One of our most basic needs, from infancy on, is to be touched. A newborn is touched, swaddled, and held not only for the practical purpose of comfort or holding body heat in, but more importantly for the tactile stimulation of the skin, nervous system, and brain. Touch establishes powerful physical and emotional connections between infants and their caregivers, and plays an essential role in development.
So what changes as we grow into toddler, adolescent, and adult human beings? Not much. Research by the University of Miami Touch Research Institute shows that touch stimulation given as massage positively affects physiological, behavioral, and social development, regardless of age. Similarly, yoga joins physical and mental disciplines to promote peacefulness of body and mind.
Serving in the profession of touch and relaxation therapies for more than 20 years, I have seen many reasons why people seek out massage and practice yoga. For some it’s physical, wishing to maintain a certain level of physical balance or strength in the body. But most are drawn to the mental and emotional benefits; they want relief from the stresses of everyday life.
Sixty minutes on the massage table or in a yoga session is adequate to dissolve the rumination of the mind enough to glimpse, and perhaps experience at a deeper level, the stillness that resides beyond our artificial habits and perceptions. To be receiving skilled touch in the form of massage while allowing the mind to consciously relax is, well, hard to top. The body receives relief from muscular tension, circulation is enhanced, and the immune system receives a boost of energy.
Conscious relaxation is a discipline that only you can be in charge of. Work with a therapist who respects your time on the massage table and encourages a peaceful environment. Many of us are tuned in and completely immersed in our electronic devices for most of the day; it’s highly beneficial for your well being to give yourself some time unplugged. Everyone around you will be glad you did.
Cecile Martin is owner and director of Bodyworks Massage Therapy and Bodyworks Massage Institute – www.bwmassage.com