I now know why the attractive women in the hot stone massage adverts are smiling so coyly up at you from beneath their 5 or 6 perfectly shaped rocks. It’s because those ads have almost no bearing on the reality of a hot stone massage. Or maybe it’s because it’s a divine massage to get. It’s a little hard to think after 4 hours on the massage bed.
But maybe I should start from the beginning.
On Monday, in one of those lucky turns of events that blogging can bring you, I accompanied another Maastricht expat to Hasselt where she was taking a one-on-one workshop in hot stone massage. My friend already has some training, but as she’s looking to start up a full business while living in Maastricht, she needs to expand her repertoire and learn a bit more about the local market. The workshop was one-on-one because the school typically teaches in Dutch and French and she’s from Northern Ireland. I went as her model (or perhaps guinea pig) since you can’t learn to give a massage without having a body to work on. I’ve never had a professional massage before, so how could I say no?
I won’t get too much into the adventure finding the instructional center where the workshop took place. Hassalt was readily accessible by bus from Maastricht, but the center itself wasn’t near the central bus routes and we ended up hiking quite a ways to reach it. Going back was a bit troublesome too actually; avoid bus 45 if you want a “quick” (1 hour) trip.
Once there and in the instructional room I learned that a hot stone massage was exactly what it sounds like. They actually massage you with hot stones. Call me stupid, but I always just assumed the stones were used to keep the body warm (or open chakra points or something). The volcanic stones used are smooth and retain heat very, very well. And frankly feel great. I found the sound of the stones clicking to be quite soothing, almost meditative, although not everyone might feel that way.
I was also impressed by how practical the teacher was. While she explained the spiritual basis for where and how to place stones, and demonstrated techniques intended to “awaken my inner fire”, she didn’t present these things as necessary beliefs to make the massage “work”. Personally I think it’s all harmless silliness and while I wouldn’t get upset if my massage therapist bought into it, I’d just as soon not know about it.
But the massage itself? Awesome. If I get the chance again, I’ll definitely seek out the hot stone massage. Especially during the first couple of hours I found myself drifting in and out a bit and simply enjoying the motions. Playing guinea pig was a great way to get introduced to something I otherwise have never been willing to pay for. I might have to change my tune on that in the future.
On the other hand, a four hour massage was at least 2 hours too long for me. As a model, you are massaged at least twice for each movement and while that sounds nice, after 4 hours I definitely wanted to move around on my own. Also for some reason my contacts got all fogged up. Next time, glasses.
But of course none of you really want to hear about that part. What you want to know is, is this new expat massage therapist available for hire? I’m told that her own massage bed will be arriving in Maastricht by the end of March and by then I’m sure she’d be amenable to building up some clients. If you’re interested, drop me a line and I’ll pass your information along.