Interview with Philip Cook
Philip is the founder of Hahana Stone Massage in Australia. Hahana Stone Massage is currently offered in over 100 Spas, Salons and Massage Clinics through-out Australia, and as far reaching as Ireland, New Zealand, Fiji and Singapore.
Q. What motivated your interest in Stone Massage and especially Hahana Stone Massage?
A. I was lucky enough to get a position working as a Massage Therapist in the Spa aboard a six-star cruise ship. Prior to joining the ship, I undertook intensive Spa Therapies training in London and this is where I learnt Hot Stone Massage (or Stone Therapy).
From my first day of training I was blown away by how amazing the stones felt and, throughout my time working on the ship, I saw how deeply clients were affected by this unique style of massage.
Upon returning to Australia, I saw a lack of training institutions offering professional Hot Stone Massage courses. The popularity of Stone Therapy was growing and within several months of starting the business, we had trained Spas and Salons through-out Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Hahana Stone Massage is our particular ‘brand/style’ of Stone Therapy and is now practised by over 500 therapists across Australia.
Stone Massage & Hahana Stone Massage
Q. Where does Stone Massage originate from?
A. Stone Massage is a relatively ‘new’ style of massage, being discovered in 1993 by a massage therapist (named Mary Nelson) in the US. Although modern-day Stone Therapy is a new treatment, it has been influenced by many cultures that traditionally used stones and/or heat to have a therapeutic effect on the body. These cultures include the Chinese, Native Americans, Hawaiians, Egyptians and Indian Ayurvedic to name a few.
Q. What are the differences between Hahana Stone Massage in comparison to other types of Stone Massages?
A. Hahana Stone Massage is heavily based on the Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi style of massage. We combine rhythmic and flowing forearm movements with the heated stones. My background in Chinese Medicine has also influenced the pressure points and meridians we focus on.
There are many other styles of Stone Therapy taught all over the world and, broadly speaking, the difference between each style is which type of massage it is based on (ie. Swedish, Sports, Hawaiian, etc).
Q. Where does the name Hahana come from?
A. Hahana is the Hawaiian word for heat.
Q. Does the application of Hot Stone Massage vary from person to person or is there a set routine a Hahana Stone Massage Therapist will follow? What happens during a Hahana Stone Massage?
A. During our training sessions we teach a very ‘systematic’ 90 minute, full-body Hot Stone Massage. With years of practice and refining, we have found that this sequence flows extremely well and gives clients an amazing Stone Therapy experience.
Having said this, we do encourage our students to incorporate their own techniques (combined with the stones) into the treatment. Massage is a very personal ‘art’ and techniques that work for one therapist don’t always work for another.
Different clients will also present with different requirements when they come for a massage. Some will want a purely relaxation style of massage and others will need more ‘deep tissue/remedial’ work. The great thing about Stone Therapy is that it is a very versatile treatment and can benefit many different clients.
A Hahana Stone Massage will usually consist of the therapist placing heated stones of various shapes/sizes onto the client’s body onto different points (chakras, energy points, sore muscles, etc). For safety, most of the time these ‘placement’ stones won’t be in direct contact with the skin, instead they will be placed onto a towel to buffer the heat.
Whilst these placement stones are warming and activating the specific areas, the therapist will take several other heated stones and begin massaging a different area of the body. The heat from the stones is released deep into the muscles, greatly enhancing the massage.
Some therapists will also incorporate chilled stones into their treatment which, although not quite as relaxing as the heated stones, do have a part to play for certain conditions. A typical Hahana Stone Massage will take 90 minutes, however it is possible to do a 60 minute (or even shorter) treatment.
Q. What benefits are there in receiving a Hahana Stone Massage apart from pure relaxation?
A. It is said that one stroke with a heated stone is equivalent to ten normal massage strokes!
Most people who have a Hot Stone Massage will be ‘blown away’ by the level of relaxation that is achieved. Some clients will have vivid dreams or even ‘out-of-body’ experiences. It is usually a very grounding, relaxing and healing experience.
Other benefits include increased blood circulation, relaxation of muscle and connective tissue and mild detoxification.
Not only does the client receive the benefits, but when practiced correctly, the therapist will reduce the strain placed on their hands and wrists.
Q. Can anyone enjoy a Hot Stone Massage?
A. As with all styles of massage, certain contra-indications mean that Hot Stone Massage is not suitable for all clients. Some of these contra-indications include pregnancy, heart conditions, thin skin, sensory impairment, etc.
It is very important that therapists who perform Hot Stone Massage have undertaken professional training. We suggest that clients double-check this when booking a treatment.
Q. What are the most common customer comments following a Hahana Stone massage and what benefits have you seen among your clients?
A. As previously mentioned, most people who have a Hahana Stone Massage will experience a deep level of relaxation that is rarely achieved by other styles of massage. Many clients comment that they have had vivid dreams or even ‘out-of-body’ experiences. Even people who don’t usually fall asleep during a massage will find it difficult to stay awake.
Apart form the deep level of relaxation experienced, Hahana Stone Massage is also great to incorporate into Remedial or Deep Tissue massage, increasing the benefits of these particular styles of massage.
Our students often comment on how much ‘easier on the body’ (ie. for the therapist) Hahana Stone Massage is than other styles of massage.
Q. How do I know that the Hot Stone Massage Therapist or Hahana Massage Therapist is properly qualified?
A. Most Spas, Salons and therapists who have undertaken training with Hahana Stone Massage can be found on our website (www.hahana.com.au/where.html). I think that it is always best to double-check with the therapist who will be performing the treatment that they have undertaken professional training, either with Hahana Stone Massage or another training institute.
Q. What type of stones are used in Hahana Stone Massage and what benefits do these stones have on the body? Are they special stones?
A. The hot stones that we use are volcanic basalt stones from South America (primarily Peru). Basalt was the original type of stone used by Mary Nelson (the founder of modern-day Stone Therapy) and is definitely the most popular type of stone used. It has stood the test of time and shown that it holds heat better than other types of stone. There is also a belief that basalt stones have a certain ‘energy’ which is given off to clients during a massage, enhancing the effects of the treatment.
The basalt stones that we sell are naturally formed/smoothed by the action of rivers and the ocean. We don’t recommend ‘man-made’ or shaped/polished stones as they tend to have lost their natural energy, diminishing the effects of the massage. Highly polished stones are also very slippery when oiled.
Our cold stones are Peruvian Marble (ie. marble from Peru). Marble stays cold for long periods of time and also has the ability to absorb heat from the body. Cold stones do tend to wake clients up quite quickly so aren’t used all that often in relaxation treatments. They do feel great on the face though and are excellent for reducing congestion.
Study Hahana Stone Massage
Q. Where can you study Hahana Stone Massage? Are there courses in Australia and worldwide? If so where?
A. Hahana Stone Massage courses are available through-out Australia and also Internationally. The majority of our training is done ‘in-house’ (i.e. at your Spa/Salon).