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Helping Hands – The Massage Essay That Inspires Positive Change

National Holistic Institute would like to congratulate NHI San Francisco student and scholarship winner Mary Rone on her emotive and inspirational essay.  Mary entered in the Helping Hands Gifts for Growth 100 word essay scholarship contest presented by Biotone & BioFreeze. Out of 480 applications from more than 165 massage therapy schools, Mary’s was chosen as one of the four winners!

helping hands logo 3-22-13

Sometimes what comes above toiling work and hours of studying is a palpable urge to do good. Mary’s essay shows us the balanced and grounded side of how we can be helpful in a chaotic world.

My hands have been helping for a long time but have finally found a home in massage therapy. My hands have flown Helicopters in combat. My hands have held the hands of the wounded. My hands felt helpless. The surprising and inspiring thing about massage therapy is what my helping hands are now capable of. My hands are making a difference by providing a calm and comfort to others and myself. My hands would love to help Veterans who suffer from physical and especially psychological trauma, helping to find a grounded place inside them, hopefully to inspire positive change.
– Mary Rone

“It was truly gratifying to see the excitement and response to this new program. We received over 480 applications representing more than 165 massage therapy schools. We are very pleased with the results,” stated Jean Shea, President, BIOTONE. “Those in our industry possess a real passion and desire to make a difference, so we know it wasn’t easy for our distinguished selection committee to choose the four winning essays—truly the best of the best. Thank you for taking on this difficult task.”

NHI would like to thank BIOTONE & Performance Health for showing leadership in the industry by investing in our next generation of massage therapists with endeavors like Helping Hands Gifts for Growth.  Mary Rone would also like to extend a personal video thank you to Helping Hands for helping her towards having work she loves!

November 21, 2013   No Comments

NHI at Bike MS and the Nike Women’s Marathon: Sports Massage for Athletes

October 19 & 20 marked the annual Bike MS 150 Bay to Bay tour. Bike MS will take you farther than you’ve ever gone before. It’s not just the miles that matter; it’s the unforgettable journey. National Holistic Institute Santa Ana and Studio City campus students and Staff joined in together for an event that is more than a ride. It’s anticipation, camaraderie personal accomplishment and the knowledge that your changing lives… making every massage that much sweeter. Don’t just ride, Bike MS is their motto and this past weekend was definitely a weekend to remember.

studio city and santa ana well represented

Bike MS Bay to Bay tour is a one or two day journey down the gorgeous coastline of Southern California from Orange County to San Diego. Twenty-six students from Studio City and Santa Ana shared two days working on a total of 476 cyclists who are fundraising for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, making a difference in the lives of people affected by MS!

arriving cyclists day two

A great weekend was had by all, especially the joint effort of both campuses coming together for such a worthy cause. NHI is a proud Gold Sponsor for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, now celebrating its third year.

day two working on cyclists


With the Fall season comes many sporting events, our favorite of which includes the Nike Women’s Marathon which took place in Northern California the same weekend was also a blast!   The NHI Sports Massage Team, made up of 105 of our amazing students completed over 1,100 massages over the course of the event!!  Now that is what I call making a difference!

Check out some highlights from the NWM event below! Or see the video at

November 13, 2013   No 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

Anatomy in Braille: Close Your Eyes to See

“The darkness of the day is the best time to see”
- Don Juan to Carlos Castaneda


Dana Schutz, Blind Foot Massage (2009). Oil and acrylic on canvas

Dana Schutz, Blind Foot Massage (2009). Oil and acrylic on canvas

Over the nearly thirteen years I have taught for National Holistic Institute, I have had the pleasure of teaching a number of vision impaired students. And I’ve learned a lot from them too. One student had a seeing eye dog that – not making this up! – would “whoosh” with the group by wagging his tale and giving a single sharp bark!

One day I came into class and found one of my vision impaired students lying on his back. At first I thought he was taking a quick cat nap, but then I saw that he was actually reading. The book was open on his chest as he lay supine, his fingers dancing over the Braille “letters” on the page. I remarked about it, and his answer charmed me: he said that when he reads, he has ten eyes. I thought that was pretty cool.

