A therapist skilled in Stone Massage will tell you that this kind of massage can take even the most stressed client into a deep state of relaxation. As the heated stones are glided over the skin, they become extensions of the therapist’s hands, until the client can no longer differentiate between the stone tools and the warm pressure of the therapist’s hands. I have had clients come to me with a load of stress, who leave the session feeling much clearer, yet grounded. In fact, several of my clients insist on having regular Stone Massage all year long, even in the hot summer months. For them, the nurturing heat of the stones allows them to reconnect with their inner self, while allowing them time and space to let go of all the unwanted stuff they hold on to.
Besides massaging with the heated stones, I use a variety of other techniques to provide a therapeutic effect for the client. I employ the benefits of long term application of heat by placing heated stones on specific areas of the body; ie. along the muscles surrounding the spine, including the trapezius muscles and down to the sacral area. This increases the amount of blood and lymph to the region, allowing the muscles to soften and relax, relieving muscle spasms, and opening the doors for me to work even deeper on the tension. Similarly, prolonged application of hot stones over the heart and lungs reduces blood pressure and encourages slower and deeper breathing. Another technique I use is tapping one hot stone onto another; the bottom stone placed flat against a targeted part of the body. This technique serves as a type of tapotement, in which clumps of muscle fibres can be separated and tense muscle can also be softened.
Often, I will choose to use a prolonged application of hot stones, followed by a brief application of cold stones. In fact, the use of both hot and cold stones is far more effective than using hot or cold separately. Short-term cold application is very effective in helping to rehabilitate injuries or increase range of motion, and reduce inflammation and pain. When cold is applied to the body, it tries to heat itself and return to homeostasis. The acceleration in the exchange of blood, lymph and digestive fluids stimulates a detoxification process and speeds up healing. That’s not to say that Stone Massage must always include a cold application, but it depends on the needs of the client. In the case of chronic constipation, the therapist can apply short term cold to stimulate the digestive secretions and increase peristaltic movement to release the blockage in the bowel. One simple and more comfortable way of applying cold is through the reflex points on the feet and hands.
Stone Massage has just recently been discovered within the last decade in the modern day spa and health industry. Yet, since the dawn of time, people have been drawn to the energies of stones. Many Shamans, medicine people, and spiritual healers from all over the world use stones and crystals in their healing ceremonies. Each color and type of stone reflects an energy and a purpose, providing a clearing and releasing effect on the person as it is being used. Stones have been used for healing purposes throughout history. Native Americans use heated stones in their sweat lodges. They also use a sun-heated stone on the belly of a woman when her menstrual period is painful. In Hawaii, the Kahunas use lava stones wrapped in Ki leaf in their healing treatments. In China the use of heated stones to relieve tired muscles dates back to before the Shan Dynasty (2000 -5000 BC). In Russia and Japan there is a tradition using black stones in their bath. They line the bottom of the bathtub with smooth hot stones and then lie down on them, soaking in the soothing warm energy that radiates from the stones (usually herbal extracts are added to the water).
The most commonly used stones in Stone Massage, and the ones which give warm penetrating heat, are the Basalt stones. The basalt stones are the most abundant of the volcanic rocks, especially plentiful in those regions that have undergone volcanic disturbance within recent times. They form downwind of the volcano, cool slowly, and crystallize again and again – causing their great density. It is this density that enables the basalt stones to hold a great amount of heat for a period of time. The very composition of the basalt stone is the earth’s crust, so as you may imagine, the stones are deeply grounding. Basalt is a mineral to help one through changes and to provide stability to one’s life. It can assist in diminishing the negative aspects of one’s character and be very useful in dissipating anger.
Marble stones are commonly used for cold application. Marble stone can take thousands, even millions of years to form, as the extreme temperature and pressure of the earth’s crust, mantle and core turn relatively soft limestone into an extremely hard metamorphic marble. Marble, then, has been created throughout the entire geological process, and holds immense periods of time and records of the evolution of life in its crystals. Marble reflects the energy of ancient spiritual knowledge and wisdom, and helps to access the “unused” powers of the mind.
It is in the effects of these tools that I, and my clients have found great satisfaction. The stones become my teachers and they do a lot of the work for me. It is my goal that each person who receives one of my Stone Massages will connect with the profound and healing power of nature.