Have you been rubbing your partner the wrong way. If so, we have the perfect solution. I?n this episode of Frank Relationships, Frank Love and Dr. Gayl discuss couples massage with Aja Hartman, Dean of Students, Potomac Massage Training Institute. Listen to learn how you can develop the right touch with your partner.
For more information on the school discussed, visit: http://pmti.org
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: RELATIONSHIPS AND MASSAGE
Guests: Aja Hartman
Date: October 31, 2012
Frank: Have you been rubbing your partner the wrong way? If so, we’ve got just the solution. Stay tuned and we’ll help you develop the right touch.
Aja Hartman has always loved massage. Her experience began with the desire to relieve her own head and backache, so she learned Shiotsu and became so good at it that it was suggested that she share her talent with others.
Soon after, she found herself enrolled in, graduating from and teaching at massage school. Now, with a full understanding that many people haven’t had the experience of positive touch, she’s here to tell us about a unique offering; a couple’s massage workshop. Aja notes that the workshop is the powerful introduction that many couples can use to create a new level of relationship. So, if you want to know how to get the relaxation party started at home, how to rub your partner the right way and how to enroll in a couple’s massage workshop, settle in, get out the baby oil and welcome to Frank Relationships, Mrs. Aja Hartman.
Aja: Good morning.
Frank: Good morning. How are you doing?
Aja: I’m great, thanks. How are today?
Frank: I am absolutely great. Well, let’s take it from the top. Massage, relationships, put them together, what do you have?
Aja: I think what you get when you put them together is a new dimension to the relationship. The touch itself can add relief from pain, anxiety, stress and it gives you a different connection with your partner. I think we often associate sexual intimacy as our form of touch, communication with our partner. And this kind of takes the sexual aspect out, but keeps the intimacy very, very prevalent in the relationship.
Frank: Now Aja, I have to my right a beautiful co-host. She happens to be a psychologist and her name is Dr. Gayle. I want to introduce you. My audience already knows who she is. Dr. Gayle?
Dr. Gayle: Good morning, Aja. How are you?
Aja: Good morning, I’m well, thank you. How are you?
Dr. Gayle: Great, great, great. So, I guess we want to know too. Talk more about the intimacy part about massage.
Aja: When you touch someone with intension, it can really open your heart to acceptance of that person. Sometimes we feel like we have to like people, because that’s what’s expected. And when you touch someone with an intension of love and compassion and understanding and wanting to provide some relief or some calming for that person, I think it really gives us a connection with someone who may not have otherwise had a connection. And for couples, like I said, it adds a different dimension or a different layer to the relationship, so that they can connect without talking about money or children or work or pure sexual relationship. This is something very different, but also extremely intimate.
Frank: A lot of people correlate sex and massage or sexualness and massage. How do you mitigate that? Or is it a reasonable correlation?
Aja: I think it is a reasonable correlation. I think that for couples especially, just touching each other can often lead to something that’s sexual and with massage therapy or touching your partner in a meaningful and intentional way, you can actually take the sexual part out, but you keep a level of intimacy that you might not have had before.
Frank: What are the physical and health benefits of massage?
Aja: Massage relieves a lot of tension. It can help calm stress. It physically reduces heart rate and blood pressure. It increases the release of the “feel good” chemicals in your brain; the serotonin and epinephrine. And I think that just that quality of focus with someone brings you inside yourself and calms you more than you think you could ever be calmed.
Frank: I think you lost me and possibly the audience with serotonin. What is serotonin?
Aja: It’s a chemical that the brain releases when you’re doing some thing that’s pleasing. Some athletes–you’ve heard of a runner’s high.
Aja: That’s a chemical that’s released when someone exercises. And when you receive massage and you relax your brain releases serotonins, so that your body is calmed and relaxed and taken to a different level of heightened awareness. We go through our days feeling in a rush, having to do so many things, meet so many demands and when you finally stop and be still, your body says, “Okay, we’re going to calm down now,” and then your nervous system helps reduce that level of hyper-vigilance, I guess you’d call it.
Dr. Gayle: And Aja, isn’t there a different–correct me if I’m wrong, is there a different serotonin levels between men and women?
Aja: Yes, for sure.
