Types of Massage

An introduction to energy healing at the spa

While most consider massages and facials to be the primary treatments available at the spa, various forms of energy healing are quickly gaining in popularity. Buzz words such as shiatsu and Reiki can often be found on the menu, or at the very least, in the bios of therapists across the country. These lesser known forms of bodywork are having a profound impact on the spa industry and the clients who receive these healing treatments.

Energy healing comes in many forms, each of them different in both aim and delivery. The main string that ties these modalities together is that they all aim to affect the energies that flow through everything in the world, including the human body. Throughout world history cultures have linked the idea of breath and life force into a single word. In Latin this universal energy is referred to as spiritus, pneuma in Greek, prana in Sanskrit, qi in Chinese, and ki in Japanese. Just as energy cannot be either created or destroyed in physics, qi is in a constant cycle and flow between a person and the environment. It is through this principle that a practitioner is able to help affect change within another’s body through the use of energy healing. Some forms are better suited to bring more qi into the body, while the primary goal of other systems is to directly influence the flow of qi within the various energetic systems of the body. No matter what the specific aim, energy healing leaves a client feeling deeply relaxed, balanced, and often times helps to relieve pain and tension.

Since energy healing is not specifically a form of massage, many modalities do not require licensing to be able to perform. As a result, most dedicated treatments are done fully clothed. However, massage schools offer some form of energy healing as a standard part of the curriculum so that the techniques can be easily integrated into a normal massage treatment.

There are a vast number of energy healing methods available today from cultures across the globe, where people have been developing techniques to manipulate these forces for millennia. However, the following is a short list of styles that are common within the spa industry.

Reiki is a Japanese form of energy healing that has become quite popular in the spa industry in recent years. The Reiki practitioner directs “universal life force energy,” also known as ki in Japanese, through their hands and into the body of the client. A dedicated Reiki treatment can involve some light pressure but much of the treatment is done with the hands raised a few inches above the body.

Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage that means “finger pressure.” The therapist aims to balance the meridian system, the same energy system used in acupuncture, through significant static pressure, vibration, stretches, massage, and other techniques. This is a very hands-on style of energy based massage and is typically very energizing.

Qi Gong is a Chinese form of energy healing that has been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. The practitioner directs qi, or energy, through the body’s meridians to help correct imbalances and heal various medical problems. The practitioner’s hands are typically not touching the client’s body during a Qi Gong treatment.

Reflexology is a hands-on treatment where the therapist uses pressure on specific zones of the hands, feet, or ears that correspond to other areas of the body, such as the back, head, or organs. When the zones are massaged, the qi moves through to the targeted areas to promote healing.

Acupressure is derived from the same Traditional Chinese ideas as acupuncture but it does not involve the use of needles. Pressure is placed on specific meridian points on the body to balance the meridians and relieve specific symptoms in a way similar to acupuncture.

These systems aim to profound transformations through methods that are more subtle than what is typically found in a spa atmosphere. When paired with massage, energy healing can facilitate a deeper sense of relaxation and well-being than you may have ever experienced before.

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  3. Anne Martin says:

    Very glad for your report on energy modalities. However, a bit of a correction: while holding Reiki attuned hands above the body certainly works, (the energy goes through casts and, with Reiki II training can be sent over distances), in traditioanl Reiki, the Usui method, the method is taught as hands-on, and not above the body, as your report said.

    Thanks for your good work,
    Anne Martin, CIDESCO Diplomate, Reiki Master

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  5. I have been fortunate enough to become a Reiki practioner and an Acutonics soundscapes practioner. It has taken off quite well, and keeps my facial practice more interesting. I am glad to see that pressure points and energy work are finding a place in the Day Spa
    Thank you for the article.

  6. Leah Caso lmbt#12815 says:

    I work at a spa and I have realized once I get into my groove and connect with the client’s energy (if I am able) I am automatically tapping into some force. Both myself and the client have noticed my hands becoming extremely hot. I find the more easily I can connect the more intense the energy exchange. I feel it is important that if this should happen with others that we realize what is occurring and take the proper measure to give good healing energy. If we are not aware we may impart negative energy also we need to be grounded and able to give the energy taken back so we aren’t harmed energetically. I came from a medical arts massage school and while we touched on these subjects I think it should be a part of every massage school’s curriculum. Thanks for the thought provoking read!

  7. Great article. As Kirien Withers and Susie Ellis – trend spotters of the spa & beauty industry – say, the industry has been turning towards energetic treatments over the past 10 years. I was just missing Crystal Treatments here.
    JOYA has been in the forefront of this revolution combining the relaxation of massage with the energetic balance of crystals in their unique JOYA Crystal Massage Rollers since 2004.

    The use of crystals has existed for thousands of years in many ancient cultures as a natural part of medicine and we now have the scientific prove that when the electromagnetic field of a crystal comes into contact with our electromagnetic field it influences:
    + the energy flow through the meridians
    + activity of the chakras
    + stimulation of electrical nerve impulses
    + activity of the hormonal glands
    + metabolism of cells, tissue and organs.

    Not only physical parts of the body are stimulated but also corresponding emotional, mental and spiritual planes – making crystal healing a holistic science.

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