Massage ups blood flow, which gets more oxygen to the brain, which will improve mood. Push your entire hand around a section of the body—such as back, thighs, or upper arms—in a loop. In back circulation, for example, the recipient should feel one continuous motion from the base of the spine to the shoulders, then down the sides, then across the hips.
This penetrating movement acts as a natural analgesic to sore spots. Gather up a generous handful of flesh, framing the sore spot between your closed fingers and open thumb. Lean forward and put weight on that hand, then use your free hand to circle slowly and with pressure on the framed muscle tissue—not just the surface skin—below.
Lift folds of flesh between the thumb and fingertips, squeeze, and release, working in a circle. Repeat, alternating hands in the same area to create a rhythmic, rolling sensation—just like kneading bread.
The dreaded "karate chop" should feel more like a gentle rain than a thunderstorm, according to Inkeles. Cushion your thumping stroke by striking your fisted hand onto your flat hand as it rests on your partner’s body. Or bend your hands into upside-down cups and pummel gently to create vibrations that awaken nerves and control stress.
hink of massage as a thoughtful exploration of your lover's body, rather than a task that must be completed in order to get your turn. Generosity beats strength and skill: Repeating simple strokes and massaging for at least an hour will give more pleasure than attempting complicated movements.
"Most people don't see massage on the menu of life. We tend to rush our pleasures," adds Inkeles. "What could be more precious than having someone who is generous enough to focus on the needs of all your body parts?"
RULES OF THE RUB
-Turn off phones; remove distractions; play soft music.
-Make the environment warm (at least 70 degrees F). Light healthy soy candles such as Ergo (www.ergocandle.com) or Suntouched (www.eathlybody.com), which melt into moisturizing massage oil.
-Oil everything except the scalp. Try Jurlique's Romance Blend (www.jurlique.com), a heady mix of orange, patchouli, and ylang ylang, or D.I.Y.: safflower oil with a few drops of lemon juice.
-Have towels handy.
-Repeat the same strokes over and over.
-Quietly disappear when the massage is over.
-Massage on a bed—create a soft surface on the floor.
-Talk, or massage while your partner is reading or watching TV.
-Probe or poke the body.
-Break body contact.
-Apply pressure to the spine or back below the ribs, when the kidneys are unprotected.
-Change the rhythm or pace of your strokes.
-Wear a watch or jewelry.
-Say "My turn!" after you have finished.