For clarification, Grace is a massage therapist and all touching was done in a professional, therapeutic manner. I first met Grace a year ago. She is a talented yoga instructor that is very anatomy focused. During yoga sessions, she will make the slightest correction to your form and the pose either becomes stupidly simple or infinitely more difficult. She knows the body! In conversations after yoga class, I found out that Grace is also a licensed massage therapist and specializes in deep tissue work with a holistic body approach. Ever since the amazing, deep tissue work that I received from Scott Dolly at RUNGA 2016 in Costa Rica, I’ve been looking for someone good in Chicago. Viola, here is Grace!
I have a high tolerance for pain and a low tolerance for being tickled. Seriously, I almost convulse when someone tickles my feet. It makes me squirmy just thinking about it! She remarked, that she sees laughter and pain sensations as being very similar and there is probably some pain in there somewhere. “We will find it”, she said. Oh boy, I thought. Then she mentioned that she likes to see immediate results. Ok, I like that! Let’s get going!
The set up isn’t anything like a spa massage. The massage table is in middle of the yoga studio. You remain fully clothed for mobility. There are no essential oils or soothing meditation sounds. It is just you, the table, Grace and Grace’s knowledge of how the body works. Less is definitely more, in this case! It starts with a quick chat about the process and reassurance that the session is just about you. I wanted the session to focus on my tight hamstrings and hips. I am in my car most of the day, going appointment to appointment and sitting for hours in traffic. All that sitting takes a physical toll over time and makes my body too tight to do some yoga poses properly. It’s way beyond just stretching to get lose, hence the session with Grace. Especially after a long Chicago Winter, it’s time to loosen things back up.
To start, Grace has you lay there and do a body self assessment. How do you feel, does one side of your body feel differently than the other, what sensations are you feeling right now, etc. For me, the right side of my body felt noticeably heavier. No pain or anything. Well, except for my “texting thumb”. I could hear Rene in my head, “Be sure to tell Grace about your thumb or I will.” So, I made a quick mention of my thumb and moved on. Grace then proceeded to muscle test in order to determine which areas to work on. I’d lift my leg from the table, she would put some resistance on my shin, then have me make an ‘ahhhh’ sound or lift an arm and make a fist. If my leg went down, she explained that the issue was really in my shoulder or in my jaw or in my neck. It is all tied together in a line down the body, she explained. When we started, I could only raise my legs 75-80 degrees from the table and my hips were equally challenged. At the end of the session, I had 90+ degree range in my legs and my hips were noticeably more open and loose. Some firsts for me, I received a deep jaw massage, an interesting diaphragm massage and a psoas muscle release. Oh yes, there was also a bonus deep thumb massage, that resulted in a couple of curious pops but felt great. During the final body self assessment, everything felt perfectly even, lighter and balanced out. It was only a 60 min session and I felt like I ran a marathon. I was seriously knocked out the rest of the day. Two naps and a full nights sleep later, I feel like a new man. I already scheduled a session for next month. Perhaps a full lotus pose in my future??