I just finished a weekend of learning at the Northwestern Health Sciences Massage Symposium. A highlight of the symposium is an opportunity to spend 30 minutes in their prestigious cadaver lab over the lunch hour. So, yes it was billed as Lunch and Cadavers. Stop reading if you are easily grossed out.
Into the Cadaver Lab
Outside the lab I was informed by the experienced attendees that I might want to put some Vick’s VapoRub under my nose to keep out the smell of formaldehyde. Thankfully, I was at a massage symposium and there were samples of smelly unguents to be had around every corner. I chose a packet of China Balm to be my olfactory friend. The smell was nothing compared to the existential unease that came over me.
For the most part, the bodies were mid-dissection. The skin was mostly removed and the exposed muscles were dry to the point of looking like beef jerky. That was less problematic for me than the intact body parts that gave hints of the life once lived.
For example, while the size of the femoral artery was fascinating to see I couldn’t help but notice the chipped blue nail polish on the intact, but wrinkled, toes of the donor. My vivid imagination overtook my scientific mind. I began playing out my own personal morgue scene from one of those murder mystery shows I love so much. Surely, she must have painted those toes about three weeks prior to her death but never had a chance to remove or re-apply the nail polish. So sad.
Deep breath, April. Stay focused on the anatomy!!!
We moved on to the second cadaver. While my colleagues were eagerly grabbing at the glutes to get a better look, I was focused on the short curly hair of the donor; not to mention its missing face. As everyone “oohed” and “aahed” over the the third cadaver I was mesmerized by its intact ears and hands. They looked like something out of a mad scientist’s lab in a classic horror film. The pacemaker cords sprouting out of another donor’s chest didn’t bother me as much as the detail of the coarse hairs growing out of his ears. I couldn’t not create stories in my mind about these people. After only ten minutes I was the first to leave the lab.
The other attendees were mostly graduates of the Northwestern Health Sciences massage program so perhaps they were more accustomed to an academic morgue. The instructors in the lab were way more interested in teaching anatomy than helping me process my encounter with death. Perhaps she was putting on a brave face for me but my fellow therapist said bluntly, “It’s no big deal, you get used to it.” The more I write this I realize I was less put off by the lab but more so by the insensitivity of my fellow massage therapists.
Allow Me to Process
Sadly some of my former clients have passed away. I have experienced that strange feeling of knowing that someone who was once pulsing and alive under my hands is no longer with us. There is a certain intimacy between my clients and me. I have a great respect for the vulnerability they bring into my room. It is always sad when I hear that someone I once worked with is gone. Let me just take this moment to say “thank you” into the great beyond to all those who have shared sessions with me and have crossed over.
Maybe next year will be the year that I put my imagination aside and join the cult of dissecting the dead. But this was destined to be the year where I humbly observed the fragile mortality of my fellow human beings. For now I will appreciate learning through palpating living breathing humans!
I love Lentil Soup because it is nutritious, tasty, economical, versatile and above all else hard to screw up. It can easily be vegan, vegetarian or meaty.
We eat it plain, with homemade croutons or over mashed potatoes or rice. Our favorite thing to do is put John’s homemade sour kraut into the soup. The tangyness of the kraut balances out the earthiness of the soup.
If you are pressed for time you just through everything in the crock on high for 5 to 6 hours.
I wish that I could take the credit, but it comes from my favorite cookbook of all times: The Joy of Cooking. The classic recipes of Joy are time tested and always turn out great.
In a large pot over medium low heat:
3 TBLS olive oil
Add and cook until tender but not browned about 5 or so minutes:
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups water
2 cups lentils(french or brown work), picked over and rinsed
1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes(I prefer fire roasted)
2 tsp dried thyme or (3 sprigs of thyme wrapped with the parsley)
A bundle of parsley (I wrap it in twine and pull out before serving)
1 bay leaf(also pull out before serving)
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft about 30 to 45 minutes. Pull out parsley bundle.
Stir in: 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper.
Taste and add more salt, pepper or vinegar.
Options: Leftover Chicken meat, or smoked sausage add flavor and make a great meaty addition.
Sometimes I stir in Spinach at the end.
For more flavor squeeze lemon juice or balsamic in at the end.
