Healthy Sole; Happy Soul

Foot BathI have always enjoyed a good foot reflexology session.

In case, you are not aware, foot reflexology(massage) is the massage of the soles and feet with special emphasis on the various accu-points by a foot therapist.

I specially enjoyed foot reflexology when I was living in China for a period of time. In China, foot reflexology is started off with a soak of the feet in a foot tub filled with water and herbs which tends to relax the soles and wash off the tiredness.

Living in Singapore, I couldn’t find the same kind of foot reflexology service. Most foot reflexologist in Singapore do not offer a foot bath to start off and many of them also practise the Rwo Shur School of foot massage which can be terribly painful for the uninitiated .

Hence, I was very happy when I came across this new foot reflexology shop that was newly opened in Temple Street, Chinatown, Singapore. The banner clearly stated “Bath Culture Foot Therapy” and the decor was all Oriental and even the therapist was dressed in Oriental clothes. I knew I had found the place I was looking for.

I entered the shop to find that is was a small but cosy little shop. The lady proprietor was extremely warm and friendly and the massage chairs were luxurious leather seats with individual small LCD screens beside them. This level of luxury in a reflexology shop was clearly a first in Singapore.

The package offered in the shop consisted of a foot bath, a foot massage and a shoulder massage lasting a total of 100 minutes. I started with a foot bath which I was offered a choice of herbs and I chose Peppermint. A tub with hot water was produced, peppermint crystals added to the water and I had a good 20mins of soak in it.

This was followed by a 40 mins foot massage and the masseur was obviously well-trained and practise a gentler form of foot massage which was not so painful and felt therapeutic. The 40 mins passed quickly especially as I was immersed in watching my favourite TV program on the LCD panel while my foot was being massaged on.

This was followed by a final shoulder and hands massage. All through the various massage I was offered tea and I chose my favourite tea…’Ba-Bao Cha’; which actually consisted of 8 kinds of ingredients to make the tea.

We had visited this massage palor at a relative late 10pm but the owner had extended her hours to accommodate us. It was nearly 11pm when we left. So, if you are looking for a late night massage in Singapore, this is one place you can try.

As the shop was relatively new, the lady proprietor was also very generous and gave me a discount. Hmmm…what a nice way to end a good foot massage!

Location of foot refexology shop: Temple Street, Chinatown, Singapore
Size of shop: Small but cosy. A maximum of 6 massage chairs
Friendliness: Very friendly lady proprietor. Excellent service.
Facilities: Luxurious massage chair. Personal LCD TV. Free flow of excellent tea.
Pricing: On the high side. I wish the owner could lower the price or introduce a cheaper membership scheme.

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Ouch…hot stones for massage!

Hot Stone MassageThere are many different types of massage when you are thinking about paying a visit to a massage therapist. The more typical massage are Swedish, Shiatsu and Aromatherapy. In Asia, it is very common to have a Thai, Javanese or Chinese Tui-Na massage. Each type of therapy offers its own unique benefits, so the more that you learn about massage therapy, the better chances that you have of finding a type of massage stroke that is right for your personal needs.

In recent years, a new form of massage known as Hot Stone Massage, is gaining popularity. There are debates where hot stone massage originate from but the common theory is that it started either in India or China, where using heated cups for treatment used in moxibustion is common.

In hot stone massage, true to its name, warm stones are placed at various points of the patient’s body. Most hot stone massage therapists choose to use basalt stones as they are conducive to retaining heat well. The stones that are used are often ones that were found in riverbeds as they will be quite smooth and gentle when it comes to being manipulated around the patient’s body. A common size for a stone used in a hot stone massage is roughly the width of a chicken egg. The stones are placed in an electronic heating element so that they can be warmed to the proper temperature before being placed on the patient’s body.

The stones are placed at several different points on the patient’s body. Some of the more common places for stones to be placed include across the back, in the palms of the hands, or in the area between toes. The heat that the rocks emit helps the body’s circulatory system to become more open, which can help to aid the efficiency of the massage when it comes to helping to clear out the lymphatic system. Also, the warm temperature can be helpful when it comes to making the patient more relaxed during the procedure.

The stones may be moved around and reheated or placed on different parts of the body during the massage, and the therapist will likely perform many different massage motions on the back with their hands in order to help the soft tissues of the body to become more relaxed and to allow the lymphatic nodes to drain more successfully. Some therapists choose to do part of the massage with the stones as well as their firmness can be helpful when it comes to reaching deeper parts of the tissue that fingers may not be able to reach.

