The following article was written for The Observer in July 2008.—

Aromatherapy massage- tried and tested- Guardian Guide to Relaxation
Written by Saskia Courtenay – July 2008

Head: Olfactory indulgence/ It’s in the way that you soothe it…./ Let’s hear it for those herbs/Time to let go/ Healing hands/ A natural high

Sell: Do plants and herbs really possess the ability to de-stress you, or is it all a sweet-smelling charade? Well, they certainly pack a more powerful pacifying punch than you think, as Saskia Courtenay found out

On arrival at the Neal’s Yard therapy rooms in Richmond I’m greeted by a friendly receptionist who asks me to take a seat and swiftly hands me a steaming cup of dandelion tea- a detoxifying, cleansing brew that’s surprisingly delicious. I could get used to this, I think, as I park the pressures of a hectic week and bask in the thought that I now have a full-hour of pure, unadulterated me time.

My therapist Tania introduces herself and we spend a few minutes talking through my lifestyle and my skin, health and well being concerns, before she prescribes my own bespoke blend of essential oils she’ll use during the aromatherapy massage. Tania immediately puts me at my ease- she’s relaxed and positively glowing, and as we talk about the spectrum of different oils and their attributes, I begin to sense the solid knowledge she has on the subject.

The blend is a divine amalgamation of Lavender, Frankincense, Rose and Geranium. To me, the smell is reminiscent of Mediterranean holidays and as she begins to work on my spine I feel cocooned in a wonderful feeling of serenity. Tania tells me that I’m carrying tension in my upper back and begins kneading a few knots. She is extremely communicative and continually checks that the pressure is right for me- something that lesser adept therapists can ignore, so I’m never stirred from my state of calm. She continues working on my spine and lower back with a range of movements, before moving onto my legs and finishing with some Indian head massage- (heavenly).

As I waft out of the therapy rooms my boyfriend comments on how relaxed I look, although my hair is full of the remnants of oils I feel utterly blissed-out and full of confidence.

A few hours later, back at home I’m still feeling positively grounded and surprisingly nonchalant about the household chores I can see emerging around me. Time to put your feet up, I think as I pour myself a cup of dandelion tea and sink back into the depths of the sofa. Zzzzzzzz