In China and Japan, people with vision impairment were traditionally trained to be body workers. Even today, many people in those countries will preferentially seek out a blind massage therapist. The expectation is that their touch skills will be exceptional and that their gentle, grounded presence will help soothe the client’s body and mind.


When I used to study the Japanese martial art called jujutsu, my favorite drill was to be attacked while blindfolded. The challenge to the person on the mat was to rely on nothing but their proprioception (the neurological awareness of the body in space) to defend themselves. I was reminded of Obi Wan Kenobi’s classic guidance in Star Wars to trust the feeling of the Force instead of the fickle vision of the eyes. “Your eyes can mislead you,” he tells the inexperienced Luke Skywalker during his first practice with the light saber, “Don’t trust them.”

Vision is a tremendously powerful sense. So powerful, in fact, that it can and often does “unground” us and scatter our attention. As I seek to help my students develop a grounded, centered presence and the quality of touch that goes with professional massage therapy, I am frequently amazed at how consciously disconnecting from this often overwhelming sense can serve us.

In a recent MFT Palpation class, we were watching a video produced by Books of Discovery, makers of our well-loved Trail Guide to the Body. At one point, the presenter Andrew Biel gives the tip to close the eyes while seeking to palpate (touching to gain knowledge) a muscle. It was great to hear this from such an esteemed expert on muscle palpation, and I reiterated it to the group. When we close our eyes, we begin to reduce the flow of information to our brain, allowing us to tune in to some of the subtler signals that we may be receiving, but tuning out.


The skin is an extraordinary sense organ. One square inch of skin on the palm contains over 130 yards of nerves, specialized to detect subtle changes in pressure, heat, vibration, texture, and much, much more. Closing the eyes takes our attention temporarily away from the fast-paced and distracting world around us, and begins to tune our attention to the vast spectrum of subtle sensation that many of us habitually tune out. And so if you are feeling ungrounded, feeling distracted, or just feeling like you want to experience something (like a new muscle you’ve just learned!) with more depth, let me invite you to follow the wisdom of the Jedi, Don Juan, my old jujutsu Sensei, and my many excellent vision-impaired students…

… and close your eyes to “see”!

written by William Mathis, Teacher and Mentor,
National Holistic Institute of Petaluma, CA

October 24, 2013   5 Comments

Massage: No Bones About It? Think Again.

-by Sabrina Italia,
NHI Mentor and Instructor

What do bones have to do with massage therapy anyway? After all, massage therapists focus on soft tissue like muscles and the tissue that attaches muscles to bone, not the bones themselves. However, it’s essential for budding therapists to know the location of bones to provide safe touch.

National Holistic Institute’s 900 hour core program starts with the basics such as name and location of bones. The first anatomy class new juniors have is “Bones Class”. In this class students receive their first Anatomy textbook “Trail Guide to the Body.” They learn to navigate through the book, eventually using it as an assessment tool and even to educate clients in a visual way.

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 2.21.12 PM

Once students can easily identify bones and muscles, they move into more advanced anatomy. Immediately following the foundational bones and muscles classes, they transition into Kinesiology. This is where they learn the details of how muscles attach and move bones.

Students are encouraged to continue their education in National Holistic Institute’s 450 hour Advanced Neuromuscular Massage Therapy program where they get the opportunity to label a cadaver as opposed to a chart.



You may think of a pirate ship or Halloween when you think of skeletons, but when we take a closer look, our existence relies on our healthy bones in many ways. Let’s take a look at some ways our bodies would not be able to function properly without healthy bone function.

Bones provide an important defense system protecting organs which would otherwise be left vulnerable. Aside from that, we would be immobile without them. Our bones provide attachments for muscles; together they create the lever and pulley mechanism that allows movement. The relationship between bones and muscles is undeniably linked…literally!

As a matter of fact movement and exercise provide needed chemicals in our bodies for healthy emotional and mental function. Ever been stuck in bed for a few days?? Most of us get sick of being in bed and need to move around so we don’t go stir crazy.

Did you know that our bone marrow is directly responsible for all of Red Blood cell production and 60% white blood cell production? That’s right; any dysfunction with this process could be devastating! Have you thanked your bone marrow today?

