Category — Massage Therapy Benefits
Prior to my entrance into the world of massage I had the privilege of traveling to some pretty interesting places. High on my list are my many visits to Egypt and Peru. The focus of my visits was to gain some perspective on the people who inhabited these places in ancient times. An underlying theme was to see what, if anything, these ancient cultures have to show or teach us today.
While my general outlook was esoteric, I couldn’t help but notice the attention these ancient people gave to the health and care of the body.
Both cultures have given us marvels which, with all of man’s current technology we are unable to truly grasp either how’s or why’s. For instance, “Who built the pyramids?” is one of the most frequently asked questions when dealing the ancient wonders and cultures of the world.
While we can read quite a lot about the ancient Incan culture, very little is truly understood about the people who gave us lasting, mysterious structures including Machu Picchu, ancient cities and pyramids. Why are the most advanced building techniques evidenced in the oldest structures? These are questions that drive many modern explorers to go to great lengths for answers.
There are many things we don’t know about either of these cultures. There are many things, however, that we do know.
Ancient Egyptians are widely believed to be the first to organize the use of essential oils. And in the Nile Delta some of the oldest known families remain faithful to these ancient arts. Specific application of these oils can be found both on walls in tombs and temples as well as on ancient papyri. On the walls of temples as well as tombs that I visited are many depictions of massage, including reflexology given to the ruling class and soldiers.
When I first visited Peru I was struck by the almost overwhelming “mothering” energy. Many shaman and others refer to Peru as the womb or the naval of the earth. The Shaman I visited with shared some of their verbal history of massage and other bodywork as an essential part of the traditions handed down for thousands of years.
So, “Why is this important,” you might ask? Well, there are structures and teachings that come to us from these ancient people that we are just beginning to understand today. There are likewise many that are beyond our ability to comprehend. Their intelligence may well have greatly exceeded our own. Their teachings show us much about the true nature of humanity, where we come from and where we may be headed. In the midst of all of this we find massage, surviving for many thousands of years on the walls of some of the oldest structures on earth.
What we do for humanity as well as for the individuals with whom we work as massage therapists has its roots in some of the most advanced teachings from antiquity. That is a very powerful thought to carry with you into your next massage session, whether as a therapist or as a client.
~David A. Bloomer
National Holistic Institute
November 8, 2012 No Comments
Leading AMTA and the massage therapy profession, Cynthia has noticed a disconnect between the massage therapy profession and the public’s perception of our field. Many people are unaware of the benefits of massage and of the availability of certified and licensed therapists throughout the country. AMTA members have volunteered to join Cynthia in the “AMTA Massage Therapy Tour”
“Our mission here at NHI is to ‘help people have work they love.’ Similarly in my role as President of the American Massage Therapy Association, my job is to help our member massage therapists succeed in their careers. In doing so, I’m proud to announce a new initiative by the AMTA – our Consumer Awareness Program. This program will run advertising campaigns nationally to drive more business to AMTA massage therapists. One really neat aspect of the campaign will be a tour around the country with the AMTA van. I had fun riding in (note: they wouldn’t let me drive!) the van back in Chicago. Check out the photos and video here and look for the AMTA Awareness Campaign coming soon!” ~Cynthia Ribeiro
September 4, 2012 No Comments
One aspect of a healthy lifestyle is having a healthy diet. And an aspect of the “healthy diet” that has gotten a lot of exposure in recent years is the need to eat locally grown food produced without chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Local, sustainably produced food has tons of health and environmental reasons to recommend it, and it generally tastes great too. But it does take work. Now, conventional, chemical-intensive agriculture is not easy either, but the work is generally reduced by using huge, expensive, gas-guzzling machinery and expensive, frequently toxic chemicals.
With seasonal, chemical-free farming, that chemistry and machinery is replaced by the farmer’s energy and exertion: digging, hoeing, weeding, shoveling, hauling, picking, and so on. In other words, many of the health and environmental benefits of small-scale, sustainable farming are due to the fact that the process rests on natural cycles… and lots of manual labor.
When I was in massage school up in the mountains of North Carolina, I spent some time working on an organic farm. The work was fun, active, outdoors, and I often came home with a bag of fresh veggies too. Wielding shovel and hoe, I did battle with weeds and insects. Naturally, I deeply appreciated my newfound circle of massage therapists-in-training. But what really surprised me was the difference that was made by learning to move efficiently… in other words, using good body mechanics. If you aren’t familiar with the term, check out this great video introduction to Proper Body Mechanics For Massage Therapists.
When I brought my massage therapist’s Lunge and Weight Transfer out to the spinach field it was nothing short of a revelation.
Suddenly it seemed like I had a boundless reserve of energy to apply to all of manual-labor challenges that farm work provides. The actual work became more fun, and the attention to the body mechanics made me more present with my work, and in a paradoxical way, being present rather than daydreaming made the work shift fly by. And at the end of the day I wasn’t exhausted, but energized, like I had done several hours of Tai Chi – the only difference being I had a hoe or shovel in my hand the whole time!
