you CAN learn to relax on the massage table. massage therapy Union Square NYC, body positive and queer friendly
“Really, it’s OK, I just don’t relax on the massage table!  It doesn’t matter though, I’m here because of shoulder pain. Plus, relaxation just isn’t my thing.”

Have you had these thoughts?  Yes?  Well, with respect, I’m going to disagree.  Your relaxation on the massage table is important.  And yes, you CAN learn to relax during a massage, and in your general life.  And in fact, relaxation is crucial to your health and an elegant way to support your mind and body.

Alright, lecture over, let’s look at how you can learn to relax on the massage table.

“And yes, you CAN learn to relax during a massage, and in your general life. “

How to relax on the massage table

1. Position and environment

Your massage therapist leaves you in the treatment room to disrobe and get onto the massage table.  They’ll be coming back in soon, but it’s time for you to set up for the session.  Once they come in, follow any instructions, answer any remaining questions.  But then refocus on the method below.  Settle in.  Get ready to feel yummy.

  • Settle into a comfortable position
  • Adjust the face cradle if it isn’t comfortable, or ask for help with it.
  • Move any bolstering around so it works for you
  • Are you too hot or too cold?  Check in with yourself about this as the massage progresses also.  Ask for an extra blanket or to turn the table warmer off.
  • Notice if you can adjust your position to be just 10% more comfortable.  Maybe rock your hips from side to side.  Move your legs to a different angle.
  • Check in with your body, with the areas that are painful or uncomfortable, any areas that are just tense.  Don’t judge them as wrong or bad.  Your body is ALWAYS doing it’s best to support you and take care of you.  Even when you are in pain.
  • The next time you breath out, ‘send’ some of your breath to the painful and tight areas.  You can do this by focusing ALL your attention on that area as you breath out.  Imagine filling the painful area like a balloon, but in a gentle way.

2. Breathe

  • Notice your breath.  Is it rapid, deep, slow, is your belly moving, or just your chest?
  • And now just settle into following your breath with your mind.
  • When you feel intense sensation, try deepening your breath to help with the intensity.
  • Then return to easy breathing, and focusing on your breathing.
  • If your mind wanders, just notice that and gently return to focusing on your breath.

3. Sounds that support

Choose music or other audio that helps you to focus on yourself, your body, and your breathing.

If the music or audio in the room is distracting, unpleasant to you, or too loud, ask for a change.

Experiment with listening to guided meditation during your massage.  This is helpful if you struggle to focus on your breath.  Insight Timer has many great options.

4. Make it regular

Massage is more effective the more you do it.  Your body and nervous system learn how to respond to therapeutic touch.  And you become more and more able to relax over time as well.

What is regular?  In an ideal world, we would all have a massage once a week.  But once a month is plenty to reap the cumulative benefits.

5. Give it time

It takes time for our bodies to adjust to new realities.  Maybe if you’ve taken up yoga, you’ll have notice it can take many months to develop new flexibility.  If you’ve worked with a psychotherapist, you know that mental pattern shifts take time.

The same is true for our bodies and nervous systems.  It can take time to learn to relax and let go, to shift our internal states.

I have worked with clients who needed 2 years of regular massage before they were able to let enter the twilight zone on the massage table.

So there it is.  So much you can do to help yourself relax on the massage table.  To enjoy the rich rewards therapeutic touch offers.  Here’s a brief recap:

  • Position and Environment
  • Breathe
  • Sounds that support
  • Make it regular
  • Gift it time
If you try any of these techniques, let me know how it goes!


I’m just not a relaxed person

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