Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Physical and Mental Benefits of Massage

Physical Benefits:

-Helps relieve stress and aids in relaxation.
-Helps relieve body aches; muscle tension and stiffness.
-Fosters faster healing of strained muscle and sprained ligaments; reduces inflammation and muscle spasms.
-Provides greater joint flexibility; range of motion.
-Improves posture; treats musculoskeletal problems.
-Opens sinus passages; promotes easier breathing.
-Helps relieve headaches.
-Improves circulation of blood and lymph fluids.
-Reduces blood pressure and strengthens the immune system.
-Nourishes skin; breaks adhesions and reduces the formation of scar tissue.
-Enhances athletic performance; rehabilitates injuries.
-Beneficial for overall health and well being.

Mental Benefits:

-Fosters peace of mind; centers the soul.
-Promotes serenity; calmness.
-Brings forth clarity; logical thinking.
-Enhances mental alertness; enthusiasm, creativity.
-Helps relieve anxiety; stress, anger.
-Eliminates depression; bad moods.
-Promotes optimism; feeling better about yourself.
-Satisfies the need for a caring nurturing touch; a genuine human connection.
-Creates mind, body and soul awareness; spiritual awakenings and revelations.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tips for First Timers

Please book an appointment as far in advance as possible. This way, you'll have a better chance of getting the day and time you want instead of settling for what is available. Ask the spa (or massage therapist) to explain what kind of services they offer. If you do not know which one to pick, ask them to recommend one. In a nutshell, Swedish Massage is more pampering and used for relaxation. Deep Tissue is more clinical and aids in alleviating knots and muscle pain. If you'd like to read more about the other types of massages I offer, please visit my webpage.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What To Expect During A Full Body Massage Session

Your massage therapist will confer with you before they begin your session. This may involve having you sign an intake form with questions about your medical history and/or health concerns. You’ll then be invited to lie down on a massage table in a private room, usually face down to start. Most massages are done in the nude, but it is okay to leave your undergarments on if it makes you feel more comfortable. Professional spas and private practice therapists advocate secure draping standards; you'll be covered with a sheet and they the only body part that is exposed is the one they are working on. It is up to you to decide on a full body or partial body massage. You also have a choice of being massaged with oil or lotion. I prefer lightly scented oils that seep into the skin and moisturize it, rather than lotions that tend to leave a sticky residue. (Please read more about aromatherapy in another one of my postings.) Candle light and soothing music will accompany your session. I take much pride in a vast selection of music I have collected through the years - Holistic, Classical, Contemporary; anything that sets a relaxing mood and makes your experience more enjoyable for you. Sessions usually run 60 minutes or 90 minutes and are priced accordingly. I also offer 30 minutes for first timers and it is more affordable. Conversation with your therapist during your session is your choice, although refraining from speaking and/or napping is acceptable too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Duration of The Session

Industry standards for full body massages sessions are 60 minutes and 90 minutes, which essentially means 50 minutes and 80 minutes. Often spa menu's do not explain this. The 10 minute break is necessary for the massage therapist to prepare for their next client - change sheets, wash hands, go to the bathroom and eat if necessary. Prime time appointments are scheduled on the weekends and between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m during the week. If you have a reservation during these times, please be aware that your massage therapist may be booked back to back, so arrive time otherwise you may not get a full session.  Also realize that you may not receive the quality work you'd expect from a fully booked massage therapist. Scheduling on weekdays during off hours is always a wiser choice.

How Much Does A Massage Cost?

According to Google, $60 hour is the national average. However it really depends on where you are and where you go. If you book an appointment with a massage service, like Massage Envy, expect to pay a little less. However, a five star hotel experience will cost you 2 to 3 times more but you’ll have access to all the amenities a luxury spa offers - whirlpool, steam rooms and sauna. So, the choice is yours.

Most private practice massage therapist charge a minimal fee when the first start to help build a clientele. Seasoned massage therapist usually charge a mid range to expensive rate. Advertising, purchasing supplies, maintaining equipment, laundry expense, licensing fee, insurance, and possibly rent all play into the final price.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Word on Gratuity

Should you tip your Massage Therapist? Absolutely. Gratuity for a service well done is always appreciated. Cash tips are preferred over credit card tips and 20% is sufficient. Massage therapists in a spa setting are paid by an hourly rate or by percentage of service. This usually runs anywhere between 20% and 50%. Their income fluctuates according to how busy they are. Appointments are generally given out by seniority, but that is not written in stone. Personal requests are the exception and are encouraged by management who prefer to see their therapists maintain a repeat clientele. Most massage therapists also run a private practice as well where they do not share the fee. 

Cancel Your Appointment At Least 24 Hours In Advance

There is nothing more frustrating than a client who doesn’t show up for their an appointment. Most spas hold the client’s reservation with a credit card. If the client doesn't cancel  their appointment, they are charged for it. Most private practice owners only accept cash, so they are even more vulnerable.

