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Esalen Tissue Work | Esalen Massage Therapy

Sharon Hopkins

What is it?

The development of Esalen tissue work is credited to Charlotte Selver and Bernie Gunther. It is so called because it was developed in Big Sur, California, which was once home to a Native American tribe known as the Esalen.

Esalen tissue work or Esalen Massage Therapy is a style of massage therapy that combines the classical techniques of Swedish massage, with strokes specifically designed to target the muscles and the circulatory system. It also borrows from the rich heritage of oriental medicine, meditation, gestalt practice, yoga and somatic mind-body psychology, among others. The Esalen philosophy encourages practitioners to combine a wide range of methods to suit the clients' needs. It allows massage therapists to develop their own unique Esalen Massage style in accordance with their background, experience, feelings and special capabilities.

How does it work?

Esalen tissue work differs from Swedish massage in its philosophical approach. The Esalen therapist creates an environment that helps in the formation of a meditative and intuitive-connection between the therapist and the patient. Esalen therapists are expected to be able to intuitively tap into their clients' physical and non-physical clues. In this way the therapist will be able to identify where their patient's body is injured or in pain and locate any blockages that are within the body without the patient having to express it verbally.

At the start of an Esalen massage session, the therapists clear their minds and center themselves so that they can respond intuitively to the cues that they receive from the patient's body. The massage itself consists of long, sweeping strokes. An Esalen massage may also consist of periods when the therapist rocks the patient's body, or stretches particular muscle groups. It includes passive manipulation to move a joint through its full range of motion, and the therapist may also sculpt the deep tissues, particularly the extremities and torso, followed by periods rest. The entire Esalen process is meant to encourage total body awareness and relaxation.

The effects of Esalen tissue work range widely. For some, it brings a renewed sense of health and vigor; others may regain a sense of safety with regard to touch. Often old tension patterns break free and the mind is cleared of old emotional baggage.

What are its benefits?

Esalen tissue work stimulates the skin and blood circulation, relaxes the muscles and nervous system, stimulates the metabolism and lymphatic system and stretches tendons and ligaments. It is very useful in the case of ailments such as chronic neck and back pain, tension in the muscles and joints, headaches or migraines, poor circulation, high blood pressure and insomnia.

Sharon Hopkins manages sites related to Massage Health Therapy which explains how artistic hand strokes on the body can rejuvenate your mind and body scientifically. She also writes for Aromatherapy, Yoga besides many other health related sites.

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