Why Seek Out a Massage Therapist?

Regular massages are beneficial in so many ways. The therapeutic impact that massage has on your immune, nervous, and endocrine systems can be felt long after you are off the table…with time, not only are you able to be more relaxed during your appointment, but you feel more relaxed on a daily basis. Massage can improve your sleep, your digestion, your ability to fight off illness, and your general sense of peace and well-being.

Your massage therapist is trained to listen to your individual needs, identify areas that need work, and communicate with you to deliver the best possible results.  While it is possible to feel immediate benefits from one massage, visiting your therapist regularly is the best way to see continued improvement of pain, tension, and relaxation.

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When In Doubt, Breathe With It.

It’s not uncommon when I’m working on a client, to come across a knot – a little spot in the belly of a muscle that somehow missed the message that it doesn’t need to contract anymore, and is stuck in a state of tension.  What I notice, when I start going to work on these knots, is that my client will hold their breath.  Their reaction to my locating this often painful, bean-sized offender will range from, “Ooh!” to, “What is that?” and sometimes even, “There it is!” And whether these are spoken or silent reactions, the natural accompanying reaction is to hold one’s breath, and wait for it to go away. Continue reading “When In Doubt, Breathe With It.”

Why I don’t Do House Calls

It hasn’t happened very often in my career, but once in a while someone asks me if I do house calls. Many times, upon hearing that I do not, I’ve been met with surprised responses:  “Really?  I’m sure lots of people would love to have a massage in the comfort and privacy of their own home.”  “It seems like you could make a lot of money just doing house calls.”  Both valid points.  And there are certainly some massage therapists who do make a very good living traveling to people’s homes to give them bodywork treatments.  I, however, have chosen not to, for a few, equally valid, reasons. Continue reading “Why I don’t Do House Calls”

Alternate-Nostril Breathing for Relaxation and Centering

I first learned about alternate-nostril breathing, or Nadi Shodhan pranayama, in an ayurvedic massage class years ago. My teacher used it as a way to relax and prepare us for learning the techniques in a specific massage routine called garshana-abhyanga.  I found it to be a very simple and effective method for calming and centering my mind and my breath, and the result was that I was much more focused and relaxed.  Since that time, various yoga teachers have led me through a few cycles of alternate-nostril breathing during classes, and I find that practicing this on my own helps greatly when I need to clear the cobwebs from my head, relax, bring more oxygen to the blood to recover from a headache or de-stress.

Medical science tells us that we don’t breathe evenly through both nostrils – that at any given time, one nostril is able to take in more air than the other, and throughout the day this will shift from one side to the other in a process called the nasal cycle.  Our nostrils also correlate to the left and right hemispheres of the brain, so this means that during the nasal cycle, one hemisphere is getting more oxygen than the other.  By practicing alternate-nostril breathing, one is able to balance both hemispheres of the brain, which calms the mind and the nervous system.  This can result in reduced anxiety, relief from headache, reduction of stress and sleeplessness, lowering of blood pressure, and increased respiratory endurance.

The technique is simple, and can be practiced anytime, anywhere.  Five minutes is all you need.  With a little practice, you may find this to be a very useful tool in your self-care toolbox.

On the Integration of My Bodywork Practice with Herbal Medicine

In early 2012 I  began a period of self-exploration which included my career and my personal needs.  I was busy working my two jobs, balancing the career I loved with the steady paycheck that came with a stable retail job. I was comfortable with my skills, and I was building my reputation with the local community.  Still, I was wondering when my chance would finally come to break away from the work I had to do to survive, and finally set about doing the work I love to do, full-time.

Up until that time the thought of becoming an herbalist had never crossed my mind.  The suggestion took root in me one day as the mention of herbalism came up in a casual conversation. That day a voice somewhere inside me suddenly said something:

“Herbalist.  I could do that.” Continue reading “On the Integration of My Bodywork Practice with Herbal Medicine”

What’s the Difference Between a Relaxation and a Deep Tissue Massage?

