Hara Massage (Ampuku) : Japanese Belly (Internal Organ) Massage!

Excerpts Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, August/September 2001.

We recognize the importance of good beginnings and a solid ground. To ensure the best results, it is always worthwhile to establish a firm and developed foundation. Without deep, well-established roots, a plant is weak and growth will be stunted. In the human body, the hara is our home. Home is a reference point.

What is the Hara?

Hara is a Japanese word meaning “belly”. But its cultural connotations go far beyond a mere anatomical location.  Hara is our centre.  To have “hara” or to act with “hara” has the implication of strength, purpose, groundedness and presence.  All oriental arts from martial arts to calligraphy, from the tea ceremony to flower arranging lay great emphasis of being in the “hara”.

In Japanese medicine hara is central to health.  Most schools of healing in Japan believe that the hara is a mirror of a person’s overal constitution and state of health.  The hara influences every aspect of a person’s being.  The hara is our centre of gravity and its muscular walls are literally pivotal to good posture and strong graceful movement. The motility of the hara is critical to healthy diaphramatic breathing, The major blood including the Aorta and Vena Cava pass through the hara, The hara is obviously the seat of the digestive, reproductive and sexual organs.  At an emotional level, the hara is the location where much of our deepest emotional armouring is found.

Energetically, the hara is the site of the lower dan tien, the storage point of yuan qi and jing which in Taoist thought are the root energies of our being and the power cell of our entire system.  In Tantra, the lower three Chakras are all within the hara.

The History of Hara Massage

Hara massage has probably been practiced by most traditional cultures since ancient times.

In the East, Japanese Ampuku  (literally: palapting the stomach) evolved into a sophisticated healing art originating with Shinsai Ota in the 17th Century. Ota treated  all diseases through the hara regardless of where they manifest in the body and focused on sensing and treating five hara signs: fullness, emptiness, pulsing, tension and lumps.  Ampuku is still practiced in Japan although skilled teachers and therapists are hard to find.

Chi Nei tsang  (internal organ chi massage) is a Taoist approach to hara massage introduced to the West by Master Mantak Chia. Chi Nei Tsang emphasises sensing and treating qi or energy imbalances in the hara, particularly the elimination of negative “winds”.  Karsai Nei Tsang is closely related to Chi Nei Tsang and focuses on clearing stagnant blood from the genital area.

Another style of hara massage is Mayan abdominal massage (Arvigo), which originates from  traditional South American Indian healing and  has been popularized by Rosita Arvigo.  Mayan abdominal massage is best known for helping with issues of the reproductive system, particularly malposition of the uterus.

The West has its own traditions of hara work.  John Harvey Kellogg MD included comprehensive and sophisticated treatments for the internal organs in his book The Art of Massage, published in 1895.  Sadly much of this knowledge was lost as massage fell from favor during the pharmaceutical drug revolution of the twentieth century.

More recently Wurn Technique practiced at the Clear Passage Clinic in America has produced encouraging research evidence for the manual release of abdominal and pelvic adhesion’s in the treatment of a wide range of reproductive and urogenital problems.

The Osteopathic tradition also works with the hara.  Jean Pierre Barral’s Visceral Manipulation uses light touch and principles from cranial osteopathy to work directly with the internal organs.

Our abdominal center, which the Japanese call hara, is quite literally our physical and energetic core. Energetically, our first three chakras reside here, focusing on grounding, physical embodiment, basic needs and drives, and directed action. Physically, it is the locus of our power, gravity and bodily organs. Our legs extend the hara in connection with the earth, establishing rootedness as well as enabling mobility. Further, hara is understood as our life source and spiritual umbilicus, and through its cultivation comes mastery, strength, wisdom and tranquility.

Children quite naturally are connected with their haras. Their bellies are relaxed and their breath is deep. They glow with an abundance of vitality, spontaneity and playful curiosity. As we move toward adulthood, we learn to distrust and to distance ourselves from the lower body, and we are taught to privilege and develop the mind. Western culture equates a tight “six-pack” abdomen with vigor and health, and a soft belly with laziness. The adult belly must be disciplined and constrained. “Chest out, belly in.”

Culturally, we are taught to think of strength and power positioned well above the navel — in our arms and shoulders, and in our brains. In the Asian view, it is the opposite. Taoist yoga often represents the lower abdomen as a fiery cauldron which cooks up the energy needed to open and liberate the rest of the body. Kundalini, the coiled serpent at the base of the spine, is potential energy awaiting stimulation to rise up and energize the upwardly cascading power centers. The root chakra, at the perineum, functions much like a pilot light for the other chakras and when its energy is weak or blocked, the energy of all the other chakras is correspondingly weakened. Westerners tend to be rigid, tense and overactive in the upper body and empty in the lower body, resulting in a top-heaviness which throws them off balance.

