Spa spy Under pressure

This in­tense Thai mas­sage stretches you to the limit, but you feel fan­tas­tic af­ter­wards

The Scotsman - - Lifestyle -

The treat­ment

A Thai Herbal Ball Mas­sage, £85 for 90 min­utes, with Clara Pel­ica at Neal’s Yard Reme­dies, Ed­in­burgh.

Why go?

“I work on search­ing the body for ‘block­ages’ of en­ergy or flow of lom (in Thai, ‘air’) also known as prana or chi/qi, be­fore re­leas­ing them,” ex­plains Clara. “This is usu­ally done with com­pres­sion and gen­tle but deep stretch­ing of en­ergy path­ways or lines known as the sen lines. Once there’s a bet­ter flow, I’ll start work­ing with the hot steamed herbal balls for a deeper re­lease of ten­sion”.

Our spy says

The above doesn’t sound so scary, does it? It’s only when I’m ly­ing on the comfy mat­tress on the floor of a ther­apy room, hav­ing changed into a T-shirt and pro­vided Thai trousers, that Clara says; “Now, this treat­ment isn’t go­ing to be painful, but it might be slightly un­com­fort­able”. Help. Me.

It starts with some gen­tle foot rubs and rolls as I lie on my back. Very pleas­ant. Then Clara works up one side of my body, mas­sag­ing, be­fore press­ing with rock hard thumbs that seem to hit ev­ery nerve. Bear­able enough. It’s only when she rocks me onto my side and starts work­ing on my hip/but­tock area, where my pir­i­formis mus­cle is, that it gets re­ally sore. “Breathe through it, “she says, as my breath­ing goes all ragged and I peep, “I can’t”, (though I do).

At the same time, my brain seems to be fir­ing off loads of en­dor­phins and I feel ridicu­lously happy. In­ter­est­ingly, when I lie on my back, the side she’s worked on feels com­pletely re­laxed, loose and jelly-like com­pared to my rigid still-to-be-mas­saged leg.

The whole process is re­peated on my left side, which Clara says is re­lated to emo­tions. I imag­ine that this will be eas­ier, since it’s my right leg that’s gammy, but it’s al­most as ouchy, espe­cially the sen­si­tive points along the in­ner thighs.

At some of the ar­eas, she de­ploys the herbal poul­tices, which feel sooth­ing and con­tain a beau­ti­fully scented be­spoke blend (“mus­cle re­leas­ing and spirit relaxing”) of cam­phor, mag­ne­sium salt flakes, plai es­sen­tial oil, laven­der, rose petals, le­mon balm and le­mon ver­bena.

As well as mas­sag­ing me, she also twists my body, like a wet flan­nel, into some quite chal­leng­ing po­si­tions. I imag­ine I might break, but I’m sur­prised to feel re­lease. We’re through the worst, as the up­per body work isn’t quite as in­tense. Clara works along my fore­arms and hands, then ends the treat­ment while I’m seated, by press­ing down on my shoul­ders and dab­bing them with the warm scented parcels. “I could’ve worked on you for much longer,” she says, “There’s a lot to do”. Alas, there’s some­one in the wait­ing room. Brave soul.

The re­sults

This is not a treat­ment for sissies (though I doubt you could be in safer hands than the very knowl­edgable Clara), but it’s made me as high as a kite and clear-headed as a kestrel. Also, my sci­at­ica seemed much im­proved over the next few weeks. No pain, no gain. n

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