The art of massage as we know it today has evolved seamlessly throughout the centuries. It has been given different names and techniques have been added or improved, but much of the practice is performed the exact same way that it was all those centuries ago. Eastern civilizations were the first to realize what a powerful impact the power of touch could have on the human body. They found that through relaxation techniques and the manipulation of the muscles they could cure and prevent all illnesses, relieve pain, and even heal injuries. Massage as it was first practiced was regarded as a form of medicine, a way to heal the body. As different cultures adopted the practice, some chose to turn it into a form of playtime, and the world began to see different forms, like tantric massage and erotic massage forming. In modern ages, both types of massage are still practiced, healing and sensual massage, and in many ways they are still the same type.
Experts and historians believe that massage first emerged in the world in India around 3000 B.C.E., and some even believe that it was around for much longer before any records were made of the healing art. The holistic medical practice used by native Indians is called Ayurveda, and was believed to have been passed down by the gods. Through meditation, experiments, and studies, practitioners came up with the basis for the system that is still used to day. One aspect of Ayurveda was the art of massage. Archaeologists have found ancient texts that outline all the principles and practices of Ayurveda, and believe that they were written around 1500 B.C.E. These scrolls prove that at the time, massage was being practiced throughout all of India and most of Southeast Asia.
According the Ayurvedic belief, any illness of the body is simply a sign that the ailing person is not living in harmony with their surroundings and their energy sources. The only cure is to regain a balance with nature and their surrounding environment. Once their internal energies are balanced, their bodies will begin the healing process automatically. Ayurveda makes use of sound therapy, color therapy, aromatherapy, herbalism, diet, and most importantly, touch therapy, or the art of massage.
Alongside India, some of the first records that we have of massage practices were found in China and Egypt. There are paintings in Egypt on the tombs of Pharaohs that show people being massaged and kneaded by other people. There are even depictions of some of the more sensual forms, such as tantric massage and erotic massage. Egyptians were actually the people who came up with the variation of massage called reflexology, in which a practitioner will apply pressure to a few specific reflex triggers on both the hands and the feet. The practice is based on the belief that all internal areas of the body are interconnected, a belief that has been backed up by modern research, in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Massage therapists would apply pressure to these pressure points and the recipient of the reflexology massage would feel improvements in the parts of his body associated with that specific pressure point. It was truly an innovative system, and was even used for sensual massage practices.
In Chinese culture, historians believe that massage was in use as early as 2700 BCE. Chinese massage techniques were derived from a variety of different sources. Traditional doctors and herbologists would prescribe massage as a form of healing, while martial arts practitioners and students of yoga would make use of the practice to develop their inner energies and become more in tune with their essential inner self. Taoists and Buddhists believed that any yoga practice would benefit greatly from the use of touch, and touch perception. There were also laymen in ancient China who would offer massage sessions for relaxation, and this is actually one of the oldest known records of tantra massage.
Chinese beliefs in illness and healing are actually very similar to the Indian Ayurvedic thought, although there are some differences, mostly in the terminology used and the actual practice of healing. They thought that every disease or physical illness was from either an imbalance or a deficiency in the energies that flow through pathways in the body. In Chinese medicine these pathways are called meridians, and they are representative of different physiological systems. Bodywork techniques such as massage are believed to clear any blockages, so to speak, in these pathways, allowing energy to flow more freely through the meridians, and at this point the body will begin to naturally heal itself of any illness. This is surprisingly similar to the Ayurvedic practice commonly used in India around the same time period, and even to the reflexology practice that was used in Egypt, that believed in the interconnectedness of the human body. To this day, many Chinese massage therapists will supplement the massage session with various aromatherapy and acupuncture techniques, as well as various herbal remedies. There are practitioners in U.S. cities even today that will do the same. Miami, Dallas, Las Vegas, Washington DC, and Atlanta; all these cities offer traditional Chinese massages, as well as erotic massage sessions and sensual massages.
