Wednesday, October 10, 2007
As the recipient of dozens, perhaps hundreds of massages, one of the first things I always "look" for is the personal energy a masseuse projects. I've had therapists who were impersonally professional, leaving me with cold feet and hands. I've also had masseuses who have gone a little farther than I was comfortable with, getting too familiar far too quickly, which left me feeling more tense than when I started.
Erik MacKinnon's energy is masculine, strong, confident and relaxed; I felt wrapped in a warm blanket of acceptance from the moment I walked in the door. I even found his voice soothing. Never once did I feel he invaded a space I was protecting, and he instantly felt any resistance or tension in my body as he worked, adjusting his approach appropriately.
Chances are that we talked way too much during my session, but I felt so comfortable that our conversation just flowed. That's something rare for me; when I'm interviewing, I'm in control. But I didn't feel the need to stay controlled during the session with MacKinnon, and was able to completely relax and receive.
I was fully clothed during the entire session—another massage/bodywork first for me. Erik told me beforehand to wear yoga clothes, but I got sidetracked in my favorite bookstore before the interview and arrived in jeans. His partner of five and half years, Stephanie Miller, who posed for photos, loaned me a pair of her yoga pants for my session—without my asking.
MacKinnon began the session by loosening and warming up my muscles, an approach similar to yoga or exercise classes. The difference, of course, is that I didn't feel like I was working. I'm blessed with fairly loose joints and a fair amount of flexibility, but like everyone, I need to get my blood flowing to avoid injury. As MacKinnon moved me through perhaps two dozen poses, I enjoyed the feeling of letting go and allowing him to move my body. It was obvious that he worked hard. He compared performing Thai Yoga Bodywork to Thai Chi, a martial arts form. As for me, the most energy I expended during the hour-and-a-quarter session was when I rolled over.
Being familiar with yoga probably helped me relax, since I knew what muscle groups to concentrate on or relax in the different movements, and I understand the role of breathing. But even if you've never had a massage or never been to a yoga class, I feel confident that MacKinnon wouldn't steer you wrong. The most important thing during any type of therapy is the trust between therapist and client, and MacKinnon established that bond immediately. There was only one minor hiccup—sitting at a desk day in and day out, my shoulders tend to get stiff and sore—but MacKinnon immediately felt the slight tension in my right shoulder and backed off of certain extreme stretches.
As I write this, it's three days after the session, and as MacKinnon predicted, I'm feeling quite well. My writing has been effortless and fun, and I actually took some time off this weekend without feeling guilty. Oh, and I colored my hair for the first time in my life. Red highlights, no less.