I like mine with a little Parmesan sprinkled into the bowl.
Like I mentioned before it is great with saur kraut.
Thai Reflexology is a wonderful way to feel more grounded and calm. In addition to using my hands and fists, I use a rosewood stick blessed by Thai Buddhist monks to perform a reflexology treatment for feet. This is an overall treatment that will make your feet feel great as well ground your whole being. It is deeply rhythmic and relaxing. Pairs great with a foot soak. Can be incorporated into a Massage or Shiatsu of any length session. When I do the full treatment it is about 10 minutes total.
Thai Reflexology is a free add-on to any service by request!
Four years ago I learned this technique from Jill Burynski, Thai Yoga Instructor. It was one of the best workshops that I have ever taken and use these ideas in many treatment sessions. In addition to learning to do a Thai reflexology session I learned some wonderful stretches for the legs. I often incorporate Thai Massage Techniques into a Shiatsu therapy session.
Do you have indigestion, constipation or menstrual issues? What about scars from a C-section? What about that uneasy feeling in your abdomen when you are feeling anxious? Did you know that the Practical Healer has extensive training and experience working with these issues?
Benefits of Abdominal Massage
In a nutshell we get things MOVING. The goal is to stimulate peristalses of the large and small intestines and get everything stuck in there unstuck. Also there are acupressure points in the tummy that are relieving.
Rest and Digest
We are also stimulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System. This system is also known as rest and digest. We are getting your body to wind down and relax so that the body has a chance to heal itself. A gentle tummy rub is very soothing. I will often have you breath into my hands as this is also very relaxing.
Also caused by muscles spasms in the lower portion of your abdomen. We are getting those to calm down with specific Ampuku techniques. Some of the work is done very gently on the skin over the area where the Uterus is.
Low Back Pain
What’s on the front side of the back; the stomach. Sometimes we actually need to access the low back through the stomach in order to get the qi moving in the low back. In particular this is how to access the Iliopsoas muscle group.
One of my favorite workshops I ever did was on erasing scars with Marjorie Brooks. This is especially important after abdominal surgeries like those involved with C-Sections and Fibroids. Scar tissue can actually spread and go deeper, below the surface. These little fibers grab onto muscle tissue and organs and sometimes cause other pesky problem down the road, not to mention plain old discomfort.
The goal is to help everything under the surface to settle back into place. The baby and placenta push the organs every which way in order to have enough room to grow. We also want to aid the uterus in contracting back down to its normal size. Not to mention help heal the separation of the rectus abdominis.
How it is done:
If I am doing a Shiatsu it is easy. I just lift up your shirt use a little of my essential oil creme. If doing a Swedish Massage I have a draping method to keep the breasts covered while exposing the tummy as seen in the above picture.
I do some nice gentle circles over the whole abdomen. This is very calming and stimulates the digestive system. Then I will use pressure and do a pattern in a clockwise direction. You will probably hear some gurgles. The pressure can be fairly light or go deep depending on need. Then I will press specific points for specific conditions. Sometimes I will just hold my hands
These techniques take about 4-10 minutes of your appointment depending on need.
In the case of C-Section scars or other scars it will take more.
Most of my clients choose 75 or 90 minute sessions so that we can cover everything including abdomin.
When I went to Shiatsu school I learned three different styles of abdominal massage. Later I went deeper into the topic with a workshop on Chi Nei Tsang-an esoteric style of abdominal work from Asia. If that wasn’t enough, I learned Western Abdominal Massage in the Swedish Massage Program at Centerpoint. Also, I have taken a workshop on scar tissue massage which is particularly important when working with C-Section scars. I have practiced these a lot on myself. I can personally testify that I have cured my own menstrual cramps with Shiatsu.
Essential Oils and Abdominal Massage
I pair abdominal massage techniques with an essential oil creme blend that I created myself. Essential oils included in that blend are Cardamom, Ginger, Laurel, and Peppermint. I will use this creme blend when working on your abdomen.
Great question. First of all, a Massage from me isn’t “cheap” I would go on a limb and say it’s a good value. At $80/hour you are paying the going rate for an experienced Massage Therapist located in a major metro area. You get 60 plus minutes of my time devoted just to you. My office is nice and provides an escape from your daily life. A Massage with me includes Aromatherapy. It’s also custom tailored. You also get someone that you can talk to or not talk to.
