Massage is a great way to relax and heal the body and mind. Giving a massage to your spouse is a gift that can relieve tension, demonstrate how much you care, and lead to greater intimacy and even sex. It's simple really. "There are no special tricks to massage - no hours of practicing weird techniques - no tedious vocabulary to learn," writes Gordon Inkeles in The Art of Sensual Massage (Arcata Arts, updated in August 2006). "With a warm quiet place and a bottle of scented oil, you can spread pleasure over every inch of your partner's body." Here are instructions for giving a massage -
1. Massage - Prepare your hands for magic.
Make sure your hands are clean, your nails are cut short, and you’ve removed all jewelry – from rings to watches. Keeping them moisturized is a great idea because no one wants dry, cracked hands rubbing against their skin. If you’d like to go the extra mile, you can work out your hands, by squeezing a ball and stretching your fingers. You want your hands to be strong and supple.
2. Massage - Set a relaxing mood.
You don’t need high-tech equipment or anything fancy. For starters, you should use a bed or a mattress on the floor. If that’s not possible, you can use a comforter or blankets on a carpet as a “massage table.” The important thing is to make sure there’s enough padding, so the person getting the massage is comfortable. Candlelight makes for the best kind of lighting when giving a massage. Some people like soft music or sounds of nature, but others prefer the silence. That’s up to the two of you. If you’d like you can add incense or flowers to perfume the air. You’ll need towels to protect the area from the oils you’ll be using and to cover the person getting massaged.
3. Massage - Be confident in your skills.
Ideally, the masseuse will be on his or her feet to give the most pressure and maintain good posture. The masseuse will remain focused on his or her hands and their movements and the exchange he or she is experiencing with the person getting massaged.
"Central to the success of any touch therapy is your state of mind and attitude to your partner," according to The Book of Massage by Lucinda Lidell, Carola Beresford Cooke, and Sara Thomas (Fireside, second edition January 2001). "You should regard each session as a new experience and bring to each one of a feeling of genuine caring, consideration, and respect."
4. Massage - Use massage oils or creams.
Some massage experts suggest using vegetable oil. If you’d like scented oils, you can either add a scent to plain oil or purchase already scented massage oils or creams. Keeping your hands moist will help them easily glide on the skin of the person getting massaged without chafing. You both need to be comfortable throughout the massage. Never administer cream or oil directly to the body. Your best bet is to rub a nickel-sized dollop of oil between your hands to get started.
5. Massage - Stroke your partner.
Get your mind out of the gutter. Stroking is one of the simplest massage techniques, and is therefore a great starting point for the at-home massage.
"You can do a whole body massage using only stroking movements, giving variety and interest simply by changing the speed and pressure of the strokes," according to The Complete Book of Massage (Random House, 1988) by Clare Maxwell-Hudson. "Slow movements are calming, while brisk movements are stimulating."
6. Massage - Focus on coverage.
You should slowly increase the pressure of your stroke, moving your hands in an upward motion. Do your best to get as much coverage as possible because the person getting massaged is going to notice if you miss something. Refrain from poking the person by always keeping one hand on the body and moving it. You can add oil to the top of your hand and rub the other hand over it whenever necessary.
7. Massage - Add variety.
Once you're comfortable with stroking and increasing the pressure, you can try other movements, such as kneading the flesh. This is like kneading dough There's also knuckling, where you make a fist to put pressure on the flesh. You can see images and get specific directions from various books and Web sites on massage, including About.com's Guide to Spas, which includes information on how to perform sensual massage at home. There are many types of massage - from deep tissue to shiatsu - about which you can become familiar.
8. Massage - Stay in the moment.
The give and take of massage combined with the sometimes sensual touch can help you and your spouse become more intimate and perhaps could even improve sex. But you will only see the results of massage if you remain ever present and refrain from getting distracted. Think of giving massage as a chance at meditating on your partner. Shut out the rest of the world and enjoy one another.