Many people want massages, but not everyone gets to enjoy them. Perhaps we could massage ourselves, but then there is the matter of how. With this entry, we’re going to explore the “five hands” of Chinese Tui Na massage. These five hands, or methods, are simple enough to learn and easy enough to apply immediately, even as you read this post. Let’s try.
The first method is Tui (pronounced tway), which means to brush. The image is that of a duck, landing in the pond. It doesn’t splash into the water, instead it glides just along the surface smooth and light. In the same way, The first hand, Tui, brushes along the skin. How you brush is entirely up to you. Brush with the fingers, the palm, the back hand; brush with the wrist, the forearm, or even the elbow. Again, remember that bird gliding along the surface, the goal here is to simply warm up the skin. In this way, brush all over your body, from your face all the way down to your feet. It will almost be like dusting yourself off. Notice how this gets the body loose and warm, you’re now ready for the second hand.
The next hand is Na (pronounced nah), which means to grab. For this method, the image is that of a hungry person, pulling meat off of a turkey leg to eat it. You literally get a big handful of meat, grab it, and try to pull it away from the bone. This can be done anywhere on the body. Grab and pull around your neck and shoulders, continue down along your arms, forearms, wrists, and fingers. Grab along your lower back, hips, glutes, and thighs, continue down along your calves, ankles, feet, and toes. If you have meat, grab it because the second hand is for massaging the muscle. Notice how you feel now, you probably feel ten times better already, and we still have three hands left.
The third hand is An (pronounced awn), which means to press. The image here is one of pressing down, but with sensitivity. Almost like walking on thin ice; you want to step down firmly, but also light enough to feel the quality of the ice beneath your feet. Now apply this intelligent press to your body. Press down firmly, with your thumb, finger, palm, or elbow. Press beyond the skin, through the muscle, down to the bone, feeling every layer on the way down. This could be done on your face, head, and scalp, down to your ankles, heels, and arches, and everything in between. This is the method of An, and it is used to impact the bones. Ready for more?
Our fourth method is Mo (pronounced moah, like Noah’s ark), which means to rub or polish. Consider that to this point, we’ve been working our way in, layer by layer, skin to muscle to bone. We can’t go deeper than that, so this is where we work our way back out. To do this, polish deeply with pressure, down to the bone, now ease up a bit to the level of muscle, and the let up even more till you’re lightly polishing the skin. This can be a great way to soothe out tender areas that you discovered with the second and third hand. Oftentimes, just polishing can be a great massage all by itself.
Best for Last!
The final method is Pai (pronounced pie), which means to slap or hit. That’s right, just like it sounds, slap yourself all over your body. Any rhythm is fine, just enjoy yourself. Pat yourself down from head to toe, and feel your body buzz with stimulus. Pai technique, the perfect desert.
There you have it! These five hands can be done on yourself, or on others. The best part is, if you do it on someone else and they like it, maybe they will return the favor!