Intro to Swedish Massage 1: an experience I won’t forget

I recently had the pleasure of taking the intro to Swedish Massage 1 course at IKRA Massage Academy. And to be honest, I was a little nervous before I got there. I knew that I was interested in learning massage therapy, but I also had so many questions and doubts floating around in my mind: would I be any good at it? Would I enjoy it? Would I really be comfortable giving massages to complete strangers? Luckily, the intro to Swedish 1 course was the very thing I needed to help me answer these questions.


My intro to Swedish massage

The first day began with our teacher Dominique Champagne, introducing herself. I was immediately put at ease by her friendly and funny demeanour. We met her assistant, a recent graduate from IKRA Massage Academy, and then we went around the room introducing ourselves and sharing what had brought us to the intro to Swedish massage course.

Some of the students were fed up with corporate, stressful jobs and needed a professional shift. One student was a nurse who wanted to continue giving care but with more emphasis on relaxation. Some students had been studying massage for some time, and others had no experience with massage at all. We were an eclectic bunch, but we were all connected by our interest in massage, touch, and the desire to learn something new.


Learning massage therapy one step at a time

Often, I can get overly focused on doing things perfectly. I try too hard, and I tend to put too much pressure on myself to perform. But from the get-go, Dominique encouraged us all to treat this weekend as a fun and relaxed exploration.

We would be learning massage therapy techniques, then practicing and receiving them. But more than trying to get everything perfect, Dominique emphasized that the point of this weekend was to get a taste of Swedish Massage and see whether it was something that we enjoyed.

There was no pressure to perform, only the invitation to dive in and experience. This was huge for me and helped me let go and enjoy the weekend.

And enjoy it, I did.


A massage therapist with two hands on a client's back, connecting with their client.


The massage training layout

After introducing ourselves, and a brief introduction to the benefits, philosophy, and history of Swedish Massage, we broke up into pairs and got right into learning the practical side of things.

First, Dominique would demonstrate a technique, and then we’d practice and receive. The flow was perfect. It felt like we were making the most of our time without trying to cram in too much information. It was a nice balance. And I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I learned simply by receiving massages from other students, the teacher and her assistant.

It was awesome! And throughout the intro weekend, this was the template we stuck to: learn, practice, receive and then take a break. It was the perfect layout to keep an intensive weekend from becoming exhausting. And in the end, we all learned a full-body, relaxation flow that we could practice at home.

Harder than it looks

As I said, this was my intro to Swedish massage, so there’s no surprise that some of the techniques were a little harder to do than Dominique made them look. But I was never left floundering on my own. Dominique and the assistant teacher were always nearby. If I had an issue or was uncertain about something, I didn’t have to wait long for someone to help me.

Actually, there was this one moment that I have to share. I was massaging the contour of my partner’s right shoulder blade when the assistant teacher came over to guide me. Standing on the left side of my partner, she demonstrated the technique with graceful ease. I watched her hands and worked to copy what she did and move in sync with her movements. Soon, we were massaging both scapulae in harmony. By the end, I understood the massage technique much better, and my partner had a fantastic experience.


 The massage therapy teacher demonstrating a massage therapy maneuver as students watch.


Massage therapy is an art form 

By the second day, whenever Dominique demonstrated the massage techniques, I found myself mesmerized by the fluid mastery of her movements. Nothing was done in excess, and everything she did had a relaxed intention to it. I was struck by the beauty of Swedish massage, and for the first time, I understood that it was an art form. And I’m not just talking about the maneuvers.

When Dominique worked with the sheets, her assistant was never uncovered more than necessary and never made to feel vulnerable. The way that Dominique stood, the calm focus in her eyes, the way she never lost contact with whomever she was massaging—each detail was cared for. And I saw that beyond movement and touch, learning massage therapy was the art of making your client feel comfortable enough to let go. I liked that…I liked that a lot.


Massage therapy is a unique profession

As the weekend neared the end, it became clear to me how unique massage therapy is as a profession. What other job requires you to cultivate calmness? In today’s world, how many occupations ask you to take care of your own needs so that you can give more to your clients? Personally, no job I’ve ever done has calmed me in the way sharing massage relaxes me. And this was revolutionary for me because I had always thought that work and stress had to go hand in hand: if you weren’t stressed out, you weren’t doing a good job. The intro to Swedish massage 1 course showed me that maybe this didn’t have to be true.


An inspiring intro to massage therapy

I must admit that by the end of the two days, I was smitten. Swedish massage was beautiful—to watch, to receive, and to give. And though I couldn’t help but see how much space existed between me and mastering the art, I also noticed that after only two days, I had improved. And I wasn’t alone. We had all improved in just a short time. I can only imagine how much we would all grow after the 400-hour Swedish massage 1 course.

So, if you’re interested in learning massage therapy, I highly recommend signing up for the intro course. It’s a great way to test it out without committing to more than a weekend, and it’ll help you see whether Swedish massage is for you.


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