Dr. Gayle: Okay and how does the massage and positive massage play a part in that?
Aja: Well, I think that for women, especially, I think massage is essential. We often feel like we have the most responsibility especially in relationships where there are children involved or maybe elderly involved. We feel like we need to take care of the world and I think the burden on women is a little bit more than men sometimes, so I think the relaxation part of touch and that calming that we get from massage and intimacy with our partner is really helpful for women. And I think men often get pushed aside. When there are children involved or lots of other responsibilities that the woman or the other partner might feel, so getting them involved in something that’s intimate and not necessarily sexual can be really helpful to both, because we feel like we support each other that way.
Dr. Gayle: So, it’s two-fold. When women ask for a massage they aren’t just being naggy, but it’s really helpful for the relationship.
Aja: Absolutely, and in our society we don’t really touch each other with intension and good feeling and wanting to help someone and support them. We don’t have the time. We’re so busy. And taking that time, first of all, can really bring that other layer, that other dimension to the relationship. And then, conversing in a different way, not talking about money, not talking about all the things we need to do, stepping away from that and really supporting each other in whatever’s happening in day to day life.
Frank: I want to detour us for a quick second,
Frank: You said something that raised some of my antennas, and that was about the burden that many women feel. Now, who places that burden on women? Do you think women place it on other women? Women place it on themselves? Men place it on women? How does it work?
Aja: Well, I think that a lot of women place it on themselves. We feel like we need to save the world and we want to save the world. Some of it, I guess, is from watching our parents or our grandparents and how the role of women was to kind of take care of the family. And men provided the finances and brought in the income to support the family and then the women did everything. And I think that’s changing and I think it’s a good thing. And the answer to your question, in my opinion is that women typically place that burden on themselves.
Frank: Interesting. I noted in the introduction that you got started with Shiotsu. What is Shiotsu?
Aja: It’s a form of acupressure. It’s a Japanese modality, typically done on a futon on the floor, with the receiver dressed. And it’s an energetic and physical massage combined, so that you can calm the nervous system, you can relax the muscles. But there’s also some energy that moves through that when you get up you feel innervated and ready to face the world, in a relaxed state.
Frank: Are you still doing Shiotsu these days or are you strictly massage?
Aja: I’m doing both.
Frank: Okay. What made you come up–well we haven’t even gotten to the intro yet. Where do you work?
Aja: I work at Potomac Massage Training Institute.
Frank: And your title is?
Aja: I am the Dean of Students there and I also instruct our students there in the professional training program.
Frank: And what is the responsibility of the Dean of Students?
Aja: I typically counsel students when they’re challenged with life issues or class conflicts. Life intervenes and they need to step back. We change their schedule so that they can have a part-time approach to the work and the learning. But typically, counseling. I’m there to be their cheerleader and listen to them.
Frank: And you have a unique offering, which is a couple’s workshop on massage.
Aja: Yes we do, we have that offering every month.
Dr. Gayle: Can anyone enroll in that or do you have to be a student?
Aja: Absolutely, you do not have to be a student. This is open to the public. We actually have three different classes and they’re just arranged a little bit differently. The couple’s class is, of course, geared to couples. We have a one day class that’s called, “A Touch of Massage,” that anyone–even couples can enroll in. And then we have a six week course, called, “The Heart of Touch,” and again single individuals or couples can enroll in that.
Frank: And where’d that come from? What made you all create that as an offering?
Aja: We created that due to demand. There were people that wanted to know more about massage therapy. There were couples that wanted to learn how to touch each other in a positive way and they did not necessarily want to become a massage therapist. So it was an answer to a demand and some of the students that come for those workshops, end up enrolling in the program, because they fall in love with massage as an idea for how to help support their family or because they want to know more, they really want to grow and this whole process of learning to be a massage therapist is a journey.
Frank: Is there an age range or is there a general age of the people who tend to participate? Their 50’s, 30’s, what do you–
Aja: Our average age, I’d say, is much younger than it was maybe 10 or 15 years ago, so that our student population tends to be early 20’s, late 20’s. But our age range is from 19 to 75.
Dr. Gayle: Wow. What do you attribute the shift in age to?
Aja: I think that young people are looking for a job that they can do right away.