Hot stone massage therapists claim that their type of massage is quite helpful when it comes to eliminating several different types of symptoms, including helping to eliminate the agony of back pain, assisting poor circulation, and relieving stress and anxiety.

A typical hot stone massage session will last somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, and you can expect to spend anywhere between roughly US fifty and two hundred dollars on the session. Be sure to find a massage therapist that is licensed so that you can ensure that you are getting your money’s worth, and remember to relax and enjoy the treatment!

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Do babies benefit from massages?

Baby massageModern parenting lessons for would-be parents in a maternity hospital often include a session on massaging for their new-born. Why is massaging for a new-born so important?

Modern research has shown that frequent skin-to-skin touch between mom and baby or dad and baby can benefit both parties. They can learn to communicate without using words. New parents can bond better with their new family member when they practice holding their new baby to their unclothed chest. New babies always smell so good and feel so soft. Babies receive real benefit from feeling your warm skin and hearing the reassuring sound of your heartbeat. Infant massage helps babies to grow and develop better. There has been some exciting research done in the area of touch and it’s connection to proper growth.

Touch stimulates growth-promoting hormones and increases the enzymes that make the cells of the vital organs. Premature babies who are touched and held show more weight gain then those who are left in incubators receiving little human touch or stimulation. In some eastern cultures, young mothers are reprimanded if they do not give their babies massages every day, so revered is the practice of infant massage.

Touch is good for your body and for your brain. Studies have been conducted that show that those who received plenty of human touch during infancy display enhanced neurological development. Researchers have drawn a connection between touch and the growth hormone “myelin” – which is the insulating material that surrounds nerves. This material makes nerve impulses move faster.

Touch has also been shown to improve digestion. When babies are touched often they secret more digestive hormones allowing for better digestion. Babies who have colic may benefit from a stomach massage to calm a irritated colon.

Baby massage can promote better sleeping patterns and lead to less fussiness and fickleness during the day. Most babies who fuss and cry a lot may scare off adults and lead to being picked up and cuddled less often. Adults need to understand that touch to babies can soothe them and bring about a more calm disposition. The same thing happens when an adult is upset and someone reaches out and touches your arm, or gives you a quick squeeze. That instant touch is felt, you feel an immense relief, a connection that says, “s(he) cares about me”. The fussy baby feels the same sense of relief over someone caring about them.

Baby massage teaches a baby about their body parts. They can learn which parts are sensitive and which parts being touched can relax them. Massage teaches a baby that they have self-worth and are of value to those around them.

Massage can especially help when he parent and infant have had a slow start in the bonding department due to the parent being absent, ill or otherwise unable to care for or be with the infant during the first hours or days of life. Massage can also help when the baby has been separated from mom or dad due to the infant being in the hospital or NICU unit due to medical complications or early birth.

Infant massage can help the giver and the baby to reconnect after being away from each other on a daily basis too. Like when the mom or dad works and then returns home. A daily massage upon return can help the two reconnect and relieve tension for both of them.

Massage can help lessen the fears of handling a new baby for the inexperienced parent or caregiver. Touch helps to get both of you in tuned to each other. Babies learn to respond to different strokes and they will soon learn to recognize daddy’s touch from mommy’s touch.

Because a new born baby is so small and vulnerable, it is always advised that new parents take lessons on how to provide massages for babies. Massaging for babies is different from adults on the level of strength used, the sensitivity of the baby to touch and the correct parts of the body that is beneficial for the baby. So, make sure you learn and understand all these before you start massaging your baby!

Most maternity hospitals will offer lessons on massaging for babies. If not, there are a number of good books on this subject. You may want to google Amazon Online to get a good instruction book on this subject.

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What exactly are the oil used in Massage Therapy?

Massage OilJust as there are different massage techniques, there are just as many massage oil used in massage therapy. Many different oils may be used by massage therapists and it is useful to know a little bit these oil as the knowledge may be useful to avoid oils that we may be allergic to or to ensure we get back our favorite massage oil every time we go for a massage.

Sweet almond oil is one type of oil that is commonly used in massage therapy. The oil contains many nutrients that can be helpful to the body, including vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. It nourishes the skin while providing the massage therapist with a sufficient method for smoothing their hands across your body. It is yellow in color and has no odor, and it is often used as the base of a massage therapists’ oil blend.

