Some of life’s most pleasurable feelings are experienced through the feet: burying them in warm sand, dipping them into the ocean on a hot day, finally slipping out of a pair of high heels after a long night out. It makes sense that gravity pulls your body’s energy downward, where it collects. By my first visit to Sakura Reflexology Spa in Barrington, thirty-ish years of pressure had built up in these tootsies.
The tranquil atmosphere of Sakura welcomes you upon entrance, from the lavender aromas filling the air to the soft lighting and shoji walls. Rebecca, the owner, greeted me warmly and led me into the peaceful enclosed space where I’d be receiving a Tui Na back and shoulder massage followed by reflexology therapy from Jessie, one of Sakura’s massage specialists. Tui Na is a Chinese rhythmic compression technique applied to different energy channels throughout the body to establish a harmonious flow of Qi, or Chi, and bring it back into balance. As the 60-minute therapy session began, I was instructed to remove only my shoes before lying facedown on the massage bed. There is no oil applied to the skin in Tui Na, so you remain clothed throughout the entire service.
Jessie began softly kneading my back, shoulders, arms and calves, then shifted his focus to the knots of tension built up in my neck and shoulders. Being about five feet and one and a half inches, I should be fighting for every extra millimeter, but instead I have the posture of a lowercase “r.” The massage made me feel like a mini hand weight was being removed from each shoulder. Lastly, he massaged my scalp, neck and upper back and then applied a soft chopping-like motion to the back of my entire body.
I then shifted onto a towel-covered lounge chair, and my feet were submerged in a tub of perfectly heated sea salt water. While my tootsies rejoiced with relaxation, Jessie massaged my temples and scalp. A warm towel was then placed over my eyes, while the massage shifted to my left arm and then my right, starting at the shoulder and moving to my palms and fingers, where he released the end of each fingertip with a light snapping motion.
Following that, Jessie pulled my feet out of the heated water one by one, massaging each calf, ankle and sole of the foot. From there, he applied slight upward pressure along each bone in my foot to the tip of each toe, and then the same light snapping release as he’d given to the ends of my fingertips. He then administered his knuckles to my soles and heels, which felt equally soothing and ticklish. The newfound lightness and relief I experienced felt as if a pair of waterlogged Uggs I’d been unknowingly trotting around in had finally been removed. Jessie then smoothed hot stones over my calves and feet, ending the service with a hot towel placed over each foot.
After the service, Rebecca gave me some green tea and bottled water to rehydrate. I left feeling lighter, recharged and re-Chi’d.
Sakura Reflexology Spa
314 County Road, Barrington