I’m wearing a plain t-shirt and baggy shorts, Korean spa-style waiting for my treatment with Dr. Hata. Tikkun Holistic Spa is a serene oasis, offering not only lovely massages, facials and scrubs, but holistic treatments operating on a different level, energetically. I’m into this stuff. On my spiritual path, I went from being a skeptic, to finding energy work to be a very enriching, healing experience. I had visited Tikkun earlier to shoot video with Rachel from Club Momme and Jamie from I’m Not The Babysitter, (coming soon!) but didn’t get a treatment myself. Tikkun owner, Niki, told me I absolutely had to try Dr. Hata. Very little was described to me, other than that I would love it.
I have no idea what to expect.
Dr. Hata brings me to the treatment room and asks me why I’m here. After dancing professionally for more than half my life, shooting and editing video, single parenting, I’ve got a laundry list of physical maladies, but decide to focus on my back and shoulder pain, which has intensified lately even just sitting, with pains originating at the base of my neck and shooting down my right side. I also mention the sharp pains on the top and front of my knee caps which are becoming more difficult to ignore.
Taking careful notes, he explains his background in kinesiology and martial arts. He is very knowledgeable about musculature and how the body’s systems are intertwined. I notice a glass bottle next to him labeled, “Do not drink”. I ask him what it’s for and he answers, “That’s to prevent bruising. It’s herbs, and they also allow me to go deeper energetically.” Okaaaaaaay. Bruising? He demonstrates a light tapping motion on my arm that he gradually intensifies. “On a scale from 1-10, when it gets to an 8, let me know, and I’ll move on. If we go too deep, other parts of the body will compensate and tweak,” he says. He offhandedly mentions another patient who would scream and moan during treatment.
WTF? I’m a wuss when it comes to deep tissue massage, and perhaps he senses my apprehension. “This is energetic healing work, but unlike ‘faith’ healing you don’t have to try to ‘feel’ anything. You’ll feel something right away,” he explains.
“Like screaming?” I think to myself.
Dr. Hata begins assessing my body. He says my back is like a “tortoise shell”. Super tight, and locked up, which is exactly how it feels. I lay down on a mat on the floor and he dabs the “non-bruising herb juice” on my back before pressing his knees into my hips, then slowly walking them up my spine telling me gently to speak up when it gets to an 8. For the amount of tension in my back, this part is not pleasant, I’m sweating, trying to breathe, yelping out “8!” like it’s a safe word, which it IS. I remind myself to trust that he knows exactly what he is doing, which he does. He can sense areas of tenderness before he even touches them, yet I can see why clients yelp out in pain. This ain’t no Swedish massage. But I decide to surrender to it, to allow the deep work and the benefits (hopefully) that will come.
He moves on to my legs, hitting pressure points in my hamstrings and IT band. These muscles are so tight they are keeping my knees from aligning properly and he is kneading, tapping, intensifying the force until I give the word. The “8!”s are coming fast and furious now. I know there’s no prize for enduring the most pain, but my dance training has always taught me to push my edge. I completely wuss out and scream “8!” when he barely touches me. This sh*t hurts. I’m laughing now as I yelp out my “8!”s but I do notice that my back feels relaxed and supple in a way it hasn’t felt in months. I try to focus on this feeling.
His technique flips your Chi, or life energy, back and forth between the areas he’s working on: my back, my legs, feet, back, shoulders, arms, neck. It’s like a full body massage, but SO much more intense. Some parts felt amazing, (like when he slapped my feet!) some not so much, but I felt as if I could push the intensity as much as I could take by the use of the “8!”. It was not like any energy work I’ve ever experienced before, and the results felt immediately after were striking.
Near the end of my 90 minute session he checks my back again. It’s supple and soft, with a few points of sensitivity, which are my nerves. He explains how they have become so accustomed to pain in those areas, it’s like muscle memory, they are still in protection mode. He explains that he can’t fix everything in my body at once, but I will feel a difference immediately. And I do. My entire body feels relaxed, my shoulders have dropped, I’m blissed out and standing up straighter. Ready to cap this off with a soak in the jacuzzi…
…followed by the infrared room. Aaaaaaaah. Super blissed out. Feel like napping. I go home and do just that.
The next day I feel like a new woman. My neck and shoulder pain is gone, my knees feel great and I am converted. I have been Hata-tized. The combination of his tremendous knowledge of muscle structure and relationships, energy flow and intuition make his treatment unlike any other. It is intense, I can see why people couldn’t really explain what it is that he does, but it WORKS. Chronic pain, sports injuries, back pain, Dr. Hata can help your body remember what it was like before stress took hold of your muscles. Trust me. Or better yet, trust Dr. Hata.