Now fast forward some fifteen years… My path of teaching massage has led me to Sonoma County, which may as well be the center of the sustainable farming universe. A multitude of small, sustainable farms are scattered across the wine country. Many are certified organic, and at least a few describe their practices as “beyond organic”.
As an effort to give something back to the hard-working men and women who are fighting on the front lines of this Food Revolution, National Holistic Institute’s Petaluma Campus is sending Student Therapists out to local small farms to do massage and offer coaching on body mechanics and self-care. This is a chance for sore, tired bodies to get massage, as well as get the movement education that might help them be a little less sore and tired next time. It’s also a chance for the students to practice their massage, networking, and health educator skills… and maybe to come away with some nice fresh veggies too!
Do you want to get involved in supporting our sustainable farmers?
Here are some ideas that you could easily implement in your area:
• Farmer’s Markets have become a big hit in many urban areas. This is a great opportunity to meet and market to healthy-minded people in general, and many markets feature on-site massage for customers. Bring your business cards!
• Farmer’s Markets are a prime way to meet your local farmers. Most of these folks would be happy to have you tour their farms. With a little clever marketing, you could easily set up a chance to do free chair massage for their workers as a promotional activity. You could also make a pitch to offer a little mini-class on body mechanics and self-care. Bring your fliers and Powerful Presentation skills!
• Most farms have a farm store on-site that could make a good externship site. Many organic farms have volunteer, internship, and work-trade options – and some might even be open to trading massage for farm produce. “Will work for food! (if it’s sustainable, local, and organic!)”
I hope that inspires you to “lend a hand” to the sustainable farming movement! Happy Eating!
Mentor and Instructor
June 20, 2012 No Comments
If you hadn’t heard yet, April was National Autism Awareness month. Currently, we are in a trend of a growing number of children being diagnosed with developmental disorders which include Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), pervasive development disorder (PDD), and nonverbal learning disorder (NLD).
These disorders used to be rare. In the 1980s, the diagnosis rate was 1 in 5000. Today, we are at 1 in 110. With this rising rate, it is becoming more common for us to know at least one person in our life that either has Autism or is the parent of an Autistic child.
Tina Allen, founder of Liddle Kidz™, Pediatric Massage Master Teacher, and Massage Therapist says, “Many autistic children have sensory malfunction and dysfunction of the tactile system making them averse to certain sights, sounds, smells or touch. Given that autistic children have been reported to be opposed to physical contact, it is interesting that many massage therapists, and parents, are finding great success in the use of massage therapy with autistic children.”
She also states, “Research has found that these children show less autistic behavior, are more social and attentive after receiving massage therapy. This safe, nurturing touch and regular sensory integration is beneficial in reducing inattentiveness, touch aversion and withdrawal.”
The Liddle Kidz™ foundation offers Massage Therapists NCBTMB-Approved Training on Massage for children with Autism. These courses review what Autism is, what type of therapies are currently used, how to communicate, educating tools to help empower the parents, as well as hands-on practice time.
With this rising rate becoming as common as other pathologies, it is important that Massage Therapists become educated and prepared for this potential application to their practice. It very well could change the life of a family in a very positive way.
To introduce children to therapeutic touch, Tina suggests combining storytelling with touch to make the experience very positive for the child. Read our blog post, A Different Kind of Bedtime Story to find out how!
For more information on LiddleKidz™ and class schedules visit: http://www.liddlekidz.com/autism-massage-training.html
National Holistic Institute Sacramento Instructor
April 30, 2012 No Comments
Springtime is just around the corner, and with it comes the natural inclination for a fresh, clean start! While this year’s lack-of-a-winter in most of California is an exception, generally spring means an end to the cold, dark part of the year and a rebirth of new life and activity.
This means it’s also a natural time for cleansing… on all different levels. Cleaning the house is a no-brainer, and probably needs little explanation or description. But we also live in our bodies (well, some of us, anyway!), and the body collects the physiological, energetic, and emotional equivalent of cobwebs, dust-balls, and cluttered closets as well!
So how can we give our bodies a good spring cleaning? Here’s a few of my favorite ways:
Up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, the ‘Old Timers’ have an interesting spring ritual. After eating little but pork and potatoes all winter, they would understandably feel a little sluggish come springtime. Some of the first wild plants that push up thru the spring snow are burdock and nettles, which are known in herbal lore for their power to cleanse the blood.
The old-timey mountain folk would make a nutritious and purifying tea from these plants to flush out the toxins their bodies had accumulated over the winter. Burdock, nettles, and other “spring cleaners” grow in California – but it’s probably a good idea to seek some qualified instruction before harvesting or preparing wild plants. Or just pick up an herbal tea from your local health food store’s herb department!
In addition to wild plants, another passion of mine is yoga, and a great cure for the winter blahs is movement. I’m particularly fond of the classic sequence of Hatha Yoga postures known as the Sun Salutation. This flowing sequence of forward folds, back bends, and hip openers is renowned for its stimulatory effects, especially its ability to improve the flow of lymph. Now, if you don’t already know, the lymphatic system is closely connected to our immune system and anything that helps the lymph flow generally helps our immune system function better. Just in time for when that spring pollen fires up the allergies!
