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Category — Massage Therapy Benefits

Imagine: World Peace Through Massage Therapy

There are certain things I think everyone should learn how to do: play a musical instrument, plant and care for a garden, make art, give a great massage.


Interestingly, they all involve the use of the hands. Gandhi said, “May the work of your hands be a sign of reverence and gratitude to the human condition.” Another great sage, my colleague Julie Porter, often says, “Imagine what the world would be like if all the world’s leaders received a massage every day.” It is her personal dream.

Indeed, just imagine. Consider the possibilities for peace-making if EVERYONE received a daily massage. Jack Benny and George Burns did, and they lived robust and very colorful lives, even as entenarians.

Thirty years ago, massage was considered a fringe thing; a luxury reserved for the well-to-do. In 1978, when I began my studies in bodywork, only two books on massage were available, and neither even broached the subject of draping (if you catch my drift).

Today is a very different world. Hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the benefits of massage therapy every month. Medical and sports massage have emerged as popular modalities. Now, more than ever, the need to test our theories through research is upon us. The Dalai Lama has been known to say that if modern science disproves any of the long-cherished tenets of Buddhism, then Buddhism must have the integrity to change. The same reasoning should apply to our field.

Enter the Massage Therapy Foundation. Since its inception, the Foundation has funded many research projects, ranging from massage for peripheral neuropathy related to chemotherapy, to postural control in elders, to migraines, cancer, and spinal cord injuries.


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During the month of December, all of the National Holistic Institute campuses held fund-raising clinics and donated all proceeds to the Massage Therapy Foundation. Current students, graduates, faculty, and campus managers alike, all gave freely of their time and energy to support the research arm of our profession. At San Jose, I enjoyed the sight of enthusiastic therapists of varying degrees of experience—some still in school, others with many years in the field—having a great time simultaneously serving their clients and the future of massage therapy. Take a peek at this video highlighting the fundraiser clinics at a few of our campuses:


I’d like to conclude with a story about one of my heroic figures. In the early 20th century, a young seminary student in New York was stricken with polio and could no longer continue his studies. In the midst of great suffering and despair—truly a dark night of the soul—he discovered that his sacred vocation was to be a dancer. The only problem? He could not even walk. Through months of experimenting with small and awkward movements, he succeeded and developed his own form of dance. His name was Ted Shawn, one of the founders of modern dance.

The field of massage therapy never had to endure being crippled, but it certainly had to limp for a while, burdened by old and unflattering notions of what massage was and what its practitioners do. Thanks to the integrity of many massage pioneers, increased standards, schools grounded in contemporary science, and the dedicated research efforts of the Massage Therapy Foundation, our profession touches—literally—the lives of countless people around the globe. Indeed, it dances, and our clients are better able to dance to the heartbeat of their callings. At this rate, I think Julie Porter’s dream just might come true!

-Jeff Rockwell

December 23, 2013   1 Comment

Introducing Certified Massage Blogger Dr. Jeff Rockwell: “A Fellow Traveler”

“Please allow me to introduce myself….”

My name is Jeff and I’m a recovered doctor and therapist. Allow me to explain. While I have spent most of much adult life in education and have practiced as a member of the Structural Integration, chiropractic, manual osteopathic and somatic communities, today I seek a different, more “right-sized” identity. I am a music lover, a poet, a step-father, and a shameless tree-hugger from Santa Cruz.  I have work I love, teaching at the San Jose campus of the National Holistic Institute (NHI). I try to be useful, as well, at my offices in Santa Cruz and Los Gatos. And now I am happy to announce that I’ll be the new blogmeister for NHI, and am look forward to conversing with you in these virtual “fireside chats.”  As such, I invite your comments, suggestions for future posts, or questions as they arise below each post.

Dr. Jeff Rockwell Blog

When I was younger, growing up in the—believe it or not—countryside of New Jersey, I loved running through corn mazes set up at pumpkin patches in honor of Halloween. I ran in at a full sprint, fervently trying to outsmart the twisting labyrinth. Inevitably however, there would be that moment of panic in which I felt stuck in the maze. I’d reach a dead end, or get turned around, such that the path to the exit seemed obstructed or unclear. In those moments, even though the maze had an exit that I was perfectly capable of finding, it felt like I would be stumbling up and down the green pathways forever. It was guidance from those around me that eventually helped me to find the exit.

