Acupressure- Ancient healing art that uses fingers to stimulate key points along the meridians to activate the healing response.  Acupressure and Acupuncture use the same points but acupressure does not use needles.  Symptoms are considered to be an expression of the condition of the body as a whole. ( Holding a point on your foot may assist in relieving a digestive problem.)  It is believed that tension in the muscles blocks the flow of energy (chi) not only in the muscles but in the associated internal organs.
Web resources:
American Oriental Bodywork Therapy Association
British Columbia Acupressure Therapists Association

Alexander Technique -Developed by F. Mathis Alexander (1869-1955) an Australian actor in the early 1900's.  Alexander developed the technique to assist in voice projection as he had lost his voice on stage before an audience.  Doctor's treatments failed, so he began investigating what he might be doing that brings it on.  He found that he tightened certain neck muscles when he talked which he found to be damaging to his voice. Alexander believed our natural functioning is impeded by faulty habitual patterns of thought and movement which are transmitted via the nervous system to the musculature causing inappropriate tension and distortion in the musculo-skeletal system.  According to Alexander, all movement flows from one basic movement- the lengthening of the spine.  It is not a system of exercises, but rather a learning process in which the student becomes able to identify and inhibit the faulty patterns. Training to become a teacher is 3 years.


Web resources
 American Society for the Alexander technique

www.alexandertechnique.com -Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique


Anma massage- general form of Chinese Qigong massage which uses 361 energy points or (tsubos). "an" means press: "mo" means rub; "anma" means massage.


AMMA Therapy - (translation: Push, Pull) Developed by Tina Sohn.  The technique uses deep tissue, friction and touch along the meridians to stimulate healing. Tina Sohn has discovered some powerful energetic points. The therapy also uses detoxification, herbs, vitamins and therapeutic exercises.
Book resources:
Amma Therapy by Tina Sohn- December 1996)
Healing Arts Pr; ISBN: 0892814888

Web resources:
AMMA Homepage


Applied Kinesiology (AK) - (not to be confused with traditional academic kinesiolgy- the study of how muscles move)  Discovered by George Goodheart, a chiropractor in Detroit MI in 1964.  AK uses muscle testing to evaluate and restore balance to the body. Muscle testing evaluates the quality of the muscle response not the strength. Muscle groups share energy pathways with internal organs and therefore every organ dysfunction appears in related muscles. Muscle weakness can be a result of misalignment, nutritional deficiencies and allergies. AK also uses nutrition, manipulation, diet, acupressure, exercise and education.
Also see Touch for Health, a simplified version of applied kinesiology.
See Kinesiology for more information.
Book Resources:
Applied Kinesiology by Tom and Carol Valentine
Applied Kinesiology: A Training Manual and Reference Book of Basic Principles and Practices by Robert Frost, George Goodheart 1st edition (March 21, 2002) Publishers Group West; ISBN: 1556433743
Web Resources:
International College of Applied Kinesiolgy


Aromatherapy-  The use of essential oils which are extracted from herbs, flowers, resins, woods and roots  which produce a therapeutic aroma to stimulate healing. Aromatherapy may be used with massage or done alone.  The quality of the oil is what makes the difference. Oils that are distilled from wild or organic plants are the best and also most expensive. Essential oils are often diluted with other  filler substances to make them more affordable and hence less effective. Some of the effects that oils produce include relaxation, energy stimulation, immune system support, hormone stimulation and increased circulation. Many oils are also found to be anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  A good aromatherapist will have many years of training and experience.  There is much to know about which species of plants are best for what situations.  If someone is saying they are doing aromatherapy, check their schooling, credentials and experience.
Book Resources:
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood
Fragrant Mind by Valerie Ann Worwood ISBN: 1880032910
Web resources:
National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists
The Guide to Aromatherapy-UK
Bird's Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy


Aston-Patterning- Developed in 1977 by Judith Aston, a former Rolfer who developed structural patterning for the Rolf Institute. She has a background in dance and movement education, but was really drawn to bodywork because of 2 auto accidents she was in.  Combines movement coaching, education, bodywork, ergonomics and  fitness to unwind the body.  The bodywork is a form of myofascial release and the sessions are followed up with movement to maintain the changes. The treatment is done with the clients body in the position of the least amount of stress. Her theory is based on the idea that the body is not symmetrical as Ida Rolf supports.  Rather, the body is asymmetrical with internal organs that are on different sides and muscle strength is different on each side due to brain dominance.  The work attempts to respect the asymmetry and allow it to move rather than try to change it. The certification program has a three level format that includes movement and bodywork.
Web resources:


Ayurvedic Massage- Ayurvedic is a system of health and medicine used in India. Ayurveda means "life knowledge" or "right living". The basic theory is that there are there basic bodytypes or tridoshas. There are three different types of massage for each tridosha. They have a system similar to meridians called Marmas. There are about 100 of these points and are said to be the source of the vital life force. There is one type of massage that is part of detoxification system from India called Pancha Karma, in which the body is cleansed inside and out to remove toxins. Most use Sesame oil which has a heating and stimulating quality.

The best known form of traditional Indian medicine is Ayurveda (from ayus, meaning 'life' and veda, meaning 'knowledge').


Ayurvedic medicine is said to have originated from the ancient Hindu sacred texts the Vedas, but these actually contain few medical references. Modern scholars believe it evolved, gradually absorbing influences from Buddhism and other traditions along the way.