The next time you see a skeleton remember that bones are as alive as you are!

If you’re interested in learning more about the program, contact admissions to get a class pass!

        _ ,.
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        |  |
        | "|_
        | ,__)
        | \,   -See you 'round the massage table!
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September 30, 2013   8 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

The Mentor and the Pupa: Metamorphosis Through Massage (School)

A brief article by David Bloomer, mentor and teacher at NHI Petaluma

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Jamaica.  During my brief stop over I walked through a butterfly house.  There were several varieties of butterflies, some indigenous to Jamaica, others from similar climates around the world.

Our guide talked to us about the lifecycle of the butterfly, something that often has fascinated me.  From a tiny egg, which hatches into a caterpillar, which turns into a chrysalis, or pupa; the final stage before it becomes an adult butterfly.


A caterpillar builds its chrysalis on the plant that will be its food source when it emerges.  Just as it lays its eggs on a leaf of the plant from with the newly hatches caterpillar must feed.  While it is crawling about there is a purpose for everything it does.  Throughout its brief time on the ground it is preparing itself for the process of metamorphosis which it is about to begin.

It is what occurs during the chrysalis phase that I find most fascinating, not that the entire process is anything less than wondrous.  While within its chrysalis structure the entire being melts into a sort of soup.  It no longer has a body.  There are no eyes, not legs, no furry outside, just a soupy, melted down mixture.  It is literally rewriting its own being.

From this soup comes the beautiful butterfly.  It has the ability to fly instead of crawl.  It feeds and drinks in an entirely different manner.  In short, its entire way of existence changes as it moves from crawler to flier.


What does this have to do with massage therapy, you ask?

Quite a bit, actually, but that is for another time.  Today I am thinking about what it has in common with massage therapy school.

When a new pupil walks through the door, entering the classroom for the first time, they are very much the caterpillar.  What they will become they may only be starting to imagine.  While it is sometimes too easy to pass judgment on people based on appearance or on apparent ability or lack thereof, in truth, like the caterpillar, with the right set of circumstances they can become whatever they can imagine themselves to be.

Thank goodness no one is limited based on someone else’s opinion of their abilities, their strengths and weaknesses that might seem apparent at first glance.

It is difficult to fully relate the feeling of walking through this process, as every teacher at NHI has done, or of being witness to the process.   It is nothing short of amazing.

As the butterfly must struggle to break the bonds of the chrysalis when it is time to emerge, so the student goes through challenges, whether relating to curriculum or to life outside the classroom.

Yes it is amazing to watch the caterpillar transform itself into a butterfly.  It is also quite a thrill to what a human being transform from a single parent, struggling to make ends meet with a life in turmoil to a thriving therapist, making a powerful difference for others with their work.


That is metamorphosis: a striking alteration in appearance, character or circumstances: (Mirriam-Webster).  Sometimes all three happen simultaneously.


September 16, 2013   1 Comment

Remembering 9/11: A Massage Therapist’s Story

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

US Flag

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

How To Find Work You’ll Love Before You Graduate Massage School

National Holistic Institute’s missions statement, “Helping People Have Work They Love” would never work without considering a truly holistic approach.  Not only do all of the mentors, staff, and peers at NHI contribute to the success of each individual, but we also reach out past the NHI community.

Massage Envy is one of our many Preferred Partners – employers that know and trust that graduates of NHI are the best out there.  The mutually beneficial nature of these relationships are proven in the success that many of our graduates continually find with our preferred partners.  In addition to offering students of NHI unprecedented access to their massage therapist positions, Massage Envy also gives back to our students in many ways.

Nick Navas, a Senior in Group 40 at National Holistic Institute in Petaluma recently attended a Massage Envy Hiring event on campus and came out of it not only with a job as a massage therapist before he graduated, but was also able to take advantage of their tuition reimbursement program which helps recent graduates pay off $1500.00 of their tuition in their first year at M.E.!  Check out this interview with Nick to learn more about their program and to hear how he did it!