As the world continued to turn, day after day, year after year, massage began to find its way even farther west, and the Greeks began to adopt the healing and relaxing practice sometime between 800 and 700 BCE. The art was mainly used by the athletes of Greece, who used massage practices to maintain the best physical condition they could before an event or competition took place. Greek physicians began to incorporate the use of oils and various herbs in the massages, which they believed would treat medical ailments. Skin is the largest organ of the body, and by rubbing herbs or oils into it, the healing properties of those herbs and oils will be absorbed into the body. Women began to use oils like this, albeit for an entirely different reason. They would apply the oils to their skin to make the skin glow and become more beautiful. By the time 500 BCE came around, the practice was in wide use. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, prescribed massage in the form of friction for the faster healing of injuries. His famous combination for perfect health incorporated music, fresh air, rest, exercise, proper diet, and massage to keep the body in the peak of its physical condition. Many European cities such as Paris and London still make use of this advice, as well as the Canadian cities of Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
Several centuries later, massage first appeared in the great city of Rome, a city known for its adoption of the practices of the many cultures it had vanquished. A physician named Galen, who commonly treated emperors, began to incorporate massage into his healing practices. He used it for the effective treatment of various kinds of diseases and physical injuries. Galen was a believer in the teachings of Hippocrates, and strongly advocated rest, exercise, a balanced diet, and frequent massage as the most important aspects of perfect health. As the knowledge of this healing practice spread through the city, personal physicians began to treat their wealthy patients in their own homes. About this time though, massage began to appear in the famous Roman baths. Recipients of the massage would bathe first in the steaming waters, and then they would receive a massage over their entire body, which would loosen their joints and stimulate circulation of the blood. Most of these massages made use of oils for better and healthier skin. This setting extremely popularized the erotic massage, and the baths soon garnered a reputation for being dens of pleasure and excess, rather than the places of healing they first aspired to be. Sensual massages were extremely common, as were more elaborate tantric massage sessions. This was a widely accepted practice for hundreds of years in the great city, until, in the fourth century CE, Emperor Constantine put a stop to the party by condemning the public bath houses. He had them shut down as dens of iniquity that were responsible for the rising abuse of sex found in Rome at the time.
After this point, massage therapists saw a decline in the previously widespread use of their art. During these periods, scientists and doctors were more motivated by the possible implications that pharmacology and medical technology could offer. Modern medicine gradually began to experience a shift in the underlying foundation. All of the ancient practices of touch healing faded from the radar and were, for the most part, forgotten. Starting in the 1600’s in Europe, some physicians began to study and observe the art of massage once again, and became intrigued by the apparent way that it would heal and relax a patient. There are documents recording the observation of massage practices from the mid 1600’s up through the 1800’s. The early 1800’s saw a surge in the popularity of healing massage when a Swedish physician developed a system of physiology mixed with gymnastics. It was called the Swedish Gymnastic Movement System. Some of the techniques that were used by this system included squeezing, pressing, and stroking to bring about the relief of physical pain symptoms. Massage was back on the rise. Some cities like Chicago, Manhattan, San Diego, Houston, and Boston still use practices very similar to the system that was used in Sweden at this time. Massage therapists are usually trained in all the techniques of squeezing and stroking.
As the 20th century dawned, natural healers in the United States began practicing massage much more frequently. World War I soldiers who maintained some sort of shell shock or nerve damage from the war were especially grateful for the resurgence of massage practices. Despite the amazing recovery seen in the war-damaged patients, massage could never quite breakthrough into modern medicine, which by this time was completely dominated by the pharmacological thought of healing. In the first half of the century, it was mostly used by the wealthy, or by massage parlors that had massage therapists who specialized in the act of erotic massage. As the century moved into its second half, particularly as the 1960’s came around, natural methods of healing began to grow in popularity, especially out West in places like San Francisco. This saw a huge rise in the popularity of massage for everyone, not just the wealthy, and the healing associated with it began to be recognized once more. Today, there are any number of massage techniques practiced both in the United States and the rest of the world, even as far as Tokyo. Massage therapists incorporate our knowledge of the ancient techniques along with newly discovered techniques for a truly relaxing experience.
Our knowledge about massages know no bounds as we continue to learn more from erotic review and massage review as shared by persons who experienced it personally. Just like knowledge our passion to experience different types of soul-satisfying massages never recede.