Apricot kernel oil is another type of oil that many massage therapists employ. It also contains many nutrients that can be helpful for the skin, and many massage therapists choose to use apricot kernel oil for facial massage. While it is a potent alternative to sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil tends to be more expensive, leading many massage therapists to use it only on small areas of the body such as the face, or mixing it with other oils.

Avocado pear oil is another plant-based oil that many find to be useful for massage therapy. It contains Vitamin D and gets deep into the skin which can be immensely helpful to those who have dry or sensitive skin. Many massage therapists use avocado pear oil as an addition to their massage oil blend, often in quantities of around ten percent of the total mixture.

Calendula oil is a type of oil that is much different than the previously discussed types. Where the other types of oil work primarily to help the skin to remain healthy, calendula oil has many magnificent properties that make it useful as an anti-inflammatory, as well as hormonal properties and healing properties which can be helpful when it comes to lessening the appearance of varicose veins, scars, and wounds. Like avocado pear oil, many massage therapists use calendula oil as a ten percent addition to their massage oil.

Evening primrose oil is a pricy type of massage therapy oil that is gaining in popularity. Those who use primrose oil state that it can be helpful for relieving the symptoms of pre-menstraul syndrome, as well as problems with multiple sclerosis and heart disease. Also, it has benefits for the skin, making it one of the most versatile additions that a massage therapist can make to their oil blend.

In Asia massages such as Thai or Javanese massage, popular blends of oil include Ylang Ylang, Lemon grass, Lavendar and Frangipani.

These are just a few of the oils that a massage therapist may use in their blends. When you visit a massage therapist, if you have any allergies to oil or sensitive skin you may want to discuss it with them in order to ensure that you won’t have a bad reaction to the oils that are used. While most oils used in massage therapy are well-tolerated, it never hurts to have a little precaution.

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Is this the largest spa in Singapore?

 

Singapore's largest spa

One of my credit card had a joint-promotion with one of the biggest spa in Singapore and I received a voucher that entitled me to a discounted couple spa package at this big and luxurious spa.

I remember this spa vividly because it is located in one of the largest and upmarket shopping centre in Singapore. It was opened only recently and had already received many rave reviews in the press. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I visit this spa!

This spa is located in Paragon Shopping Centre in Orchard Road, right smack in the middle of a upmarket shopping and hotel district that every tourist and probably every young Singaporean would spend their time in Singapore. The owner of this spa had cleverly chosen an area where a lot of well-to-do tourists and Singaporeans would be very feeling vey tired after many hours of shopping and shopping!

I persuaded my husband to join me at this spa. We purposely chose an early morning for this spa because I had heard that one difference about this spa is the non-stop complimentary food that they offer. We want to be there before lunch-time!

This was indeed a luxurious and up-market spa. Everything from the grand entrance to the interior decor to the spa pools were luxurious and were evidently meant to impress and inspire. The spa had a large hot pool with beds that sits into the water. Here, you can lay and relax in the hot pool while listening to the rush of the water all around you. The hot pool is large and will take more than 15 people comfortably. Getting up from the pool brings you to a shower and changing area and where the luxury furnishing continue to impress.

Other than the hot pool and shower/changing area, all other areas including the relaxation lounge and TV area were all unisex. I waited for my husband in the TV area before we went for our massage in a common room.

We had a combined shiatsu/aromatherapy massage. Although my masseur was good, my husband was not too happy of his masseur, who was in his opinion, a tad too inexperienced and was not able to give a good massage.

We moved to the relaxation lounge and watch a bit of TV. The lounge was big and was beginning to fill with people and noise. Fortunately, there were a few private rooms which were quieter because they were separated from the main lounge by a glass wall. We managed to get such a room and ordered some food.

The next two hours were sheer sin as we alternate between food, drinks, reading magazines, enjoying the soft easy chair and watching TV. One unique feature of this spa is that you are expected to spend time relaxing at the spa instead of the massage and go concept practised by most spas in Singapore.

We left after a couple of hours; feeling too guilty because of the amount of food we had taken. The food were really good; comparable to any good 5-star hotel fare and we really had a bit too much. The rest of the spa facilities were indeed impeccable and if money was not a problem, this spa would be our permanent camp!

The only really areas that this spa can improve on was the slightly cold service we received on occasions by the staff. We certainly hope they can buck up their service in time to come!

Location of spa boutique: Paragon Shopping Centre, Orchard Road, Singapore
Size of spa: Very, very big!
Friendliness: I find the service a little impersonal at times
Facilities: Large hot pool, jacuzzi, rest lounge, free flow of good food and drinks
Pricing: A bit on the high side. Acceptable for the occasional indulgence.

