Reiki & Shiatsu

I am always continually professionally developing no matter where in the world I am, keen to add a holistic aspect to my sports physiotherapy degree – what better than a spot of Reiki. How useful combined with pitch side trauma! Which elite rugby player wouldn’t be begging for a spot of Reiki along with a concussion assessment or a bit of pre match chakra opening whilst strapping an ankle…? Yes, I am currently an unemployed sports physiotherapist & no I can’t see myself gaining employment any time soon. I can only presume my confusing back catalogue of internationally obtained continuing professional development to supplement my wanderlust is not exactly catapulting my career.

I completed Reiki Level 1 in India last month, you can read about it here & here. It was focused on self healing. I would like to learn more about it & be able to incorporate Reiki into my treatments so I have been researching Level 2 courses. I found one in Pokhara & met with the instructor (obviously it turns out he wasn’t the instructor…). He is friendly, non creepy & has a positive encouraging energy.

Keen to expand my knowledge base I also signed up for Shiatsu.

I will be attending Osho Meditation centre for these courses. The cost is 32000NPR which also includes accommodation & food for 5 days as well as meditation & yoga every day. I am looking forward to starting this programme & hope the meditation & yoga bring me the peace I’ve been seeking.

Seeing Hands – Blind Massage in Kathmandu, Nepal

I had heard of a popular massage clinic called Seeing Hands in Kathmandu. It is run entirely by blind people. The project began as a small charity providing professional massage training to the blind. The British founders wanted to create a business which reinvests in its growth & continues to train blind therapists. It has grown into a self sufficient social enterprise run by the blind to aid the blind. A remarkable venture!

The reviews on trip advisor were exceptional & I was keen to get a massage so I called in & made an appointment for myself & a girl from my hostel. We arrived early for our appointment & sat in the busy waiting room seeing the previous clients come out from their massage relaxed & rejuvenated – I couldn’t wait to be them! When we were called into our shared massage room we undressed & lay on our treatment tables already relaxed at the prospect of our upcoming massages!

Our therapists asked us questions relating to our massage preference & any points of tension while applying oil. My therapist had a confident stroke & I melted into the table, my muscles aching for some attention. Her pressure was firm but not as strong as I would prefer & after a few requests for more pressure I relented. The hour went in too quickly & all too soon we had to leave.

We dressed & walked down the stairs as though walking on clouds of air. I love that almost sedated feeling after a good massage. The man on reception was also blind, which I only realised after I unhelpfully handed him the money without advising him how much I gave him. We paid around £12 each for our 1 hour massages. It was considered pricey for the area but I feel strongly on supporting honest commendable businesses. I hope to get another massage after trekking. I felt this one was well deserved after India & my unnecessarily lengthy 30 hours of travel to Nepal.

If you are in Kathmandu (or Pokhara, where they have another branch) I really recommending getting a massage. It is for a really good cause. The profits from the company get reinvested to train new therapists & the therapists get paid for the treatments they provide. It offers such a good opportunity for disadvantaged people to become independent in difficult circumstances. I adore this business model & the commitment they have made to make such a positive impact on lives. I have to say it wasn’t in the top 5 massages of my life, but given the circumstances they did a really impressive job. I noticed people complain about the setting as being grimy but it was fine – I’ve been to a helluva lot of worse places! If you’re in the area I think Seeing Hands* is worth a try. Enjoy!

*Sadly I have to warn you to beware of similar companies exploiting their blind therapists, set up purely for profit.

Ayurvedic Massage in Goa, India

I am contemplating learning about Ayurvedic medicine & massage. Logically I know I should try the treatment before I sign up straight away to do a course. I priced a few places but it seemed to be mainly male masseuses. I never had an issue with male therapists before & throughout university I was mostly paired with males so felt no real difference with gender. An excellent therapist is an excellent therapist. My last two treatments by males, however, have been sub standard. In Malaysia I had a massage from a male who I’m sure was not trained (& it didn’t help that we had a language barrier & couldn’t communicate) & in England I had a Crania Sacral treatment from a male therapist & I could sense he was incredibly awkward & he made me feel so uncomfortable I didn’t enjoy any of the treatment & wanted to stop him during it. Keen for an easier life I am making the executive decision to stick to female therapists. As an open person, this is a shame, but I don’t want to sacrifice my comfort, time or money to prove I’m an open person.

