Spa

By Ashley Goldsmith

Athletic and flexible are words I definitely wouldn’t use to describe myself, though lazy and lazier seem to fit perfectly. So when I heard about Thai Massage and its nickname “lazy man’s yoga”, I instantly knew we’d be a match made in heaven. After developing a problem with my sciatic nerve that caused an unbearable pain to run down my entire leg, I made my way to my chiropractor (who happens to be very easy on the eyes!) and as he’s laying across me stretching my leg muscles, he suggested I start doing yoga. “If you don’t start taking care of yourself now, you’re going to spend your life in doctors offices.” Phooey! Don’t look at me with those dreamy eyes and suggest something that will keep me out of your office!

So I did my research and figured this whole lazy man’s yoga idea could really work out. The Thai Massage, also known as Thai Yoga massage, originated in India and was embraced in Thailand when Buddhism spread throughout Southeast Asia. Traditionally, the treatment combines acupressure, energy balancing, stretching and applied yoga exercises while using thumb and palm pressure to stimulate energy flow. Though most spas and practitioners offer slight variations of the treatment, you’re typically wearing loose, comfortable clothing on a soft mat as opposed to lying naked on a massage table. The massage therapist doesn’t limit the massage work to their hands, but utilizes his or her feet, elbows, knees, forearms and sometimes their entire body to lengthen and compress your muscles and energy lines.

Though few spas in the city offer the treatment, I did find one that offered its own variation, fully equipped with warm herbal compresses for problem areas, a sauna and most importantly Sue, a Thai massage goddess. Enter Bunya CitiSpa, a Zen, Southeast Asian-inspired spa in SoHo. So Zen in fact, that the entire time I was enjoying my massage I didn’t feel like I was in Manhattan, no ambulances driving by, no kids yelling, heck, I couldn’t even hear anything other than the relaxing ocean sounds from the noise machine and Sue and I breathing.

I opted for the hour long Oriental Herbal Compress with Thai Massage. Said compress is filled with lemongrass, neem leaf and jojoba oil to help prep your body for the massage. While booking my appointment, I was told that I would be naked rather than in loose-fitting clothing and that I would be on a massage table as opposed to a mat. Also, once my treatment started I came to find out that Sue (see: Thai massage goddess) was going to use oil when massaging my back, also something contrary to my research. Thai massage typically begins with your legs and feet and then moves up your body. Since I carry most of my stress in my lower back and shoulders, Sue spent some extra time there before beginning the “yoga stretches.”

Legs here, arms there, pulling and stretching out all of the stress that was making me so tense. I’m pretty sure she spent 45 of the 60 minutes on the table with me. Word to the wise, the situation can get a bit awkward so I suggest relaxing and keeping your eyes closed. I did open my eyes for a moment (for journalistic purposes!) to see Sue and I in compromising positions and was immediately a little un-relaxed due to my urge to laugh hysterically. Fast forward to me lying on my stomach with her standing (yes standing!) on the back of my thighs while pulling my arms back towards her. All the while commenting on my lack of flexibility and suggesting I do……wait for it…….yoga. Sigh

Though my initial attempt to prevent myself from participating in anything the least bit athletic failed, I did walk out of there feeling light as a feather. In the days that followed, I did feel a bit sore in the problem areas I had asked her to work on, which is to be expected. Have to tell ya’, I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a change from the same-o, same-o Swedish massage but unfortunately not those, like myself, who are trying to avoid any form of workout.

Needless to say, I’ll be signing up for yoga classes this week. After one more visit with chiropractor McDreamy of course.

Bunya CitiSpa
474 West Broadway, just south of Houston
Call 212.388.1288 to book an appointment
http://www.bunyacitispa.com

Originally published September 2009
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