Tours and Classes

Desbina Collins: Massage from the Comfort of your Paris flat

by HiP Paris

picture-10-225x3001I recently met Desbina Collins, an intriguing Australian masseuse who lives in Paris, for a chat and a massage. One-time fashion designer and favorite of Paris’ 5 star hotels (and their well-known guests), Desbina offers her skills to the travel-worn bodies of privileged HIP clients (and Haven in Paris owner Erica) from the comfort of their Parisian flats. Her blissful whole-body rubdowns combine acupressure (also known as Shiatsu), deep tissue techniques and essential oils to relax, unblock energy channels and restore balance to stressed and fatigued travelers.

Aware at a very young age of the relationship between bodies and selves, Desbina initially pursued a successful career as a fashion designer in Australia. Eager to find out more about how one transitions from fashion to massage, Desbina and I sat down to chat over a cup of tea before she gave me an hour of pure massage bliss.

What made you want to get into fashion/design?
When I was a child in Cyprus, surrounded by the traditional, ankle-length Greek habit on dark-haired, brown-eyed girls, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by beautiful, fanciful garments that actually made you feel good. I guess you could call it a Cinderella complex. When we immigrated to Australia, I remember pirouetting around and around the front lawn in a hand-me-down dress with a full circle skirt, mesmerized by the way the fabric draped and moved. Later, I was inspired to design dresses that flaunted femininity and accentuated women’s curves in a way that made them look and feel good.

How did you decide to get into massage therapy?
As a designer, I was constantly shocked by the distorted self-image most models exhibited. Once, a model I had specifically chosen for a photo shoot canceled at the last minute. The agency sent me another girl who was just as beautiful, but who had such low self-esteem that she kept on praising the other model’s beauty and assuring me I would be disappointed in her. I was shocked that such a beautiful girl could have such a distorted sense of self, and I started to become more interested in understanding the relationship between the mind and the internal workings of the body. I started studying Tai Chi, self-healing, and eventually focused on how the mind, body and emotions work together with the goal of helping others achieve harmony between all these elements. When I was offered a job as a masseuse at one of Paris’ 5 star hotels, the choice became obvious for me.

How would you say Buddhism has shaped your massage technique?
Simply — if the mind and body are in sync, the mind is clearer and more relaxed and we feel more peaceful. In Chinese therapy, each organ is closely connected to emotions; my purpose is to balance the energy flowing through our muscles and organs by relaxing constriction. Many internal and external conditions (such as seasons and the weather) influence how we feel and act. When the energy flow is balanced and harmonious, the body is less likely to develop illnesses, and the mind is sharper and more relaxed.


After our chat, Desbina got to work on me for an hour-long, essential-oil-fueled full-body massage. As a novice massage enthusiast, Desbina’s warm and appeasing demeanor put me at ease right away. My upper back was particularly tense, but by the end of the massage all of the residual pain and tension had disappeared — to my immense relief and gratitude. As I got to experience for myself, Desbina focuses on kneading out painful knots and easing stressed muscles, but she also hones in on sensitive pressure points to help us understand how internal organs affect our physical state. For example, she informed me that my liver was particularly irritated after a recent weekend of revelry, and that I should eat more vegetables to offset my warmer-than-average body temperature.

I had no idea what to expect in terms of the longer-lasting effects of her “energy-channel” work, but both immediately after the massage and for days (and even weeks!) following, I felt considerably more clear-minded, calm and emotionally balanced.
picture-212Desbina Collins comes highly recommended by the entire Haven in Paris team. To schedule a massage with Desbina please contact her at:

06 14 96 15 39 (+33 6 14 96 15 39 – cell) or 01 42 55 79 93 (+33 1 42 55 79 93 – landline)

or by email: [email protected]

Interview recorded by: Genevieve Sandifer.

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HiP Paris

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