What if you really need a Massage and you don’t have $80.00
Look for an intro rate coupon.
Most places offer a generous first time discount. I do too-(20 percent off)! The down side is that your therapist will never get to know you or your body because you keep skipping around. If you are going this route choose a Chiropractor’s office or Independently run Massage Clinic. They tend to hire more experienced Massage Therapists and you will probably get a decent Massage.
If a Massage therapist is serious they will try to get you to come back for more. If you are skipping around intermittently for a Massage you probably are as tight as the therapist says that you. Trust me, I know what “average” tight feels like and “haven’t had a Massage in a year” tight feels like.
Massage Envy or other Francises
The monthly membership is a good value if you really do commit to getting a Massage once a month. I think it is around $60/Massage. Non-Membership Massage is pricy.
A couple of things to keep in mind: Their hour Massage is only about 45-50 minutes of hands on work. With an independent practitioner an hour usually means about 55 minutes of hands on work.
Higher Turnover: Chains do have good people on staff and they also have students just finishing school. They aren’t too picky with the hiring. It’s also really hard to set up a regular appointment with someone that you like. Because the pay isn’t that great and the hours are long with few breaks, the turnover is higher. Also, you will find more practitioners offering a generic Swedish Massage. If that is what you need then Massage Envy might be just the place for you.
These usually have names like Dragon City, Massage Oriental or some other name that alludes to Asia. The Massage Therapists are for the most part from Asia. The prices are usually pretty good: sometimes as low as $52/hour including steamy towels. You can just walk-in and state how many minutes you would like to do. The rooms are semi-private and Asian relaxation flute pop is guaranteed. These therapists are STRONG and good with their hands.
But, and this is a big but-they don’t speak English. If your problem just involves pointing, your pain issues aren’t that complicated and intense pressure doesn’t bother you then this can be a great choice. Hint: I’ve been know to go here now and again-especially Massage Oriental. In fact, I appreciate the fact that I can’t communicate because I am a natural blabber mouth and this forces me to be quiet. I’m use to strong pressure and due to getting regular Massage my neck and shoulder problems are pretty typical.
Do not go here if….. you have a complicated medical condition or know for yourself that you are more sensitive or bruise easily. If you do, speak up if it is too much pressure. These employees have good hands-on skill but they just cannot communicate enough to problem solve chronic or more rare problems. They don’t do a lot of on the front side. Sometimes the draping is a little awkward-I always ask for a female practitioner because of this.
Do not buy a groupon Massage. I repeat: Skip the groupon Massage!!!! I’ve both serviced these appointments and talked with many dissatisfied customers over the years that have used groupon.
Here’s the deal: Groupon pays the therapist next to nothing. Groupon also requires the business to sell a boat load of these. What this means is that the business often becomes inundated with a lot of new clients looking for a cheap Massage. These Massage therapists easily become overworked and injured. They are not enjoying giving you the cheap Massage. There’s a special place in hell for you if you do not tip generously a groupon Massage!!!
Tip: With any of these places try to go first thing in the morning while the therapist is fresh. You do not want to be their seventh Massage of the day.
I have the luxury of pacing my schedule so that I can give everyone my full attention.
This week has been an exciting week for Aromatherapy adventures. I have a new effective arthritis creme for you to try.
The active ingredient is Trauma Oil. This special oil is a combination of St. John’s Wort and Calendula. It is very effective at working with Arthritis and is also hard to find in the twin cities. It can come in liquid form, but I find that hard to work with and because it is expensive I don’t want to lose a drop. I combined the Trauma Oil with Bees Wax and Coconut Oil to make a creme just for you.
The essential oils used are Juniper, Sweet Orange, Ginger, and Cardamom. It has a pleasant scent and is not too strong. These oils are warming and your skin will notice.
My stepmother tried it on her arthritic toe and declared that she could walk easily again. She is an active lady that doesn’t want to be held back by toe pain.
Try “April’s Active Again Arthritis Antidote” Today.
I will use this in your Massage. If you would like to take some home to try the cost is $10.00. While starting out I will be selling this at just above the cost to make it. I want as many people as possible to try it.