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The history of foot reflexology

Foot relexology meridian chartFoot reflexology aims to prevent or treat health conditions through the application of pressure to specific points reflexes on the feet. The underlying idea of reflexology is that areas of the feet correspond to other parts of the body, and by stimulating those areas; you can heal and detoxify any part of the body. Becoming more common these days is to also apply pressure to the hands, ears and even the face.Reflexology and many similar treatments have been used for thousands of years in places like China, Thailand, India and Egypt. It wasn’t until the early 20th century, when an American physician named William Fitzgerald suggested that the foot be “mapped” to other areas of the body to diagnose and treat medical conditions. This process was originally called zone therapy. He strategically divided the body into 10 zones, each zone representing a different organ or body system. He then proposed that gentle pressure on a particular area of the foot could relieve pain, tension and promote healing in the targeted zone.

In the 1930s, a nurse and physiotherapist named Eunice Ingham, further developed these maps to include specific reflex points. It was at that time that zone therapy was renamed reflexology and the name has stuck ever since. Modern reflexology charts include pictures of the feet with diagrams of corresponding internal organs or parts of the body. The right side of the body is represented in the right foot, and the left side, in the left foot. Reflexology is used by a vast array of health care providers today, such as massage therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists, physical therapists and even nurse practitioners.

The Theory
The theories behind reflexology have not been proven. However case studies do produce convincing evidence that the therapy is effective. One proposal, begun by the ancient Chinese, is that the body contains an invisible life force(chi), or energy field, represented by meridians, that when blocked result in sickness. The Chinese believe that stimulation of the foot and nerves can unblock and increase the flow of vital energy to various parts of the body, which promotes healing.

Modern doctors, who have studied the Chinese body meridian principles, put forward scientific theories that reflexology, massage and acupuncture causes the release of endorphins, which are natural pain killers produced by the body, stimulation of nerve circuits in the body, and the promotion of lymphatic flow or the dissolving of uric acid crystals leads to pain relief and curing of certain pain and illnesses.

What do you think?

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Pushy sales girl spoils an otherwise perfect spa and massage session

There is this small spa boutique which is near where I live. Every other day, I will pass this spa on my way home and one day, I finally couldn’t resist it and had to pop my head in to enquire about their spa packages.

Co-incidentally, the spa was holding a promotion for first time visitors. For S$288(@US$190), I would get a facial, a body scrub, a jacuzzi session and a 90 minutes massage for two people. Wow! That’s good value! I put down my money immediately.

A few weeks later, I decided to book a session for a lazy Sunday. Unfortunately, all sessions were full and I was a little disappointed. Luckily, a few hours later, the spa boutique called up and told me that a customer had canceled a booking and 10am, Sunday is now available. Yipiee…

My husband was my partner for the session. He normally does not join me for my spa sessions because he is always complaining that it is too expensive for his liking but because he was feeling very tired that day and because it was on a special offer, he decided to join me.

Although the spa boutique was small, they had a couple’s room which consisted of two beds, a shower and a Jacuzzi. The session started on time and began with a facial and the facial lady was very nice and gave short commentaries as she carried out the facial session. A mask was applied and the entire facial lasted nearly 45 mins.

Next was a body scrub where a scrubbing lotion was applied to the body. The body scrub takes dead cells of the skin and had a nice peppermint smell.

Next on was the Jacuzzi session where we spent a relaxing 20 minutes. After the jacuzzi and a shower, we were ready for the main massage.

The massage was soothing and was a combination of Javanese, Balinese and Shiatsu strokes. The masseurs were skillful and it was a good finishing to an enjoyable 3 hours. Hot tea was served to us at the end of the session and we were indeed grateful for a good morning well spent.

However, it was at this point that we ran into something unpleasant – persistent hard selling. After the session was over, it was the turn of a sales attack – persistent selling of their spa packages.

Although we were familiar with the hard sales that sometimes come after an enjoyable spa session, this sales attack was a bit too strong for our taste, especially as it involve thousand of dollars. We were also not confident of taking a long tern package with this spa because we find that the spa boutique being small – had a space constraint problem. We could clearly hear everyone coming in and out of the spa during our treatment because the room was so near to the main entrance!

Location of spa boutique: Spottiswoode Park, Singapore
Size of boutique: 4 rooms
Friendly: Yes
Facilities: In room shower and jacuzzi
Pricing: A bit high if not purchased as a package

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