I'm generally a huge fan of Swedish massage but I recently discovered how grounding hot stone massage can be. I know that different practitioners have different styles, but my favorite is when the therapist does a stone lay on both your back and your chest/belly. The impact of having these stones on your body is strangely profound, almost like they're absorbing your tension. I usually have some residual tension in my body after a massage, but I'm total putty when it comes to getting hot stone.
I've been intrigued by the hot stone massage on spa "menus" for some time. My brother received a gift certificate for one once and after getting the massage could barely speak english correctly (haha!) and slept for a few hours, he was so relaxed. I wonder though, how hot are the stones? Is it uncomfortable at all?
I think that practitioners vary in how they do the stone massage. In general, aside from the laying of stones, the therapist massages your body with the hot stones. They're not scalding hot, and the therapist ALWAYS uses the stones on his or her skin first before rubbing you. It's usually a more vigorous massage, and it's actually very comfortable, though I'd probably recommend it more for people who are fans of deep tissue work. Usually, it's smooth volcanic rocks that are used, so it's not uncomfortable.
Hot Stone massage actually uses contrast therapy to promote relaxation and healing in the body. It is the alternative use of hot stone (basalt stones) and cold stone (marble stones) that induces the feeling of total rejuvenation. The principle is simple heat dilates and cold contrasts. It makes your body feel like cotton.
Hot stones are also used during back facials. I am an aesthetician and place them down your back after a deep cleanse , scrub and mask. I leave them on for about 5 minutes, remove them and apply a soothing moisturizer.