Massage Therapy Around the World

by Joy Sablatura, LMT, MTI

Oh, you are doing the ‘Eat Pray Love’ thing; many people said to me when they heard I was traveling in India for four months. No, I was not a woman in a “search for everything” as the subtitle of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat Pray Love touts. I was in search of some yoga and meditation and curious to see how the Indians do massage.

Several years earlier, I traveled to Bali and received some Balinese spa treatments and massages, and I trained the staff at a Balinese eco-resort in hot stone massage.

Now I was exploring India, open to what I might learn about myself and open to learning about India’s ancient bodywork techniques.

The Ayurvedic massages I received consisted mostly of effleurage and some light petrissage with lots of oil. They were relaxing, but nothing to write home about. I wanted my neck tension addressed and they didn’t seem to know or be willing to do any specific deep work there. When doing panchakarma, the Ayurvedic detox program, I’m sure that type of massage works well for releasing toxins, but I was hoping for deeper work.

I traveled to the north, to Dharamsala, where I studied with the Dalai Lama for three days at his temple in McLeod Ganj. While I was there, I received a Tibetan massage from a Tibetan refugee now settled in the community for the past 10 years. She gave me a vigorous massage that resembled a sports massage, very brisk, lots of friction, with some stretches thrown in. She didn’t use much oil at all and focused on myofascial release. It was a good massage yet I also was missing the specific neck work that I enjoy so much, and I didn’t drift into that meditative alpha state that is so healing, that I often experience during a deep or hot stone massage.

Hot Stone

Hot stone is one of the most meditative massages I have experienced, and I didn’t get a chance to try one in India. Any massage therapist can easily integrate hot stone into his or her practice. The stones serve as extensions of the therapist’s hands and the heat relaxes the muscles for deeper penetration and specific work, whether it be cross fiber friction, trigger point work, or simply relaxing effleurage.

Whenever I have traveled throughout the US, Europe, South America and Asia, I have received massages. Once again, I came away from a foreign country with an appreciation for the thorough training that I have received in Austin. I know where to find an excellent massage, whom to call when I need deep neck work or a therapeutic massage, and I know where to go to get the best hot stone massage….and it’s right here in Austin, Texas.