Finally, let me suggest that you GET A MASSAGE! Most styles of massage help lymph and blood flow more efficiently, and some styles (like lymphatic massage!) are intended specifically to help support the body’s natural cleansing, detoxing, and immune functions. Of course, almost all massage feels great, lifts the mood, increases the energy, and can help relieve the stiffness that follows the inactivity of winter.
So, whatever method works for you, let me wish you a happy spring cleaning!
To schedule a massage at one of our California locations: http://nhi.edu/massage_clinic/index.html
March 19, 2012 No Comments
The following articles are a true testament to what research means to the massage profession. 10 years ago, much of what I learned in school has changed and it is all due to research; mainly the work done by the Massage Therapy Foundation and its members. NHI‘s own Melissa Wheeler and Beth McNeill have volunteered their time working with the MTF. This work helped to shape our current Research and Development classes that give students the tools to educate themselves and find the answers they need to work with clients in any type of situation.
The information in these articles also gives credence to our work. It shows that what we do has positive physical effects. When therapists use techniques they learn in NHI’s sports massage series, myofascial therapy series, or deep tissue series it is important to be able to explain and bring up evidence of how what we do works. Massage therapy has grown to be an increasingly integral field in alternative medicine, with more and more people realizing the medical benefits of massage on top of its perk of relaxation.
For more information on research based massage and the Massage Therapy Foundation, visit their freshly redesigned website at http://www.massagetherapyfoundation.org/
March 7, 2012 No Comments
National Holistic Institute Sports Massage Team to Provide Bodywork to San Jose Sabercats Football Team
National Holistic Institute is proud to announce our partnership with the San Jose Sabercats Arena Football Team! NHI sports massage students will be connecting with the athletes on the Sabercats team to provide post-game sports massage!
According to a recent article in the New York Times, post-exercise massage provides real medical benefits to athletes by reducing inflammation and increasing mitochondria which help rebuild and repair the cells in our muscles. With sports massage being a hot item of interest in massage, and more teams realizing the value and benefits of body work for their players, this provides an outstanding opportunity for our students interested in this field.
Their season started in this month with the first official game in March, and continuing through July 2012. Students arrive at the facility in Sunnyvale, where they perform 15-30 minute massages – post event style – under the supervision of David Kobata, the Sabercats’ athletic trainer.
When asked what he looks for in prospective externs, David states he looks for students who are genuinely interested in sports massage and who really know their kinesiology and are confident in their abilities. They MUST also be on time and dependable. Students are welcome to hand out business cards to the players, making it a beneficial opportunity for those looking to create a thriving private practice. Obviously this will also look great on a resume and give our students real-life bodywork training in addition t0 the clinic where they practice in school.
David works with a number of different professional and semi professional sports organizations and said he has heard many good things about NHI. We hope that the school’s connection with David may lead to other opportunities and events for the National Holistic Institute Sports Massage Team.
February 27, 2012 No Comments
With the first rains of the season in the Bay Area recently, we started getting a little chilly! And what better way to fight off the winter blues than a steamy Thai Herbal Compress Massage! NHI Instructors Kristine TenBrink and Darlene Campo recently led a special lab for Group 30 Seniors in Luk Pra Kob (as the modality is known in Thailand). Both teachers have had extensive, but slightly different experience working with the compresses: Kristine was trained in Thaiyurveda while working at the exclusive Preston Wynne Spa in Saratoga, while Darlene studied Thai Herbalism at Spirit Winds School of Thai Massage in Nevada City and recently attended a lecture given by Ajahn Supamas Kananurak at the Second Annual Traditional Thai Medicine & Massage Symposium organized by the Thai Institute of Healing Arts in Arlington, Virginia.
Students used authentic, handmade herbal compresses from Thailand which were purchased at Bua Thai Wellness Center in San Mateo. Each cotton muslin sachet contained indigenous Thai herbs such as Siamese ginger, tamarind leaves, lemongrass, and kaffir lime peel, along with generous portions of camphor, borneol, sea salt, and turmeric. (Note: For more information about the healing properties of Thai herbs, please see A Thai Herbal: Traditional Recipes for Health and Harmony by Dr. Pierce Salguero.)
The poultices were placed in a vegetable steamer to heat, which released the aromatherapy and medicinal properties of the herbs. After testing the bundles on their forearm to ensure that they weren’t too hot for the client, the students addressed the Sen lines (energy pathways) of the back, softening the musculature, and encouraging the free flow of energy. The combination of moist heat and compression was not only therapeutic, but also highly relaxing for the client. Even Kristine and Darlene left the lab happy and calm from just being in the room with the herbs all morning!
To learn more about NHI’s curriculum including both Eastern and Western modalities, check out Our Curriculum Page.
February 15, 2012 2 Comments
We are aware of the tremendous benefits that regular massage can provide for our clients, such as improved circulation, increased joint mobility, and reduction in pain, body tension and anxiety.