I often use a similar metaphor with clients when we talk about where they are stuck, how they got there, and how we can work together to find a way out: The exit to the maze is there, and although it may feel so far away in the moment, each of my clients has the tools they need—a body, a nervous system, and a mind that is in union with the body– to triumphantly emerge into the sunlight. Perhaps what I value most about the holistic vision taught and embodied at NHI is that my role in the healing process is not to run in the exit, find the person, and drag them out. Rather, there is a respect for their process and a basic assumption that individuals will flourish as they become more in touch with the cellular wisdom beneath their skin. Perhaps Neruda said it best when he likened a healer to a fellow traveler:  “Our real job in life is, first, to live an awakened and golden life and to walk with those in need, never ahead of or behind, on their life path, humbly pointing out obstacles in the road as we see them, bearing witness to this difficult, miraculous journey.”

My name is Jeff, and I am a fellow traveler. 

December 10, 2013   4 Comments

What Does Massage Do? The Greatest Massage Video. Ever.

By now, we all know what the fox says….

But until now, nobody had an answer to the worlds greatest question – What Does Massage Do?

The National Holistic Institute staff in Sacramento took it upon themselves to answer the question. Check out their #ylvis #whatdoesthefoxsay #massage #parody video and spread the word!

Just go get a massage. Or, just go learn massage. for more information on our Massage Therapy Program and student massage clinics.

Vocals – Joseph Stewart and Amy Atkins
“Sound effects” – Sara Frazier and Sean O’shea
Backup dancers – Sacramento staff and faculty
Sound production and editing – Matthew Draving
Video production and editing – Amy Atkins


*We promise, no EarthLite Massage Tables were harmed in the making of this video.

November 7, 2013   2 Comments

Welcome Weary Athletes: Post-Ironman Sports Massage with National Holistic Institute

-written by Lucas Nevarez,
Instructor and Mentor, NHI Sacramento

Sunday September 22nd 2013 marked the very first Ironman Triathlon in the Lake Tahoe area. It will definitely be an event to remember for all parties involved. National Holistic Institute was invited to support the athletes after the event by providing recovery-oriented “post event” sports massage.


To say the event was grueling and demanding on the human body is an understatement.

Imagine if you will:

A race that begins before dawn… It begins with a 2.4 mile swim in frigid waters of Lake Tahoe that is enough to wear down the average body.  As they emerged from the icy waters, they were met with freezing air temperature; lows were in the 30’s that morning!

Then they continued with a brisk 112 mile bike ride through the gorgeous windy mountain roads. What lay ahead, aside from the gorgeous backdrop of the Serra Nevada range – were steep, lengthy grade changes that would make most legs quiver.

And… to cap it all off, they finished with 26.2 mile run; a full marathon! At an elevation of 6000 feet, I imagine it was a little hard to breath during the entire event.

Racers finished within 7 – 16 hours. Yes, some worked out from 7am till midnight.

Everybody could have used a massage after a day like that.

The energy of the finishers was a combination of jubilation, elation and relief. In the mix were many cases of hypothermia: (meaning) shock, nausea, muscle cramps and disorientation. We did not work on those people – they went straight to the medical tent.

The good news is that many made it to the finish line and could still walk. They moseyed into the warm massage tent and into our welcoming hands.


I have never seen so many people so happy to get a massage. Having massage therapists present really made a difference for hundreds of athletes. Most people felt better after receiving bodywork, they were able to walk a little more up right and a little less wobbly.

For all you Iron Men and Iron Women…well… all athletes for that matter – I leave you with this thought:

Massage Therapy as part of your training cycle as well as after major events will help keep your body at peak performance.


To learn more about a career as a Sports Massage Therapist, click here to visit our website!


Have you provided massage for athletes?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

September 26, 2013   5 Comments

Remembering 9/11: A Massage Therapist’s Story

Remembering 9/11
A true story written by John Lambert, CMT

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12 years ago our nation suffered a horrific tragedy. At the time I knew it was significant, but in the moment I had no clue how much this event would affect my life. In the weeks before the terrorist event, I recently gave up my day job to take on massage therapy full time. I was still enrolled at NHI, and I was taking a position at the fitness center where I completed my externship. I got a call that morning letting me know about the tragedy that had happened and that my workplace was closing for the day. This was shocking to me as I had a fairly full schedule which was totally wiped out and I was processing this great event that had happened. I did not see a client for the next 2 weeks.

This made me question my decision of leaving my day job. As we all know if we are not massaging, we typically do not get paid and I was not fully prepared to go without income for 2 weeks. Then I finally got to work on my first client after 2 weeks of nothing.

John Lambert CMT

This client was referred to me by her husband. She was not sure about getting a massage, but he insisted. She had been having headaches and he really wanted her to get some relief. I told her to undress to her comfort level and lie on the table. She left her clothes on, and reluctantly let me begin my work. I could feel the tension in her back and her neck, and she finally started to relax a bit. I knew she was not from the United States, so I asked her where she was from. She shyly replied … Afghanistan.