Like many massage therapists, my two most often requested services are Relaxation Massage, and Deep Tissue Massage.  These are offerings that can be found on just about any massage service menu, anywhere in the country.  And in my years working on people, I still sometimes have trouble summing up the difference between the two, when discussing which massage a client should choose.  However, it’s good to know the basic differences between the two, so that if you’ve never had a massage before, or even if you are accustomed to having them, you can make an informed decision as to which massage will suit your needs.  So, here is my (lengthy) explanation of how my massages differ from one another. Continue reading “What’s the Difference Between a Relaxation and a Deep Tissue Massage?”

Pregnancy Massage: A Holistic Approach to Pre-Natal Care

Pregnancy is an exciting time in life.  The anticipation of a new addition to the family is a major change to life and body.  In many cultures throughout history, pregnant women are seen as goddesses for their ability to create life, honored for their ability to hold and nurture another life within their body.  Likewise, throughout history, women have been nurtured with touch during their pregnancies, to aid with discomfort and ensure the good positioning of the baby.

This can also be a stressful time for you as an expectant mother.  Like most women, you may be working in your career throughout your pregnancy, or busy with other children and/or family members, and along with the physiological changes taking place within your body, you are busy readying your home and adjusting your lifestyle in order to care for this new life. Continue reading “Pregnancy Massage: A Holistic Approach to Pre-Natal Care”

The Worst Massages I’ve Ever Had Were My Own Fault

Of the many massages I’ve had in my lifetime, I can think of two which stand out as the most disappointing. Now, given the number of massages I’ve had in total (and no, I don’t have an actual count, but it’s a lot), I can say that two bad ones, relatively speaking, is pretty inconsequential.  And on a “bad” scale of 1-10, they weren’t really even terrible; just…lacking.  You get so jazzed at the idea of going and having a massage, you look forward to it from the moment you confirm the appointment date and time, and then you get off the table when it’s over, and think, “Meh. That was a bummer.”  But despite that small number, even now, years later, I can still remember them as being standouts.  And, as I never saw either of those massage therapists again, being a standout on the negative side is not a good thing.

But as I said, those negative experiences were my fault.  And here’s why: Continue reading “The Worst Massages I’ve Ever Had Were My Own Fault”

About My Oils

Lavender and white pine infused in grapeseed and olive oils.

For years, I have used only the best quality grape seed oil or olive oil as my medium for massages.  I’ve found that both provide wonderful glide without feeling greasy, absorb into and nourish the skin very nicely, and are easily found without having to special order.  Plus, I’ve never had to worry about my clients experiencing allergic reactions to either oil. Since these oils are food-grade, I feel good about what I’m putting on my clients, because these are healthy, easily digestible oils, as safe to put on the body as into the body.

In my path to becoming an herbalist, I am now experimenting with infusing herbs into my oils, resulting in a new level of experience for the senses.  The process involves introducing plant matter into the oil, letting it steep for a period of time, and then straining it out, the result of which is a new way of bringing herbs into the therapeutic process.

The process takes time and patience, but as I am bottling up my very first batch of oil –a beautiful spring lavender– I believe it’s completely worth the effort.  I’ll be working on new oils as the summer progresses, in small batches so that I can not only closely monitor the quality of each jar of oil, but also harvest responsibly; all of my oil infusions will be made from home-cultivated herbs, or locally wild-crafted plants, ethically harvested.  White pine is in the making; what will be next?  The honeysuckle is certainly intoxicating right now…

How to Get the Most out of Your Massage

You’ve booked a massage.  You’ve blocked time out of your schedule just for you.  If you’re anything like me, you’re eagerly anticipating that “Yay!” moment when you get to leave whatever you’re doing in your day to get to your appointment.  And if you’re anything like me, that appointment flies by way too quickly.  It feels so good to be on the table, having all that stress and tension gently kneaded away, that when your time is up, you are left thinking both “Ahhh,” and “Awww….”

Whether you receive massages on a regular basis, or you are looking forward to your very first one, here are a few ways that you can get the most from your experience and prolong that “Ahhh” feeling. Continue reading “How to Get the Most out of Your Massage”