The ultimate way to unwind

There’s nothing quite like a warm, relaxing massage, but imagine if you could amplify that heat, that relaxation, all the way down your back and legs?

That’s what hot stone therapy is all about. Amber Wilson dons her sarong and gets smothered in coconut oil, to experience this decadent Hawaiian-style pampering.


Kahuna hot stone therapy is an ancient practice from Hawaii designed to give the ultimate relaxation experience. Basalt stones, which are black volcanic rocks, are sanitised and heated until they’re pretty hot, though not hot enough to burn. They’re then placed along the chakra points down the spine and on the front of the body. Hot stone therapy is often combined with a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, which involves the therapist using their hands, forearms, elbows, and sometimes even knees and feet, to really knead the body to remove tension and stress. The therapist may also use the hot stones to massage the body, bringing that feeling of intense heat and release to the legs, arms, neck and even head.

The therapist will use a variety of stone sizes – the bigger ones are called ‘placement’ stones. They hold a lot of heat and are placed on the chakra points - the meridians of the body - which are believed to be energetic/spiritual centres. While these bigger stones sit on the chakra point and release heat, the therapist may perform the Lomi Lomi massage with a variety of stone sizes. Using oil, the stones glide freely over the body and provide a warm, tingling sensation.

The benefits of hot stone massage are believed to be deep relaxation, grounding, improved blood circulation and a sense of being nurtured.

Hot stone therapy has been used for thousands of years and not just with the Hawaiians. The ancient Chinese used heated stones to improve the function of internal organs, while Native Americans used them in sweat lodges to repair damage to the body and mind.


Basalt stones are a very special type of rock. Formed by the intense heat of volcanos, they’ve been shaped and smoothed over thousands of years by flowing water. They have an amazing ability to hold heat and are believed to absorb the grounding, healing and cleansing properties of the Earth.

Before arriving for a hot stone massage, your therapist will sanitise the stones and heat them in hot water until they reach about 50°C. You’ll lie on a massage table and the stones will be placed on your chakra points on top of a towel or sarong. The relaxation benefits are immediate. As each stone cools, the therapist will replace it with a warmer one.


I arrive at Balance Complementary Medicine in Melbourne - a little unsure of what I’m going to experience. My therapist, Tracy Delacruz, who is warm and inviting, leads me to the massage room. She places one of the hot stones in my hand so that I know how hot it is and what to expect. I’m surprised by just how hot it is, but notice it soon releases its heat and becomes more comfortable to hold.

I undress and lie face-down on the massage table, covered with a Hawaiian sarong. Tracy starts placing the hot stones down my spine and I immediately feel their intense heat melting away the muscle tension. She then starts massaging my back and legs, using a very hot oil and smaller hot stones. It’s deeply soothing.

I turn onto my back and Tracy places the stones on the front of my body. They feel heavier on this side, particularly when placed on my abdomen. She begins to massage the front of my body, using the Lomi Lomi techniques as well as the hot stones. It’s deeply relaxing.

My feet are next to be treated. Small hot stones are placed between my toes. While they’re warming and relaxing my feet, Tracy massages my head around my temples with hot stones and massage oil.

I’m quite surprised by the intense heat at times and I notice I have hot red marks on my body when we finish. Of course they soon fade and I feel relaxed and refreshed for the remainder of my day.


Tracy says hot stone massage improves circulation and calms the nervous system.

“It is recommended for those with stress, anxiety and tension, neck, shoulder and back pain, poor circulation, arthritic pain, insomnia and depression,” she says. “Plus, it’s immensely indulgent. We don’t pamper ourselves enough these days and pampering is all part of the healing process.”


Tracy has recently had a 180° turnaround in her career. After spending the past few years in the corporate world, working in advertising and exhibitions, she decided to take a change of pace. Tracy was introduced to the complementary healing industry through her sister Juanita Jolly, who is the director of Balance Complementary Medicine and is a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, an acupuncturist and naturopath.

“After seeing clients come into the clinic and their immense change after a treatment was both incredible and uplifting,” she says. “I was inspired to learn a technique so I could also have the opportunity to create a positive, pampering experience.” NH



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