Dr. Gayle: Uh-huh.
Aja: A trade school. We have a lot of students who don’t want to attend a four year college. They’re not looking for a degree. They want to help people and this is a way that they can help people and have a purpose. And they can make some money.
Dr. Gayle: Right. So how long is the program, actually?
Aja: The program is 18 months. It’s three semesters; about 20 weeks each and we have three different levels that we teach; Swedish massage, we teach deep tissue massage. We introduce our students to different modalities, so that they could learn more or they can guide their clients to a particular practitioner that might be better able to help them.
Frank: Do you all offer college credit or is it just your own course work?
Aja: It is our own course work. We do not offer college credit.
Frank: Okay. If we’re interested in massage, myself, Dr. Gayle, should we concentrate on our partners or is it reasonable to offer massage to other people? I think about my mother, my dad, friends. What are your thoughts on opening up our circle of massage?
Aja: Yeah, I think the more people that we can touch, the better. And when we talk about couples, it could be a couple who’s in an intimate relationship or it could be you and your parent or you and a child. And I think, that relationship that we can grow or we can provide some sought of comfort for someone else, I think it, it’s really important to think about touching your circle of friends or your co-workers. And of course, this is with permission.
Our culture now is so touch-phobic sometimes that we need to be careful. But I think that in a relationship with someone at work, at home, a parent, hospital, I think it can only bring good, because it’s with good intention and love.
Dr. Gayle: Right and you keep touching on the aspect of positive touch. Can you broaden that and talk about that a little bit more?
Aja: What we’ve discovered in interviewing the students that want to come to our professional training program is that many of them did not grow up with a lot of touch. And some of them feel that, that’s what’s drawn them to this idea of becoming a massage therapist; wanting to touch other people, connect with other people. We find that a huge number of students have had some kind of abuse in their history and wanting to turn that around and make touch more positive and intentional loving–it’s really beautiful to see that.
Frank: You mentioned a few different types of massage, at least that’s what I think it is: Swedish, deep tissue. Can you give us a little bit background on those two?
Aja: Of course. Swedish Massage is typically used for relaxation and calming, distressing, it does have wonderful physical benefits and it’s more the type of massage that you’d find in a spa or when you go on vacation and you wanted to visit some place. Hotels offer Swedish massage quite often.
Deep tissue is more focused work. It tends to relieve significant deep muscle pain and can break up scarring and that sought of thing. So, it’s a different focus.
Frank: Okay, you’re listening to Frank Relationships with Frank Love. We’re talking to massage therapist extraordinaire, Aja Hartman, about couple’s massage. Before we go any further, would you tell our listeners how they can find and get in touch with you?
Aja: They can find us on the web at pmti.org. That’s for Potomac Massage Training Institute. We’re located just inside the district, in Northwest Washington. And the phone number there is 202-686-7046.
Frank: Well Aja, I’ve gotten my feet up. I’m about to dim the lights and the baby oil is sitting here on the desk. I’m ready for you to teach me a little bit about massage. So, what do you have? How do we start a massage? How do we give a massage?
Aja: How do we start? We take a deep breath. We encourage our partner to take a deep breath and maybe focus inwardly and maybe two or three more breaths, maybe light a candle, turn on some music; something that’s not too jazzy, doesn’t have words, something that’s really calming to both. You take the hand and you just hold it and you think about how precious this life is and how much you care for this person and you take some oil or lotion and you apply it lightly and just use some gentle stroking and another deep breath and perhaps making some circles in the palm of the hand, maybe moving the fingers around, another deep breath. Think about what this hand does each day. Open up the palm by spreading your fingers apart from the center. Hold that hand in yours, thinking that you don’t ever want to let it go. Sending that love, caring, respect, comfort, love, more love.
Dr. Gayle: And where do we go to from here?
Aja: You can go to the other hand. We can go to the feet. You can come to the head. We’re also in our heads. It’s a great place really to take someone to a different level of calm; holding the head in our hands, gently stroking around the ears and then the forehead, just being still with that person. Make you some circles on the head with the thumbs and the fingers, moving to the jaw where we all hold lots of tension. Circular strokes are quite powerful and very easy to do. Pressure’s not essential. We don’t have to dig out that tension. If we just address it with light and focused touch, it can have a huge effect. And, of course, there are lots of other body parts. A nice back rub after a shower. It’s lovely. We don’t get touched there very much. Arms, legs, especially for athletes; people that walk a lot, people that are on their feet quite often.
