Ancient Wisdom, Your Body
Esalen Massage Therapy, Bali Style!
I scheduled myself a 90 minute Esalen massage with the staff therapist, Ngurah Sudana, at Yoga Barn on my fourth day in Bali. After three weeks of lugging around heavy travel bags, I really needed it. And it was worth every Rupiah and more! Esalen is regarded as the “intuitive” massage and involves long gliding strokes using mostly a flat hand contact. To get the maximum benefit, my yoga instructor told me it’s advisable to have this treatment “sans clothes” ..nothing. This way the therapist doesn’t have to work around anything which can interrupt the technique a little. I thought, why not remove all interference and experience the full therapeutic effect? You can still receive powerful treatment without stripping down. It’s completely up to the client’s preference and comfort level. I was bracing myself for the thumbs and elbows digging into my tight knots and felt a little anxious prior to the session. Surprisingly, the gentle flowing strokes with occasional deep pressure in strategic areas transformed me into a state of physical (and mental) “kush”, meaning “happiness” in Sanskrit. “Kush” is the name of the Ayurvedic treatment center at Yoga Barn, where I stayed for three days. In the end, I stood up taller, like a ballerina, and gracefully floated out of his treatment room losing myself in this blissful state – what a treat! Click the following link to see my YouTube video on the shoulder treatment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcA6gBPKjhU About Esalen Massage: Esalen massage is a very customized massage and actually originated in the United States. It is known for its healing and nurturing touch and also elicits an energy exchange. When I asked him what his protocol is, he said basically it’s based on whatever I find as I start working on you… a very customized bodywork therapy. So when he started, he knew he had his work cut out for him. The stretching involved (for me) the limbs and spinal twist (liberating!) It almost looks like he is about to give me a chiropractic adjustment but there was no joint release. I actually felt the taut muscle fibers let go. And I thought my morning flow yoga class limbered me up! He did say he could work all day on my neck and shoulders and I would still need more sessions. (No surprise to me or anyone who knows me.) About Ngurah: Ngurah is very professional, grounded, calm and attentive. He was born and raised here in Bali. His passion and dedication to his work and technique were impressive. He draped me in the most modest way and was always conscious of my delicate left shoulder tendinitis- carefully positioning me and working into the tissues with minimal pressure without causing me to tense up or freak out over a potential inflammatory episode. Ngurah is Balinese and has trained with an Esalen therapist who came from California several years ago and has since been practicing and teaching the technique to other therapists here. If you come to Bali, this is a therapy worth seeking and I highly recommend Ngurah. I was pleasantly surprised that a relaxing bodywork treatment could also release and dissolve the nagging signs of how much stress we endure! Oh, the only distraction was the lovely scent of the coconut massage oil when he first applied it. He told me his mother lives a traditional Balinese lifestyle and practices slow cooking. She cooks the raw coconut oil for hours and he added a bit of essential lavender. Perhaps the quality of the coconut and her preparation gave it the “sweet”, unobtrusive smell of lavender. If he could only bottle and distribute that, I would place the first order!