Who needs counseling? Why not try WATSU Massage?

WATSU massage.

Amelia, a wee woman of fifty who’s height stretched to a point just above my navel, was the first employee I hired for my chiropractic practice. She had parented four boys and was tough as nails but loved to laugh and always told great stories. On our first employee retreat, we traveled to Paradise Point Resort in San Diego. After two days of goal setting, we headed to Del Coronado Resort to blow off some steam and play on the beach. Amelia shared a story as we walked the boardwalk. We had been discussing the most peaceful moments in our lives, and she beamed as she told us about when she and Sid first married. They had stayed in a hotel similar to The Del Coronado. One of the days during their stay they spent the whole the afternoon at the pool luxuriating in the sun with no baby boys around. She said the most peaceful time of her life was when she and Sid slipped into the pool and she, floating on her back, was pulled through the water for hours by Sid holding onto her big toe.

Last month I locked myself up for three days in Scottsdale, Arizona. I hung an imaginary sign on our door announcing my first ever “WELLFITandFED annual retreat” and I got to work. After some heavy number crunching, stats review and visioning it was high time for a break. I decided I wanted a massage, so I perused the spa menu of The Boulders Resort that sits across the street from us. I settled on a WATSU massage. I thought “What the heck is WATSU?” The description was a little flimsy. Something about massage in water. (This should be interesting.) I called and made an appointment.

Samantha French 4

I spoke with Parker who was lovely and accommodating considering it was so near the holidays. When I arrived the following day, I was welcomed and escorted to the ladies change room where there was a sauna, steam, and Japanese hot pool. Delicious. Five minutes before the time of my service I relocated, as advised, to the “Tea Room.” Not surprisingly, there was tea.

After a moment, my service provider walked toward me. I knew she was my provider because I was the only one in the Tea Room and she was walking toward me smiling… in a bathrobe.

Let me stop here.

Samantha French 2

I had not considered the details of the service once I booked it. “Massage in a pool.” As I surveyed the woman in front of me, I realized. “A” Thank God I thought to wear a bathing suit, and “B” Oh geez, like, literally, I am going to be getting a massage in a pool.

Fluffy thought clouds bubbled overhead “are other people going to be there?” “Where is this pool?” “Is it warm?” “Does she have a suit on under there?” “Am I going to be pulled around by my toe?”

She introduced herself. That smile. Seriously. Nancy, who was only about ten years my senior, was as warm and welcoming as a cookie-baking grandmother. I loved her at once.

She escorted me to a pool (private, thank God) and gave me the run down. We would enter the pool (I figured). I would sit on this little bench thingy, and she would attach floaties to my thighs (yes, my thighs got water wings. So many places I could go with this). So we began.

Samantha French 3

She took me into her arms and pulled me to the middle of the small pool. She had one arm under my knees and one cradling my head. She swayed me back and forth through the water. I thought, “This is lovely!” albeit a little intimate for my aloof personality. Then something happened. It started in my calves and my thighs (yes, with the water wings) Tension started pouring out of my body. She started to maneuver me into different positions and flowy movements, unlike anything you could do in traditional massage. She was silent for the whole time. So was I.

The pool had a canvas stretched over it for additional privacy. The Arizona sun was just starting to head toward the horizon allowing perfect beams of light to flicker through the canvass across my eyelids. Desert reds and oranges danced across my vision, and I let go, deeply. Her skill as a WATSU practitioner was exemplary. There was not one moment that I felt like she did not have full control and support of my body. Every move was beheld with great intention allowing me to completely give over to the process.

[Tweet “Every move was beheld with great intention, allowing me to completely give over to the process.”]

Because of the pressure and support of the water, my arthritic spine could be flexed and stretched in ways that it had not in a long time, and I could feel an unwinding of deep ligaments and tendons. There were moments when she held me in close even resting my head on her shoulder. I assure you if you have ANY “mommy issues” this massage IS for you. The deep connection with the practitioner, the positioning of your body literally on a hip at times and the closeness of the work allows for the receiver to have an opportunity to connect deeply with their body, spirit, and mind.

Samantha French 6

So why would you sign up for Watsu?

  • Deeply Relaxing: I have had hundreds of massages. That is not an exaggeration. WATSU is a unique experience. You emerge relaxed deep to your core. It is not just your muscles that feel more supple; your brain feels more free and agile.
  • Flexibility and movement available that is not in traditional massage: There are many of us that suffer stiffness or arthritis. Traditional massage is fantastic but sometimes due to pain or stiffness it is difficult to get into the positions of stretch that might be the most helpful. WATSU does away with all those limitations.
  • Innately Nurturing: This was something I did not expect. If you have lacked “nurture” in any area of your life, WATSU is better than a dozen counseling sessions.

WATSU is not always widely available. The training to become a certified practitioner is extensive. So if you see WATSU on a menu I suggest you jump at the opportunity. It was a tremendous experience.

And, if you are in North Scottsdale I can personally attest to the quality of The Boulders Resort Spa, and I highly recommend Nancy Crowe’s practice of WATSU. You will be deeply moved.

Do you like the paintings in this post? The artist is SAMANTHA FRENCH. We purchased the one of the man diving into the pool, and we love her work. If you would like to look at more of her work head to her website, but do it very quickly, she is becoming very popular!

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 Have you booked a massage recently? Are you due? I challenge you to provide something nurturing for YOU this week. A massage, a coffee alone, a nap perhaps? What would make you come down a notch?



29 Responses

    1. Oh, my word. At the end, I thought some people might feel really strange and then I realized I am one of those people but I didn’t. It is magical.

  1. Wow! I’ve never even heard of this before but it sounds so amazing – there’s something so therapeutic about water for me anyway, so this sounds phenomenal! Thanks for sharing!

  2. After reading this, I’m literally switching gears on what I had planned to do for Gerhardt’s birthday. I was all set to head up to Vancouver, but seriously…now I’m looking at flights to AZ and availability for us to both have this type of massage! Seems out of reach to pull it off, but thanks to this article, you have DEF planted a seed….hmmm…

    Many thanks! Miss you! xxxooo Beth

  3. Wow! I’d never heard of this before. Sounds like just what I need! Although it would definitely be out of my comfort zone in the beginning!

    1. It was a little odd at first, Emily. But amazing how quickly you relax into it. 🙂

    1. I know, Kusum. I was new to it too. Pretty cool bucket list item though. Really interesting.

  4. I need to find somewhere that offers this massage! I have such a terrible lower back and just by reading your experience, it relaxed a little. To think of being in water and having the weightlessness to relax and release tension – I need!!!

  5. I’ve never heard of this before but it sounds fascinating! Definitely something I might want to give a try, even though it sounds a bit odd and, because I’m awkward, a little awkward as well.

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About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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THE THREE DAY RESET is a whole food, organic eating plan geared to charge your metabolism, give you tons of energy, and provide all the nutrients and vitamins you need.

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