Massage has been practiced for thousands of years. Today, if you need or want a massage, you can choose from among 80 massage therapy styles with a wide variety of pressures, movements, and techniques. These all involve pressing, rubbing, or manipulating muscles and other soft tissues with hands and fingers. Sometimes even forearms, elbows, or feet are used.
Well-to-do ladies in Hong Kong enjoy going to spas, in particular those in Thailand, to enjoy a few days of holiday at a 5 stars hotel and a number of spa sessions with massage therapy done by experienced masseuses. Essentially a Thai masseuse will rub your muscles so that your body will become muscle-connected (muscle contraction of one part will generate chained muscle contractions along defined path). When such a state is attained, the masseuse will do passive movements similar to flexibility exercises for your limbs and torso. It is essential that your muscles are to be made to be connected and you are in a mentally relaxed mode. An inexperienced masseuse might harm your muscles or joints if she is not sensitive to your state of muscle connectedness or mode of relaxation.
An experienced practitioner of tai chi (or chi kung) can get similar benefits from massage therapy, saving the plane ticket and hotel bill. The method is simple and the extra benefits can be obtained because we can tailor our program to the particular needs of our body. Here we go.
Step one: Do zhan zhuang to obtain muscle connectedness.
Step two: Do tai chi form (or 24 tai chi neigong or other chi kung forms) to generate body connectedness during movement.
Step three: With our body thus conditioned, do appropriate flexibility exercises to deliver the benefits of massage therapy.
Precaution: Similar to a massage therapy, an inexperienced tai chi or chi kung practitioner can hurt himself, now that he is in the driver's seat.
|Examples of flexibility exercises|