More on Arthritis: The fact is this, once you get the x-ray or MRI and the doctor determines that,yes, indeed you do have arthritis there is not much that Massage can do for the actual arthritis. The bone is worn away and I can’t fix that. However, I can work on the muscles, tendons and ligaments that are irritated by the arthritis. This Massage work plus April’s Active Again Arthritis Antidote will ease the pain cause by Arthritis.
This article compares the American way, where one curves the spine to reach down and pick something up, with the “table method” of our global neighbors.
This article advocates for the “table method” where one keeps the back straight and hinges at the hips. I personally have been trying out this table method over the last couple of weeks. I notice that I have to actively engage the hamstrings to be effective. I felt it most in the hamstring attachments (where the underside of the butt meets the upper legs).
How To ‘Table’ Bend (Excerpt from article)
To hip hinge:
1. Place your feet about 12 inches apart.
2. Keep your back straight.
3. As you bend your knees, allow your pubic bone to move backward.
4. Fold over by allowing your pubic bone to slide through your legs, down and back
By the way, I can help with those low back injuries. Better yet, let’s just avoid them in the first place.
I am currently enrolled in a continuing education course in Aromatherapy for Massage Therapists with the Aromahead Institute. I’ve been talking to a lot of lay people about this topic and also noticing how mainstream Essential Oils have become.
I’ve been using essential oils for well over 17 years and have a good working knowledge of the basics. I still remember the first time I encountered Essential Oils in a holistic healing shop near Edinburgh University in Scotland. I remember feeling like Harry Potter walking into “Diagon Ally” for the first time (This is actually not that far from the truth. This shop was not located far from the coffee shop from where J.K. Rowling wrote the first novels and where I too would take my coffee.) The store was so magical and smelled amazing. I bought a candle lit oil diffuser and some lavender essential oils and the journey began.
On the mundane end of the spectrum I was just at Michaels with the girls. On the end-cap was a display of diffusers and “Essential Oils” They were larger, clear bottles and the price point was around 5 dollars and it didn’t include any information about the ingredients. Which leads to the question………?
How do you know if you are putting something safe and pure into the air or on your skin? Read this article from Prevention to learn more……..
This article addresses the question: How do you know if your Essential Oils are fake? Read on if you are wondering if that cheap bottle you bought at the gift shop is the real thing. https://www.prevention.com/beauty/natural-beauty/7… Some Vials labeled “Essential Oils” are nothing more than crappy chemicals with a little lavender oil thrown in. I love essential oils, but it is important that you are buying the real deal. From what I could tell the “Essential Oils” at Michael’s were about a step above a chemical laden potion.
Thankfully, in Minneapolis we have plenty of places to buy Essential Oils. I feel like I can always trust the food co-ops like the Wedge, Seward or Mississippi market. Stores like Present Moment and and Whole foods will also be a good bet. Lund’s carries the Aura Cacia line which works fine. I’m not sure how their price compares or how much they sell, i.e. how long the oils sit on the shelf but it will fill your craving in a pinch. Be wary of anything that says “perfume oil” or “essential oils and other natural oils”
If you have doubts text me a photo of the label and I will tell you what I can.
Companies like DoTerra and Young living are good quality, but perhaps priced a little high considering we have easy access to specialty stores in the twin cities.
This is the Ice Skating Rink that you can see from the North Facing Window of my office. All Winter I have watched the skaters glide around in the distance. Finally, I took my girls down to try out the rink. The rink is sponsored by Wells Fargo. This means that the rink is kept in good shape and is FREE. As a bonus the skates are comfortable, plentiful and well-organized. I hope they have this here next year because this has become a favorite spot.
For this mystical adventurer, Playa Del Carmen offers many soul nurturing activities. For the second year in a row my family had the good fortune to visit Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Traditional aspects of Mayan culture still abound in the Riviera Maya and without too much trouble can be found all over. For example, it’s not uncommon for the staff at resorts to speak Mayan. Most Spa services include some elements of traditional Mayan healing whether it be essential oils or energy balancing. In this blog I want to share a couple of my favorite stories from my trip.
As an aside, there are complex issues around labor issues involving indigenous culture and the tourist industry. I want to acknowledge that they exists and want to admit that I don’t have the answers or language to express the nuances of the ethics of visiting another country and participating in traditional cultural activities. The aim of this blog post is to tell you a story about my trip to Mexico.
