Local Health Professional's Quest to End Bad Massages at Home

Sick of your partner giving you a half-hearted two-minute back "massage" at the end of a busy day?

Then Queen Elizabeth College Adult Continuing Education Night School has the answer for you.

The night school offers a massage course taught by local naturopath and aromatherapist Paula Harris. Enrolments are taken in pairs with a maximum of 12 learners for each course, to ensure that everyone is comfortable, with a fee of $68 per pair. The course is offered over six evenings or two Saturdays; the next course starts on Wednesday February 21 at 7pm.

Paula says that the pairs are often made up of couples or female friends looking to learn a new skill, but she also has mother-daughter pairs attend the course wanting to do something together. Some have never had a massage before, while others want to polish their under-used skills.

With over ten years of massage experience, Paula has been teaching the night school massage course for three years and relishes the opportunity of getting people hooked on massage; "I love massaging. I love being massaged. And I love teaching people how to massage. It's a wonderful skill to have and share".

Things have changed quite a bit since Paula originally trained in massage: "When I trained, massage was considered by most people to be a bit, well, dodgy. These days massage is much more a part of the mainstream and accepted. It's not just for sportspeople and sore backs – people now see it as a part of dealing with stress, as a part of their health maintenance".

Paula opened her current business, Elements Natural Therapy, in 1998; originally it was a side-line to her other part-time work, but now it is her full-time occupation "with a little teaching to keep me out of mischief".

Her main focus is on massage to aid relaxation ("Because I love it – I always think snoring is a compliment"), using three different styles - aromatherapy massage, a style which has evolved from various influences; Hawaiian lomilomi massage, a traditional, flowing massage which uses hands and forearms; and Pohaku hot stone massage, a spa-style massage using warm stones and with a strong Hawaiian influence.

The Guardian – February 15 2007