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Muddy tries: a lomi lomi massage

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Isn’t it funny how we settle into routines? The pubs we visit (and the food we eat there), the type of clothes we wear, our beauty routines, even the friends we hang out with. It’s always a punt to shake up the routine with something new, and actually one of the big things I try to do on Muddy is give a proper steer on some alternatives to the safe but sometimes all-too-familiar norm.

So it’s aloha to the Lomi Lomi massage, a Polynesian massage technique originally from Hawaii (I think) that translates to ‘Loving Hands’ (no, not those type of loving hands). It’s on offer at The Bagnall Centre for Integrated Healthcare, in Chesham, a really fab, forward-thinking holistic clinic that made the finals of the Muddy Awards last year.

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The centre offers pretty much the whole holistic gamut, from the established favourites like reflexology and osteopathy through to more out-there treatments like Emotional Freedom Therapy and Flower Essence Therapy. There’s also a studio for the likes of Teen Yoga (seriously! I love the idea of throwing my inflexible oldest child into that one), Mum and Baby Barre, pilates and yoga.

My usual massage preference is a sort of Chinese-Western hybrid, courtesy of Helen at Mai Lee Beauty, but the Lomi Lomi massage was a new departure for me. For starters it’s a bit spiritual. This is very much out of the Muddy comfort zone. I am not a friend to the mantra, or the intimate revealings of my gin-addled brain.

I want what she's having. Hello Lisa

I want what she’s having. Hello Lisa

But the lomi-lomi massage is about healing or helping to rejuvenate the body and mind by unblocking energy pathways. So Lisa Sutherland, my incredibly calm, centred, karmic therapist, started with a kind of affirmation about helping me to help me to ‘heal’ in whatever I way I felt important, and then I had the opportunity to say what it was I wanted ‘healing’ or to remain silent.

I have to be honest here, I’m just hopeless at opening up in situations like this!  I’m not great at aphorisms, mantras, self-helping, anything that requires me to look too deeply at stuff. There’s a reason why my favourite book title is Shit Happens, Get On With It and that’s how I like to deal with what life throws at me. So, though I could (maybe should) have opened up about a real sadness that hit me in the summer, I kept quiet. And Lisa, to her credit, moved seamlessly on.

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So shall we talk massage? The lomi-lomi technique uses gloriously long sweeping, almost balletic arm movements across the back using not just the hands but forearms and other parts of the arm that feel smooth and firm and deeply relaxing. They can be long and slow or fast and frequent, depending on the therapist and what you require. Lomi Lomi has many of the benefits of Swedish massage – improved circulation and immune response, lower blood pressure etc – but it felt very different to any treatment I’ve had before (hence its inclusion on Muddy).

And even though I didn’t want to give away too much to Lisa in the massage, I still felt that it was a very intuitive treatment. This is a big plus for lomi lomi, because there is deliberately no set format or sequence for the massage. It’s about ‘healing’ in that moment, so two massages will be the same. I love that idea, because knowing what’s coming next in a massage is really annoying, don’t you?

It’s a big yes to Lisa (definitely worth booking her for reflexology too). Worth booking a Lomi Lomi too, either as a relaxing treatment or as something a bit spiritually deeper.

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The Bagnall Centre, 71-79 Waterside, Chesham HP5 1PE. Tel: 01494 791288. bagnallcentre.com

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