The Hara Attitude

There is much benefit to reconnecting with the simplicity and directness of the hara. To begin to develop our center, it is essential to first find it. Asian bodyworks, such as Shiatsu, Thai massage and Insight Bodywork, are strongly oriented toward cultivation of this consolidated body center, as are internal development practices such as aikido, t’ai chi, qigong, yoga and various types of meditation. “Concentration from hara and relaxation of the whole body is natural,” according to Shizuto Masunaga, the originator of Zen Shiatsu. “All Japanese culture,” he says, “is based on this principle. If you tighten your shoulders or extremities, your movement becomes clumsy and awkward. Training in the arts is simply how to eliminate this distorted tension.”

The composure of the Japanese way of sitting is “as if he were resting in himself rather than on the furniture,” writer Karlfried DÃrckheim observes. He goes on to say: “The bodily center of gravity is not drawn upward but held firmly in the middle, in the region of the navel. And that is the point. The belly is not pulled in but free — and yet slightly tensed. The shoulder region instead of being tense is relaxed but the trunk is firm. The upright bearing is not a pulling upwards but is the manifestation of an axis which stands firmly on a reliable base and which by its own strength maintains its uprightness.” Upright, firm and collected signify the presence of hara.

Sitting meditation is one way to drop down from the rooftop chatter of the mind to the embodied center of the belly. By bringing the focus of the mind to the breath and allowing the breath to descend deep into the lower abdomen, and feeling the weight of the body, the mind becomes calm and there is a relaxed (that is, not forced) concentration. In these moments we are unified; the split between body (hara), feeling (heart) and thinking (mind) dissolves. In these moments, there is no conflict; nothing is lacking. We are aware of breath and of feelings of weight, softness and alertness in our bodies, and there is an internal sense of focus, clarity and ease. Sometimes we quite naturally drop into this “attentional” state, such as when we give or receive a massage.

When we shift from the mind-centered experience to one where we start to feel our bodies and our wholeness, it is not at all uncommon to experience a deep joy and at the same time a profound sadness. It is the recognition of our split, the realization of how far away we have been from our bodies. In the Persian language, this ennui of recognition is called durie, or homesickness. In the hara, we come home to our unity.


Grounding (The Balance of Center)

From our hara, we find our center. To be centered is to be fully in the body, fully in the moment. “Center is a basic bodily presence,” writes bodyworker and psychotherapist Richard Strozzi Heckler, “and it is on this presence that the other bodily states are built. It is a bodily and energetic base camp.”

The hara is a place of action where we manifest desire or thought, but it is also a place of stillness and depth, simply being with what is. It contains both these masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) aspects. From the belly, we move with confidence. Our body wisdom guides us. There is no need to think about what to do or to comprehend what is to be done. We just do it — awake, moment by moment. Action executes itself, with no doer to get in the way. “Doing” arises from the fertile ground of being and the emptiness of no thought. The power of the feminine aspect is to simply hold space, to be, to not do. Without the judgmental mind to intervene, the feminine aspect of hara accepts how things are, not wanting them to be different, not interfering to fix or change them. Aikido master Wendy Palmer points out that it “takes training, courage and concentration to stay right in the middle of the present unfolding moment. Instead, what frequently occurs is that we try to take back control of the situation and shift our attention into the future.” Cultivation of the hara develops the depth to include and integrate both the mastery of the masculine and the mystery of the feminine in the embodied “now.”

The founder of aikido, Morihei Uyeshiba, when asked if he ever lost his balance, responded, “Yes, all the time, but I regain it so fast that you do not see me lose it.”


Working from Hara

“A strong hara confers not only physical stamina, but also the ability to sense and transmit ki,”says Shiatsu practitioner and author Carola Beresford-Cooke. She goes on to suggest one of the best ways to increase the energetic abilities of any part of the body is by simply bringing attention there, since awareness is a form of energy. Where thought goes, energy will follow.

Working from the hara, leaning rather than pushing, ensures maximum longevity and vitality for the practitioner, as minimal energy is being expended and there is no application of force. Rather, the practitioner will often find an enhanced sense of vitality and aliveness after working in this way. At the same time, recipients will experience the safety and security to surrender to your deeply penetrating, but non-invasive contact. Your own openness and clarity will invite their body to openness and clarity.

The hara-based principles listed below are intended for floor-based bodywork, such as Shiatsu, Thai massage or Insight Bodywork, but certainly are applicable to table work as well.