Two more students who just graduated from the Petaluma campus of NHI are already employed by Massage Envy. One of them, Darcy Blain, qualified for the tuition reimbursement program, $1500.00!  She additionally won the quarterly M.E. scholarship of $500.00, totaling $2000 to apply towards her tuition. Darcy is one very happy grad.  You can read more about Massage Envy’s quarterly scholarship for NHI grads by clicking here.

The tuition reimbursement program is made possible by Gina Drohan, owner of Massage Envy locations in both Napa and Novato – all NHI students and grads are encouraged to apply for the program and can get more info via email for the location they are interested in:




Congratulations to Nick, Darcy, and many other NHI grads who have work that they love!

August 27, 2013   No Comments

I Don’t Care How Much You Know… Until I Know How Much You Care

by Heidi Sue Roth, CMT Instructor, NHI

The saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As massage therapists, I believe this message goes one step deeper.

Massage can be a busy reality: techniques to learn and practice, paperwork to complete, marketing tasks, and perhaps laundry on top of clients combine into a significant workload. Therapists or students may loose track of what brought us to this industry. Today I encourage you to take a moment and tune into the incredible privilege of providing therapeutic touch. Touch truly is a basic human need. From a parent’s hand soothing a fussy baby to a comforting hug from a loved one on a difficult day, we are built to give and receive physical contact.

mother nurturing touch

Popular activities such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other technologies increase access while reducing in-person contact. Massage increases human contact in our high-tech, low-touch society. Each person who chooses to be on the table for a massage, as a student, in student clinic, spa, or private practice offers an amazing privilege. For a short period time both parties get to connect and interact in a basic human way. Healing, inspiration, and support happen during each connection – and these interactions can have a lasting effect. As a practicing therapist and instructor, these moments keep me in the field year after year.



Likewise, I want to inspire students to create this experience for themselves and others. The saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As massage therapists, I believe this reality goes one step deeper. Clients don’t care how many techniques you know until they experience your care and acceptance in the moment. A brilliant stroke or movement applied without heart creates less impact and benefit. Incorporating your acceptance and care into each touch changes work from routine to essential. It also feeds the best in us as humans and a culture.


National Holistic Institute aims to create a safe space for students to become comfortable providing therapeutic massage while learning all of the techniques and skills necessary to find work they’ll love.  For more about NHI, visit us at 

How has massage therapy changed or influenced your life?  Tell us in the comments or post your story to facebook by clicking the icons below!


July 15, 2013   10 Comments

How to Find Work You’ll Love: The NHI Massage School Job Placement Blog

One number reflects our mission more than any other.  That number is our placement rate, and this year topped even last year’s incredible benchmark!

The placement rate shows the percentage of our alumni who have successfully gained or improved their employment status as a direct result of their education at National Holistic Institute.  We must carefully track our graduates’ employment to remain nationally accredited and state approved.  ACCET, the organization which accredits us on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, stipulates a placement rate of 70%.  NHI handily beat that standard with an overall placement rate for 2012 of 86%!!

When compared to other vocational schools, massage or not, 86% greatly exceeds expectations, especially in an economy still deep in recovery with a limited job market.  For those unfamiliar with placement rates, you may wonder, “why not 100%?”  Well, life happens to people, even our students.  Some relocate, pursue additional education, choose to remain in their current jobs a while longer, get pregnant, suffer illness, tend to family obligations, deploy in the military, and so on.

For massage therapy in particular, a number of students come to school for personal growth or to pursue massage as a pastime on which to practice on family and friends only, never intending to work.  For all those considerations, ACCET sets the standard at 70% and NHI managed to high jump over it with 86%!

Everyone at NHI has the same mission to “help people have work they love.”  So, achieving this incredible placement rate is a team effort.  Of course, we have amazing alumni who came to NHI wanting to learn, desiring to change their careers, and followed up on their dreams upon graduation.  Our placement rate is only as good as our graduates!  But we hold one group most accountable for helping and tracking our students as they find work – our Student Life & Career Coordinators.

All seven campuses have an SLCC (known to us as “slick”) who often meets prospective students before they enroll, gets to know them from orientation on, guides them through externship and career launch, and ultimately helps them find work they love.  This dedicated team, led by their fearless Placement Manager Emily Devenny, deserves our standing ovation.

