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Secrets of Turkish bath massage

by Aaron Finch

Turkish bath massage is a type of bodywork developed in the Ottoman Empire and later spread across Europe.Refresh 24 spa

Evidence of bathing-related rituals can be found as far back as the Sumerians, with written references to wealthy Egyptians ritually bathing themselves for cleanliness and ritual purification dating back to 2200 BC. All kinds of iconic figures like Socrates, Mithra and even Jesus himself were said to practice some form of ritual cleansing with water for spiritual purposes.

Secrets of Turkish bath massage :

1. The Turkish bath is also known as a Hammam, or Hamman : 

A Turkish bath is a type of public bath, different from the ancient Roman bath. Turkish baths are still found in many parts of the Middle East, and are still used as places of relaxation. Turkish baths can be found in Istanbul, and the best bath facilities are typically found in the Sultanahmet district. The Turkish Baths of Constantinople were built in the 4th century, they are one of the oldest surviving Roman public baths. They functioned as a public bath, a gymnasium, and a hospital.

2. Benefits of Turkish baths :

The benefits of a Turkish bath are well known throughout the world. It is believed that bathing with hot water stimulates blood circulation, improves sleep and relieves stress. The steamy warm atmosphere has been used for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years (Mithraism says that “it dries up sweat”, which is why Christianity banned it).

3. Massage :

Massage has been used in many civilizations across the globe. Roman soldiers were often encouraged to bathe first before going into battle. The Greeks and Romans used massage for relaxation and for treatment of injuries.

“Shiatsu” is a Japanese form of acupressure that uses the thumb and fingers to apply pressure on certain points along the body known as “acupressure points”. It is believed that these points relate to different parts of the body, and can be stimulated to improve health. Shiatsu practitioners believe that through this stimulation, qi (or chi) is distributed through the meridians in the body, which promotes healing.

4. Basic composition of a Turkish bath :

A typical Turkish bath consists of a succession of rooms, containing steam rooms of varying temperatures, massage tables, and saunas.

Steam room : 

The steam room contains hot water vapor at high temperature to which different scents are added; the user sits or stands in the vapors for a steam bath. Water vapors accumulate in the domed ceiling and create an environment similar to that of a low pressure cloud.

 In traditional baths there are no showers or taps: the water is poured from one bucket into another according to need by hand, and emptied into drains in the floor. The hot water cooks the skin and loosens the hair, while the steam prevents the air from reaching the skin, so that the pores remain open. The effect is to remove impurities from cells.

Clothes are left in a locker before entering, because all clothing must be removed before entering, as there are rules against bringing any items into the baths (for example shoes and sandals, which can cause burns). 

Any articles not removed are left where they fall. More modern baths may have “showers” for this purpose; but it is also possible for visitors to shower beforehand in their own bathroom or elsewhere outside of their Turkish bath.

Steam room temperatures may range from hot (up to 100°F) to very hot (130°F and up). They are typically rather humid pitch-black inside, in order to maximize the feeling of heat.

Massage rooms : 

In a typical Turkish bath, there will be several small dressing and lounging rooms. After stripping off in a locker or changing room, the bathers move into a warm sauna. Some saunas are hotter than others; some even have a pool where one can sit with one’s head well below the water line. After perspiring freely in a hot sauna or steam room, one enters the cool-down rooms, then goes to the relaxation room.

Cool-down rooms : 

The cool-down rooms are just that: rooms at a comfortable temperature, where bathers can relax and “cool down” in times of winter. They are also used for resting between bouts of exercise. The cool-down rooms are often decorated with plants and have lounge chairs for relaxing. It is possible to enter these areas directly from the street outside the baths; however, it is often necessary to pass through one or more “wet” areas before entering a “dry” area like a cool-down room.

Relaxation room :

In the Turkish bath, relaxation rooms are available for meditation, sleep, and reading. The basic furniture is a stool, a table and a pillow. The room is lit by candles or dim electric lights. It is not uncommon to find models of historic baths in such rooms. In some Turkish baths there are also massage tables with mirrors on them for bathers to consider the progress of their massages at their leisure. There may be bedding for sleeping if it is needed.

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