How do you feel about snakes, particularly pythons? Would you let several of them slither all over your back? If the thought of that sounds new and exciting, and not entirely terrifying, then you might want to take a trip over to the island of Bali, Indonesia, where the Bali Heritage Reflexology and Spa will allow a number of these snakes to commandeer your back for a very unconventional massage.
The full body massage consists of typical massage techniques administered by two staff members, one of whom places the pythons on the customer a few minutes into the procedure. The snakes’ movement is believed to offer sensations that a massage therapist’s hands cannot, and being covered by the slithery serpents induces fear in customers, releasing adrenaline into the body — believed to positively affect metabolism, CBS reported (see photos here).
Pythons can vary in length from 23 inches to 33 feet. They are part of a group of snakes known as constrictors, which squeeze their prey until the animal is unable to breathe anymore rather than poisoning their prey with venom, according to the San Diego Zoo. Once the prey is dead, thr python begins to swallow the animal whole, by unlocking its jaws — this allows a python to consume prey up to four or five times bigger than its heads. But there’s no need to worry about any of this during the massage, because they’re fed 30 minutes prior to any therapy, and their jaws are taped shut for its duration.
While there has been some research into the health benefits of getting a massage, the benefits of a python massage have not been explored at all. However, a 2011 study found that increased adrenaline was associated with certain metabolic processes, including lactic acid release from muscle and the breakdown of lipids (lipolysis).
It’s possible that the massages also provide customers with a kind of psychological release, in which their adrenaline builds for the duration of the massage, culminating in a sense of relief after it’s over. There are plenty of people who seek out horrific situations (and many would probably feel that having snakes poured on them would be horrific. These high sensation-seekers purposefully engage themselves in events and activities that provide heightened levels of arousal. They are also more responsive to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is produced in high-intensity situations — these could range from watching horror films to skydiving to getting a python massage.
The python masses are only one in a wide range of typical and atypical therapies offered by the Bali spa. Other strange therapies include a tickling massage, a heated golf ball massage, a massage involving a therapist in a gorilla suit, and a massage using strawberry ice cream.