Dr. Gayle: So, what would you say is the average amount that couples should request or offer massages to each other, because, I never even thought about the aspect of this being so intimate? Oftentimes, when you go to one of the massage parlors, in the strip mall or somewhere, you’re like, “I just need a massage,” and you often don’t think about how intimate this act really is. You’re giving me a second thought. So, I guess getting back to my question, how often should we request these massages?
Aja: From each other?
Dr. Gayle: Uh-huh.
Aja: I think if we could do that once a week, I think that extra dimension it adds to the relationship, we feel better supported. Not just on that intimate level, but through our daily life. And because we’re so busy, why make a date? Make a date. “We’re going to meet on Tuesday evening for 30 minutes. I’m going to give you a massage and then you’re going to give me one.” Or maybe one of you gives to the other on one and one of you gives to the other on a different night.
Frank: It’s taken me a minute to get myself back together after the massage. I’m still raising myself off the table, but Dr. Gayle’s question, I have a problem with the premise and I want to know what you think of my issue. And I think that the focus isn’t on requesting a massage, it’s requesting to give one. What are your thoughts on that?
Aja: Oh, wow. I think that’s wonderful. I think if we introduce this idea of working with each other or being with each other on a different level that, that’s what will happen and it will happen pretty automatically. If we’re in a relationship of caring and love, whether it’s with a partner or with someone outside of that, we want to give, we want to support, we want to love and wanting to give that positive touch to someone else is, the best thing.
We don’t want to have to ask for that and I think often what we want is to provide that support. And I think you’re absolutely right, wanting to give to someone else that touch, that love is really what it is all about.
Frank: You noted that you were breathing quite a bit during my massage. Tell me why breathing is important.
Aja: Breathing is essential for life and breathing supports our energetic physical being. A lot of us day-to-day, hold our breaths without even realizing that we’re not breathing deeply. And breathing promotes the relaxation response so that when we’re together, when we suggest breathing to our partner, we breathe deeper. So, we support each other with that breath and that promotes the relaxation response.
Dr. Gayle: And it also sounds like it takes you to another level of trust, right?
Aja: Ah, for sure,
Dr. Gayle: Uh-huh.
Aja: For sure.
Dr. Gayle: How so?
Aja: I think when someone touches you with this caring intention and this love, you can trust them. You feel like it’s safe. You can be who you are. You know that they love you. You don’t have to say the words. You feel the words.
Frank: You used a magic word and that was promoting. I have found over the years that if I were to massage someone, many times they don’t even know that they’re tense in a given area until I start massaging them. It’s almost like there was a problem they didn’t even know existed. Do you find that occurs often or was that just my unique experience?
Aja: I think it happens all the time, I think that, because of the world we live in, we tend to ignore our bodies. We tend to ignore any pain or discomfort or tightness we might have. And what touching someone does, is to bring their awareness to that area, to help the body understand, “Hey, you’re not paying attention. Something’s going on here. We need to address this.”
Frank: Now, when it comes to identifying attention in the person that you’re rubbing, there’s but so much you can teach us here on the radio, but how do you suggest that we feel and sense where our partner is tense and where they could use the attention?
Aja: Tension, typically shows up in the shoulders and the neck and the low back. those are the places we all hold tension. And the tension feels like little knots, almost like rocks; sometimes smaller, but like hard pea, hard bean-size item in the muscle. Muscles are supposed to be soft, even when they’re well toned, there’s a softness and a pliability to them. And when that’s not present, or if someone’s dehydrated, the tissue, the muscle, will feel sort of dry. It’s not soft and squishy like it’s supposed to be. So, what we want to do is bring attention to that place. Maybe we need to suggest stretching, maybe we just need that massage to move some fluids to that area and soften it up.
Frank: It’s my understanding that in the District of Columbia, there’s a license required to massage individuals. Tell me how one can massage someone, their partner with or without a license. How does the license play in? Do you only need a license if you’re making money from a massage? Please, break it down?