Enduring Mayan Architecture
Just outside of town of Playa Del Carmen are the ancient ruins Xaman-Men Ha. Without any fanfare these humble ruins sit on the side of the road waiting for visitors to walk through them. These ruins sit near the main port where traveler’s would come to launch their pilgrimages to Cozumel; which usually involved prayers to a fertility goddess. Let’s face it-honeymooners still do the same!
Parque de los Fundadores showcases traditional ceremonies
There are daily traditional performances at the Parque de los Fundadores. On this particular trip we caught a Mayan prayer dance. Mexican and International tourist alike stop to watch the performances. These athletic men dance in figures, blow on conch shells, drum, and light fires and incense under this magnificent sculpture. At the end they pass the hat for tips.
Looking for adventure
Once you get to the Riviera Maya, it can be hard to find adventures outside of those offered as packages through the tourist agents at the resorts. On this trip I wanted to swim in a Cenote, but didn’t want to go to a Wisconsin Dells style tourist destination. It pays to research ahead because once you get to Mexico the wi-fi can be spotty which makes planning and purchasing activities through your phone more challenging. Most activities in the Riviera Maya require planning ahead. There are very few places from which you can just decide to drive up and buy a ticket on the same day.
Chikin Ha here was come
After much searching I came across Chikin Ha (no there are no chickens here). Chikin Ha appealed to me because it came across as being more eco-friendly and less touristy than many of the other offerings. The entrance fee was reasonable and the cab for all 6 of us was about $100 USD round trip. Seeing as I speak Spanish, the conversations I had with the driver made the long cab rides worth the expense.
When we pulled into Chikin-Ha we drove about 2 miles down an unmarked gravel road through a forest. We talked with the cab driver about all the animals. This felt like a good start to an adventure.
The entrance to Chikin-Ha was fairly humble. Just a couple of huts set up for check-in.
Cenotes are naturally formed underground rivers leftover from the ice age. Over time the cave roofs would crash in exposing spring fed swimming holes. We were able to swim and snorkle at our leisure. Everyone once in a while fully equipped scuba divers would emerge or submerge to enjoy the extensive underground river system. In spite of the leaf debris, the spring fed water felt clean and pure.
The second cenote was more mysterious. There are two open pools connected by a cave. A guide rope goes from one entrance to another to allow swimmers to find their way through the dark cavern. It took us a minute to conjure up the courage to jump in as the pool was quite dark. The water would go from rocky and shallow to quite deep. At one point we looked down and a light from deep below. It was a set of scuba divers coming out of a cave even lower down!!!!! We felt reborn from this cenote adventure and ready to move on.
We walked a forested path. The smoke of Palo Santo filled the air as we noticed an ancient looking man managing the forest through controlled burning. We also delighted in the copious iguanas ambling over the paths and climbing the trees.
At last we approached Taakbil Ha-the most sacred of cenotes. We scrambled down a steep staircase into the lower landing of this cenote. Clear water and majestic rocks dazzled our eyes. Through the hole in the upper ledge I could see the trees. Somehow we were inside, outside, up and down all at the same time.
Then I noticed a crude handrail leading into the dark recess of the cave. I couldn’t help it, I had to follow. I peered into the darkness and heard some rustling and wondered, “what could it be?”. Then I saw a glimmer of light, and then another. With surprise, I realized that someone was quietly and systematically lighting candles in the cave. Time stood still as the cave illuminated. We saw a man working, a bench and an altar. In a cauldron, he set incense on fire and the smoke escaped through a hole in the ceiling. In spite of the kids telling me to stay out, I moved silently to the bench and watched as the man finished lighting the candles.
And then we talked quietly in the stillness. …..
I asked the man if I could sit and he acquiesced. We began to talk in Spanish. From him I learned that he was, indeed a Shaman and was setting up a ceremony for employees and tourists. He learned the art of Shamanism from his Grandfather. He felt grateful that he could continue the practices at this site. We remarked on what a beautiful ceremony it is.
