How to Experience a Great Turkish Bath2/1/2011
The stresses, pains, and restlessness of travel can take a toll on the body. Every now and then a good old fashion massage is needed to help relax and work the knots out of tense muscles. I arrived in Istanbul, Turkey (the first time) in early June. I heard about the experience of a Turkish bath through other travelers in Eastern Europe. They used many superlatives when describing what happens inside a Turkish bath, including words like,
“It was Intense”
“I felt Man-handled”
After hearing such vivid descriptions, I decided to visit a Turkish Bath House for myself. I’ll never forget the experience.
Here is my recollection of the events that took place.
I’m taken into a private room where I strip myself down to nothing but a shower towel. I meet the guy performing the Turkish massage and head to the sauna. He seems like a friendly unassuming fellow. I spend about 10 minutes inside the hot sauna, working up a nice sweat, and meet the Turkish masseur for my long awaited bath.
I’m so ready for my deep tissue massage!
I feel completely violated! My body parts shriek with terror every time the Turkish man put his mid-evil hands on me. My body twists and turns at his discretion, and I have no control of my movements for the duration of the 45 minute process. The Turkish guy pounds his fists into my back, simultaneously grabbing at any muscles his fingers can grasp. He finds stressed muscles, stretched muscles, and muscles I never knew existed.
Meanwhile, to give my horrified body a break, the “massage therapist” hurled buckets of cold water at my face. Once, twice, three times and he’s done with the buckets. Next, copious amounts of soap pours over my body and gently washes away with warm water. I begin to feel a little bit better about his “softer” methods.
Suddenly, the Turkish man grabs my arm, rubbing it with a thin towel like sandpaper. The friction gives me a burning sensation, like a rasberry received from falling off a speeding bicycle. The process is repeated on my other arm, back, chest and legs. I close my eyes to clear out the pain.
My eyes lift and the Turk shows me a wad of skin collected from my body. I’m shocked at the amount of dead epidermis in the man’s hands. I look down and spot a fresh, shiny new coat of glistening skin.
A final round of cleansing takes place to remove any dead material on my body. I feel like a new man. The exfoliation of my skin combined with the relaxed state of my muscles creates a wonderful, pain free body. I’ve never felt better after a massage. The violation and pain I experienced throughout the process was worth the end result, a stress free, healthy skinned new me. That was the best bath of my life!
3 Steps to Experience a Great Turkish Bath
In order to get the most out of your Turkish Bath experience, I recommend three easy steps.
1. Stress your body out
A stressed out body responds best to massage treatment. This steps comes naturally for most of us. Days of long hard hours at the gym, a crazy go-go work schedule, long hikes through rough terrain, or in my case a culmination of various travel related ailments, represent easy ways to stress out the body.
2. Drink plenty of fluids
Drink large quantities of water before entering the Turkish Bath. The extra water allows your system to effectively “sweat out” toxins in your body without the risk of dehydration. For example, the steamy sauna can drain the body of vital fluids in a matter of minutes. Make sure you bring enough clean, drinking water to last the duration of the massage. I recommend at least a quart.
3. Do not criticize or complain during the process
Whining and complaining will get you nowhere. In some instances, you may consider telling your masseuse or masseur to ease up on some of the extreme muscle massage techniques. A previous injury or muscle weakness are prime examples of applicable situations. However, I encourage you to let the Turkish Bath runs its course. You’ll be glad you did!
Follow these 3 steps and you have an unforgettable Turkish massage!