These benefits we provide with our caring touch to our clients transform us as well. When we talk about doing work we love and how it can transform ourselves as practitioners, what do we mean?
I recall a friend I met in massage school who was suffering from M.E., (Myalgic Encephalitis) an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, following a viral infection. An Ayurvedic physician had prescribed massage as part of his therapy – here’s the surprise; the prescription was not for receiving, but rather giving massage. In “Ancient Indian Massage” Harish Johari writes about massage as a beneficial practice for wrestlers. He recommends giving at least two massages and receiving one massage daily for strength and flexibility.
Tiffany Field, PhD of the Touch Research Institute in Florida has thoroughly researched the effect of massage therapy in a wide and varied range of situations. She has documented the benefits massage can bring to aggressive adolescents, children and teens with ADHD, those suffering with Anorexia Nervosa, Alzheimer’s, hypertension…. the list goes on. One study however has intriguing results. Field compares a group of elderly retired volunteers who received massage, with another group who provided massage to infants. The group who massaged the infants showed less anxiety and depression, as well as lower levels of stress hormones.
The touch receptors in our skin do not differentiate between touching and being touched. I felt this just today when I was performing abdominal work on my client and found myself in the same meditative and relaxed state of mind that she was in during the massage. I call this “dropping in” with my client, or as Milton Trager called it “hook-up”. The movement of our bodies can be a meditation, whether we are practicing Swedish massage, Shiatsu, Thai or Deep Tissue. The rhythm and flow creates a harmony within our own body as well as our client’s.
It is true that not all of our client’s may have soft and tender musculature, like the infants in the study… some indeed may resemble an old walnut tree more than a newborn, and require a little more physical effort on the part of the therapist… but nevertheless, massage facilitates a deep human connection.
Many are the days when I have begun my day tired, grumpy, distracted by some small irritation… my allergies, a disagreement with a friend, or a worry about something. Half way through my second client, I realize that I am relieved of preoccupation with myself, and instead focused on providing a positive experience for another human being.
At the end of my day, I may be tired, but also satisfied…and my work gives me a compelling reason to eat well, rest well and take care of my body, so I can continue to have the incredible privilege of being in the present moment, together with my client… where we both can be renewed.
~Julie McGuinness and Jen Fogarty
What do you do to maximize the health benefits of being a massage therapist? How do you feel after giving a massage? Let us know in the comments below, or give us a shoutout @nhi_massage on Twitter, or post on our Facebook wall!
January 4, 2012 No Comments
12 Great Resolutions You Shouldn’t Make On New Years Day – Why You Broke Last Year’s Self-Help Promise
New Years Resolutions
We all make them….and we all break them.
In United States at least 80% of people make New Year’s resolutions related to health and fitness. Perhaps you belong to that group. Most of us start on January 1st with good intentions, high hopes and enthusiasm. What better way to start a new chapter in life than to sign up for a gym membership, yoga, dance, or Zoomba classes, just to mention few! We also commit to new healthy ways of eating – no more sugar, no more fats, no more alcohol, no more this and no more that.
We imagine feeling wonderful and looking great. We know what will get us there. We’re sure we can do it… But by February, the enthusiasm starts to fade and after a few more months most people forget their promises to themselves and return to their old ways.
So how do we stick to a plan that works?
The kind of resolutions that we tend to stick with are the less drastic ones. Make small changes from your regular routine and take baby steps. Make only one small change a month and by the end of 2012 you will have 12 new healthy habits!
January: Get a massage! If you’re going to make changes this year, why not start with an easy one? Plus, you need to de-stress after the busy holiday season. And regular massages are an excellent first step on the road to better health. Studies have shown that massage can relieve stress, reduce tension, ease pain, increase circulation, improve movement, and even promote weight loss! Keeping your resolution of a massage a month is easy at an affordable student massage clinic like the one at National Holistic Institute.
February: Take a few extra steps whenever possible. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk around the block at lunch time. As you start to do more you will naturally want to do more. Exercise will no longer be a “have to” and will become a “get to”.
March: Drink more water. Ideally aim for 8 glasses of water a day. Staying hydrated can lift your mood and give you more energy. All your organs and systems will function better. And as an added bonus, it also makes your skin look better!
April: Make it a daily practice to think of at least one thing you are grateful for. Gratitude is a shortcut to happiness!
May: It’s Spring! Take time to notice flowers as you take that walk around the block that you started in February.
June: You are half way there. Take a minute to reflect on the changes you have made so far this year and take inventory of how you are feeling. It really wasn’t hard and the next six changes won’t be either.
This month add five minutes of quiet time to your daily schedule. Take a few deep breaths and just do nothing for five minutes – you might be amazed at how refreshed you feel.
July: Add a little stretching to your daily routine. Touch your toes, roll your neck, and reach for the sky. Keep it simple; every little bit counts.
August: Fresh fruits and vegetables abound in the summer. Add a salad to your menu once a day. Fruit salad for breakfast? Yum! A large green salad for lunch? Yum! No cooking over a hot stove? Yes!