– Be Attentive to Feeling. Feeling is always in the present. Thoughts, memories, comparisons and judgments take you out of the body and out of the moment. Stay with what you feel. Register the breath, register the feeling of weight, notice sensations as they arise. Maintain deep, natural breathing. Grounded in your own experience, awareness can expand to include the client, or other stimuli, without losing your center.

– Relax — Be Comfortable. It is essential to be relaxed and comfortable. If you are tense, your energy is not flowing and you are not going to be of help to your client, or yourself. Take the time to find a comfortable posture. Tension and relaxation are both contagious.

– Use Your Whole Body. Tension and effort occurs as the body is fractionalized into parts. Moving from your hara will involve moving the whole body. Relax into the ‘shape’ you are holding and initiate movement from your belly.

– Don’t Force, Don’t Hold Back. Lean with relaxed weight. The amount of weight is less important than the quality of the contact. Allow your partner’s body to support you. Mutual support is a mutual benefit.

– Have a Solid Base. The lower body needs to be open, flexible and wider than the upper body. When kneeling, keep the knees apart and the groin open. Make full use of the ground for support. Always maintain at least two points of contact with the body of the recipient.

– Feel Connected to the Ground. Establish deep roots into the earth. Stand, or move, with confidence. If you lose a sense of groundedness, stop and breath into the hara; feel your weight.

– Direct Energy From the Hara. Maintain balance and control by directing the hara between the two hands, or toward the area on which you are working. Imagine the hara moving you, rather than you moving the hara. Feel hara moving through stable hands and thumbs, rather than focusing on hands and thumbs as points of pressure.

– Get Out of Your Way. Trust the instinctive wisdom of the body. Keep it simple. Be guided by intuition, which is limitless, as opposed to intellect, which is limited.

Application of Hara Massage


Hara massage may be used therapeutically at three levels:

1) As part of a general restorative massage approach to maintain health and well being.  Hara massage techniques can be included in full body relaxation and therapeutic massage to deepen and expand the scope of the treatment.

2) As a specific treatment protocol for a wide range of health issues that relate to the abdomen and pelvis. Hara massage is  indicated in conditions described in oriental medicine as excess, that is involving, congestion, accumulation and adhesion.  It is also indicated for deficient conditions characterised by poor micro circulation, weakness prolapse and atrophy. Hara massage has been used with apparent good results in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Respiratory: asthma, paradoxical breathing, chronic bronchitis
  • Digestive: IBS, constipation, inflamatory bowel disorder, sluggish hepatic and bilary function, gastroptosis, gastritis. Indigestion, poor assimilation.
  • Gynaecological: period pain, irregular periods, endometriosis, vulva pain, blocked fallopian tubes, prolapsed or retroflexed uterus, infertility without known cause, female sexual dysfunction, post partum problems.
  • Urogenital: chronic prostatitis, male sexual dysfunction, irritable bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis, prolapsed bladder, mild to moderate incontinence.
  • General: pelvic, perineal and genital pain.  Back pain related to psoas imbalances, post surgical and other scarring and adhesions.


3) As a deep, holistic energy treatment.  Treatments known in oriental medicine as root treatments focus on the patient’s  constitution and underlying energy imbalances.  Working at core of a person’s being, hara massage is a powerful root treatment which can unblock the flow of energy, particularly at an emotional level.

Hara massage has few absolute contraindications and can be adapted by a skilled practitioner to the specific needs and limitations of each client.


Hara Massage within Integrated Tissue Release


Hara massage is a cornerstone of Integrated Tissue Release (ITR) .  ITR has been described as bringing together the power of Tuina, the presence of Zen Shiatsu and the flow of Lomi Lomi with the precision of neuro-muscular technique and fascial release and the sensitivity of cranial work.

ITR hara massage  integrates principles from oriental tradition and western practice. Its aim is to find and release areas of kori:  areas of tight, congested, immobile  or painful tissue within the hara.  In ITR philosophy these lesions are the result of the body becoming locked into a defensive adaptive response to trauma or stress at a structural, physiological or emotional level.  ITR seeks to release these areas of kori and guide the body towards a healing adaptive response.

ITR hara massage works with  releases at three levels:

Myofascial – through the direct release of adhesions and beneficial thixotropic change in the facial matrix.

Circulatory-physiological – through the enhancement of micro circulation and the stimulation of hormonal and metabolic processes.

Neuro-muscular – through the stimulation of points that mediate autonomic and higher neurological function.
These three levels correspond broadly with the Three Treasures of Oriental Medicine: Jing (physical substance) Qi: (life force) and Shen (conciousness).