He told me about the ceremony, “First, I take a piece of Copal Resin and put it into the right hand. The person makes a prayer or a wish. Then they put it into the cauldron so that the smoke can go out through the hole in the cave up to the gods. They make an offering. The gods hear the prayer and purification comes back down.”
We could have paid to be part of the tourist group coming into be purified, but it felt more magical to witness the inception of this ceremony and have a soul to soul talk in Spanish with this Shaman. The lesson was clear to me-it’s better to walk into a dark cave than to avoid it.
For me the most magical part was the fluency with which I spoke to him. After almost 30 years of studying Spanish off and on I reached a level of fluency in this trip wherein I no longer translate in my mind. When I had this long complicated conversation with the man I felt like I had a true soul to soul connection that didn’t need translation.
On the way out, I purchased the purification ointment they sold at the entrance. In the vial was a mixture of Jojoba Oil, Grape seed Oil, Palo Santo, and Moon light. You put a drop on your crown Chakra for daily purification. Up until this quarantine I had been putting a drop on my clients to calm the mind.
Between the clean water, the talk with the Shaman and the oil, we all felt a keen sense of peace as we drove out of Chikin-Ha.
That is probably the question I am asked most above all others. Do my hands hurt?
Rarely, but when they do it usually is not related to Massage. A skilled body worker does not rely solely on one’s fingers to do the work. In a session I will use my palms, knuckles, fists, elbows, and on special occasions-feet.
A good Massage or Shiatsu session will also include stretches and body mobilization techniques; which are great for the client and the therapist. They add variety as well as they are very effective.
Now that I am teaching Swedish Massage, I drill the students constantly on proper body mechanics. Our work doesn’t come from the hands, but rather the core. If you watch a Massage therapist work you will notice a lot of lunging. It is from that movement that the pressure comes.
Over the last 17 years when I have had hand injuries, the culprit has often been a vigorous day in the garden or too much typing. Rest assured your massage is not causing my hands pain.
On a regular basis clients experiencing some sort of anxiety come into my office. Anxiety shows up differently from person to person; for example, one client may have a general sense of stress and worry while another might already be under the care of a doctor or psychologist for a diagnosed condition. Some people feel it in a general sense of agitation while others might have headaches. Body work helps ameliorate the signs and symptoms of anxiety both on a mental and physical level.
Bodywork calms down the nervous system
Basically, Massage therapists are wizards of the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic system is in charge of “rest and digest” and is when it is on the healing happens. Part of what is at play with anxiety is a heightened flight or fight response which is hardwired into our sympathetic nervous systems. We live our lives with our sympathetic nervous systems keyed up to handle what ever threats(real or imagined) are around the corner. What we do as body-workers is provide an opportunity for your sympathetic nervous system to turn off and your parasympathetic nervous system to turn on. Signs that your body has switched to the parasympathetic nervous system are slower breathing, gurgling tummy, and a drop in body temperature. When you sit up and say, “wow, I can get on with my life” I know that I have done my job.
There is a method to the calmness of a Massage room as the soothing music, the aromatherapy, the heated stones all trigger the relaxation response.
The Physiology of Worry
Not only does body-work engage the parasympathetic nervous system, it actually causes changes in the endocrine system; the system in charge of hormone secretion.
For example, massage has been linked to elevated levels of dopamine and lower levels of cortisol, which provides evidence of reduced stress.”
Benjamin, Patricia J Tappan’s Handobook of Massage Therapy p.136
Dopamine and oxytocin are feel good hormones whereas cortisol is emitted during times of stress. Due to the relationship of the PNS and impact on hormones Massage also helps with the psychosomatic signs and symptoms like headaches, tight muscles and upset tummy through hands on application. Regardless of the science behind Massage, caring human touch makes people feel good.
Emotional release is when a clients might have a deep sense of letting go of some intrinsic stress that has been held in the muscles and it usually involves a good cry during a bodywork session. Our muscles store our memories and sometimes when we are touched in a safe environment our minds and muscles let go of some negative feelings that has been stored inside. Not to worry if this happens, crying is a normal way to shed stress and most people feel better afterward.
It’s not the job of the Massage therapist to process the feelings like a talk therapist would, but rather to hold the space so that you can release deep tension. I like to say that we listen with hands and heart.