Aja: Yes, the answer to your question is “yes.” If you’re making money from massage you need a license. What we do in our own homes with our partner, with our friends, with our family–if someone says, “You know, I’ve got this really sore spot in my shoulder, would you mind rubbing that a little bit?” You don’t need a license for that. That’s a friendly exchange of touch, like when we exchange conversation. If you’re making money, if you’re employed in a spa or if you have your own practice, you need a license. And to get that license, you would need a certain number of hours of training and a certificate and then you apply for the license and you’re good to go.
Frank: Any idea what the cost for obtaining the license is?
Aja: It varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but it’s around $200 for a two year license.
Frank: Now, back to the massage, the actual massage, what is some of the tools needed for an effective massage? I’ve talked about the baby oil, but anything else?
Aja: Some hands. You need hands and you need some kind of lubricant. It could be an oil that’s specifically for massage. It could be some lotion that you have in your bathroom that you put on after you shower. It could be some oil from your kitchen that you cook with.
Dr. Gayle: What about those foam rollers, Aja?
Aja: The foam rollers?
Dr. Gayle: Uh-huh.
Aja: Those are great for self-massage. They help to provide a level of pressure that you might not be able to get with massage, but it takes out that personal / exchange.
Dr. Gayle: / The touch part.
Aja: Yes, the touch and the love part. There’s not much love in a foam roller.
Dr. Gayle: Right.
Frank: I got to tell you. I don’t know what a foam roller is. So, could somebody bring me up to speed?
Dr. Gayle: Well, I think its primarly more for–you can correct me if I’m wrong, but for athletes and working out and like you said Aja, self-massages, right?
Aja: Yes, correct. It’s a fairly firm foam. Usually a cylinder or may be half of a cylinder that you can use on the floor to rub your muscles against to get sort of a massage or to reduce the tension and tightness in the muscles. There are some classes that use foam rollers for stretching and reducing that tension in the muscle.
Frank: Now, many people have an issue with being touched or having a certain part of their body touched. I’ve heard people say, “I don’t even want you to see my feet, much less touch them.”
Frank: How do you address an issue of that nature?
Aja: Sometimes that’s the last place you would touch someone. There are people that do not want to be touched for whatever reason. If that’s history, it’s just their nervous system or response. So, that’s a different question. But if work, maybe, from the top down for someone that has a foot issue, I think that you can often get to the feet and they have a whole different feeling about that. Let them leave their socks on if they don’t want you to see them. You could certainly provide some touch that doesn’t make them feel too out of sorts. A firmer, very focused, perhaps a still touch on the feet can maybe change the way they might interpret that touch on the feet.
Frank: Tell me about some of those nervous system issues that you alluded to a moment ago that would stop someone from being interested in massage.
Aja: There are some individuals who have a neuropathy, perhaps from a cancer treatment or–
Frank: A what? What is a neuropathy?
Aja: It’s a nerve issue in the extremities; typically, the feet, sometimes the hands that creates tingling, a little bit of pain, sometimes a lot of pain. Sensation is decreased, but sensitivity is increased. It has to do with blood flow and the nerves interpretation of what’s going on. So, massage can actually be really great for that, because it increases circulation. But if someone has a feeling about their feet, they don’t like their feet or they just want you to see them, certainly they could leave their socks on.
Frank: And the socks would act as a what? I believe it’s called a medium. So, you don’t need oil when they have their socks on, because the socks help you to rub without chafing or anything of that nature.
Aja: Exactly. Right. I think you know more about massage than you’re letting on.
Frank: I have my Master’s in physical therapy, so we’ve done a little bit of massage. I’ve just got to ask the right questions.
Frank: I’ve got an audience to look out for.
Aja: I understand.
Frank: Massage oil. Any suggestions on how you go about choosing the right massage oil?
Aja: I think for couples who might want to share touch, it may not be necessary to buy an oil that’s designed for massage. Olive oil is a fabulous medium for that. Sometimes adding a scented essential oil can give it a different dimension; that scent that you get along with the touch, along with the massage, the focus, the love can make oil kind of insignificant
Frank: And are there any medical reasons why non-licensed people should not massage?