The place I selected seemed to be busy & reputable with good reports from two of my friends. They had female therapists, a relaxing environment & it’s close to my hostel. We booked for later that day & chilled out on the beach before our treatments that evening. It was another beautiful day in Goa where we went to the beach, had a swim & didn’t do much else. This is the life!

When we arrived for out massage we were hustled to out treatment rooms. It was very dark & grubby with bugs crawling on the ground…. The therapist spoke little english & indicated for me to take my clothes off while watching me intently at close range. I felt very uncomfortable being rushed & oogled. Since language wasn’t an option for communication I made a few faces to convey me questioning why she was standing so close but this was also lost in translation. I just got on with it. She put paper sumo pants on me & ushered me to lie on the plastic treatment table which had no covers. I blocked my mind to all the hygiene issues.

The therapist started the massage using a lot of oil. It seemed that the strokes were mainly long, sweeping, full body moves. I requested several times for more pressure but gave up when she failed to respond. I don’t know whether this was a communication issue or she had applied too much oil to generate pressure. At the start of the treatment the therapist had to leave to get a mosquito coil & throughout the treatment I could feel new points where the mosquitos were biting me.

Halfway through the therapist stopped & indicated for me to turn on to my back to which I laughed. She had used so much oil I would surely fall from the plastic table to the dirty concrete floor & break my skull. I worried about what they would do with my body & if police would come to take pictures of my greasy naked contorted body at the scene*…. The therapist assisted my vulnerable bare body into position. I grimaced as she did the fast massage, surely she would snag my nipple piercing. This was not relaxing. Or deep & therapeutic. She used so much oil I felt saturated & dirty. I was glad when the treatment was over & I had to be helped off the treatment table.

She helped me wipe off the excess oil with a dirty rag then proceeded to use this to wipe off the treatment table ready for the next person. Gross. I quickly put my clothes over my oily body & scratched my nine new inflamed mosquito bites on my arms, torso & legs as I handed over 1000 Rupees/ £10.

I am certainly less tempted to study Ayurvedic massage after this. It wasn’t the worst massage but I did not enjoy it. Of course I won’t base my opinion on one massage, but it wasn’t a great introduction.

*I don’t have any pictures of my ordeal, luckily, but you can use your imagination if you like!

Ubud Massage

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Under the guise of ‘career research’ I went for my very first Balinese massage. I went to Jaen’s Spa II. A driver collected me & took me a 15 minute drive away into the more peaceful countryside. I adored being away from the bustle of the town!  The spa was idyllic with spiritual statues, a little garden & a relaxing flowing fountain.
When I arrived the lovely receptionist greeted me & offered me a drink & the massage menu. I selected my massage then picked an Ylang Ylang oil from the 3 choices. I was introduced to my therapist Leny who showed me to a seat & bathed my dusty feet. I have the most tickly feet so this was embarrassing & not very relaxing. It seemed lovely with the flower petal in the bowl & my feet were in dire need of a scrub!
Next I was shown to the treatment room. It had two treatment tables, a shower & a bath. Leny left while I got changed into the sexy paper undies & lay face down on the table. Leny came back & gave me the best massage I’ve had in a long time. Seriously, it was the top 3 o my life! The pressure & strokes were perfect & her strength was undeniable. As a massage therapist I really appreciated the treatment & enjoyed every moment. She knew exactly where to spend more time on me & when to move on. When I requested alternative pressure she reacted accordingly & it was perfect! I made mental notes of some of her moves with the intention to incorporate them during my treatments.
After my massage I felt amazing! I was offered a fruit plate & drink from the receptionist & discussed the likelihood that I would return the next day if I was staying on in Ubud. It is so pleasing to find an amazing therapist & have the opportunity to revisit them. I highly recommend Leny especially if you enjoy a deep massage. She is very skilled & responsive to preferences – which I really value in a therapist.
Thanks again Leny! You are amazing!

Still hammaming in Marrakech. Bliss!

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My last night in morocco & what better place to spend it than in a hammam. Dear god it was incredible! I went to the hammam next to my hostel. I’m so sorry I don’t remember the name. I can however give you directions if required!

