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What Happens During an Esalen Massage?

written by: Cindy Marcelle • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 9/15/2010

Esalen massage has been called “stress management" massage and combines whole body awareness with passive joint movement.

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    Just as with any other massage discipline, Esalen massage practitioners work in a variety of different settings, including running their own businesses, working out of their homes, or in spas. Prices, like locations, vary. You should speak directly with your certified Esalen massage practitioner to discuss specific details.

    Your practitioner will tell you in advance what to expect from your massage. You will be asked to come freshly showered or be provided the chance to bathe before the massage begins. There are important reasons for this. It will keep the massage environment clean by minimizing the chance of contamination from outside pollutants. A gentle cleansing opens up the pours in your skin and prepares it for the practitioners touch.

    Esalen massage teaches whole body and whole awareness but each practitioner operates differently. Clients are generally nude for their massages, and careful consideration is paid to draping. Please feel free to request clothing or additional draping as you see fit. However, if oil is used in the massage there may be some damage to your clothing.

    A typical Esalen massage is 90 minutes long and works both sides of the body. Your practitioner will use a variety of massage methods while always returning to the famous Esalen long stroke. Gentle, passive joint movement occurs after the body has settled into the massage and will help to resettle and realign your body. This will acquaint your bones and muscles with proper posture and positioning. You need only to alert your practitioner if, at any point, you wish to change the pressure or focus of your massage.

    During your massage your practitioner will be oxygenizing your muscles, a process that moves any excess water in body to the muscle being worked, much as happens during a workout. For this reason, be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your massage. Stay away from alcohol, sodas, and sports drinks, and stick to good old water to keep hydrated.

    To learn more about Esalen Massage, or to schedule a massage with a certified Esalen practitioner, please visit Part 1 of this 4 Part series.


    The information in this article should not be considered medical advice. The information in this article is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your physician before taking any products or following any advice you have read on Always consult your doctor before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your doctor before use.