“2012 was a year of new and exciting job opportunities for our NHI graduates. Many employers reached out directly to our local campuses to meet, interview and hire new Massage Therapists in industries ranging from Spa, to Sports and Fitness, Healthcare, and Corporate On-site,” reports Emily.

Massage Industry Placement

Phil Okazaki, the SLCC who led San Jose to 90.5% placement, adds, “I feel the Externship Program helps prepare students for their future job search; and in many cases, helps them get their foot in the door. In fact, with Externship Sites like the San Jose Sabercats and Stanford University Athletics, our students receive experiences that many would find difficult to obtain.”

To work as a massage therapist, one must obtain legal certification.  SLCC’s help students with that certification during the course.  San Francisco SLCC Alison Trujillo points out, “It is wonderful to see so many students CAMTC certified by the time they graduate. This means they are motivated and ready to work in the field right away!”

“With the knowledge and ability they obtain from our curriculum and the confidence they acquire through our externship and clinic programs,” says Emeryville SLCC Sara Ahmadi, “they are well supplied with all the tools they need for a successful job search before graduation.”

Interested in a career in massage therapy?  Our SLCC’s look forward to helping YOU have work you love!
Contact the NHI team today:

June 17, 2013   No Comments

Excellence in Education: The Massage Envy Award

When you love the work you do, it feels strange when someone gives you an award for it – the equivalent of having your cake and eating it too!  The latest occurrence of this happened recently when Massage Envy Spa awarded its Excellence in Education to all seven campuses of the National Holistic Institute.


NHI is always humbled and appreciative when people within the massage profession recognize our work.  Massage Envy Spa operates around 900 franchised locations nationwide, employing over 20,000 massage therapists.  Because they hire therapists from practically every massage school in the country, they are uniquely positioned to know which massage schools consistently perform better than others.  The criteria they considered:

  • Educational program and curriculum
  • Level of student and graduate support
  • Involvement with the industry, regionally and nationally
  • Performance metrics such as completion numbers, placement numbers and graduate feedback/satisfaction
  • Other outstanding achievements and/or recognition from accrediting agencies, industry associations, etc.

This was the first year Massage Envy Spa presented this award, making it even more special.  Joe Bob Smith, Strategic Development Manager, accepted the award on NHI’s behalf in a ceremony with the five other honorees at the Massage Envy Spa 2013 Annual Franchise Conference in Scottsdale, AZ.  At least one NHI graduate and several of the California franchisees with whom we work attended the AFC as well.

NHI has numerous graduates employed by Massage Envy Spas throughout California.  We share this award with them as they are the ones who truly represent excellence in the work they do every day!


June 11, 2013   1 Comment

Love is the Connective Tissue of the Universe

-written by Tiahna Skye

I remember reading this quote in the forward of Barbara Brennan’s book many years ago. It struck me deeply and is something I still think about. As Massage Therapists we work with connective tissue all the time. We focus on breaking up adhesions, aligning muscle fiber, unwinding the fascia from one point of trauma out though all the related structures in the body. We are effective at reducing pain, bettering posture, increasing range of movement and generally improving overall well being. We are connective tissue specialists.


What would happen if we worked just as conscientiously towards having a positive impact on the connective tissue of universe as well? That might sound like a grandiose aspiration, but really it is quite simple. Each and every time we place our hands on another’s body we have the opportunity to impact their physical tissue, but also their energetic tissue. At NHI we have often say, “Energy follows intention”. When giving a massage we can focus on all connective tissue, physical and universal. We can touch all that we touch with compassion.

Perhaps that seems like quite a challenge. Maybe I have never met this client before and will never see them again. Maybe they have bad body odor, or came to me in a foul temper. Maybe I am tired at the end of a long day and not really present or in the mood to give another massage. And yet, how many times have we all experienced that we feel better at the end of a session, uplifted and energized? That is the beauty of practicing love. In order to offer it to another, we must first fill ourselves with love; we are aligning our own physical and energetic systems and receiving all the same benefits our clients do. Suddenly our tiredness evaporates, our mood lifts and our work becomes a thrilling and fulfilling adventure.