Aja: If someone has a fever, it’s typically not suggested that that you work with them. And yet, we know that when we’re ill, sometimes we just want someone to rub out feet and that would be okay. If someone has open sores, poison ivy, cuts, bruises, we don’t want to work on those areas. We want to work in other areas. So, athlete’s foot would be something that you wouldn’t want to work on.
Frank: Okay. Is that because you don’t want to get it on your hands, you don’t want to contract it or because it would negatively affect the person that you’re working on?
Aja: Both. Yeah.
Frank: And hand washing. Tell me about the hand washing part. I’m sure that’s an important component to it all.
Aja: Essential, essential. Before and after. We want to approach our receiver with clean hands, so that we don’t give them germs as we work. And then when we’re finished, we want to wash our hands to cleanse anything that we might’ve picked up in the course of the massage.
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships with Frank Love. We’re talking to massage therapist extraordinaire, Aja Hartman, about couples massage. Aja, again, how can couples enroll in your workshop?
Aja: They can contact the Potomac Massage Training Institute. We’re northwest D.C. The phone number is 202-686-7046. Or they can find us on the web at pmti.org.
Dr. Gayle: Aja, you sound to me–it sounds like you have a very holistic approach about yourself. Is that accurate? Like mind, body, spirit.
Aja: Yes, it is.
Dr. Gayle: What other things interest you?
Aja: Interests me?
Dr. Gayle: Right or are into specifically, holistically.
Aja: Yoga, meditation–
Frank: Wow. I got it.
Aja: Acupuncture. Yeah.
Dr. Gayle: Can you talk more about acupuncture? Do you do that? Is that a class that you guys offer?
Aja: We do not offer classes in acupuncture. Acupuncture is a Chinese modality that uses needles to help someone maintain their wellness, to give them energy or to help to treat any dis-ease that’s happening in the body. So there are specific points that the acupuncturist would address if you go in with complaints of say, headaches or just feeling fatigued.
Frank: And is there a difference between acupuncture and acupressure?
Aja: Yes, there is. With acupressure, we don’t use needles for that, we use thumbs and fingers.
Frank: Now, when I was in physical therapy school, they taught us a bit about acupressure as a modality to help to heal naturally. How do you guys merge the two, and not necessarily in your school? Do you ever tell a student or a patient, “You may want to consider acupuncture or acupressure?”
Aja: Absolutely. Sometimes we feel like we don’t make much progress with someone that we’re working with; a client or our students are being challenged by life issues and physical issues and health concerns; maybe emotional disturbance.
Sometimes adding things like acupuncture or acupressure can be helpful in clearing out energy that might be stuck in the body. We all get that. We all get energy stuck and we all have too much energy at times and too little energy at other times. And the premise behind acupressure or acupuncture is to help balance those body energies. So, if someone seems to not be getting past whatever issues are happening, with time, of course, sometimes that’s really a great way to get them over the hump, so to speak.
Dr. Gayle: So, how does yoga play a part in the massage?
Aja: Yoga helps to relax and soften muscles through the course of the yoga; the stretching, and if add that to massage, you’ve got a pretty well taken care of body.
Frank: Very nice. I’m particularly interested in massage etiquette. Are there any rules when you’re getting or giving a massage, such as “Shut up, no talking?”
Dr. Gayle: Or moaning loudly.
Aja: Sometimes we can’t prevent the moaning loudly. Sometimes it’s the body’s response to feeling much better. There are etiquette rules. Of course, you don’t want to just walk up behind a co-worker and touch them and start giving them a massage. That might not turn out very well. So, asking permission of the person is really important. Talking. What does talking do? It keeps us in our heads and we get all distressed. So quiet is really preferred but not essential. Sometimes the people that we touch really just need to let something out and it might come out in the form of words as they relax. So, I’d suggest, perhaps, the person who’s giving the massage, be the one that’s quiet and not really engage in conversation other than to ask if the pressure’s okay or the speed is okay. How our partner’s doing. Other than that I don’t think that we need to be too rigid in the etiquette department.
Frank: So, how much does the pressure and the speed matter?
Aja: They matter quite a bit. The speed of a massage can really help to change the way the body interprets the massage strokes. So, slower speeds really help to calm and sooth. And faster strokes tend to elicit some excitement in the muscle and sometimes it increases the energy in the person.
