yesterday i went to the nearby ayurveda yoga center for a massage. for those of you who know that i had begun working out at a gym, i must report that i have not been there in about 3 and a half weeks, ever since i massively pulled a muscle in my upper back. i hit the gym in what i thought was a gentle way compared to the past. however, it's been many years since i seriously lifted weights regularly and i think i sort of resumed where i'd left off way too long ago. lifting weights at age 20 and 30 appears to be a drastically different situation and should be treated as such. i learned this the hard way. so, about 3 and a half weeks ago i woke up one morning sore as ever from lifting the day before, did a yoga twist while still half asleep in bed and suddenly felt as though i'd pulled a posterior rib out of place or torn an entire muscle group in my back. the pain was otherworldly. i walked bent over to the side for a few days. talk about excruciating! it's been many days now with not a whole lot of improvement, so i decided to try a massage at the yoga center in hopes of finding some relief and also hoping to god that my armpits would not be rubbed raw as in my last korean massage experience.
i set up my appointment with a specific massage therapist named dakini (sanskrit word meaning "goddess of wisdom" or "sky dancer"). she was AMAZING and i found her name to be truly fitting for her fierceness of spirit and strength of body! her style was a mix of interactive thai massage, the precision and depth of deep tissue and the intense focus and full, intuitive presence that i have experienced time and time again with my all-star bodyworker, bodhi ashburn, in california.
as dakini was getting me situated to begin our session, she spoke something to me in korean and i said very apologetically, "oohhh, chogoom hangul." which means "small korean language" as in "i speak little korean." she smiled and said something more in korean and then left the room for about 10-15 minutes. i just laid there relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet....and the warm heating pad beneath my entire body. i assumed that she was doing some prep or that maybe this time of relaxation was part of the whole routine. well, she returned holding a beautiful plate of food and a mug of hot green tea for me. for a moment i was very confused! then it hit me, "chogoom" is very close in pronunciation to the korean word for "hungry!!" SHE THOUGHT I SAID THAT I WAS HUNGRY!!!! i started laughing and couldn't believe the hilarity of the "lost in translation" situation. there was no way to explain it to her and i didn't want to make her feel silly, so i said many, many thank-yous and ate the wonderful meal! i couldn't help but wonder what she must have been thinking about this woman who at the beginning of the massage tells the therapist that she's "oooohhh, so hungry!"
after my pre-massage feast, dakini worked on me for two hours. i normally fear traditional thai massage because of all the manipulating of limbs (stretching) and how tight some of my muscles are. i am wary that i'll be stretched too far, too quickly before i can say something and get injured. for some reason, the slowness of dakini's pace and how intuitive she was enabled me to trust her completely. at one point she had me in a bridge pose with her body underneath mine, supporting my body up with her arms and legs and at the same time stretching my entire back body, elongating my spine with her feet. i have rarely felt so limber. it reminded me of how i felt when receiving a watsu treatment. under warm water the body seems to be much more fluid and agile. i remember feeling like a sea horse.
today, i feel like a different body! so much of the tension and pain has dissipated. i bought a package of 10 massages and plan to visit dakini once a week for the rest of this semester, until i come back to the states for the summer. i feel so grateful for the healing resources that are available here in south korea. to have finally found a massage therapist who steers clear of my armpits! LOVE IT!