Within these set patterns, practitioners learn the fundamental principle of ITR, the unity of diagnosis and treatment, discovering how to sense the presence of blocked, congested or immobilized tissue and apply appropriate pressure, angle, rhythm and mode of touch to initiate a release.ITR hara massage techniques employ combinations of pressure, stretch, mobilization and stroking in which typically the two hands work together to generate infinitely variable shades of touch.  As the practitioner’s skill develops, treatment flows in interwoven cycles of sensing, release and integration which respond spontaneously and intuitively to the “in the moment” state of the tissues.

ITR hara massage recognizes that blockages felt physically within the tissues will often have a component of emotional holding or body armoring.  The treatment does not work only with the physical tissues, but guides the receiver’s awareness into parts of their body they have become cut off from. Sensing this dimension and dealing sensitively with emotional release, particularly where it relates to sexual trauma, is an important aspect of the practitioner’s learning.

ITR hara massage encourages practitioners to develop heightened palpatory skill, to be fully present in what they are doing and to work from a place where intuition and rational analysis are balanced.

From a practical point of view, ITR offers a practitioner a skill set that allows them to treat a wide variety of structural, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, urogenital, emotional and pychosexual issues.

Bodyworkers are often nervous working with the hara, because this area of the body is seldom covered in the depth it deserves on massage training programes.  ITR hara massage opens the door to working powerfully and with full confidence with this vital aspect of their client’s.

Oriental medicine practitioners and  acupuncturists find that ITR hara massage as an oriental healing discipline, integrates naturally with their skill and knowledge base while allowing them to extend the scope of their work.


The Fruition of Hara

In Japanese culture, DÃrckheim points out, one who has cultivated hara is the measure of inner maturity and accomplishment. Hara no aru hito literally means a man with “center” or a man with belly. Such a person is always balanced, tranquil, magnanimous and warm-hearted. With calm, unprejudiced judgment, he knows what is important. He accepts things as they are and maintains a balanced sense of proportion. He is ready for whatever comes his way. When, through persistent discipline and practice, such a man reaches maturity, like a tree that bears ripe fruit effortlessly, he is said to be hara no dekita hito, the man who has finished his belly.

It is no coincidence that Buddha statues typically represent a soft, relaxed belly and solid foundation in the lower body. The imagery of the Buddha represents the total achievement of what is possible for everyone — to be awake.

1. Shizuto Masunaga with Wataru Ohashi. Zen Shiatsu: How to Harmonize Yin and Yang for Better Health. (Tokyo: Japan Publications, 1977), 50.
2. Karlfried Graf DÃrckheim. Hara: The Vital Centre of Man. (London: Unwin Hyman Ltd, 1962), 23.
3. Ibid, 24.
4. Richard Strozzi Heckler. The Anatomy of Change: East/West Approaches to Body/Mind Therapy. (Boulder: Shambhala, 1984), 79.
5. Wendy Palmer. The Intuitive Body: Aikido as a Clairsentient Practice. (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1994), 125.
6. Morehei Uyeshiba, cited in Heckler, 82.
7. Carola Beresford-Cooke. Shiatsu Theory and Practice. (Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1996, 1998), 15


Ancient Chinese Medicine Massage to Help Rid Yourself of Belly Fat!


By revving up your body’s ability to effectively and efficiently digest the foods you eat for fuel, you trigger optimal internal cleansing, which helps you achieve your ideal weight and health. That’s why I love this simple massage technique so much – because its core principle is similar to the philosophy found in the Beauty Detox lifestyle.

According to Dr. Stephen Chang, who practices both Western and Chinese medicine, utilizing a two minute massage technique provides a form of internal exercise that cleanses and detoxifies to melt away fat in a manner that is much different than the typical Western external exercises like crunches. While crunches are great for firming up your abdominal muscles, they don’t do anything about the layer of fat that sits on top of them. In fact, one of the persistent myths of Western exercise is that by working out the muscles, you can automatically turn fat into muscle, and that just ‘aint true.

Here’s what really happens anytime you perform a Western-style strength training exercise. The exercises place tiny tears in the muscle fibers. As those micro tears heal, the muscle fiber becomes stronger, leading to firmer (and in some cases larger) muscles. Your fat, on the other hand, remains stubbornly and annoyingly in place unless you engage in a specific program for fat loss. As we’ve discussed in The Beauty Detox System and The Beauty Detox Foods, fat loss comes about as a result of a few different mechanisms:

  • Detoxificationimages
  • Burning your body fat as fuel

Stored fat serves a few purposes in your body. First, it protects your internal organs. Second, it provides a ready form of energy to be burned as fuel during times of famine. Thirdly, it protects your body from all of the toxins you take in by living and eating in a toxic world. Losing excess fat, then, is a matter of creating ways for your body to burn that fat as fuel by producing an energy deficit between what you eat and what you burn. You must also remove your body’s need to store the fat to protect you from toxins, which is why detoxification is such a huge part of the Beauty Detox program.

