Spa spy Under pressure
This intense Thai massage stretches you to the limit, but you feel fantastic afterwards
A Thai Herbal Ball Massage, £85 for 90 minutes, with Clara Pelica at Neal’s Yard Remedies, Edinburgh.
“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.
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