Body & Soul: Recipe for Relaxation

Create herb-scented massage oils and rub someone the right way.

| December/January 2003



It’s so nice to be kneaded. In fact, what could feel better at the end of a tension-filled day than a massage, gently scented with your favorite aromatic herbs? Aches and pains fade, tensions ease, and for at least a few hours, the cares of the world seem to drift away. Massage is a way to help cope with stress, relax and focus on health and happiness.

A good massage oil greatly enhances the experience by easing the friction of skin against skin. Scented massage oils not only add an extra dimension of pleasure; the fragrance actually can guide you to a state of deep relaxation. If you’re an herb gardener, you may have a wealth of material ready and waiting to be steeped into a scented oil of your own creation. If you’re not, herb shops and health-food stores are stocked with likely possibilities.

I often have observed the power of fragrance at work in my herb garden. When I give a garden tour, everyone seems to respond similarly to the same herbs. Visitors smile and noticeably relax at the heady scent of lavender in full bloom; they seem to talk more softly around the chamomile, yet chatter away when we get to the peppermint bed.

I like to bring those herbal fragrances — and the responses they evoke — to the massage table. As a professional massage therapist, I know the value of fragrance in helping my clients relax or, if their energy or mood is low, to perk them up. Research has shown that herbal fragrances affect the mind and emotions; they can be not only relaxing but also lower heart and breathing rates. This use of fragrance forms the basis of aromatherapy.

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