What is Amma Therapy

Blue BirdAmma Therapy is an ancient healing system whose origins date back approximately 5,000 years to the period of the Yellow Emperor. Amma is a complex and highly refined system of body work therapy employing a wide variety of massage techniques, manipulations, and the application of pressure, friction and touch to points on the channels on which they are found. The channels are the pathways through which energy passes throughout our bodies.

Am-ma means “push-pull” in Chinese. It is interesting to note that Amma Therapy utilizes all the techniques of the major forms of therapeutic massage:

  • Deep pressure and point manipulation, used in Shiatsu massage, are applied in the administration of an Amma treatment by the master practitioner to attain the desired effects of energetic movement and release of muscular contraction.
  • Foot reflex points, commonly referred to as “foot reflexology”, are stimulated during the course of treatment. Stimulation of these points often has profound results on the deeper organs and tissues of the body.
  • Deep Fascial manipulation techniques and connective tissue manipulation, used in Rolfing, are part of the repertoire of the master therapist, as well as
  • muscle stretching and pushing techniques that are commonly used in the European or Swedish massage.
  • In addition, the master therapist is well versed in, and fully capable of, the skeletal manipulations that are the basis of chiropractic.

Amma, therefore, is less defined by a specific technique than by its purpose, philosophy, and sophisticated practice as a healing art.

WoodpeckerIt is probable that Amma was actually the grandparent of traditional Chinese Medicine. It is fundamentally an energetic therapy concerned with the balance and movement of “life energy” in the human body. From the basic application of hand technique used to balance the flow of energy, other methods were developed, including the use of needles (acupuncture), heat (moxibustion), skeletal manipulation, the appropriate use of herbal medications, diet, and meditation. In traditional Chinese medicine all these approaches are concerned with the flow and balance of energy in the channels. The modern Amma therapist is knowledgeable in all of these areas, but relies primarily on the sensitivity and strength of the hands to manipulate life energy.

The training of an Amma therapist emphasizes the personal development of the individual. Physically, great strength must be developed so that the precise pressure can be applied without strain. Sensitivity plays a fundamental role in Amma Therapy, also goes beyond the use of the fourteen major channels, or energy pathways, and makes use of the lesser known Tendino-Muscle and Connecting Channels as well. The Amma therapist must be prepared to feel extremely subtle changes in the skin as well as in the deep muscle layers. It is important to note that all Amma therapists practice Hatha yoga and Tai-Chi to maintain the sensitivity and the ability to control the energy that flows within their own bodies. Ultimately, the Amma therapist develops the ability to use this QI to help heal others. Amma can be a means of enormous personal development for the practitioners.

The ability to heal another is fundamentally unattainable without great self-awareness and inner-self control. A basic aspect of the development of a true Amma therapist must be the development of control of his own inner emotional nature. When one is bound to his emotional experience and to the pictures and ideas that one has of himself, as opposed to the reality of oneself, one can not help another. Guidance is needed to brake through the veils of fantasy. In the attempt to become an Amma therapist, a competent guide must be sought out and his guidance followed in all areas of direction, physical as well as emotional.

End note: The Idea of “Life energy” or vital force is an ancient concept of Eastern healing arts. It is called qi in China, Ki in Japan, and pran in India. It was first investigated in the West through Kirlian and infrared photography and electrical conductance.