Picture this: You're lying down with your eyes closed, blissed out and as relaxed as can be. You're inhaling crisp, sweet air as layers of pillow-y softness cradle your body. Strong hands are strategically rubbing the kinks and knots from your back and shoulders; deliberate fingers are combing your scalp, scratching itches you didn’t know you had. All the while, a soothing soundtrack calls to mind a coastal retreat; waves crashing against the shore and seagulls chirping in the sky. Your body is so at ease that even your mind has emptied, and all of your senses are acutely present in the moment. You must be in paradise.
Or maybe you're in your own bedroom.
Professional massage therapists are uniquely adept at manipulating muscles and tissue to give you the kind of out-of-body experience you're willing to pay top dollar for, but bodywork wouldn't be quite as blissful if it weren't for those other tricks of the trade: the strategies they employ to stimulate all five senses and create a 360-degree euphoria.
We asked three prominent massage practitioners to spill the beans on what it takes to stage an at-home environment so serene, so sexy, it borders on sensory overload. So grab your significant other and your best massage oils (Durex Massage & Play Sensual is our top pick, hands down), and read on: You're about to get a crash course in the practice of pleasure.
When it comes to massage, hit the deck, says New York–based massage therapist Michael Ciardulli. He recommends the floor over the bed because the former gives you more space to work with. "Spread out a blanket or sheet and have some pillows on hand to support the face, and to use as bolsters," says Ciardulli. Also, create a clutter-free zone. "Your girlfriend will not able to relax if she's staring at a pile of dirty laundry or mail," says Watkinson. "So make sure you put things away."
Rose Mollica, also a New York-based massage therapist, recommends stepping out of the bedroom and taking advantage of your favorite spot in the house. If the weather's warm, try a sun room or enclosed patio. During the winter? Sprawl out by the fireplace if you have one!
In fact, heat is pretty much a necessity when it comes to massage. First, of course, you must warm up the room. As you relax, your blood pressure drops, as does your core body temperature, explains massage therapist Marie Scalogna-Watkinson, founder of Spa Chicks on the Go. Because you lose heat, you want to be sure the room is warm and that you have a light blanket on hand. Second, warm up your hands. Massage is a vigorous activity. So be sure to stretch out your hands before digging in.
Mollica even suggests trying out microwavable heat packs, which heat up (and cool down) quickly. "Some heat on the back or neck while massaging your partner's legs will warm the tissue and help send them further into bliss." However, she warns to use such packs with caution; Don't leave them on the body for longer than 20 minutes and always read the instructions first!
Another way to incorporate heat into a massage? A warming lubricant, like Durex's Massage & Play Intensify, heats up on contact.
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