If you cannot make it to your appointment, please have the common courtesy to cancel it. That way, you will not be charged for the service and the spa or private practice owner can reschedule another client in your time slot.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Defining Sensual Massage: My Take On It

Sensuality is an integral part of every massage session. It validates who we are as sensual beings. Sensual Massage celebrates your sensuality whereas Therapeutic Massage is more clinical and for healing.

Sensual Massage is often confused with Erotic Massage which is about the expectation of receiving stimulation to sexually excite. Rather, the intent of a Sensual Massage is

to make the experience more sublime, soothing and pleasurable.

The person giving a Sensual Massage is a caring provider, a teacher, an educator. Touch is in one direction only, from practitioner to the client for the purpose of promoting euphoria and heightening sensual awareness. The movements are generally slower with longer fluid strokes that gently caress the body. There are fewer restrictions, sheet draping is optional, but personal boundaries are always respected. Sensual Massage isn't for everyone. It is a choice and it must be mutually consented by the therapist and the receiver. My goal is to create the ultimate blissful experience for you, awakening your sensual side and make you feel more relaxed and comfortable with it.

Rarely do we have someone teach us how to receive intimate touch in a non-sexual way. This beautiful work honors you as an extraordinary being capable of profound sensations, helping you discover what makes you feel good, thus enabling you to have a more meaningful relationship with a loved one. Sensual Massage can also ease the fear of intimacy. 

Everyone wants to feel loved, wanted and desired. They may receive a Sensual Massage as a form of affection; the kind they do not have in their lives. Sensual Massage comes without judgment or expectations. I have worked on many different types of clients with different types of needs - those that are grieving, the elderly, the sick and even the dying which seem to be excluded when you speak of the work. There is definitely a need for this emotionally fulfilling kind of work and the sacred space it creates while performing it. It deserves much respect and it shouldn't be misconstrued.    

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Does Deep Tissue Massage Hurt? The Truth Behind The Myth

Did you ever receive a Deep Tissue Massage that was so painful you could hardly stand it? Did you feel like your massage therapist was beating you up? Were you sore the next day and notice bruising? This is unacceptable. Receiving Deep Tissue Massage is not a contest to see how tough you are. It doesn’t have to hurt. In fact, it can be far more beneficial when it doesn’t hurt.

Most people believe Deep Tissue Massage is supposed to be painful. Not so. Massages are suppose to help you relax and release areas of muscle tension to allow your body to heal on its own. Sometimes, clients become impatient because they do not understand the process. They want you to hammer them immediately because they think that's effective. But warming up your muscles first, before sinking in deeply is crucial for the best results. Our muscles have a natural reflex to resist pain. When a muscle thinks it is about to be injured, this reflex is triggered. If too much pressure is applied right away, the muscle will resist force by tightening up making softening the tissue more difficult to do. In short, more painful for you and a higher risk of injury for the therapist. Everyone has a different tolerance to pain. An experienced massage therapist will
use the right amount of pressure and work within the client’s comfort level. 

There are many techniques that fall under the category of Deep Tissue Massage. Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) and Myofascial Release are just two of them. NMT focuses on creating a balance between the central nervous system and the muscles tendons and ligaments, bones and joints of the body through specific methods. Myofascial release works on stretching and lengthening the connective tissue coverings called fascia that surround every part of our internal structure. Both techniques involve the manipulation of the deeper layers of muscle within the body.

The bottom line is I don't want to hurt you. I want you to be happy with the results so you'll come back.

The Lure of Hot Stone Massage

Hot Stone Massage is a type of massage therapy that involves the use of smooth, heated stones. The massage therapist places the hot stones on specific points on your body and may also hold them while giving you the massage. The special stones are warmed using a professional electric massage stone heater so that the temperature can be controlled. The localized heat and weight of the stones warms and relaxes your muscles. It can be a luxurious treatment when done correctly.

However, I am consistently shocked to discover there are many spas offering this often pricier treatment without the proper equipment. I've witnesses stones submersed in oily water in crock pots, placed on pancake griddles, and in hot towel cabbies. It becomes a juggling act for the therapist who is trying to keep the stones at the right temperature while giving you a massage. If the stones are too hot, they'll burn you. If the stones are too slippery with oil, they may drop them on the floor or worse, on you.

The usual rushing therapist simply doesn't have time to properly sanitize each stone between appointments. The soiled stones are often used repeatedly. One major concern is MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus) a type of staph bacteria that causes skin infections.

My advice: Skip this overrated treatment, it isn't worth the risk. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Couples Massage: Not the Honeymoon Experience it is intended to be

Sometimes spas offer Couples Massage on their menus. This is a service for couples who'd like to receive their massages together at the same time in the same room. This entails two massage tables and two massage therapists working side by side simultaneously. This might sound like a cozy idea, but quite frankly, it's not. Most massage therapists do not enjoy working this way. Often the rooms are cramped and they worry about getting in each other's way. On rare occasions, it works, if they have ample space and they adapt to each other's routines. But they loose the opportunity to connect one on one with their client, making the time they invest with them less worthy. If you book two massage appointments at the same time, I'd ask for separate rooms. The massage therapist will be more accomodating and you'll both have a better experience. 

