My curious experience with Siyanda Massage
My recent experience with Siyanda Massage was one that was the most curious and rewarding at the same time.
Over the years I’ve become weary of massages. Back in my flight attendant days, I used to have massages in Hong Kong as well as when I flew to places like India or Indonesia where I could enjoy a very affordable massage. Honestly I almost never enjoyed it. I kept going because that was what many of my colleagues did as well as my friends and they all said that it was good for me. Some thought that once I got used to it, I would enjoy and benefit from it, so I kept trying for a while.
There are various reasons why I didn’t enjoy most of the massages I had. Mainly was that the massage therapists I came across before seemed to think they knew my body better than I did and disregarded my request for a gentle massage. So I usually would try not to scream while my body tensed up to fight them off. To be fair, I was never assertive enough with my request as they seemed to be the experts and people I knew at the time all told me that a massage had to be firm and hard.
At the time I also didn’t know that I am hypersensitive to touches as well as people’s energy. I only learnt that about myself in recent years since I started doing energy work. This quality is great for my work but not so great when I received massages from people who are stressed and tired themselves. I remember one of my senior colleagues advised me to always book an early session before the massage therapist got tired from the day’s work. But how do we know if the therapists are still tired from yesterday’s work?
Whether you know it or not, we all have the ability of absorbing other people’s energy. Especially when we are receiving a treatment, whether it’s a massage or energy session, we are more opened to absorb whatever the therapists are giving out. So it’s really important that the therapists look after themselves.
So why did I sign up for another massage? I came across a post on facebook by Sandie Staikou, the founder of Siyanda Massage. In order to fund her project People Helping People, she hosted a marathon massage event at Align by Alin Yoga Studio. Sandie, her qualified students and other massage therapists volunteered their services for very little money which all contributed to helping a community in Ethiopia. You can read about this project on her People Helping People facebook page as well as get an update for future events.
Before going to the venue I promised myself that I would communicate with the therapist in order to get a good massage experience that I never had. I really wanted to join the ‘massage is so good for you’ clan! What I didn’t expect was that my therapist didn’t speak English (or Chinese) and my Greek is almost limited to ‘hello thank you do you have soupia spanaki’ which is my favourite Greek dish.
One good thing about not able to communicate verbally is that we tend to notice much more about a person as we need to open up all our other senses. My therapist (didn’t get her name) was so warm and sweet with her ever smiling face. It was already 4pm (the event started early at 9am) and she looked so fresh and relaxed which was very encouraging. She was also unfazed by my nervousness from having to remove most of my clothing in front of a roomful of other therapists and clients. She made sure that I was well shielded and covered, and even told the nearby therapists to cooperate. I relaxed a bit knowing that she was going to look after me.
A challenging moment came when the therapist worked on the sole of my foot rather hard. Inside my head, ‘Do I tell her? How? With what language? But I promised myself I would! How?……’ Without planning to I let out a low cry. The lovely therapist responded quickly by softening her touch and from then on the whole massage was almost blissful. ‘Almost’ because I was worried about when and if I had to turn around or do anything at all and so I couldn’t truly relaxed into the pampering. Of course I realize this is silly of me but I grew up with the parenting that says ‘do not trouble people’ and have taken it to the extreme at times. Are you like this too?
Siyanda Massage seems to be quite different from other kinds of massages I experienced. The first thing that I noticed was that the massage bed was set quite low. I’m guessing that this is for the therapists rather than the clients but from a client’s point of view, I much prefer this low setting as it was so easy to get in and out of the bed, especially when I was at a daze at the end. I also noticed that the lovely therapist was using more than just her hands, but other body parts like her forearms and knees. Sounds rough but it wasn’t, although I did have some rough massages performed partly with the therapists’ knees and fists. I think rough or gentle really depends on how the therapists were trained instead of what body parts to use, as well as whether the therapists look after their clients by observing the clients’ beings.
Having learnt and experienced a variety of wellness methods, I also noticed that the therapist focused on some acupressure points. She even pay attention to my breathing and aligned her movement with my body’s natural movement. I appreciated greatly that she didn’t ask me when to breath in and out because I had experienced that in another kind of massage and my breathing became forced as I tried to follow the therapists’ instructions and felt like a failure that I couldn’t get my breathing right.
Later that day I visited the Siyanda Massage website to find out more about it. Sandie has had over 20 years’ experience in body work and she started developing this new technique after much injuries from her work, hoping to look after both the therapists and clients in a way that she wasn’t. She wrote that initially her clients who signed up to take part in her research project resisted her different approach. However, very soon these same clients asked Sandie if there were any more places available for this project because both the clients and their loved ones noticed that the clients were getting positive improvements on physical, emotional, energetic, mental and spiritual levels.
Here I would like to add that I am not dismissing all other kinds of massage. We all have our personal preferences and I might have been unlucky to have met all the past therapists I had at their worst. I do hope that all therapists would take good care of themselves and that as clients, we discuss our preferences confidently with our therapists.
At the end of the massage, Sandie came and asked me to continue to relax and to get up whenever I was ready. I did see that another client was sleeping as I entered the massage area and she was just getting up with a therapist by her side when I got up. I wonder what they would do when normally there is another client waiting. Sandie also suggested that I take a slow walk to process what just happened.
What just happened? Well, I had a very curious massage and I worried too much for nothing… wait a moment…… And then I remembered –
I thought I was wide awake during the whole treatment but I wasn’t. I did relax and went really deep for a while, sort of drifted off. My late Sekhem Healing teacher Ida Lyall visited me. She smiled and smiled, to tell me that all was well and I was being taken care off.
Really? Then what happened came back to me – my husband took me there and waited for me at a nearby café for a total of 2.5 hours. We were late because we were lost and didn’t answer the call from the studio as we were on a bike so my appointment was given to someone else. Alin, the studio owner tried to shorten my waiting time by creating another private space with two other people. Didn’t work but what trouble they took for me! You already know that my lovely therapist took great care of me. Three others including Sandie came to relate information to me in English. All of these kind people assisted me unconditionally just so I could enjoy a massage!
Whenever I worry about anything at all, I shall remember my late teacher’s message and this example. I hope you can remember some instances in which you were well taken care of too so that you can remind yourself to trust whenever you worry. I believe my late teacher’s message is for everyone to keep.
When I got on Hermy the Bike for our journey home, I thanked my husband for driving me and for waiting for me. He said, ‘Why do you say thank you? It’s my pleasure! You don’t have to thank me!’ For a little while I thought about what nice things I could do for him in return but I stopped myself. He told me I didn’t have to thank him. So I started pondering, ‘What if it is enough by being me?’