Sophia Kupse is pushing her thumbs into the area directly left of my right shoulder blade. This is the part of my back that continually gives me difficulty – when I’m under pressure, it is the first place in my body to register discomfort. The grip she has is firm and my muscles are starting to protest. Just as I am about to ask her to ease up, she removes her hands and chases them with ice marble. Shock at the cool stone pulses through my back. Quick as a flash, the marble is replaced with hot stones. These have the opposite effect: my muscles seem to welcome the stone’s warmth, my back loosening to accommodate the heat.
Does this sound like an hour with Sophia Kupse consists of a hot stone massage? I suppose the above three steps do a hot massage suggest. What happens from hereon in, however, couldn’t be further from a massage you could get in a spa. As soon as my muscles start to ease, Sophia asks me probing questions: ‘is there a strong masculine presence in your life? You have had difficulties with someone male – I think they started about two years ago judging from this part of your back.’ See what I mean? Personal. Sophia asks these because her belief is that the back is intrinsically connected with our emotional lives and that a massage would be ineffectual without the verbal casting out, as it were, of the root cause of tension.
In another huge departure from standard back treatments, Sophia doesn’t administer massage to any parts of the back which are pain-free. None. Not once did she linger on the soft, relaxed tissue. Her explanation for this is that the back is a map of your emotional landscape – she wants to work on problem areas, not simply add pleasure to the parts which are already functioning perfectly well. It is a problem-busting back treatment to really address physical pain rather than a one-fits-all massage.
Relaxing it ain’t, but effective it most certainly is. After around six targeted applications of Sophia’s hands and the stones (coupled with a surprisingly frank conversation about the causes of anxiety and stress in my life), it feels as if the aches have been wrung out of my muscles and they submissively sit strung across my skeleton soft as butter. Have I joined the ranks of Sophia’s fans who’ve lovingly dubbed her the Muscle Whisperer? Absolutely. I only have one linguistic caveat: Sophia doesn’t whisper at back pain, she roars at it. So I’ll call her the muscle roarer henceforth.