September: Remove refined sugars from your diet. If you have sweet tooth opt for fresh fruit or treats made with stevia, honey or agave syrup in stead of refined white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. This is easy when you use your August resolution of natural fruit as a sweet when you crave it!
October: Practice weekly random acts of kindness
November: Time to clean out a closet and make way for the new. Find at least three items which you no longer use and recycle or donate them.
December: Switch to whole grain products rather the highly processed ones.
There are many simple things we can do to greatly improve the quality of our lives. Follow the monthly plan above, creating a lasting habit out of each small change, or create your own resolution calendar:
Instead of butter try using avocado, this unique fruit is loaded with minerals and vitamins especially vitamin E. It has healthy fats and protein that will satisfy you for hours and keep your hunger at bay. Eat large salads with your lunch and dinner. Skip the bread basket at the restaurant. Next time you go to grocery store, make sure to check the label ingredients. Choose cereals that are low in sugar.
Practice yoga or Pilates, or join a walking group. Spend less time in front of the TV and more time at the gym. Remember that texting does not count as exercise; you really should be working your larger muscle groups.
Skip your morning coffee house stop and start a vacation fund instead.
Health and fitness are especially important for massage therapists. Our work is physical and can be demanding on the body. Taking good care of ourselves is part of the job. As we become more fit we become stronger and more aware of our body mechanics. We are then able to do more work with less of a possibility of an injury. Sense of well being and balance infuse not only our bodies but also our minds. Suddenly we are enjoying our work much more. With the improvement of mental agility we uphold boundaries with our clients with ease. At the end of the day we feel energized instead of drained. Clients will know the difference…they are presented with a therapist who is grounded, patient and full of poise. We are role models for our clients; as they see the spark in our eyes and our healthy glow they are encouraged to make positive changes for themselves.
If you have very limited time in your schedule, incorporate physical activities throughout the day. Use the stairs instead of elevators or escalators. When you are watching TV or have a couple of free minutes at work stand with your knees slightly bent, bring your arms out to the side and do arm circles. Doing this few times a day for several minutes will increase blood circulation and build strength. When you start any fitness program start slowly and build to where you want to be. Most people get discouraged because they start with a plan that is too difficult for their fitness level. Gradual progress will give you a sense of accomplishment and ease the body into more strenuous activities. You should feel great after a workout not sore for days; “No pain no gain” is a fallacy!
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. Stay present in the moment. It does not matter if you forgot about your New Year’s resolutions…today is another day. If you missed a workout or made a wrong food choice, do not dwell on it. Continue with your healthy plan the rest of the day and the damage will be minimal. After all, if you ran a red light you wouldn’t continue to do so for the rest of the day.
Focus on all the little things you can do today. It is best not to wait for big dates like New Year, Monday, first of the month…you have the power to make change right now.
Make everyday of the New Year your personal health and fitness day!
December 16, 2011 1 Comment
Through the past month and the Thanksgiving holiday, most people take the time to reflect on what they are thankful for. Usually the common answers to the question are family, friends, and health. As for me, I am thankful for Massage Therapy – and for many reasons.
The demand for Massage Therapists has increased – giving more and more people a chance for employment in this economy. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Massage Therapy employment is expected to raise 19% by 2018 which is faster than the average percentage for all occupations.
Slowly, yet surely, the benefits of Massage Therapy are touching the lives of all Americans. As of right now, 18% of adult Americans have had a massage at least once in the last year. There is a rise in massage students who have expressed interest with low income families as their target market once they graduate. This interest will help the benefits of massage therapy be more accessible to the entire population.
As time passes, more studies with massage therapy used as complimentary medicine emerge with factual and reliable evidence. There are many doctors that will recommend massage for their patients to help with a variety of symptoms. Especially as a way to manage stress and pain. This has led to an average of 1.5 direct referrals from health care professionals per therapist per month.
Massage Therapy is bringing joy into the world one session at a time and one job at a time. Whether you receive massage or give massage, there is a high calling to this field. And for this, I am thankful.
For more massage therapy statistics: www.amtamassage.org
To learn about NHI’s Massage Therapy Program: www.nhi.edu
NHI Sacramento Instructor
December 7, 2011 No Comments
Aromatherapy is defined as a form of alternative medicine using various essential oils to alter a person’s mind, health, and cognitive mood. But, how exactly does it work?
Sit back in your chair and picture a few fond childhood memories. Maybe it’s baking some treats with a sibling or playing in the grass with old friends or running through a cornstalk maze during a crisp fall day. Imagine the details of each sense – particularly – your sense of smell.
Fast forward to today. What do you feel when you smell something like those baked treats, or the grass, or that familiar fall day smell that you know so well each year? Comfort. Happiness. Nostalgia. Peace. Your mood is altered. The presence of stress is cancelled out by this smell-induced reaction.
Our sense of smell is called the Olfactory sense. Our Olfactory sense is intertwined by something called the Limbic System which supports smell, long-term memories, behavior, and emotions. There are special neurons that are meant to pick up different scents and translate them to the brain which in turn reacts with different parts of our body to create the proper response.