So, when you exercise you are doing two things: raising your body’s energy (fuel) requirements and firming up the muscles underneath. In some cases, this can translate as fat loss; however, if you have toxic buildup or you increase your fuel (food) intake in response to exercise, then fat loss may come about very slowly – or not at all.

Many people overestimate the amount of calories they burn during an exercise session. The amount varies from person to person, with some people metabolizing fuel much more efficiently than others. While many things factor into this equation, toxicity is a big part of it. If your fat is trapping toxins and keeping them out of your system, your body will be extremely reluctant to burn fat as fuel because doing so will release those poisons.

Other variables that factor into how quickly your body burns calories during exercise include your current weight, the type of exercise you are doing, and the intensity of that exercise. In many cases, calories burned aren’t that much. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, if you walk one mile in 30 minutes, you will only burn 102 calories. If you speed up just a bit (that is, increase the intensity of your exercise) and walk 1 ¾ mile in 30 minutes, then you’ll burn about 157 calories. If, however, you increase your food intake in response to your additional exercise, you’ll mostly negate any caloric deficit you achieved while walking.

This doesn’t mean I’m telling you not to exercise. Exercise is an important part of good health, because it strengthens your heart and lungs, helps detoxify you, improves your flexibility, gives you energy, and helps you have the strength and endurance for activities of daily life. If, however, you are exercising to lose weight, then you can’t rely on exercise alone. You also need to detoxify and eat a diet of healthy, naturally high fiber/low-calorie foods like I recommend in The Beauty Detox Foods. When you eat this way, you can eat to satiation and not obsess about calorie counting because the fiber will help fill your belly up as you receive large amounts of easily and quickly absorbed nutrients.

Chinese Medicine Abdominal Massage

The Chinese medicine massage technique I am going to outline below is a different type of exercise altogether. A product of 6,000 years of Eastern wisdom, the massage improves your digestive efficiency by maximizing your body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate waste. The technique can help speed up your digestive system and allows you to eliminate the sludge that builds up in intestines, which can be pounds (!!) of uneliminated waste. When I do it, it is apparent to me the technique is not only physical but also energetic. It’s worth a try, right?

Before you begin, please note that the following people should use caution or avoid using this technique. Don’t use this technique:

  • Immediately after a heavy meal
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you are suffering inflammation of feminine organs including the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or bladder
  • If you have stones of the bladder, kidneys, or gallbladder
  • If you have high blood pressure
  • If you have a hernia
  • If you have intestinal or stomach ulcers
  • If you have bleeding in the stomach, brains, or lungs
  • (If you aren’t sure if it’s right for you, you can always ask your doctor)

Benefits may include:

  • Can help melt adipose tissue
  • Improves digestive efficiency
  • Detoxifies the intestines
  • Improves constipation (the mother of all health/beauty issues!)
  • Stimulates the organs in your abdominal region
  • Improves circulation in your abdominal region
  • May improve conditions such as nausea, vomiting, symptoms of overeating, diarrhea, and indigestion
  • Can provide results in about a week of consistent practice

Perform this technique two times per day – before breakfast and just before bed.

  1. Lie flat on your back on a firm surface with your abdominal region exposed.
  2. Warm up your hands by rubbing them together until they feel hot – about 15 seconds.
  3. Place one hand flat on your belly button.
  4. Begin rubbing in small circles around your belly button, gradually widening the circles using a firm pressure. Each circle should take about one to two seconds.
  5. Focus on heat, which is building up in your abdominal region as you rub.
  6. Continue for two minutes, about 40 to 50 circles. Be sure to keep your stomach warm as you perform the exercise.

That’s it! See how you feel and if you (hopefully) notice an improvement in your digestion as your practice regularly.

Via Kimberly Snyder

Self Shiatsu Facial Massage Techniques!

Geisha were famous for their beautiful facial skin.The secret of their wrinkle free skin even in advanced age was the famous Shiastu Technique. Geisha did the SHIATSU Facial Massage daily, which helped them to always look young and attractive. The massage is done with light touches of your own fingertips. I do not think that Geisha were less busy than we are, but they always find time for it. It is much easier to spend five minutes every day to take care of yourself and try to keep your skin young and beautiful than to spend big money on creams, serums or plastic surgery.


