly chocolate is everywhere. Using cocoa-based creams, lotions, and oils, you can now choose to get your chocolate fix without the calories.

 

Some of the benefits of chocolate body treatments include:

  • Firms the skin – The caffeine present in chocolate stimulates the circulation and improves blood flow. This in turn improves and invigorates skin cells, decreases the aging process and increases firmness of the skin.
  • Rich in anti-oxidants – The darker the chocolate, the more powerful are the antioxidant properties. It is also important that you choose your creams and lotions carefully before you begin using them. Products that contain more than 35% of pure cocoa are more effective when it comes to revitalizing the skin and giving it a plumper and firmer feel. Antioxidants also help increase the level of collagen and elastin in the skin and thereby reduce the effects of aging. Fine lines and wrinkles can be treated with regular chocolate treatments as antioxidants lessen the damage caused by free radicals in the body.
  • As a moisturizing agent – Cocoa butter contains high amounts of natural oils and emollients necessary for treating dry, rough and flaky skin. A chocolate massage or chocolate body wrap using a cocoa-butter based massage cream will help remedy rough skin especially on those stubborn spots such as the elbows, knees and feet. The higher the percentage of cocoa butter in the lotion or cream, the better moisturized the skin stays long after the treatment is over.
  • Good for health – Studies have shown that eating a small bit of dark chocolate every day can improve your cardiovascular system, and help prevent atherosclerosis and chronic fatigue due to its antioxidant properties. Chocolate also has the power to improve a person’s mood and cause feelings of euphoria. Even the smell of chocolate can accomplish this positive effect on the brain; making chocolate massages an ideal way reap the health benefits of without any of the guilt associated with eating too much chocolate.
  • Good for cellulite – Chocolate contains theobromine that helps burn fat and get rid of cellulite. A chocolate massage or chocolate body wrap helps work the chocolate-based lotion or oil into the skin for the best results.
  • Calming effects – Who hasn’t calmed down after biting into a chunk of chocolate? In much the same way, a chocolate massage helps reduce stress and tension and eases tight and sore muscles.

 

You can also make your own chocolate massage lotion at home in a few simple steps:

  1. Mix together a quarter cup of cocoa powder with one cup of shea butter and a quarter cup of chamomile oil. You can use a blender for this to get a nice smooth consistency.
  2. Mix till the lotion is smooth and free of lumps. If you would like it thinner, add some more oil. If you prefer a thicker cream, add some more shea butter. Make sure that the shea butter is at room temperature for the best results.
  3. Pour this lotion into a jar with a tight lid and store in a cool dark place.
  4. Use to massage into the skin or as a moisturizer. It is gentle enough for everyday use.

 

 

Thanks also to Everyday Health for this wonderful chocolate massage post.

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle

 

The Relaxation Response

The Relaxation Response

Image showing inhale and exhale

Does your massage therapist ever help you achieve complete exhalation of breath by compressing your chest while lying prone (face-down)? Doesn’t that feel extra wonderful? Why is that?

The key benefit of most types of massage (with the exception of some sports and training massages) is relaxation. The out-breath is a natural state of relaxation and creates the subconscious relaxation response. This is the body’s rejuvenation time and the National Institute of Health recognizes it as having broad health benefits, including reduction of pain and restoration of sleep. Along with quality of touch and certain Swedish massage techniques, the out-breath assists in bringing about the parasympathetic response of the autonomic nervous system – rest and digest. We simply don’t do enough attentive breathing (or massage) in these high-stress times, as relaxation is the antidote to stress.

 

Think of it literally – the breath is inspiration and expiration – and you will see the Latin root of the word ‘spirit’.  Our very spirit is inherent in our breathing. Meditation is breathing, relaxation & yoga is all about breathing and  the advice to ‘Take ten deep breaths’ to calm someone down is wise and effective indeed.

 

The relaxation response can increase energy, decrease fatigue and blood pressure, increase motivation, productivity, sex-drive and decision-making ability. Many self-taught relaxation response techniques are available online, but if you’d rather leave that up to someone else, a really great massage could be indicated.

Image showing relax button

Your massage therapist should be encouraging you to breathe throughout the session, especially if complete relaxation is the goal. Then again, a more aggressive deep massage will often require ‘breathing into’ the pain of working out a knotted muscle or cross-fiber-stroking a tender muscle tendon needing to be stretched. If using range-of-motion enhancement techniques, a deep breath will often be taken before a good exhale  at which time the therapist will take the limb beyond its previous tolerance.

Image showing relaxation book

For great advice on self-help breathing and stress-reduction techniques, visit http://www.mindtools.com/smpage.html