Rubbed up the right way
The new stylish Eastern-inspired Tonic Mind Body massage and therapy in Henley has Muddy all blissed out.
This brand-new massage and therapy studio is slap-bang in the centre of Henley, just a few minutes from the river, with plenty of pay and display parking in the surrounding streets and the Waitrose car park close by (hey, we’re nothing if not practical). I rocked up on a busy weekday but was pleased to learn the studio is open seven days a week – how often do you want to try a treatment or salon but can’t find a time when you’re actually free and they’re actually open? Tonic Mind Body‘s flexibility means that if madam wants a Sunday afternoon massage, madam can have one.
My tensed-up shoulders start to drop the moment I walk through the door, thanks to the vases of fresh flowers, flickering scented candles and the three immaculate treatment rooms with wooden floors and Eastern-inspired decor. It feels like a retreat and I’m not sure they’re ever going to persuade me to go home, quite frankly .
Founder Celine Samson is an astonishingly young-looking 55 – it’s always a good sign when your therapist looks amazing, no? More importantly, she’s very diligent about her vocation and despite being a veteran massage therapist of some 30 years, she’s always keen to learn more. The week after we meet she’s off to Greece for a week-long training since, and when she decided to take up Thai yoga massage a decade ago, she whizzed across to Thailand to learn from its masters. The studio is new this year, but Celine has been running a massage training school since 2009, and she grew up with a yoga-mad mother, and so attended her first retreat aged just 10. You are – literally and figuratively – in safe hands.
Billed as a ‘school of wellbeing and bodywork’, the studio offers a range of sports, Thai yoga, pregnancy, facial and deep tissues massages, alongside the massage training courses and group/solo pilates courses. I plumped for a Thai yoga massage with Celine. No need to whip your scanties off, mind – this one takes place fully clothed, which she says helps people properly let go (rather than worrying about their exposed boobs.)
This makes sense as it’s not the kind of massage where you’re lying on a bed, covered with towels – it’s more a ‘sprawled out on the floor’ vibe. Keep that clothing loose though – T shirt and sweatpants rather than your Roland Mouret bodycon dress. Celine calls it ‘lazy man’s yoga’ – you basically do nothing, while she manoeuvres your limbs and body parts into a state of deep relaxation, the deepest relaxation I’ve experienced, no less. I felt like I was in a trance. And she seems to intuitively know what your body needs – if you’re feeling sluggish, she’ll do an energising session, if you’re hyper, she’ll calm you down by holding you in the positions for longer. It was utter bliss, basically. And – Brucey bonus – you know that annoying bit at the beginning of a therapy session when you have to fill in a form? She even does that bit for you, so the consultation is all talking and no writing. I will definitely be back.
A Thai yoga massage with Celine costs £60 for a one-hour session, but you can extend it to 90 minutes or even 2 hours if you like. There’s a wide range of training courses (maximum class numbers are 12), spanning from absolute beginner sessions to advanced courses for professionals. To give you an idea, a three-hour introductory massage workshop for people considering undertaking a diploma in massage costs £50.