Love is not really complicated. It does not have to mean romance, obligation or vulnerability. Love is simply an energetic frequency. It is the essential energy we are born into. It is what gives us life. It is yet another word for Chi, Prana, Ki and mana. In physics there are theories about resonance and entrainment. Simply put, they state that energy will align to the highest frequency present. Have you ever wondered why it is so easy to love a baby? The reason is that babies give us unconditional love. As that is the highest life frequency, we resonate with it and in turn experience unconditional love.

Exploding Star

Our clients too are ready, willing and able to align with this frequency. Offering love through our touch increases the effectiveness of our work exponentially. When we touch a client with love, we create safety and an invitation to heal. Often there are underlying emotional or psychological aspects to physical tension. When we work with the whole person and not just the musculo-skeletal system, we release the underlying patterns that create and hold tension in the body. When we touch with love, our clients receive the work more easily, there is no resistance, and we can achieve much greater depth and connection with much less effort. In short, we become much more effective at what we do.

All it takes is attention and intention. Before you begin a session take a moment to adjust your own attitude: take a deep breath, be present, practice acceptance – of yourself and your client, hold them in positive regard, and wish for what takes place during the session to be for their highest good. Just like that you have aligned your own energy with the frequency of love that is for your highest good as well.

It is so easy to get lost in the world of techniques. There is always more to learn and more skills to develop, but the effectiveness of all technique is dependent on how it is delivered. A “simple” Swedish massage can be a profound experience when it is performed with love. The most sophisticated technique can pale if it is performed mechanically without love. The most important thing to remember is that it is not what we do but how we do it. Quality of touch is the most powerful tool in our repertoire.


With loving touch we can enhance a massage session, increase our own well being, and maybe even straighten the connective tissue of the universe. We can make a contribution with our lives that will change the world one massage at a time.



June 3, 2013   No 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

NHI Massage School Staff Day Presentations – Seriously Funny!

Staff Day lives on!  Even though National Holistic Institute’s All Staff Day 2013 occurred a month ago, the memories live on in our minds, our new initiatives, and – where else? – the internet.

The San Jose campus presentation, or at least a portion of it, has found a life of its own on the internet.  Inspired by the wildly popular web craze, the San Jose staff inserted their version of the Harlem Shake into their campus video.  The unexpected presentation detour left the Staff Day audience rolling in the aisles.  San Jose’s Harlem Shake found its way to YouTube where the public could witness the goofier side of NHI.

(The above clip is taken from the full video, which can be found here)

NHI’s motto is “helping people have work they love.”  Of course this applies to us helping our students thrive in the massage therapy profession, but that starts with everyone who works at NHI loving the work they have.  So, while we take our mission seriously, we make sure to have fun with what we do every day.  Having fun makes the work seem…well…less like work, improves the learning environment, and produces silliness like the Harlem Shake.

As part of NHI’s All Staff Day, each campus puts together a 10-minute presentation.  Some are videos (like San Jose this year), others are live skits, and some we’re still trying to figure out.  These presentations highlight the events and staff of the past year for other campuses to see while showing the interconnectedness of NHI.  Always from the heart, they often use humor to make a point and laugh about our workplace foibles (CampusVue, anyone?).


Santa Ana celebrated being the newest of the seven campuses by linking to the others through the Seven Chakras of NHI.  A rather unkempt fairy made all of StudioCity’s wishes come true.  San Francisco showed that they beat to a different drum with a musical interlude.  Petaluma stirred the pot with some NHI stew, while Sacramento grew to new heights.  And Emeryville took a trip to outer space, where they apparently forgot to bring back Al.


We already look forward to next year’s Staff Day when we can reflect on the upcoming year’s events that have yet to happen.  Until then, enjoy the Shake!


Do you have a memorable experience from your company’s staff day?  Tell us about it in the comments below! 

May 14, 2013   No Comments

Helping People Have Work They Love Since “Armageddon” – NHI Staff Anniversaries

National Holistic Institute Staff Anniversaries (Staff Day Post 2 of 3)

Brandy & Monica belted out The Boy is Mine, Bruce Willis saved the world from an imminent asteroid in Armageddon, and Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to the NBA Championship one last time. It was 1998, the year National Holistic Institute founder Carol Carpenter hired a recent college graduate named Jennifer as an admissions representative.

