Negotiating body politics
Draping is a commonly used term used in regard to keeping your friend/client warm and comfortable during their massage, it is also referred to as towelling and its purpose was to keep the person warm during the massage as houses and clinics were not as warm as today and it has become a standard industry practise to cover the half, or parts of the body not being treated with a towel/sheet/sarong or some nice fresh fabric to preserve modesty.
If you find the human body offensive, If you insist clients remain partially clothed, You should not be massaging.
Draping or covering the body is now less about warmth, it's more about political correctness. Today as much as we are divided from each other by social and political forces, we are similarly divided from our bodies. We learn from an early age that genitals are 'dirty' and that ever seeing anyone else's is a sin and in some countries a crime. This abhorrence of parts of our bodies is injurious to our soul or spirit, but politically it helps to keep us in fear which enables us to be more easily controlled which I discuss in the site section on politics.
Here you have to draw a line; are you going to support the negative status of inhibition or are you going to encourage self acceptance and the letting go of fear? If you choose to support inhibition and conformity to politically correct ideas, you must practice appropriate draping techniques and you'll find a wide range of ideologies by searching youtube. However if you are going to support those seeking greater wholeness, you must have first shed some of your own inhibitions and you cannot expect anyone to do what you have not done.
In practise, I find I must work both ways, as when treating clients who may be naked under the sarong, except for a few unashamed naturists, I arrange the sarong to keep their genitals covered at all times. In my classes, I endeavour to convey these points and encourage students to seek greater freedom and the class is an opportunity to relax their inhibitions while retaining the choices outlined above.
For social, sensual and erotic massages, it's ideal to be naked as nakedness is becoming a rare state and one of the reasons why we suffer as we do.
The holistic body massage is a freer option, ideally your friend/client will be naked and you massage in a suitably warm room on the bare table although we must remember that when the body is covered with oil or wax, this facilitates body cooling which can lower a persons temperature by as much as 5 degrees over an hours massage. Your room must be suitably warm; 20 - 25 degrees.
Many therapists use large towels, however they are bulky, can be expensive and add to the cost of laundry, therefore cotton sarongs or sheets are less bulky and are a more cost effective option where warmth is not an issue. Sometimes sheets can be cut in half and hemmed and sarongs are inexpensive. Where extra warmth is needed, like when your room is cool, a blanket or duvet can be placed over a sheet or sarong.
Points to Remember
- Everyone is different, some like to be swaddled in towels or are so shy that it's almost impossible to give them a bare skin massage, this maybe because they have a poor/negative body image, while others will happily romp around naked and you have trouble keeping them covered.
- Pre-conditions - Its difficult to treat the body when you must work around underwear and such treatments are typically more cosmetic. If your friend is to shy to fully undress, get them to wear their littlest undies.If they insist on leaving their bra on, at least ask to undo the strap so you have a clear back to work on and sometimes where a person leaves on their underwear, covering is not always necessary and one way to get people out of their clothing is to have them shower before laying on the table.
- Temperature; When you apply oil or wax to a persons body, they lose about 5 degrees of body heat, so in cooler situations you will need extra towels or a good option is to have the person between sheets and have a duvet for warmth.
- For those who suffer from the cold, having hot towels and wheat-bags can be very nice to help warm them up.
- Bolsters; some people, men especially will need a bolster - a rolled up towel under their ankles to prevent pressure on their toes and knees.
- Many people with lower back problems, or anyone who's back gets sore from laying face down may need a bolster under their pelvis as illustrated right.
- Large breasted women when laying face down sometimes need small bolsters or rolled up hand towels under their front shoulders to relieve the pressure on their breasts.
- Face up, some people need a bolster under their knees especially if they suffer a sore back. They may also need a small pillow under their heads. If you notice that their head seems tilted back, give them a pillow.
- Mind the glare; If the lighting in your room is strong, an eye covering is often beneficial for clients.
- Hygiene; you're clean and fresh - so clients should also be clean; but when coming from work, they may be sweaty, have smelly feet and other areas. Encouraging them to take a shower before getting on the table is a good idea.
Method to draping for women who are breast shy but still want their abdomen massaged.
Many are shy about their bums and bits, but it its finest, massage is a whole body treatment where we must face the fact that a great deal of stress is stored in and around the hips.
Clothing prevents the treatment and release of that energy and like an artist beginning with a blank canvas, its lovely to commence work on a naked body.
Only massage the uncovered parts, you cannot massage under the towel and touch the skin you cannot see for safety reasons; i.e. there may be some concealed skin infection or condition you may accidentally make worse.
Why do people want to be massaged?
There are as many reasons as there are people on the planet. Most want relief from some discomfort, while those educated in the value of bodywork may simply want to celebrate their body and senses.
Until they arrive, you may not know much about your client unless you can ask during the booking process what problems they have or reasons for massage, and how they found out about you. Once they arrive, and you meet them in person you begin to develop more ideas about them.
Having your own shower facilities means you have clean bodies to work on and often its a good way to get them completely undressed.
Some people are very shy, others enjoy being naked, but some are so shy they don't want to undress yet they expect you to perform miracles and you may need to learn shiatsu.
Clients and healing:
Many people are trapped in their existence/suffering and while they can rationalise and forgive to some degree, they don't have sufficient trust or understanding of who they are and this is a dilemma for any healer seeking to guide clients toward freedom as opposed to modern medicine wanting to bury the issue and return the person to their role in life.
Change is difficult as many who travel to India have discovered where they experience a tranceformation of their being, but when they return home, a nervous breakdown is common as their friends and families refuse to accept the changes within the person and treats them in outdated manners.
To be effective in helping one person, the entire community also needs to be treated so that the person healing has the space and social support to grow.