Massages basically scream self-love and self-care and yet we rarely get enough of them (mainly because they’re kind of exxy). But while splurging on a regular massage might feel indulgent, there are some legit mental, physical and even spiritual benefits that make it so much easier to justify.
After test-driving a handful of holistic modalities, here are the three trophy winning spiritual massages that deserve more than a gold medal.
This therapeutic massage technique is based on the teachings and practices of the ancient Hawaiian Kahunas. In the language of native Hawaiians, “huna” means “secret knowledge” and a master practitioner of any of the huna arts is known as a “kahuna.” The technique includes flowing rhythmic strokes and kneading into breath and body to incite an energetic catharsis.
“It’s a deep resounding massage for re-set, letting go, emotional release and getting really embodied – it’s very earthy bodywork and often transformative for people,” explains bodywork facilitator, Lucinda Light.
“The practitioner is trained to be totally focused on their client with an attitude of love and compassion. This is the essence of the ‘aloha’ spirit that is sacred to the people of Hawaii,” says Light.
Sound pretty woo woo? It is… but gosh it feels great! Some report having memories, visuals, otherworldly symbols and colours emerging, while most feel transformed and grateful after getting off the bed.
From the moment I met Lucinda, I knew I was in for a treat. Calming and deeply authentic, her presence felt like an energetic cleanse in itself. As for the massage? Blown away. What I loved about my experience was that it was extremely intuitive and deeply healing. Lucinda hummed, sang, chanted and reminded me to keep returning to my breath, as she massaged away, with vigorous and rhythmic strokes, using her fingers, palms, wrists and even forearms as she moved around the table.
There were times where I felt I was liquid honey melting into the bed in the most delicious way, and other times where I gasped with shock as she cracked my back (but damn it felt so good straight after). I’ve had digestive issues since forever, so massaging my stomach felt like bliss after I got over the momentary discomfort. Afterwards I drifted out the door, totally dazed and dumbfounded by what I had just experienced – difficult to describe in words but nonetheless a spiritual experience.
Only days later I booked my boyfie in for a session and he too experienced the same spiritual awakening. Wherever you are in the world, be it Melbourne, London, America and beyond go and find your nearest Kahuna Massage practitioner stat and book in a sesh. You won’t regret it!
“Abhyanga is a specialised Ayurvedic body treatment, involving the application of warm herbal oils that are blended to your individual constitution or dosha type,” explains Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant Niveen Rajabdeen. The treatment helps to improve circulation, skin and muscle tone, soothes the nervous system, eases stress, lubricates the joints, detoxifies and eliminates impurities from the body, and promotes healthier sleep. “Some treatments also involve the application of a warmed herbal poultice (kizhi) following the oil application to help the oils to penetrate more deeply into the tissues,” says Rajabdeen.
How does this bring about more zen and inject you with a dose of spiritual vibes?
“Ayurvedic massage works firstly at the energetic level, or on prana. The combination of strokes of movement and pressure as well as the bespoke blend of herbal oils work on balancing the nervous system and mind, which then pervades through all other systems in the body. As such, the calm experienced after an Abhyanga helps to reset stress-conditions in the mind and body and when practiced consistently over a few months help to bring about lasting changes to well-being,” says Rajabdeen.
Let’s be honest – Ayurveda is all the rage right now. So I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. And being on Niveen’s treatment bed, I completely understood. Using sesame oil – which I later learnt is a natural anti-inflammatory and immunity-enhancing ingredient – to massage my body from head to toe, I was whisked away into an hour of sensory bliss.
While this technique of massage is very different in temperament from a relaxation or sports massage, which mainly work on the muscular system of the body, Abhyanga worked on the deeper layers of tissue in the body (great for lymphatic drainage!). Rhythmic music, the faint smell of sesame oil and deep healing massage strokes made this experience one to sincerely remember. Afterwards I felt energetically balanced, soothed and in complete harmony with my body and the natural world. Winning.
Fun fact: One stroke with a heated Jade stone is equivalent to SEVEN strokes by hand! Second fun fact: essential oils can help reduce anxiety, boost energy levels, speed up the healing process and increase circulation. So if you can find a massage practitioner that offers BOTH, you’re in for a treat. Yup, using warm jade stones on the body is like a vascular gymnastics because it helps increase circulation, flushing the internal organs and systems, while improving one’s overall sense of wellbeing.
In the same strand, utilising pure, unadulterated essential oils offers many of the same benefits. Throughout history, various religions and cultures have used essential oils in their rituals, ceremonies or healing modalities to bring out mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits and word on the woo-woo street is that they’re said to help an individual come to terms with oneself and the Universe.
I decided to take along my partner to this, because y’know, #couplegoals. The treatment room is totally lush and relaxing right down to the soothing tone of voice of the massage therapists. To begin, we were told to select our essential oils which would be applied to our skin – I opted for the lavender smelling one, my all time favourite scent. After several deep, mindful breaths, then began an hour of absolute full body elation.
It wasn’t as much a spiritual awakening more as it was a process of simply letting go and feeling energetically cleansed, which is the whole point of massage in the first place. At some point in the massage, the practitioner introduced jade stones – the down right best thing since sliced bread and Beyonce! The high vibe energy of the warm stones coupled with flowing strokes, helped centre, heal and ground my body, leaving me feeling recharged and whisked away into a bubble of melt-worthy calm. Afterwards I felt physically and spiritually nourished and my mind completely nurtured. I’ll be back for more, that’s for sure!