If the idea of having 30 big round bruises on your back for about a week sounds like fun to you, make sure to try hot cupping while in Yangshuo, China.
For some unknown reason it sounded like fun to Dave and I and after a week of cycling, climbing and boating in China on top of a couple of weeks of hard adventure travel in Fiji, we thought that a relaxing session of hot cupping would be an excellent way to work out the kinks from travel.
Recommended by the Lonely Planet and our Intrepid Travel guide, we booked a session with Dr. Lilly Li For Y40, we were whisked into the massage room and immediately told to get on the table.
Dr. Li told Dave that it was fine to take photographs because she would be giving us two separate sessions so he stayed to record it all for you to see. (We have no shame, anything for the blog)
I am glad that I went first because if I had to watch it happen, I probably would have chickened out.
Within seconds she popped the hot cups onto my back. As she stuck them to my skin, I felt a constrictive feeling. My muscles started to tighten up and I wondered if I would start to panic. As I breathed through it and talked about how it felt, I started to relax and actually enjoy the sensation.
Once the final cup is put on, you have 10 minutes to relax and let them do work their magic. I started to feel very calm and enjoyed the squeezing of my muscles as the tension melted away.
The cups came off with a sting, almost like having a band-aid ripped off in one swift motion and before I knew it, my session was over.
It may be unpleasant, but when in China, one must sample everything.
Once the pain subsided, I felt completely chilled out and my back was very loose. Dave however had to go next and he just finished watching it all. To watch the process, hot cupping looks painful and he was a bit freaked out.
As she put the hot cups onto his back, I had the chance to see exactly what I had gone through. I had no idea what it looked like.
Dr. Li uses the traditional bamboo hot cups and lights each one with fire before setting them onto our backs.
Dave commented on the tightening feeling he had on his, and I remembered mentioning it during my session because talking made me feel better. The squeeze of the hot cups makes you almost feel a little claustrophobic. But it quickly subsides as you breathe into the uneasiness.
It was quite a sight to see the 20 or so cups piled onto his back. It took Dave a little more time to relax than me and I think that it was because he just finished watching the process. What you don’t know won’t hurt you and I had no idea what ordeal I was going through.
The cups draw out toxins from the body and muscles and we were probably darker around our shoulders because of carrying our packs day in and day out. Karen, our Intrepid guide looked at our marks and laughed at how bruised we were. We are obviously more toxic than others and carry a lot more tension. She said that her bruises are never that bad.
A person can do two sessions of hot cupping per month. It is not advisable to do more as you will stretch your skin and there is no need to detoxify too much. We are quite toxic, so I think that we will be doing another Hot Cupping session.
Note: This tour is sponsored by Intrepid Travel an excellent bridge between independent travel and group travel. With a 12 person maximum per group and a 1 person minimum, you are guaranteed departure and a real opportunity to experience local culture and lifestyle. We are taking part in the Grand China Tour from Hong Kong to Beijing and sharing our experiences and observations on the differences between independent and group travel.-