Between work, family and everything else, we all know that life gets just plain busy. So when you’re thinking of what to give your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, a dose of relaxation is likely at the top of the list; but instead of sending your honey to the spa for a break, why not re-create your own massage sanctuary at home? We talked to some local massage experts to find out just what you’ll need to build the perfect relaxation experience.
SET THE MOOD
It’s easy to reinvent the ambience of your favorite spa. You’ll want to take these four important elements into consideration when creating the ultimate Zen experience: space, lighting, temperature and aroma.
Space. Use a room in your home that isn’t normally used for stressful activities, Marsh spa director Lisa Grabowski says. That means stay away from spaces associated with things like bill paying, exercise and housework.
Lighting. Pick a room that you can easily adjust the lighting in. Turn the lights down or off, and use scented candles to light the space and create a calming environment.
Temperature. Most spas keep the temperature a little warmer than normal if there aren’t bed warmers. You can also warm up a damp towel in the microwave for a short time and place it on your partner’s back to warm the skin a bit, Fusion LifeSpa owner Donna Duffy says.
Aroma. Candles are a great way to help your partner relax. Since different aromas have different effects, Sanctuary Salonspa massage therapist Jessica DeLyser suggests choosing ones that your partner really likes. However, you can’t go wrong with standard relaxation-inducing aromas like lavender and chamomile.
Stock up on at-home massage supplies with these top picks from our local experts:
Aveda stress-fix lotion, aroma concentrate and bath salts are all formulated for the utmost relaxation. $66 for all; also sold separately. Available at Sanctuary Salonspa, 5615 Manitou Rd., Excelsior; 952.474.4412; sanctuaryspa.com.
Fusion LifeSpa’s signature cranberry hand and body cream, which is used for massage at the spa, is also a terrific option for at-home use. It’s made only once a year, using organic cranberries, vitamins C and E, and shea butter. $39. Available at Fusion LifeSpa, 18142 Minnetonka Blvd., Deephaven; 952.345.3335; fusionlifespa.com.
Bring relaxation to the next level with the soothing effect of lavender and eucalyptus neck wraps or essential oils. $40 for neck wrap, $6–$14 for essential oils. The Marsh, 15000 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.935.2202; themarsh.com
READY, SET, RELAX
A warm bath is the perfect way to start the relaxation experience, advises Duffy. This increases the body temperature and loosens the muscles for the massage. You could also start with a short foot massage using eucalyptus body creams ($15, Fusion LifeSpa). Make sure all of your motions are going up the leg, she says. “Since your feet contain all of the nerve endings for the body, a five-minute foot massage is almost as effective as a full-body massage,” Duffy adds.
For both the person giving and the person receiving the massage, DeLyzer recommends maintaining positions that are comfortable for each person. Lying on the floor or the bed works if you don’t have your own massage table.
“For people with lower-back problems, putting a pillow above the belly button [while lying on stomach] helps take the pressure away,” Duffy says. Another tip is to place a pillow under the chin. Tell your partner to not to turn their head to avoid getting a kink in their neck.
Rubbing behind the neck is especially relaxing. Take your partner’s head into your hands, resting in your lap, then apply some pressure and let their head relax slowly into your hands. “Five minutes can completely change a stressed-filled day,” Duffy says.
If you’re not a massage pro, keep the massage movements light. “Try not to fix anything,” DeLyser says. “Just do whatever feels good for the other person.”
Couples Massage 101
Learn from the pros at Fusion LifeSpa’s Couples Massage workshop this month. Practice simple, easy-to-learn massage and stretching techniques to help you and your partner share the relaxing, therapeutic benefits of massage with each other. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing and socks. $40, February 5, 6–8 p.m., 18142 Minnetonka Blvd., Deephaven; 952.345.3335; fusionlifespa.com.