The basis of Ayurveda is contained in two great medical compendiums written by Charaka and Sushruta more than 2,000 years ago. These texts cover a vast array of topics including pathology, diagnosis, treatment, surgery, lifestyle advice and philosophy. Legend has it that Charaka's compendium contains teachings passed down from the Hindu god Indra. Copies of these texts, written in Sanskrit on palm leaves, survive today and form the basis of Ayurvedic training.

Other notable Indian medical traditions include the Unani tibb tradition of Islam and the siddha tradition of the Tamils.

Concepts of the body

The body is seen as a microcosmic universe in which the five great primordial elements (panchamahabhutas) - ether (akasha), air (vayu), fire (agni), water (jala) and earth (prithvi) - combine to form three humours (doshas), known as wind (vata), choler (pitta) and phlegm (kapha).

Each dosha has its own qualities and functions in relation to the body. The balance between these doshas determines individual constitution (prakriti) and predisposition to disease. Constitution is also affected by the strength of a person's 'digestive fire' (agni) and bowel function (kostha).

Seven tissues (dhatus) and their waste products (malas) make up the physical body and a network of channels circulate fluids and essences around the body. Three interdependent universal constituents, the three gunas - purity (sattva), activity (rajas) and solidity (tamas) - also influence health and determine mental qualities.

Disease occurs if lifestyle, mental or external factors cause an imbalance in one or more of these components.


Typically, an eight-fold examination (astavidha pariksha) is used to determine the balance of the three doshas. This involves examination of pulse (nadi), tongue (jihva), voice (sabda), skin (sparsa), vision (drka), general appearance (akrti), urine (mutra) and stools (mala).

The pulse is taken on the radial artery and overall pulse quality is noted. A vata pulse is fast and slippery, a pitta pulse is jumpy and a kapha pulse is slow and steady. In tongue diagnosis the general appearance, colour and coating of the tongue is noted. Vata tongues are dry, rough and cracked; pitta tongues are red with oily, yellow coating; and kapha tongues are swollen and moist with greasy, white coating. 

Similar signs of dosha imbalance are looked for in the other types of examination and combined with information about the person's constitution, age, body type and so on to determine the best treatment. Astrological charts may be used to determine the role of karma or spirits.


Treatment aims to restore the balance of the doshas. Herbal medicines are combined with massage and manipulation, dietary and lifestyle advice and yoga exercises. There are also five panchakarma purification techniques used for cleansing and detoxifying the body.

What's it good for?

Ayurveda is growing rapidly in popularity in the West, but most Ayurvedic research has been carried out in India. Studies have shown it to be effective for many disorders including digestive, skin and gynaecological problems. Panchakarma techniques are said to be particularly effective for nasal congestion, sluggish digestion and stress.

The essence of understanding Ayurvedic massage is to understand prana. There is nothing more subtle in the body than prana. Even a subtle mental process like thinking can be grasped, reasoned with, or utilized. Not so with prana. It empowers the body/mind and is closely linked with the soul. Prana manifests as the three humors, or doshas, in Ayurveda. Without a good understanding of prana and its fivefold functions in the body, Ayurvedic massage cannot be understood as a therapeutic science. As with many of the methods coming from the Indian Vedic tradition, the presentation of massage from the Ayurvedic system is usually missing the subtle aspects that make it a true healing therapy. These secrets set Ayurvedic massage apart from other methods of bodywork along with its use of medicinal plants and oils. In general, Ayurvedic therapies can be divided into two distinct branches: building and reducing. Building therapies are designed to increase the strength of the patient. Reducing therapies are more complex and eliminate imbalances of the humors. Reduction therapy is usually given before building therapies to clean and prepare the system for regeneration and strengthening. Ayurvedic massage can be used in both ways - either to strengthen the system or to help clean and reduce excess in the system. What is the purpose of giving a massage? Do you wish to relax? To release tension? To strengthen the body? To help liberate toxins? To nourish the muscle and fat tissues? To maintain the three humors? To balance one of the humors? Are you using massage as part of a greater reducing therapy? Are you using massage as part of a strengthening program? To open and release deep connective tissue? To release trapped emotions and feelings? For any of the above reasons the constitution, or Prakruti, of the person must be determined, then the present state, or Vakruti, of the person must be determined. The purpose of giving a massage must then be defined according to a comparison of Prakruti and Vakruti. With this information an Ayurvedic therapy can be determined. Without understanding the therapeutic purpose you are not practicing Ayurveda. . There are four primary reasons for giving a massage in Ayurveda: - to eliminate toxins or excess - to purify - to rejuvenate - to maintain the strength. With the above information in mind it is important to realize that for massage to really be considered a method of healing someone there are a number of factors to understand. Ayurvedic massage is more advanced than Western massage therapeutically. Western massage is strong in techniques and is very sophisticated in this respect. But, its actual medical effectiveness is far less than massage used in Ayurveda. This is primarily because it uses herbs and oils to balance the three doshas according to the individuals needs, and it understands fully the marma points and the nadi meridian system that control the pranas.



Web resources:
National Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine- Scott Gerson, MD


Clinical Massage Certification - Clinical Massage Transcript - Traditional Chinese Medicine Degree - Traditional Chinese Medicine Transcript
Send mail to websupport@MarcusBall.com with questions or comments about this web site.