Try the below tips to get Geisha like skin :

1. Find the point on the temples which gives you slight pain when you press on them. Use your fingertips to massage in circular motion from the nostrils to these
points around the temple. Repeat it three times.

2.Close your eyes and press lightly with your fingertips for three seconds on the inner corner of the eye. Repeat this movement three times.It will make your eyes

3.Your neck can give away your age and hence require constant care.Use flip side of your palm to massage the neck from the middle of its side towards up.

4.Press the middle and index finger of both hands. Start your massage from the middle of your forehead and move towards your temples.This will make your forehead skin
very smooth.

5.Massage the corners of your mouth for one minute.Start below the middle of lower lip and slowly move towards the outer corner of the lips.This will keep your lips
wrinkle free.

6.Apply a suitable cream on fingertips of both the hands.Now massage your cheeks in the circular motion with your finger tips.It will keep your skin fresh and will
radiate energy.

Now look for below points on your face,forehead and neck :

  • ST6 bone pit below the jaw joint .
  • ST3 Located on the zygomatic bones on either side of the nose
  • ST9 recesses on the sides of the larynx
  • BL1 inner corner of the eye
  • BL2 indentation on the top edge of the orbital cavity
  • LI20 on the outside of the nose wings

All these points are paired. To look for them trust your instincts!Stand in front of a mirror and simulate all the points one by one.

Note : Avoid ST9 if you have a disease of the thyroid gland.

Via Bye Bye Doc

Dr. Vodder’s Manual Lymph Drainage What It Is And Videos

Self Lymph Drainage Massage – Facial

Lymphatic-drainage massage is considered a staple practice for reducing swelling, relieving fatigue, or helping the body detox (removing waste from our own metabolic processes, not heavy metals or pollutants), which is why it’s included in spa fasting, cleansing, and smoking-cessation programs. Some facialists have seen great improvement of dark under-eye circles with the Vodder method in facials. Lymphatic-drainage massage can also offer some relief for fluid retention brought on by travel, menstruation, or pregnancy.

Dr. Vodder’s Manual Lymph Drainage- Kathy Fleming Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD®) Lecture About

This is a gentle, non-invasive manual technique that has a powerful effect on the body.  Research in Australia, Europe and North America has proven its efficacy as a stand-alone treatment and in combination with other therapies.

Developed in France in 1932 by Emil and Estrid Vodder MLD has grown to be the most well known manual technique to assist lymph flow and aid in drainage of tissues.

The skin is stretched and torqued in a specific manner, based on scientific, physiological principles that have proven to encourage lymph flow.  If performed correctly with the correct pressure, direction and speed, this can greatly enhance recovery and facilitate drainage.  It also has profound effects on systems in the body.

Lymph Vessel System

This system of vessels and lymphatic tissue, including lymph nodes is found in most parts of the body, except the brain, nails, hair and joint cavities. It is a very important system and one that has had little attention paid to it until recently. The importance of a well-functioning lymph vessel system in maintaining health, removing wastes and pathogens, as well as fluid balance is of utmost importance.

The lymph vessel system carries excess water, proteins and wastes from the connective tissue back to the blood stream. During the transportation process the lymph is cleaned, filtered and concentrated. Many immune reactions occur in the lymph nodes. If the pathways become congested, blocked, damaged or severed, then fluids can build up in the connective tissue leading to edema and fibrosis. Eventually cell pathology may begin. If there is damage in the connective tissue (e.g. burns, chronic inflammation, ulceration, hematoma), then the lymph vessel system must transport the damaged cells, inflammatory products and toxins away from the area. The quicker this can happen, the faster recovery will be.

Treatment is performed by certified Manual Lymph Drainage therapists who have undergone the four week, post-graduate, training program. Manual Lymph Drainage can be utilized in the treatment of many different conditions including:

  • Primary and Secondary Lymphedema
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Non-infected inflammatory conditions (e.g. sprains and strains)
  • Ulceration
  • Dermatological conditions
  • Circulatory disturbances
  • Sports injuries
  • RSD
  • Pre- and post- plastic surgery
  • Is deeply relaxing
  • Can improve many chronic conditions: sinusitus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, acne and other skin conditions
  • May strengthen the immune system as part of “detox” treatment
  • Relieves fluid congestion: swollen ankles, tired puffy eyes and swollen legs due to pregnancy
  • Promotes healing of wounds and burns and improves the appearance of old scars
  • Minimises or reduces stretch marks

Stimulate the circulation of lymphatic system for improved health.

What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is the primary system that supports the immune system; which helps us heal, recover and thrive. Surgery, injury, soft tissue hypertension and being sedentary cause a sluggish lymphatic system.
Therapeutic massage will boost a sluggish lymphatic system.
Lymphatic massage has different degrees of  speciality. We provide lymphatic massage for general immunity as well as post surgical and injury recovery.