In that moment, I knew that I had made the right choice to pursue this profession. I took my training, my grounding, and compassion and finished her massage. When she came out of the treatment room she was so appreciative of my work. Her headache and tension were gone. I was left with an appreciation of my craft that I still carry with me to this day.

If I had not began my journey with National Holistic Institute and taken that risk of giving up everything to start this journey of massage therapy, I would never have had this moment that I cherish. It keeps me centered to this day and every year I think back on this story. For me, this is what our work is all about.


September 12, 2013   3 Comments

Extending the Benefits of Massage Therapy – Compassionate Touch

-written by Sabrina Italia, NHI Instructor.

Ever wondered why you feel great for a few days after your massage only to find your aches and pains resurface just as they were before the massage?? Most people believe that massage alone can reverse muscle and fascial patterns. In many ways it can, and does short term.

However, sometimes mechanical massage alone isn’t enough to allow a person to release tension and anxiety. When working out a plan with your Massage Therapist, including different modalties may create extended benefits and maybe even permanent reversal of postural deviations or tissue and muscle “stuckness”. In both our Core and Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy programs, NHI teaches students numerous modalities and how to alter the perpetuating factors that can keep clients in pain if unaddressed.

Last week I taught a class to group 18 on the Emeryville campus. In this class we talk about emotional effects on our muscles and joints. Have you ever walked up to a friend and without even saying anything noticed something’s “wrong” just because of their body language? Often times our first response is a hand on the shoulder or back to show support. Sometimes just that initial touch can begin to help someone feel better. In this class we apply “Compassionate Touch” which is simply addressing tense areas with quiet hands (hands that remain still, or mostly still). We find these areas by visually assessing a client’s body to see if they seem to be holding any tension in their body.

I did a demonstration of “Compassionate Touch” on Richard. We observed that he seemed to be keeping his arms tight against his body, enough to make his left shoulder rise up and his chin was slightly tilted up in a potentially defensive manner. (Before)

After the “Compassionate Touch” was applied, we did see a change in how he held himself, and noticed that his shoulder and chin did drop down into a more relaxed state. While the results were minimal, the long term effect could be very beneficial. (After)


Because we prepped the body by getting rid of that initial layer of tension, it’s likely that the benefits of the massage will go farther.

There are many modalities that “prep” the body for mechanical massage. Either way massage is a great and effective tool in stress reduction and is great at helping restore range of motion in joints and tissue.

Research; choose a well-trained, certified massage therapist and get the most out of your massage!


May 28, 2013   1 Comment

Massage Therapy: An Ancient Tradition

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

Cynthia Ribeiro Helps Spread the Message of Massage to the Masses | The AMTA Massage Therapy Tour

This week, we spoke with Cynthia Ribeiro, American Massage Therapy Association President, WIN Therapy founder, and curriculum developer for NHI’s Advanced Neuromuscular Program.

L-R President-Elect Winona Bontrager, President Cynthia Ribeiro and Executive Director Shelly Johnson stopped by the AMTA Massage Therapy Tour.

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

AMTA Tour volunteers working on the public at the Lowell Folk Festival 2012

“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

AMTA volunteers educating consumers on the benefits of massage at Times Square Summer Fest.

September 4, 2012   No Comments

Body Mechanics | At the Intersection of Massage School and Local Organic Produce

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!

~William Mathis,
Mentor and Instructor
NHI Petaluma

June 20, 2012   No Comments

Massage Therapy for Children with Autism and Other Pathologies

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:

~Amy Atkins,
National Holistic Institute Sacramento Instructor

April 30, 2012   1 Comment

Living In Your Body | Spring Cleaning Isn’t Just For Your House Anymore

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!

NHI Students practicing Thai Massage

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:

March 19, 2012   No Comments

Research and Massage Therapy: A Winning Combination

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.

Read the New York Times and Los Angeles Times articles to learn about the latest scientific research into the physical effects of massage on muscles post-exercise:

NY Times Massage Article

LA Times Massage Article

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

~John Lambert,
NHI Instructor

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

Cold Weather Remedy | Thai Herbal Compress Massage

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

Work You Love That Loves You Right Back | Massage Therapists Share Many Benefits With Their Clients

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
NHI Instructors


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

Extending Thankfulness Through the Year With Massage Therapy

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:

To learn about NHI’s Massage Therapy Program:

~Amy Atkins
NHI Sacramento Instructor

December 7, 2011   No Comments

Smell Your Way Through the Day | Natural Health Benefits of Aromatherapy

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.

Lavendar Aromatherapy

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 Love My Job! A Massage School Teacher’s Account of the Joys of Education

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!

~Breanna Gieseker
NHI Petaluma

July 14, 2011   No Comments