The Practical Healer Full Body Approach
Whether you choose Massage or Shiatsu a full body approach is best. For example; the scalp muscles can tense from making worry faces. Also Abdominal massage is great if worry has your stomach tied in knots. Rubbing out the shoulders is a way to take off the weight of the world. Working on the feet helps bring the energy down from the head and is deeply relaxing. Also, evening out the energy of the channels from an Asian bodywork perspective helps support the underlying condition.
Comfort and Safety are Key
The cornerstone of working with anxiety is good communication. No two clients need the same thing. I have anxious clients that prefer the deep pressure points of Shiatsu and others that prefer a soft Swedish Massage. One thing that everyone has in common is a need to be comfortable and safe. It’s not uncommon for those with anxiety to need adjustments to the bolsters, face cradle, music, lighting and so on. A good Massage therapist is there to help and can make infinite adjustments.
As far as aromatherapy goes, Frankincense, Lavender and Ylang Ylang are notorious for calming the mind. I can send you home with an aromatherapy inhaler which you use in times of stress. It’s also great to use before you fall asleep.
There are many acupressure points that are associated with couple the mind. Below are a few examples. A therapist trained in Shiatsu can access these points to augment a treatment for someone struggling with excess worry.
In conclusion bodywork is an effective tool for coping with anxiety-whatever form it takes. On a personal note, I too can find myself taking a ride on the worry wagon. Over the years I have learned that that talk therapy, medication, exercise and great body work are all helpful ways for me to deal with stress of anxiety. In particular bodywork helps with the psychosomatic manifestations like headache and stomach ache. I hope that you will find relief too so that you can continue to enjoy a vibrant life.
Swedish or Deep Tissue Massage are probably the most well known forms of bodywork. Did you know that there is another great form out there just for you-Shiatsu?.
Like with a good Massage the goal of Shiatsu is to ease pain and help you feel more relaxed. The intention and methodology, however, are a little different. The most noticeable difference is that it is done fully clothed which allows for more stretching. The technique also is more pressure point oriented. The acupressure points are activated along the meridians- the same as used in Acupuncture. It is through this manual manipulation of the energy that the muscles, tendons and ligaments find relief.
For example, if you come in experiencing neck pain I will work along the meridians of the neck. Those meridians extend down into the finger tips and for that reason I will work the whole meridian. I will also use corresponding acupressure points on the feet to ensure that your energy is balanced also.
Main advantages of Shiatsu
No greasy lotion
Keep clothes on
More energizing than Massage.
More efficient-I can cover more territory faster with pressure techniques
Awesome stretches for upper and lower body are included
Great for anxiety
Great for low back-in part because it’s easy to achieve side position,
Full body approach.
Good for digestive or menstrual complaints -do to abdominal massage component.
What’s with the Pulse?
It is traditional to take the clients pulse before beginning a Shiatsu treatment. This pulse is not like at the Drs. office. There are three different positions and two different depths. I am looking for the overall quality of your energy and will then work according to ancient principles.
Ergonomic use of the cell phone is a regular topic around my Massage office. Sometimes, we talk about tech thumb from too much game play or texting. Other times we discuss a kinked neck and locked elbow from too much chatting with on the phone. Unless one is extremely disciplined, it is all too easy to find oneself drifting into electronic reality and staying there longer than our bodies are comfortable.
It’s true that Massage can unravel some of the distress created by cell phone overuse. As it is said “Prevention is the greatest cure.”
I personally had to take my favorite game(June’s Journey) off of my phone and put it on the computer because it was aggravating my thumbs.
Here is my home video PSA on Tech Neck. Hopefully, you find it instructional and entertaining!
Here is a longer phone ergonomics video made by somebody else. This presenter basically compiles ideas from other websites into a more entertaining format. Everything he talks about I have seen in other YouTube videos by experts.
The most important thing is to keep it up at eye level.
Bring the phone to you and not the other way around.
If you can rest your elbows on a table or your own body that is fantastic.
Try to use both hands to text.
Adjust the brightness so you are not squinting.
Practicing what I preach!!!
While we are on the topic of ergonomics let me tell you about my new electric table. The electric lift raises and lowers the table so that I can always work at my best height. It is also much easier for me to lower it so that I can do the full range of stretches. The electric table facilitates the transition between Massage and Shiatsu.