In Aromatherapy we work with essential oils. They are derived from various organic and natural materials and on a cellular level they are incredibly complex. Lavender is the most common essential oil in our modern day. When inhaled, it can create a response of relaxation, calmness, and reduced stress. These are just some of the benefits of Lavender.
Starting today, I would recommend carrying around a small bottle of Lavender oil. Whenever you are stuck in line, stuck in traffic, feeling down at work, or feeling stressed with the kids, just pull it out and smell your way through the day. With your lavender in hand, relax and breathe deeply (see our “Breathe” blog post to learn how this alone can help with stress reduction). Take a note on how you feel after a day…a week…a month.
Ultimately, we all know we need to take care of ourselves. This is a simple and quick way that we can do this. It is one step closer to a calmer, more peaceful “You”. If aromatherapy is your first step towards a healthier, happier “You” then I consider this article a complete success.
September 29, 2011 No Comments
Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program (ANMT) at the National Holistic Institute (NHI) Massage Therapy School ‘Wows’ Students and Employers
Our 400 hour Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program has been growing rapidly since Cynthia Ribeiro (AMTA President-Elect) formulated the curriculum with NHI from her own popular Advanced Neuromuscular courses. The program builds on the skills and knowledge that students who completed a comprehensive massage therapy program have already aquired. This extra education puts graduates ahead of the competition and prepares them to be confident and knowledgeable in massage positions that require a deeper understanding of the science and anatomy behind massage therapy.
Hear from our graduates and instructors as they give you their personal perspective on how the program can open doors
Graduates of the Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program will be able to evaluate and differentiate between myofascial pain or dysfunction, as opposed to injury, and to employ effective techniques to address these issues with significant client results. They will be able to work as Massage Therapists in Pain Management settings such as Hospitals, Doctors’ offices, Physical Therapists’ offices, Rehabilitation Centers, in high-end spas and resorts, with sports teams and Sports Medicine settings, and as private practitioners with independent or referral-based clients.
To learn more about the program or contact an Admissions Representative,
Call (800) 315-3552
August 3, 2011 No Comments
I was deeply touched recently by an experience I had in the classroom. I have been a massage therapist for 13 years and an educator for 3. Every day presents an opportunity for me to learn about myself and others. That is one of the things that I love most about my job. It is so exciting to witness a client get reacquainted with their body, or watch a student when those light bulbs go on as they learn new massage skills.
I recently taught a class focusing on work with the abdominal muscles. The technique being taught that night was something called Myofascial Therapies. This is a therapeutic technique that helps with postural issues and injury rehabilitation. What is special about Myofascial Therapy is that it allows you to figure out exactly which muscles to work on so that the client can get immediate and lasting results.
During this particular class the student that was receiving the work during a demonstration of the techniques had a scoliosis (a side curve of the spine). This condition is something that she was born with, and it has always restricted her movement and had an effect on her posture. It also causes chronic pain and discomfort.
After receiving the body work, I did a “reassessment” which means I had the client/student go through a series of movements to see if there was any change created by the massage. The change was AMAZING! She stated that she was not in any pain at that moment, and was amazed by how much further she could move. Nobody had ever told her that change was possible.
This was inspiring to both of us. My student gained a whole new sense of possibility, and I had the privilege of being part of that transformation. It leaves me feeling like I just want to share this work with anyone I can get my hands on!
And then there was the response of the rest of the students. They are so excited and eager to share what they have learned with their clients, family and friends. They know that the work they do can truly change lives.
Let me just end by saying I LOVE MY JOB. I have a career where people walk away from their time with me feeling good. They are smiling when they leave and eager to come back for their next visit. What a gift!
July 14, 2011 No Comments
Take a deep breath. Relaxed, open body. Peaceful, calm mind. Less tension, more ease. Energized yet focused. This is what clients of massage therapy leave with after they get off your table. This is why we love the work that we do. Then why should we, the massage therapists, feel less like these descriptions after a long day of giving massage?
How do we provide this for ourselves? How can we get some of this everyday? It is important for us to practice proper body mechanics and make sure we receive massage as well, but one answer has been around for over two thousand years. Yoga!
There are at least as many different types of yoga as there are massage modalities. And, like with massage modalities, different styles of yoga have similar benefits which directly improve your ability to provide high quality massage therapy for the length of your career. Self care is of utmost importance if you want to help your clients- both by maintaining your ability to give massage and also in your aptitude to be an example of health in your client’s lives. Yoga and Body Mechanics
Yoga focuses on developing strength and flexibility by moving mindfully through a series of poses, called asanas, which serve to not only keep our body resilient but also to develop a deeper awareness of our movements. This translates into your massage therapy practice as an increased stamina of maintaining good posture and practicing optimal body mechanics.
