WHAT I TRIED Along with my husband, the Chi Balance signature massage for two at the Shangri-La, Abu Dhabi.
WHAT I WANTED I didn't know I had a yin and a yang, but I was told that this massage would balance them. I wanted to leave the room feeling more at one with myself, my yin and yang (whatever they are) and the world in general.
WHAT I EXPERIENCED I was shown into a darkened room with a steam room, sauna, a "vitality pool" and a hammam. I had the whole place to myself. I felt like a millionaire. Things could have gone awry when I momentarily mistook the emergency call button for something to increase the steam. Happily, I stopped myself from pressing it just in time.
After I'd had a good soak, my therapist came to collect me and I joined my husband, who had been in the male treatment room. I was asked to choose between two oils to help restore my balances while my feet were washed in a bowl of water with rose petals and gently massaged. "The massage will be light," said my therapist. "This is a balancing treatment." "Goody," I thought. "More chance of a kip."
My husband and I lay face down on our treatment tables. I always find those round things you put your head into impossibly uncomfortable, but this one was great. I was totally at ease and shut my eyes ready for sleep. Then there was a loud clang followed by something that sounded like my daughter practising her violin. I didn't dare ask what it was but presumed it had something to do with my yin, or possibly my yang. Then the massage started. It was not light. In fact parts of it, especially on my shoulders and my feet, were almost painful. But it was that sort of sweet pain. And I did sleep. Until another clang woke me up.
THE VERDICT I had walked in feeling stiff, tired and stressed. I left feeling light, rejuvenated and extremely Zen. My shoulders and neck were a stress-free zone for once. Of course, I cannot tell whether this is down to my yin and yang being balanced, but whatever the reason, the massage worked. I felt great.
Helena Frith Powell
WHAT I TRIED The Chi Balance signature massage for two.
WHAT I WANTED One of the strangest events in my marriage occurred at the Amanyara, a splendid hotel in the Caribbean. I was being massaged by a girl, when she suddenly climbed on my back. I looked across at my wife, to see if she minded. There was also a girl on her back. There they were, banging away on our backs like a couple of Scottish drummers. Very enjoyable it was too. So, something similar would have been good.
WHAT I EXPERIENCED Nothing quite as dramatic, but it was an equally pleasurable experience. It began in the relaxation room, which boasts one of the finest Turkish baths I have ever entered, with a sauna, a Jacuzzi with proper jets and a wall of water that was a massage in itself, and a shower that gave you either a tropical rainstorm or an ice storm. Only trouble is, although you are massaged together, you are separated during the relaxation. More relaxing I guess, but it would have been nice to have a chat. But by the time the masseur came to get me, I was fully relaxed.
Reunited, our feet were washed with water and coconut milk. Then we were asked to sniff a number of oils. The one I liked best revealed that my element is "wood". This is apparently very good, although it does not make me a natural-born leader. That is reserved for the "fire" people, among whom was my wife. I followed her into the massage room, where we were told to lie on the beds. There was chiming. Could this be the lunch gong? Alas, no. Instead, I felt the hands of my masseur rubbing lavender oil in my shoulders. A lot of rubbing ensued, none of it painful. It ended to the sound of chiming bells. Was it lunch now? Luckily it was, although by the time we got to the Japanese restaurant at 3pm, they told us they were closed. That's enough to wreck anybody's yin. Or yang.
THE VERDICT Elementary; everyone should try it. Next time I might take along somebody who doesn't fall asleep the minute the masseur touches her. Fire, indeed.
The Chi Balance signature massage lasts 90 minutes and costs Dh550 per person. To book, call Chi at the Shangri-La on 02 509 8888.