Health: Traditional Indian massage

Facial massage
Facial massage
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‘I hope you’re not driving after this treatment,” says my therapist, Frances. Thankfully, I’d already decided that I’d get the bus, once I’d experienced her relaxing Mukhabhyanga Natural Face Lift Massage.

It’s based on the ancient principles of ayurvedic medicine, using rasayana (anti-ageing) techniques, and aims to stimulate “marma points” – thus, releasing “blocked energy”.

According to Frances there are around 13 of the aforementioned areas on the face alone.

“These points are first worked in an anti-clockwise circular stroke, which is detoxifying,” she explains.

“Then they are manipulated in a clockwise direction which is nourishing and brings about positive energy or “prana”. Finally they are worked in an upward direction which helps to accumulate energy”.

I’ve had a few ayurvedic treatments before and, purely on a superficial level, I have found them to be extremely soothing. This was no different. After a consultation, I hopped onto the warm treatment bed and slid underneath a towel, jeans still on, and, with the sound of rain pelting down outside, Frances set to work.

First of all, my make-up was removed with rosewater and cotton wool. Then my therapist began the facial massage, with warmed oil, which smelt like sesame and earthy turmeric (this ayurvedic preparation is, indeed, edible, should you be so inclined). There are no masks, exfoliating potions or eye creams used as part of this treatment. It’s a full 60 minutes of massage, which is nice, as you could quite easily do all the other stuff at home and there’s no hard sell when it comes to products.

Frances focuses on areas including the nasolabial folds (those ventriloquist’s dummy lines that run from the edge of your nose to the corner of your mouth), as well as points along the jawline and in the centre of the forehead, using pressing and rolling movements. My favourite sensation was when my wrinkled brow was repetitively smoothed with a cupped palm.

Towards the end of the treatment, there’s a scalp massage again using plenty of oil. Then Frances covers my eyelids with rosewater infused pads and leaves the room for a couple of minutes, while I have a snooze, before returning to towel off the products (and, she explains, any toxins that may have been released).

Although she recommends a course of six for the best results, my skin looked peachy after one treatment. I also felt utterly zonked. Thank goodness for the bus.

Mukhabhyanga Natural Face Lift Massage, £50 for 60 minutes. Frances Paolo offers this massage from Mulberry House, 21 Manor Place, Edinburgh (0131-225 2012, See