At this year’s NHI All Staff Day, Jennifer Jhanda celebrated 15 years with NHI! In that time, she has gotten married, had a beautiful daughter, and worked her way up the ranks to her current position as Vice President of Admissions. Starting out, the phone and snail mail were an admissions rep’s primary tools. Now, Jennifer oversees a complex network of emails, texts, and Google metrics (Google also began their world domination in 1998). The one thing that hasn’t changed in 15 years is her mission to help people find work they love by matching aspiring massage therapists to the school of their dreams, NHI.

Jennifer Jhanda (in pink holding mic) brings her Admissions Team up with her to celebrate her 15th anniversary.

Jennifer Jhanda (in pink holding mic) brings her Admissions Team up with her to celebrate her 15th anniversary.

Fast forward five years. The Lord of the Rings found Oscar gold, audiences found Nemo, and NHI found new ownership. 2003 brought a lot new to NHI. After 24 years, founder Carol Carpenter passed along the NHI torch to Mason Myers and Tim Veitzer. This year’s All Staff Day saw Mason celebrating 10 years with NHI! (Tim fully joined a bit later, so he’ll get his turn next year.) Mason commemorated the occasion by thanking all the staff who took a chance and risked the journey with him. And what a journey it’s been! Among many milestones in the last decade, NHI expanded from 1 campus to 7 and added the Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy (or ANMT) program.

Mason brings us all to tears with his 10 year acceptance speech

Mason brings us all to tears with his 10 year acceptance speech

Mason had good company up on the NHI stage as four other staff members celebrated 10 years as well. Linda Rikli, Vice President of Education, has commandeered an ever-growing and changing department. She has coordinated the expansion of our core curriculum from 720 to 900 hours, overseen the development of our 450-hour Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy program, and become our unofficial (and perhaps unwilling) tech guru as the one in charge of upgrading our school software system.


Linda Rikli; Keeping the NHI bus on course for 10 years and counting!

Linda’s journey could not have been as successful, robust, or certainly as funny without her partner in crime and office neighbor, our Dean of Students Ron Peat, also celebrating a tenth of a century here at NHI. Under Ron, the student services department has grown to offer more with dedicated staff at every campus. He even accomplished the awe-inspiring feat of increasing an already stupendous completion rate as well. And he keeps us laughing! (Did I mention he has a son named Kevin?)


Ron Peat making his entrance for the “World Cup” of speeches



1,350 hours of NHI education requires copious pages of teacher documents, PowerPoint slides, and over 1,000 pages of student handouts. Keeping all of this together is one woman, Ron’s office neighbor and our Curriculum Coordinator Sharlene Philip. A teacher before her current role, Sharlene also celebrates 10 years at NHI! She shares this milestone with fellow teacher Esko Homsi.

eskoAn accomplished teacher in our core program for many years, Esko became one of our first instructors to teach the Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy program a few years back.Mostly, though, he is known throughout NHI for his annual toast at the company holiday party. We love you, man!

Time flies when you’re having fun. It seems like yesterday that Barack Obama was first elected President; Batman, Iron Man, and Indiana Jones were battling for the box office; and Tiger Woods was still winning the U.S. Open. But in reality that was five years ago – 2008, in fact, when four more staffers joined NHI.

Celebrating 5 years teaching at NHI are Darlene Campo and Patrick Keehan! Demonstrating the diverse backgrounds our teaching staff brings to NHI, Darlene (a clown college graduate) makes learning fun for students every day, while Patrick lets his lomilomi (Hawaiian massage) training guide him. Patrick shared the seven principles of lomilomi at our Staff Day and we felt it worthwhile to share here (

cw from top left: Darlene Campo, Patrick Keehan, Lupita Ruiz, and Lupita Laney

cw from top left: Darlene Campo, Patrick Keehan, Lupita Ruiz, and Lupita Laney

Rounding out the 10 anniversaries we applauded at this year’s Staff Day are the two Lupitas, both observing 5 years with NHI. Lupita Laney always greets prospective students with a smile as one of our admissions reps and Lupita Ruiz went from punching the telephone keypad as our receptionist to hitting the calculator buttons as one of our financial aid analysts.