My thoughts on Four Handed Massage: This is another service you might find in some of the pricier hotels and spas. This entails two massage therapists working on one client at the same time. The massage therapists coordinate a routine by dividing up your body; either the left and right side or above and below the waist. Often, the two massage therapists chosen to perform this service have never worked together before; they are usually winging it. Again, on rare occasions it works, if both massage therapists share similar styles. But it can be an awkward experience for the client and them alike.      

Friday, January 23, 2015

About Reflexology (Foot Massage):


In Egypt between 2500 and 3000 BC evidence in tombs shows hieroglyphics of physicians applying pressure with his hands to the soles of his patients foot. We cannot determine the exact relationship between the ancient art as practiced by the early Egyptians and Reflexology as we know it today, but in the last few centuries many people have pioneered, developed and built the solid foundation for it. The actual word "Reflexology" was coined by a psychiatrist in Russia, a country where it was recognized in the late 1800's for its psychological benefits and the neurological relationship that exists between the feet and the internal organs. I incorporate this pseudoscience into all my sessions. Please read more about Reflexology under Amenties on my website.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Aromatherapy: Aromas that Affect Emotions During Massage Therapy

Consider how you feel when you smell freshly baked cinnamon rolls or coffee brewing? When we smell something good, information is sent to specific parts of our brain that influence our senses, memory, and mood. 

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils which are a true concentrated essence extracted from a plant. Specific aromas can be used to help us relax, provide mental clarity, help us cope with emotional conflicts, and energize us physically, emotionally or mentally. With this in mind, I incorporate aromas into my massage sessions to help improve the way the client feels and heighten their experience.

Below is a list of emotions and the essential oils that help aid 
them. I've hightlighted a few of my favorites.

To Relieve Anger: Chamomile, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose and Ylang-ylang.

To Relieve Anxiety: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Cypress, Frankincense, Hyssop, Lavender, Marjoram, Myrrh, Neroli, Orange, Peach, Rose, Rose Geranium and Violet Leaf.

To Ease Depression: Bergamot, Clary Sage, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Neroli, Orange, Petitgrain, Rose Geranium, Sandalwood, Tangerine and Ylang-ylang.

To Ease Sorrow: Clary Sage, Cypress, Fir, Marjoram, Rosemary and Sage.

To Overcome Fatigue: Angelica, Benzoin, Camphor, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove Basil, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Lemon, Peppermint, Pine, Sage and Spiced Apple.

To Deal with Stress, Nervous Tension and Insomnia: Bergamot, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Clove, Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Marjoram, Myrrh, Neroli, Nutmeg, Orange, Petitgrain, Rose, Sandalwood, Sweet Melissa, Valerian, Vanilla, Violet, and Ylang-ylang.

To Calm Irritability: Chamomile, Neroli, Rose, and Rose Geranium

To Improve Memory: Bay Laurel, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon and Rosemary
To Increase Confidence: Frankincense, Jasmine, Patchouli and Sandalwood.

To Use As An Aphrodisiac: Jasmine, Rose, Sandalwood, Vanilla and Ylang-ylang.

Please read more about Aromatherapy under Amenities on my website.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What is a Chakra?

Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning wheel, or vortex, and it refers to each of the seven energy centers of which our consciousness is composed. These chakras regulate the flow of energy through our body. The chakras reflect our decisions - what to think, what to feel, and what we choose to experience in the world around us.

The chakras are not physical. They are aspects of awareness. Each chakra is associated with particular body parts and functions that are controlled through two major vehicles, the endocrine system (bodily functions) and the nervous system. 
Learning about Chakras will give you the knowledge of understanding the relationship between your mind and body. They will give you a clearer perception of yourself and those around you.

The Seven Charas and their Meanings:

1. Root Chakra - Represents our foundation and feeling of being grounded.

Location: Base of spine in tailbone area.
Emotional issues: Survival issues such as financial independence, money, and food.

2. Sacral Chakra - Our connection and ability to accept others and new experiences.

Location: Lower abdomen, about 2 inches below the navel and 2 inches in.
Emotional issues: Sense of abundance, well-being, pleasure, sexuality.

3. Solar Plexus Chakra - Our ability to be confident and in-control of our lives.

Location: Upper abdomen in the stomach area.
Emotional issues: Self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem.

4. Heart Chakra - Our ability to love.

Location: Center of chest just above heart.
Emotional issues: Love, joy, inner peace.

5. Throat Chakra - Our ability to communicate.

Location: Throat.
Emotional issues: Communication, self-expression of feelings, the truth.

6. Third Eye Chakra - Our ability to focus on and see the big picture.

Location: Forehead between the eyes. (also called the Brow Chakra)
Emotional issues: Intuition, imagination, wisdom, ability to think and make decisions.

7. Crown Chakra - The highest Chakra represents our ability to be fully connected spiritually.

Location: The very top of the head
Emotional issues: Inner and outer beauty, our connection to spirituality, pure bliss.