In the interests of research (not to mention a host of ailments), my session included everything from therapeutic Thai massage and foot massage, to cupping and herbal compresses.
After slipping into a provided pair of Thai trousers and a T-shirt, I assumed the position on the padded floor while Kei put me through my paces. Thai massage doesn't use oils. It does use the whole body – yours and the practitioner's, who pushes and pulls and pummels you using every variety of touch, from strong fingertip pressure to walking on your feet, and even light punches to rev up the qi and get the blood flowing. At the same time he moved me into stretching positions that, after years of not working out, I'd never have managed unassisted. Boy, did it feel good to get those kinks out!
It is intimate – like wrestling without the aggression – but at no point is the contact inappropriate or embarrassing. Kei identifies blocked meridians, or pathways leading to your vital organs, and contemplates how best to help get those channels clear again. In my case, the trouble areas include the kidney, liver and bladder meridians, relating to problems with over-analysis, fear, and anger. Oh my!
Cupping felt a little weird. Moving rapidly, Kei heated the inside of each cup and then swiftly applied it to my back. I expected gentle, almost ticklish suction. Instead it felt as if my insides were being sucked through a straw. Apparently it only feels like this when one is loaded up with toxins. Kei assures me cupping is a magnificent blood cleanser and that after a few sessions I will hardly feel the pull.
By the end of my visit I felt six inches taller, my chronic hip pain was alleviated, and I was no longer hunched in a permanent flinch. Kei has a real passion for helping others. He has big plans for this little space, and I intend to return, often.
n Shivago Thai Clinic at Buddahfield, 25 Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh. Prices for all treatments: 15 minutes, 10; 30 minutes 20; 45 minutes, 30; 60 minutes, 40. Additional 3 for cupping, 5 for herbal compress. Tel: 0787 825 6174 or visit www.shivagothaiclinic.com