Words by Blanka Priddle
I think we often forget quite how much power we hold in our own two hands, and how revitalising and healing the touch of our own hands can be. Finding a great massage therapist and going for a massage regularly should be on our self-care list at least every few weeks, but life gets busy, and we often don’t make an appointment until we suffer with pain. But massage doesn’t have to, and I believe that it shouldn’t, be the last port of call when our body is hurting because we have neglected it for a long while..
I have recently been re-introduced to this super simple and easy but oh-so-effective technique that we can all use in the morning, either every day, or just on those days when you feel sluggish and woolly headed – a self massage! Using your own hands, fingers and soft fists we can wake up the energy all around the body, get the circulation going and put a smile on our face. It is going to take a lot longer to write, and longer to read, then it actually takes to do, so I invite you to please try it at least once, so that you experience how effectively and quickly you can change how you feel!
Self massage anytime, anywhere
It is wonderful to start the day with this, but it will give you a caffeine-free lift at any time of the day. You can do this when you are fully dressed, which allows you to bring this ‘tool’ with you wherever you go – the office, the airport, a hotel room or a crowded shopping centre.
To start, simply stand and feel your feet on the ground for a moment. Check in with yourself and notice how you feel, in body and the mind and in your energy level.
Then pinch your fingers together to a point, and start tapping softly just underneath your eyes. You may notice your breath almost immediately deepening. Then tap a few times under your collarbones. From here take your hands to your sternum, the chest bone; in the space behind this bone is the Thymus gland, a major player in the proper functioning of our immune system; apparently this gland often becomes inactive as we get older, but here we can gently wake it up and invite it to play a role in our wellness again. Then still with fingers pinched together tap on the side of the ribcage, up and down. I have learnt this little routine from Energy Medicine by Donna Eden, and to be honest with you, if this is all you have time for, you will have already made a difference to your energy levels. She calls it The Four Thumps.
If you have another couple of minutes, start waking up your face by raining your fingertips all over it, softly drumming them around your eyes, your forehead, rest of the face and neck, you can let it spill to your scalp as well.
Then make soft fists with your hands and start bouncing them down the sides of the ribcage, returning through the centre of the chest. Make a few rounds here, then place your hands flat on your belly to wake up your digestion. Start moving your hands up on the right side of the belly, swipe left under the ribs, and then down on the left side. This is the direction in which the large intestine moves, and you can let the movement become lively circles all around the belly. You want to use a little pressure, but only as much as feels comfortable for you. As you get going, you can start gently bounce your knees up and down, up and down, bringing some fluidity into the joints of the legs.
From here make those soft loving fists and bounce them on the muscles of your bum, as vigorously as you like, as we can hold a lot of tension here. Breathe deeply. Then reach with your pinched fingers as high up as you can on your back and rub the fingers up and down along the sides of your spine to wake up the energy here. Now open your hands flat and slide them to lower back, beginning to massage this area where your kidneys and adrenal glands live. Make lovely circles around and around, until you feel the warmth spread around the whole space of your lower back.
Fists again, this time going outside of our legs; starting on the outside of the upper thigh moving down.
Once you get to the feet, open your hands and softly clap and pat your palms and fingers along the feet all the way to the tips of your toes, and take it from here with your open hands up on the inside of the legs; remember your ankles, but be gentle here, as again this area may be sensitive. You can repeat the leg round a few times, bending the knees as much as you need to make this easy for your lower back.
Finally come to stand with your hands hanging alongside your body, the way you started. Take a moment to check in with yourself again. Let your collarbones widen, your heart lift, and notice your breath. Be aware of how wonderful you feel right now. Your mouth might be smiling without you even knowing!
Blanka has been passionately learning about all things natural and alternative since her teens and has been on this exploring journey for almost three decades now. She discoved essential oils back in the 90s, fell in love with raw living foods in the noughties, and played with many other things in between. She is a Kundalini as well as Hatha yoga teacher, enjoys cooking, makes her own beauty products, and is always on a quest to find the best coffee in town.
Originally from the Czech Republic, she now lives with her Husband and a cat called Chloupek in SE London, where she teaches from her cosy yoga studio.