All the staff were very lovely. I went upstairs for the hammam & scrub first. I was completely naked & lying on a heated marble bench. The girl washed me & scrubbed me, rinsed me & washed my hair. It was lovely & warm & relaxing. Another girl came to take me downstairs for my massage.

My naked massage was amazing. I normally never get my stomach done but this time I got everything done. Legs, bum, stomach, boobs, back. It was amazing! I was so relaxed & content.

As a sports rehabilitation therapist & masseuse I would never dream of doing a stomach or boob massage. I have been trained in basic stomach techniques for musculoskeletal problems, but I rarely, if ever, do it. If I did a boob massage I might get into serious trouble! Pecs I’ve done many times before, but never anything like the lovely oily breast massage that I was given. I think I’m now a changed person & fully converted to naked massages – when appropriate. I won’t whip everything out for a sports massage, but I wait with bated breath for my next Moroccan hammam & naked massage experience. (FYI I’m not a pervert or a creep!).

I slid back to my hostel in my oily state & drank mint tea & made new friends until past my bed time.

What a perfect last night in Marrakech. My friends think I should aim for 1 last hammam tomorrow morning seeing as I’m such an enthusiast, but I think they are being too optimistic. It does sound like a wonderful idea though! I’m glad I got to experience both the traditional hammam & the more luxury hammam with the massage. I recommend both! I really hope there is a Moroccan hammam in back in Verbier…..

My 8 secrets for a cringe free massage

My office

My office

I work in the field of Sports Rehabilitation & massage, normally high end massages in luxury ski resorts or on the other end of the spectrum with sports teams. Looking forward to the upcoming ski season got me thinking about this & what may be some valuable insider information & words of advice for massage therapists everywhere.

Some of the chatter amongst my colleagues circles around when male clients get erections during treatments. I find this massively inappropriate, although hilarious because it is not happening to me of course. It has never happened to me. This situation has happened to my friends many times. Never me. Should I be offended?? I have a 0% erection record & I am determined to maintain this. I started calculating how many massages I have done & dreading that via the law of probability I had one approaching imminently.

I have thus constructed guidelines that I have been living by so I can avoid this situation. These are my tips for when doing massages in a client’s home/chalet. If you work in a spa or with a team you will also be able to adapt & implement some of the tips.

1>Always look sweaty, out of breath & flustered – made believable as you have had to haul your treatment table & kit in the snow for a 20 minute incline whilst more than likely lost & late. This is the client’s first impression of you so it should make a lasting mark. Out of breath panting could be added in a strictly non sexual manner.

2>Exude a simple innocence. A great opportunity to do this is when taking your shoes off. Try to do this when you’re still carrying your treatment table & kit bag. This will look exceptionally awkward & you will inevitably stumble over. This acts to remove any sexual inclination the client may have towards you.

3> Smile. It’s always great to smile. There is no need to be rude to the client. This also discards the mysterious air that men find attractive in moody cows.

4> Be a bit of a mess. This will lower the client’s expectations of you from your initial poor impression digging further the hole of unattractiveness that you want to be consumed by. It’s always helpful to set up your treatment table in a tiny box room, making it physically more difficult will aid in making you look like a hot mess. An unattractive hot mess. While you’re at it why not move the furniture, try to locate plugs & mess around with plug adaptors for your electric blanket.

5> Require pity. When calling the client to commence the massage be sure to look apologetic for your entrance & how long it took you to set up – despite it being a humanely commendable duration to do everything. By mentioning that it took you a long time the client will consider it to have been long & think even less of you. He may doubt your capabilities as a massage therapist, which is a risk. You should easily be able to redeem yourself via your treatment. This lingering sense of disappointment will abolish any sexual tendencies the client may have towards you.

6> The treatment. Carry out an excellent treatment as always. Never compromise on quality, your skills & professional reputation.

7> Chin alignment. At all times keep your head tilted downwards creating a multi chin effect. From the angle your client is at this will be wildly exaggerated & no man or beast would contemplate a sexual encounter with the likes of you.

8> Facial expression. This is your gift to freestyle with. Think unsexy & repulsive. Be as natural as you can with this. It is surprisingly simple to master these looks. In some cases this may actually be your neutral facial expression! So simple! They are highly successful in discouraging an erection.

I hope these tips help you to avoid those those flag pole moments. I can’t imagine the horror in having to deal with this situation – if you have experienced it, please comment & if you have any tips to add please share them.