The lymphatic vessels

“Within the vascular system, the lymphatic vessels (vasa lymphatica) serve to transport antibody cells and fluid. The lymph in the lymphatic vessels is a watery to milky body fluid transported through the body by the lymphatic system.
This fluid is produced when the small capillaries (capillaries) in the blood system emit blood plasma and white corpuscles (leucocytes) to the tissue. Here it is absorbed by the lymph capillaries and transported as lymph to the lymphatic vessels. In contrast to the blood plasma, the lymph contains less protein and oxygen and no red corpuscles (erythrocytes). It consists essentially of water (97 %) and the white blood corpuscles contained in it (3 %), above all lymphocytes (lymphocytus).
The lymph vessels transport the lymph and substances, which should not or cannot be in the blood. They do not constitute an enclosed system. The smallest lymphatic vessels, the lymph capillaries, start blind in the tissue. They join up to form the lymphatic vessels. The largest lymphatic vessel is the thoracic duct (ductus thoracicus), which is produced by the joining together of the lymphatic vessels from the lower extremities and the abdomen.

The thoracic duct finally opens out into the left vein angle, where the left jugular vein and the left arm vein come together. The inside of the lymphatic vessels is covered with a thin, non-striated muscle wall. The lymph is moved by contraction of the muscles. Seen from the outside, the lymphatic vessels are constricted at intervals to look like beads on a chain. The constrictions consist of the attachment of semilunar valves, similar to the vein valves. These prevent the reflux of lymph.
The lymph tracts are interrupted by lymph nodes (nodi lymohatici). They interrupt the progress of the lymph tracts, with several small lymph vessels entering the nodes but only one large vessel leaving them. They occur in groups at various parts of the body, such as axillae or neck. The task of the lymph nodes is to control the lymph transported to it. Every lymph node is only a few millimeters in diameter. It consists of lymphatic tissue enclosed in a covering of connective tissue. Walls protrude from the connective tissue into the node and divide it into several chambers, called connective tissue septa.
The tissue inside the lymph node accommodates the so-called phagocytes (macrophagi) and lymphocytes (lymphocytus). When lymph is transported from the lymphatic vessel into the lymph node and its tissue, any foreign bodies found in the fluid, e.g. bacteria or undissolved substances, are destroyed by the phagocytes. The phagocytes also stimulate the lymphocates to produce antibodies against the substances found in the fluid. These are then emitted through the excretory duct into the lymphatic vessels and thus in turn to the other lymph nodes.”
Text Taken From3dAnatomical Atlas

New Years Resolutions – Good Habits for 2013!


Hands.Pen.Paper.DupontCircle.WDC.17sep05 (Photo credit: ElvertBarnes)

The Coming New Year is a great time to put new good habits into practice!

  • Drink more water
  • Wear sunblock
  • Wear a hat
  • Exfoliate once to twice a week
  • Exercise, take a walk
  • Mediate
  • Yoga – get limber
  • Treat yourself to a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure (look good feel good!)
  • Start packing your own lunch
  • Sleep more, get better quality sleep
  • Drink less Alcohol!
  • Get more sleep
  • Quit Smoking!
  • Eat more fruits, veggies, and fiber
  • Try going organic

Have fun with it make a list of good habits you would like to start to do and make it happen!

Half a glass of water(Photo credit: Jeff Youngstrom)


Scraping Massage

Click here for a great video of GUASHA

Like with all facial massage it:

• Reduces wrinkles, lines, and folds
• Promotes collagen production
• Increases skin firmness
• Accelerates skin rejuventation
• Promotes blood circulation – activates Qi
• Helps eliminate toxins and increases the metabolism
• Strengthens immunological functions
Guasha Therapy is the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) art of facial and body scraping for beauty, health, and wellness; similar to acupuncture treatment, but without the use of intrusive needles. The Guasha technique helps to restore and re-balance the vital energy system in the body, which eliminates pathogenic factors directly. It has been practiced for more than 25 centuries by the Chinese people and is a precious heritage of traditional Chinese medical science and massage therapy. Like Acupuncture and Feng Shui, Guasha Therapy is recognized for its positive energy, and its ability to repair aesthetic problems. Be careful not to be to vigorous and damage, bruise, or break the skin.

Chinese Guasha Facial massage is performed by applying gentle scraping with unique shaped Jade or ceramic plates, and essential oil, oil, or cream on specific points and meridians/meridian points on the face and body. The Guasha technique is based on meridian scraping theory. In TCM, there are 14 meridian pathways with corresponding acupuncture points distributed throughout the body and connected to each organ system. The face has direct meridian connections to nine of the major meridians of the body.