Yoga and Joint Health
An occpuational concern for some massage therapists is repetitive stress injuries from overuse of thumbs, hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. How can we provide relief of pain for others when we ourselves are afflicted? Yoga works to counteract the stresses by building balanced strength in the muscles which support these joints and maintaining flexibility of tendons and joint structures. Yoga may also work to break up adhesion within our tissues and improve joint lubrication. Yoga moves our blood, giving renewed oxygen and nutrients to these areas, and also warms our fascia which can free the body to develop more functional movement patterns. In a way, yoga may be like giving yourself a massage.
Yoga and Presence
All forms of yoga emphasize breath and a meditative quality. It focuses and calms the mind through slowing our breath, and slowing our thoughts. This allows us the mental and energetic space to be present during the massage. Being present helps you deliver quality massage sessions, whereas scattered and poor quality massage sessions can result when our minds are elsewhere; when our energy is scattered. Not only does the mindfulness from yoga help you to be a more effective massage therapist, it also gives you practice in allowing the stresses of your practice to naturally fall away as you leave your office for the day. This kind of presence in turn gives you the space that you need to fully recharge.
July 7, 2011 No Comments
Massage therapy is well-known for decreasing stress on the body. Stress can inflict our bodies in many different ways physically and emotionally. Sometimes we are able to easily take away the stress in our lives. It could be as simple as changing jobs, putting on another coat for warmth, or changing your diet. But, what happens when something in life occurs beyond what we can change or control?
The last thing that any parent wants to imagine is what would happen if their child is seriously sick or injured. Thankfully, there are resources and charities to help families during these kinds of situations. Enter, The Ronald McDonald House, a non-profit charity that provides housing and meals for families who are travelling in need of healthcare for seriously ill and injured children.
We have a brave group of students from our Sacramento Campus who travel to do on-site massage at the local Ronald McDonald House as a part of their externship hours. They are providing massage for stress relief to families who, most likely, are in the most stressful situation in their life.
“Providing massage for these families and individuals not only helps me grow as a professional massage therapist, but also as a person,” says one student. “I cannot imagine going through what they have to, but helping them relax for even one minute gives them that extra boost in helping them to keep going.”
In this world situations arise that deplete our energy. Massage Therapy can play an important roll of returning us to a state of peace.
Being a massage therapist is certainly a practice of nobility. There are people all around us that are in desperate need of assistance towards relieving the stress in their bodies. By allowing ourselves to show compassion through nurturing massage, we can assist to break the cycle of pain not only of the physical, but of the emotional as well.
July 6, 2011 No Comments
It seems simple enough. Inhale, then exhale. We do it all the time.
But do we do it well?
Breathing improperly creates a constant state of stress in the body. We can live without food for months, we can live without water for days, but we can live only a few minutes without air.
Yet most of us breathe inadequately. We rush through our lives breathing shallowly, and the cost is great. The stress this creates in our bodies diminishes our well being on many levels. Improper breathing can reduce immune function, cause depression, poor muscle function and recovery, and the inability to think clearly. And this is just a sampling of a very long list of the possible negative consequences of not breathing well. Decreased breath equals increased stress. Stress is the underpinning of many diseases and often exacerbates poor health conditions.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to evaluate your current stress level:
- Do you sleep poorly and wake up still tired?
- Do you have aches and pains that seem to come from nowhere?
- Do you get frequent headaches?
- Are you irritable and/or short tempered?
- Do you find yourself easily frustrated?
- Are you tired all the time?
- Do you often feel like there just are not enough hours in the day to get everything done?
- Do you frequently suffer from colds, flues and other illness?
- Have you lost your enthusiasm for life?
These are just a few of the common complaints of people suffering from stress. Stress diminishes our quality of life, and breathing properly can restore it!
The bonus is breathing well can be done anywhere at any time. To breathe properly simply let your belly relax and expand as you draw air in through your nose. As you continue to inhale let your ribs expand, and then finally fill your lungs to the top. Then reverse that process as you exhale through your mouth. Make sure that you empty the lungs completely before you take your next breath. It’s that simple!
…And the benefits are immediate. You will find that after just a few short minutes of breathing well, you can think more clearly and that ideas and solutions to problems come more readily. You will feel calmer and more peaceful, ready to handle the challenges of life. You will be more energized. Your muscles will relax and need much less effort to move. In short, life will be easier and you will be happier.
Create new breathing habits for yourself. Use daily activities as a cue to remember to take a deep breath: waiting at red lights, taking a shower, laying down to sleep, preparing a meal, entering and leaving your home. Anything can become a cue to remember to breathe deeply and fully, and soon you will find that it becomes automatic.
So why not start right now?! Inhale slowly and deeply, exhale fully and have a great day!
June 29, 2011 No Comments
A Different Kind of Bedtime Story | Encourage Healthy Growth and Development Through Pediatric Massage Therapy
Pediatric Massage Master Teacher Tina Allen rolled into NHI’s San Jose campus recently to talk about the value of massage for infants and children. Allen, the founder of Liddle Kidz Foundation travels North America with her husband and young son in a customized tour bus giving workshops and presentations about the benefits of touch therapy for the youngest among us. Although massage is often still seen by the general public as an annual luxury or first aid for a sore back after a weeketnd of cleaning up the yard, it can also support healthy, well children in the normal process of growth and development, as well little ones who are struggling with complex medical conditions. And Tina Allen should know: She managed the United States’ first comprehensive pediatric massage program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and recently consulted on the development of a comprehensive pediatric massage therapy program at The Mayo Clinic.
