Most people appreciate a great massage to soothe muscle pain, relieve stress, and restore from fatigue. How nurturing and therapeutic! Massage is actually one of the most ancient and elemental methods of treatment in human history. It requires no equipment or technology, beyond the application of our intuitive knowledge and our physical bodies. Although it is very simple and natural, as many of us can attest, massage is extremely effective. Even just a few minutes of massage can shift our stressful, tension-holding state into a relaxed and soothing state. It can “switch on” our natural relaxation and restoration functions, and “switch off” our stress mechanisms. An extended massage session with an experienced practitioner can simply work wonders, leaving you feeling amazing.
Most ancient medical traditions, from around the world and throughout history, include their own system of massage therapy. Tibetan massage hasa fantastic tradition of massage and gentle therapies, known as Kunye.
WHAT IS KUNYE?
Kunye is the ancient form of massage therapy taught in Traditional Tibetan Medicine. It is an effective, dynamic healing art. Presented in the classical texts of Tibetan Medicine, Kunye has been transcribed and formally taught for many centuries.
The term Kunye comes from two Tibetan words: “ku” means oil, and “nye” means to perform massage. So fundamentally, Kunye means “applying massage with oil”. In this article, we will discuss the format of Tibetan Kunye Massage, what it includes, and some of its benefits.
THE THREE STAGES OF KUNYE MASSAGE
There are three basic stages to a traditional Kunye Massage. These are: “applying oil, massaging in, wiping off.”
First, oil is generously applied to the body. For best results, we use heavy, sweet natured oils such as olive oil or even clarified butter. In fact, traditionally in the mountains of Tibet, clarified dri (female yak) butter is used, and is believed to have fantastic therapeutic properties. We also use oils infused with various herbs. We choose which kind of oil to use based on each persons individual constitutions and symptoms, as well as factors such as the season, local environment and other conditions.
Next, a variety of massage strokes and techniques are employed. Extra attention is paid to the hands, feet, head, and the “special points” described in the classical texts of Tibetan Medicine. Kunye Massage generally starts slow and gentle, working up to more vigorous action and deeper work on key muscles and specific points. Kunye also employs techniques of assisted stretching and joint mobilization.
At the end of the session, the excess oil is wiped off. We can use a warm wet towel for this, however the traditional way is to scrub the skin with dry chickpea flour. This opens the pores, absorbs excess oil leaving just the right amount in the skin. The result is hydrated, nourished skin and a radiant complexion.
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