I have been a massage therapist for 13years.  I learnt at the Northern Institute of Massage, which in those days was based in Blackpool, Lancashire.  I then went on to do Sports Massage.

The workings of the body have intrigued me for many years and there is always more to learn and understand. To that end I dipped my toes into the world of Bowen Therapy.  I read about Ida Rolf, Feldenkrais and John Upledger and his work with Craniosacral therapy.  The sense of all this information and knowledge is to keep me intrigued and in awe of the human body and mind.

All those years ago when I first learnt I guess it was like driving a car (I don’t drive, although I did learn!) in that you learn, pass your test and then you REALLY learn how to navigate your way about your world in your car.  Massage training gives you all the techniques, anatomical knowledge and protocols and then you go out and work on real people.

Each body is special no matter what that person believes about themself; their size, shape, flexibility..they are unique and so working to a set of rules fails that wonderful individual.  I have learnt over the years to simply be present with each person who walks into my therapy room.  There have been times at the end of a busy day when I felt exhausted but as soon as I place my hands upon that body my energies lift and I simply give my self over to the dance of bodywork.

Dance is the word that comes to mind because I am feeling my way into the energies of that person and touching them in way that allows me to feel them at a deep level…. Watching couples dance the tango for instance is being present to their connection to that which resides in the heart.  They may not be a couple or life partners and yet they have this soul/spirit connection and that is what I hope to tap into even just a little bit!

Lots of soft pillows to support the upper
body for No Hands Massage.

Massaging is hard work!  When I was doing my first training they were very clear about the need to look after your own body and stay fit.  In those days I was a gym person and worked out regularly.  I am seemingly a physically strong woman.  I was brought up to walk miles, swim length after length and at the age of 14 years I mucked out five horses three times a week!  A good base to start from.

This has all helped and given me a longevity in a job where many only manage for seven years.  A lot of the damage is to thumbs, hands and wrists.  There is so much pressure put into the delicate bones of the fingers and yet no one actually explained that when I first began.  It was a more general comment, with no specific details…stay strong and healthy!  But how to do that is the question.

To make sufficient income from massaging alone is tricky unless you live in London and charge large sums for each session.  Many massage therapists therefore, do different trainings and diversify.  They may do Reiki, reflexology or move more into the world of facials and beauty.  Others discover the amazing power of Bowen or Craniosacral Therapy. None of this really happened for myself…all I wanted was to be a massage therapist, although I did love doing my Reiki and Reconnective Healing trainings and they remain a very vital part of my life to this day.

I have finally eased myself into the notion that it is absolutely okay to do less bodywork…once upon a time I was doing 20hours a week and now I do perhaps 6-8 sessions!  Enough!  Alongside the massaging there is my yoga teaching and it all feels like a perfect mix..each informs the other.

Orchids love the energy in my therapy room.

A few years ago I discovered No Hands Massage  taught by Gerry Pyves.  It came, as these things often do, at exactly the right time in my life.  I had been very ill the previous year and was of the belief that I could no longer do bodywork as it left me exhausted and in pain.  Over a year I attended weekend trainings in Hebden Bridge and learnt how to use my whole body to work miracles on another body!  I have incorporated all that I learnt into my treatments and although I do not do a pure No Hands massage I stay true to much of Gerry’s inspiring work.  My back no longer hurts at the end of a session and my neck, hands and arms no longer suffer from pins and needles.  It has given me extra time in this age-old profession and I still adore my work.

Massage enhances the workings of your body by stimulating the blood and lymph systems, thereby enabling healing and detoxification to occur.  The central nervous system is calmed and the body is given time and space to perhaps rest and release.  It is not normal in our culture to lie and receive the nurturing and care that can happen during a massage…we do everything in a hurry and to lie quietly is often perceived as giving in and giving up.  Other parts of the world have more sense and wisdom and bodywork is quite normal in India and South East Asia.  Indeed most places in the world will have their version of massage, some more brutal than others!

If you choose to have a massage, and why on earth wouldn’t you..please think gently on the next few things;  

These nails would have incurred the wrath of one of
my teachers!

  •   massage therapists should not have long nails!!  There you are I’ve said it.  Long nails hurt the receiver and in one of my trainings we were given nail files at the beginning and instructed to file away until no white showed…harsh? Perhaps, but professional and very easy to keep clean and tidy..thus spake the woman who 16 years ago proudly displayed long, bright red nails!

Not a lot of difference but I did file my nails!

  •   The massage room needs to be very warm.  In the winter I have two sources of heat and beautiful blankets to heap on at the end.  As soon as oil is slathered on the skin it feels a little chilled.  I am often very hot while treating but having received several treatments in cool rooms I can say without a doubt that the whole experience was uncomfortable and I’m sure they could see goose flesh!
  •   The body ought to be covered by two towels..every inch feeling safe and secure.  Each part of the body being worked on is then uncovered carefully bit by bit.  The Northern Institute are rigorous in their towel technique and it has proved to be really important.

And so almost the end of my bit.  I will leave you with this…when travelling by taxi in Bangkok to the airport to fly to Cambodia the driver asked me what my job was, I replied that I was a massage therapist.  He laughed uproariously.  I asked politely why that was so amusing and he explained that in Thailand only old or poor people performed massages and so what was this woman doing such lowly work for.  Now whether or not that is true or was simply his own prejudice I don’t know but he became rather more impressed when he found out how much we pay for a treatment here in the UK!  However,  I do feel I am worthy of such payment and all my clients for all these years seemed to be happy with the exchange.

Here are a few books that still reside on my shelf and get looked at often…I have a particular passion for the mind-body connection and these books have helped me hugely to understand better why a part of the body is in pain.  There are more but this is a good start.

Body Secrets  Don McFarland
Hands-On-Healing  Lewis Harrison
The Muscle Book  Paul Blakey
The Bodymind Workbook  Debbie Shapiro is currently unavailable but I do believe she has published a newer version with a slightly different title.

If you are in my area and are interested in a deep massage then I highly recommend Annette Wrigley who works at The Cenacle Centre 0161 483 9005. 

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