Frank: I’m a boxing fan and I’ve seen boxers in the corner. They can get smacked around by their manager or trainer and it doesn’t look particularly pleasant, but I can imagine it’s to wake them up, to arouse them. Is that a massage or is that just smacking a guy around?
Aja: I think it is a form of massage. There is something called “sports massage” that many athletes, especially professional athletes, athletes that are in a competition may receive massage before, during and after their events. And there’s a whole modality that’s specifically for that.
Dr. Gayle: I’m glad you mentioned that, Aja, because I’m into working out and running and doing crazy obstacles and things. So, how far before an event, would you suggest a massage?
Aja: It could happen right before, like minutes before, because massage increases circulation, the muscles then have been warmed up so that you’re ready to go and you don’t spend the first five to 10 minutes getting warmed up.
Frank: Draping; there is a concept called “draping” that I am a little bit familiar with, but I want you to introduce to our audience.
Aja: Draping is a kind of a respect boundary. Of course, with partners that might be different. But in typical massage therapy offices, in spas they use a sheet or towels to cover areas that not being massaged. And then, after an area is massaged, then that area would be covered. So, we only undrape the area that we’re working on at that time. And it’s for warmth, also.
Dr. Gayle: Now, is there a difference between coming to receive a massage from you and at your institute versus a massage parlor, as you stated, or a salon?
Aja: I think everyone uses different techniques, but we all have similarities as well. We all use draping of some sort. We use towels or sheets. Our approach is often the same as far as intention and questions we might ask our clients. So, it’s a little bit different but it’s very, very similar from place to place.
Frank: So, it’s not like when you go to massage parlor or when you go to your school. Oh, before we get there, people can come to your school to get a massage. Is that correct? For a very reasonable rate.
Aja: They sure can. We have a clinic at our school where our students practice and the fee for that service is $37.00.
Frank: For / 15 minutes?
Aja: / An hour. For an hour massage.
Dr. Gayle: Wow. That is very reasonable.
Frank: And I can attest to the quality of the massage. I’ve actually been there.
Frank: It’s been some years and I had a wonderful time. So, when someone comes to a massage therapist, you’re not telling them, “Hey, go in the other room and get butt naked.”
Frank: You don’t mind them revealing whatever it is they’re comfortable revealing. If it’s just their feet, just their back, you’re okay with that?
Aja: Absolutely. Typically, we have a conversation before we send them into our room to get undressed. We talk about what their goals are in receiving a massage and we give them suggestions for what we think be helpful. And then we suggest that they undress to their level of comfort. And you’re right, that might mean taking only their shirt off or maybe taking only their socks off. And we work with that. And we encourage them to, perhaps, take off some clothing. And we leave the room and they take off some more clothing. But that’s not essential. It’s more about the touch and the intention than it is for someone to be naked.
Dr. Gayle: I think that’s a good approach, because oftentimes when you do go to some salons, they suggest that, “Take off everything. Leave this on, take that off.” In the back of your head, you’re like, “Wow. This perfect stranger is touching me in places family members and other people don’t.” You know?
Aja: Absolutely, and what that does is create a level of tension and concern on the part of the receiver. And that’s not very relaxing.
Dr. Gayle: Right, that’s a great point.
Aja: So, we want someone to be really, really comfortable and able to just lie down and feel very safe.
Frank: You have been listening Frank Relationships with Frank Love and Dr. Gayle. We’ve been joined by massage therapist extraordinaire, Aja Hartman, who’s been schooling us on an array of issues pertaining to massage and couple’s massage. We’ve discussed the benefits of it, licensing and the importance of giving the massage versus getting it.
I hope you’ve gotten as much from the conversation as I have. One more time, Aja, please tell our listeners how to reach you.
Aja: You can find up in northwest D.C. at Potomac Massage Training Institute. The phone number there is 202-686-7046. Or you can find us on the web at pmti.org.
Frank: Folks, I’ve had a great time talking was such a warm spirit and a great pair of healing hands. As always, I hope you’re walking away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that will help you create a relationship that is as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook/relationshipflove, on twitter at @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. Until next time, keep rising, This is Frank Love.