HEALING FACELIFT: Anna Stanhope massages Neryda McNabb’s healing accupressure points. Photo Troy Baker D8743-10

“SO, do I look 10 years younger?”

I was joking when I asked the question of my partner after returning home from a one-hour Ayurvedic face massage recently. I was prepared for the less-than-diplomatic response that can fall from the lips of a man that doesn’t always realise that the right answer to these such questions is not necessarily the true answer.

But he surprised me with “I don’t know about 10 years younger, but your skin does look different” – in this case the right answer and the true answer. My skin definitely looked, and felt, different.

Anna Stanhope from Flow Massage Therapy in Whakatane has recently trained in Ayurvedic face massage, which uses a kansa wand and is known in India as a facelift massage. She completed her training at the London Centre of Indian Champissage and is now offering the face massages alongside her other services.

The massage is based on the principles of Ayurveda, one of the oldest healing systems in the world.

Using a nourishing oil of your choice, Anna massages the marma points (Ayurvedic acupressure points) on your face – around the eyes, nose, lips and neck area – using the kansa wand. Kansa means bronze and this metal alloy combining copper and tin with trace elements such as zinc, is known in India as the healing metal.

The wand can move deep into and underneath the contours of the face and around areas like the browline, jawline and neck where tension is held. It allows Anna to work deeper into the muscles for optimum tension release and to target specific marma points.

The face has more than 40 muscles and stimulating these with regular massage helps bring oxygen to the area and increase muscle tone, while helping to remove dead skin cells, improve the flow of blood and lymph and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.

Alongside eating, drinking plenty of water, exercising, protecting your skin from the sun, relaxing and reducing stress, one of the best ways to improve the appearance of facial skin is with massage.

Kneading facial skin and muscles helps maintain the elasticity of the collagen and elastin fibres while stimulating marma points helps release energy blockages. The treatment draws blood gently upward towards the skin and this increased microcirculation helps nourish the skin, remove waste and boost radiance.

Radiance is probably the best word for the visible change brought about by my Ayurvedic face massage.

What is not visible, but equally important, is the sense of wellbeing and calm it promotes. An hour lying with eyes closed and soothing music playing in the background as fragrant oils are massaged into your face is absolute bliss.

A hectic life means a jumble of thoughts are usually rolling around in my head and it did take a while to completely relax and clear my mind, but when I did it was wonderfully relaxing – sleep inducing almost.