Welcome to the world of snake massage! Just imagine yourself laying down and being covered in live snakes, mostly pythons, which move around your body in ways that human hands can’t, giving you some fright but leaving you with a good dose of stress relief. This extreme massage practice is gradually acquiring the potential to dwarf other weird massage practices from acupuncture to hot stone and Tantra massage.
Snake massage is a growing massage practice which became popular in Indonesia and the Philippines, has found its way to several other countries including Israel, Brazil, Russia, and the United States.
Nigerians who may want to experience it, may have to travel to any of these countries. But those who do not, or cannot travel, may not wait for too long to have it at home because a recent video by Reuters showed that snake massage has found its way to Africa, through Egypt. The video shows a Cairo spa that offers a snake massage service.
In the video, spa owner, Safwat Sedki, is seen putting different types and sizes of non-venomous snakes on the oiled back of a client, and guiding the snakes’ movement at some point.
Sharing his experience while the snakes were still on him, a customer, says: “I was nervous at first [and] scared of snakes being on my body. But the fear, anxiety and tension was reduced and the session gave a sense of relaxation as the snakes went over my back and having them there boosted my self-confidence.”
How snake massage works
The snakes are first washed thoroughly and simply draped across the customers’ torsos and faces, and allowed to slither freely around the customer’s body as they please. The operator may also guide their movements when need be. In order to avoid problems, customers are advised to avoid jerky movements in order not to agitate the reptiles.
Benefits of snake massage
No medical or scientific research has been done on snake massage but practitioners claim it soothes migraines, reduces joint pains, relieves stress and improves blood circulation around the body. A 2018 report by CBS New York, quoted Serpentessa, a snake therapist, who works at the Dreaming Goddess in New York, as saying: “The benefits of a snake massage are, people come in, and towards the end they’re in a state of warmth and bliss and relaxation.”
According to Sedki, the snakes “tone and stimulate the vagus nerve in our body and that releases endorphins and oxytocin. Those are the feel good hormones.”
Since it is arguably impossible to experience a snake massage without fear, a snake massage creates an adrenaline rush which some experts say could be physiologically and mentally beneficial.
Because confronting and surviving fear leads to psychological release, it is also believed that a snake massage can cure Ophidiophobia (the fear of snakes).
Is Nigeria set to receive snake massage?
Nigerians have never lagged behind when it comes to embracing new trends and extreme fun activities. Activities like scuba-diving and bungee jumping are already popular among Nigerians. Other weird massage types like acupuncture, Nuru and Tantra massage parlours are already well established in major cities in the country. The presence of a snake massage spa may therefore not be too far away, since it has already found home in fellow African country, Egypt.
However, most Nigerians who reacted to the Reuters video on social media expressed horror and disgust, an indication that the idea would have to battle strong disapproval (from the spiritual to the cultural perspective) before gaining root in the country.