Lazy man yoga is great for you – without the sweat

Timothy Barber
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IN the event, lazy man yoga doesn’t have an awful lot to do with yoga. It turns out to be more like a post-workout stretch session. There are no floor-mats, no mantras and no dogs, downward-facing or otherwise.

There’s a lot of stretching, but it’s more or less done for you by your therapist who bends and pulls your muscles while you lie prone, as well as massaging you with a hot poultice (a steamed bag of aromatic herbs) and oil. As full-body muscular workouts go, it’s about as lazy as they come – I fell asleep twice. But the well-worked, satisfying aches I felt the next day were similar to those after a vigorous exercise session, which reflects how much deeper and further than a normal massage treatment this one goes.

As the name suggests, this treatment is for men. It can be adjusted for women, but as spa manager and my therapist Amy Taylor points out, women are generally lighter and more flexible than men, so these stretches tend to have less impact.

Taylor says that things like prolonged office work, long-haul flights and professional stresses have their own effects on the muscles, and this is about de-stiffening them.

The hour-long treatment begins with a cleansing ritual for hands and feet using lemongrass oil. Then, when I’m lying on my front on the bed, Amy begins pushing and stretching my legs, one at a time. She hooks one of my legs in behind the knee of the other, which she then bends back until my foot is up by my backside. (Chaps, you’ll be wearing your undies for this – so bearing in mind the relatively undignified positions you’ll find yourself in, it’s best to leave those flappy boxers behind and wear your smartest tighty whities, for Amy’s sake and yours).

Then it’s on with the poultice – a tight muslin ball containing indigo (a natural anti-inflammatory) and cinnamon (a restorative, vitalising spice). It’s heated in a steamer like an incredibly aromatic steam pudding, and Amy works this hot ball of goodness into the muscles and joints, before using her hands to massage in a no-less-intoxicating, muscle-easing oil incorporating rainforest cloves, rosemary and cedar wood.

Gradually this process is repeated across the body. The back and shoulders are pulled, stretched, poulticed and massaged. I sit up on the table as Amy pulls my arms forwards until I’m all but doubled over, then she climbs on the massage table behind me to work on my shoulders and bend my arms behind my head. Chest and arms, ankles and feet, and even my scalp are kneaded and manipulated, massaged and warmed.

Despite all the bending and stretching, my principal feeling after this treatment is one of incredible relaxation and tranquillity. It’s a detoxifying process and one that, as I said, I could still feel the next day. £95 for one hour.