Via Dr. Oz

Scrape Away Pain: Gua Sha

When I was finishing my undergraduate coursework, I was working part-time in a hospital research department. My co-workers knew I had my eyes set on Eastern Medical training. On rare occasions, questions concerning Eastern Medicine would arise, and these questions would always be directed toward me.


Young, naïve and inexperienced, I was just as curious as they were. One morning, I had an email sent to me, with a web link to a forum for cardiologists. A picture depicting the back of a gentleman was displayed on the website. His back was scraped and bruised in a specific pattern unlike anything I had ever seen before. Under this picture, a simple caption read “What is this?” and I was utterly dumbfounded. As it turns out, gua sha is what it was.


As I was finishing my clinical training in Beijing, I would find myself smiling at the memory of that picture; something that once seemed so dumbfounding had become something I was so commonly administering to patients.  Gua sha is a common practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and an invaluable technique in an acupuncturist’s armamentarium.


Gua sha is an ancient healing technique used by many clinicians of TCM. In this procedure, a lubricating medium, such as massage oil, is applied to the skin of the area to be treated. A smooth-edged instrument is used by the acupuncturist to apply short or long strokes on the skin, typically in the area of pain or on the back parallel to the spine. This stroking motion creates raised redness (petechiae) or bruising (ecchymosis).


Pain, both acute and chronic, is the most common indication for gua sha. In the TCM tradition, pain is oftentimes caused by the stagnation of blood in the local area of discomfort. The guiding principle behind gua sha is that this technique has the ability to break up stagnation, to promote the smooth flow of blood in the area, thereby relieving pain.


While gua sha is most commonly used to treat pain, it can also be utilized by TCM clinicians to address conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, fever, heatstroke, fibromyalgia, strains, sprains, and muscle spasms.


There are several theories that may explain why this ancient technique works: gua sha increases blood flow (microcirculation) in the soft tissue, potentially stimulates the body’s natural pain-relieving opioid systems, and it may block the pain response pathways so you feel pain relief.


Some view gua sha as folk medicine, but the scientific research community may beg to differ! Researchers from institutions like Harvard and Beth Israel Medical Center are demonstrating both efficacy as well as offering insight on why gua sha works. A study published in a 2011 edition of Pain Medicine demonstrated that gua sha decreased pain for chronic neck pain sufferers, noting that “neck pain severity after 1 week improved significantly better in the gua sha group compared with the control group (heat therapy).”

Mudras: Yoga for the Hands!

Mudras are a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism.  They are kind of like yoga for the hands. Mudras are hand positions, or exercises, used to balance various energies in the body.

Via Sundari

In Ayurveda, there are five elements, and each corresponds with one of the fingers:

Thumb represents fire

Second finger represents air

Third finger represents space

Fourth finger, or ring finger, represents earth

Little finger represents water

Mudras can have positive effects on our physiology. And we can get some of the same benefits by working with our hands, playing an instrument, washing our hands, and massaging our hands. The next time you wash your hands, try consciously massaging them at the same time. Spend time on each finger, and then rub both palms together vigorously. While you’re sitting at your desk, use the thumb and index finger to gently massage the “web” between each of your fingers. Place one hand on your desk, and use the second, third, and fourth fingers of the other hand to gently massage between the long bones on the back of the hand.

English: Naruto Mudrā - "Monkey", Ve...

English: Naruto Mudrā – “Monkey”, Vectorized from a photograph.

Give your hands a treat,we abuse they them everyday!

Benefits of Facial Massage

A facial massage can be a wonderful thing, just like anywhere else in the body the face can hold tension.  Relieving tension is not the only benefit to a facial massage.  Depending on the technique, Western or Eastern, a facial massage can:

  • Relax the facial muscles
  • Improve circulation
  • Provide physical and psychological relief
  • Improve muscle tone
  • Release toxins and impurities
  • Relieve facial pain, headaches, eye strain, neck tension, premenstrual symptoms, puffiness,  nervous disorder, and sinus congestion
  • Stimulates the Meridian points located on the face
  • Correct Gall Bladder and Liver imbalance


The next time you go to get a facial or a massage ask for a facial massage to be added to your treatment if it is not already included.  Many people don’t think to ask for this service or they receive a shortened version when they receive a facial.  Ask for a full facial massage which typically lasts 15-20 minutes it feels wonderful and you will look wonderful as well.  Make sure that the Esthetician or Masseuse is gentle to the skin on your face not pulling and stretching it.


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