A fun way Tina shared of introducing massage to children is through massage stories. Using a combination of light strokes such as hand glides, palm circles, finger taps, and cupping, she guided the group of 30+ San Jose students, staff, and faculty through a familiar story: the change of weather from a bright sunny day to one with lots of snow. It even included a guest appearance by a pair of cats on the top of a chimney! Ms. Allen encouraged NHI students to develop their own massage stories and to try them out on the children in their lives. Whether it’s a massage story about making a pizza, planting a garden or taking a swim in the ocean, it’s Tina Allen’s conviction that children who have a positive experience with healthy touch early on in their lives will grow up to be peaceful leaders in the world. Tina feels so strongly about this vision that she organizes, trains, and leads volunteers on trips to orphanages abroad. Previous sites included Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand, with Ghana slated for later this year. She is also a certified trainer of Peaceful Touch.
June 10, 2011 1 Comment
The Best Massage I Ever Had | A National Holistic Institute Teacher’s Account of the Perfect Massage
I can’t tell you how excited I was the other day to get the best massage I had ever had; it was a dream come true.
He too was a Graduate of NHI. He definitely knew his stuff and the most distinguishing thing was the confidence that came through in his work.
Like me, he started out Prone (positioned lying flat) and worked the back a ton; long ironing strokes that I guess you could say were effleurage, but kneaded the muscle as they ran from neck to sacrum. I think he used every tool available, hands, fists, sides of the hand, whole forearms and the elbows too. He then did awesome work on my Traps that really pulled the Traps away from where they had been living just under my ears. It was like lower neck work and back work combined. Somewhere in there he was working the arm, Axilla, Scapula, and Deltoids too. It felt like my Scapula got thoroughly moved & flipped around and put back a little lower than when I brought it in to be worked on and the Delts & arm felt like the way a towel feels when you wring it out after falling into the pool.
As I had hoped, he finally got around to working on my legs, I have very long legs and I always hope that people really get as much of the muscle worked on as possible. Well this therapist did and I think it’s because he was a cyclist too. Hams, Adductors, the IT Band, all worked on with tons of movement for the Knee and a reshaping on my Gastrocs & Soleus. It was most certainly not the typical lighter Swedish, it was deep ploughing & ironing that made my legs soo happy mostly because the work definitely felt like it didn’t just address the area we call the “Back” of the leg but all around the leg. He rolled it around in different directions to be able to better access the sides that were not just facing up. When he was done I could only say that my legs felt “Floppy” and I loved it.
Thorough, professional, deep but also very in tune with what he was doing as to not work too deep on the knots or just think one pressure is good for every part of the body. He watched my reaction and adjusted the pressure accordingly.
Finishing with some forehead swipes & scalp work was just a wonderful way to close out this massage that I would come back for again & again if I could. The massage was perfect! But alas, I only received it in my own imagination. Haven’t we all dreamed of receiving the same massage we give to others?!
The Golden Rule really applies everything, including massage. “Do unto to others as you would have them do unto to you”. Stay present in your work, use empathy and ask yourself what everything would feel like and be open to the feedback of the clients as if you were hearing the compliment or criticism from yourself.
~Mark Nielsen, CMT and NHI instructor extraordinaire :)
May 27, 2011 No Comments
Do You Have Work You Love? National Holistic Institute Mentor Views Work as a Transformative Process
I recently celebrated ten years of teaching at the National Holistic Institute, and this gave me an occasion to consider some of the life-enriching aspects of a career in bodywork.
Consider this: have you ever had a job you disliked? Perhaps you’ve even had a job you hated?! If the answer is “yes”, then you already know what a drain it can be to have to work a job when your heart just isn’t in it. But then there is the economy! In this financial day and age, there are plenty of people who would settle for any work! Work can cause stress, to be sure… but not working can stress us even more.
So having work, it seems – particularly, work we can be passionate about – is a blessing.
The term “work” has interesting connotations. In some contexts, work could be synonymous with something arduous, something unpleasant. But in the spiritual tradition of Alchemy, the term “Work” has a very different implication: transformation! Not simply the transformation of lead into gold, the Magnum Opus, or ‘Great Work’, of the alchemists was about transformation generally – darkness into light, ignorance into knowledge, matter into spirit.
I would argue that, in this Alchemical Way, work we love can transform us, teaching us the lessons and providing us with the challenges we need to progress along the Path of our lives. Bodywork especially, with its emphasis on self-knowledge, compassion, safe space, and connection to another person, causes us to get real, to honestly confront our fears and limitations… and to overcome them so that we can continue to facilitate the healing of our bodies, our communities, and our planet.
Work that you love can transform you. Do you have Work You Love?
Mentor, NHI Petaluma Campus
May 12, 2011 1 Comment