“Breathing plays an important role throughout the entire treatment.” Senior SPA trainer Mr. Cash Hou shares his experience
Quality spa treatments integrate functionality and comfort together. Moreover, they stimulate and balance the five senses and take guests on a fantastic journey.
Just as hugging and touching each other are still the major social means of the primates, humans also feel a sense of pleasure when being touched. This might be the main reason why people enjoy the spa experience. However, why are some therapists able to deliver quite joyful and relaxing experiences while others make guests feel dull or even annoyed?
A key here is the management of breath and rhythm. Yet this is often neglected in staff training. If the player gets a music score without marks of tempo, it’s impossible to play a beautiful melody. Facing different guests, therapists also need to find the rhythm that suits the individual most so as to deliver a pleasant experience. This rhythm, to be more specific, is the respiratory rhythm, or breath for short.
The Inner Canon of Huangdi (Huangdi Neijing) writes: “When one inhales, the pulse beats twice, and when one exhales, the pulse beats twice. Between the inhalation and exhalation, the pulse beats once.” As long as we are alive, we are breathing. Every day, we breathe 23,000-28,000 times. Through breathing, we inhale oxygen and convey it to every part of the body through blood vessels and exhale carbon dioxide out of the body.
Every time of respiration mobilizes nearly all the muscles of the upper body including diaphragm muscles, intercostal muscles, epigastric muscles, sternocleidomastoid, trapezius, muscles of the back and the chest muscles. These muscles are working all the time. When one fails to breathe properly, these muscles will feel fatigued and a series of problems will occur such as shoulder pains, arm numb, chest distress, back pain and more.
The oxygen content in the blood varies when the way of breathing changes. There is deep and long breath and also short and spasmodic breath. Improper breathing may even cause mental problems such as frustration, anxiety and depression. Disease Psychology systematically describes the diseases caused by mental problems. For example, anxiety may cause shoulder pains, lack of confidence leads to back stiffness and fear will result in waist pain and diaphragmatic spasm. To explore more deeply, we can discover that all these symptoms are related to poor respiration.
Now we understand why it is important to pay attention to respiration during spa treatments. Many people think that therapists need only to know about the skin, muscles, bones, fascia and meridians and work on them. However, a proficient mastery of strength, depth and the accurate place to massage on are also very crucial. Furthermore, how can we balance the five senses of the guests? The answer is respiration and rhythm. If the therapists keep a good breath and rhythm, then combined with excellent techniques, they are able to create a deep connection with the guests. Even if the therapist knows only one massage technique, she will make the guests feel very satisfied.
Mutual trust through breathing
The sniff-fragrance ritual is an important start of a spa experience. Through 3-5 times of deep breathing, it helps open the guests’ chest, relax the muscles on the shoulders, and improve the mood.
First connection with guests
Observe the slight rise and fall of the guest’s body caused by breathing and feel their breathing rhythm and depth with your hands. You can build a preliminary connection with the guests through some touching and pressing movements on their body. An excellent therapist is able to comprehend the strength and kind of touching that pleases the guest most.
Massage on the back muscles
Understand the guest’s level of relaxation by observing the rise and fall of their chests. Help guests adjust breathing rhythm by pressing and stretching their muscles on the back. Some massages may be deep and long and some may be short and rhythmic. It depends on the aim of different treatment.
Tune into the same
Pay attention to the breathing of the guests and tune into the same rhythm. Stay in this harmony throughout the entire treatment. Many spa goers especially prefer Thai therapists, saying that Thai therapists deliver quite different experience. This is in fact results from the harmonious flow of qi through a tuned breathing rhythm, which is the key to bringing forth a sense of deep relaxation.