We thank these 10 people as both our co-workers and friends. They join good company. Almost half of the employees at NHI have been here over 5 years and 1 in 5 have been here 10 years or more. That puts the employee average at roughly 7 years, which means a lot of combined massage education experience for our students.

Still, they’ve got a ways to go to beat our 20 years and counting veterans who still clock in. Jim, Melissa, and Pat, keep showing us all how it’s done!

April 11, 2013   No Comments

National Holistic Institute Staff Day 2013: NHI Believes In…

The guy in the tie stood out. He cautiously peered through the Berkeley fog at the hundred or so people surrounding him. Unsure of the rules, but willing to play, he gamely followed their every choreographed move.

Embrace tiger. Combine heaven and earth. Give from your center. Gather what you need.


As Marianna gently voiced each command, the crowd echoed in unison with the appropriate movement. These words, these motions have been repeated again and again throughout the classrooms of National Holistic Institute since tai chi master Al Huang gifted them so many years ago. And, as the man in the tie discovered, every Staff Day begins with them.

Dr. Scott Fitzgibbon has worked in almost all aspects of vocational education. He now shares his wisdom as a noted speaker with schools across the country. But even with many miles and schools behind him, this was the first time he had found himself in the midst of an entire staff performing tai chi all together. They welcomed this somewhat overdressed stranger as one of their own.


Starting the day in a different way turned out to fit Dr. Fitzgibbon’s presentation perfectly. As part of a larger conversation, he talked about how people, to achieve what they truly want, must change their habits, get out of the routine, and look at life differently. Just as Dr. Fitzgibbon pushed us to re-evaluate how we did things, we surely shook him out of his patterns a bit too.

A related topic revolved around defining our own beliefs. This topic particularly hit home with the crowd because, for the last year beginning with Staff Day 2012, the staff of NHI has engaged in various exercises to define what exactly NHI believes. This day would reveal the results of the quest for those beliefs.

To arrive at this destination, all staff submitted what they believed NHI stood for. Working as both individuals and teams, the list of potential beliefs grew to the hundreds. Then, given time of reflection and process of elimination, the staff helped whittle those beliefs down to their core. With much pride and honor, here they are:

NHI Believes In…

• Positive Energy Flowing
• Building Confidence, Creating Opportunity
• Empty Cups and Full Journeys
• Telling the Truth with Compassion
• Providing Safe Space
• Teamwork Making the Dream Work
• Sustainability Through Kaizen
• Creativity and Consistency
• Every body Having a Story
• Embracing Tiger

As these beliefs began to define themselves, the question arose, “What exactly do we do with them?” Much as the beliefs themselves came from the staff, so did suggestions for their display. Ultimately, our curriculum coordinator Sharlene Philip had the winning concept. She incorporated the beliefs into the “fingers” of the NHI logo. Now these beliefs can hang at all seven NHI campuses as a daily reminder of who we are and what we stand for.


All Staff Day is a tradition that convenes every employee of all seven NHI campuses together in Northern California for two days of business, self development, connection, and celebration – mostly lots of happy tears and joyous laughter!

Stay tuned for more Staff Day inspirations in our next posts…

April 5, 2013   3 Comments

Regulating Massage Businesses in California: How Far is Too Far?

Tiahna skye


  by Tiahna Skye

Regulating massage therapy in Petaluma is rife with questions and issues, and demands the serious attention it has been given… and more.

What should we be regulating? What are the possible unintended results? Will legitimate massage therapists be adversely impacted while attempting to restrict prostitution? And how do we oversee the healthy growth of massage therapy as the next advancement in collaborative health care?

I am concerned that the goal of establishing quality controls, educational requirements, and best practice standards is getting lost in a “power struggle” while the dialogue between law enforcement, the community, and massage therapists deteriorates.

Many currently practicing massage therapists want a more lenient local regulation that would create a “grandfather clause”, separate from the new State permit requirements set forth by the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). A clause of this nature would allow these working massage therapists to continue practicing in town without the need for additional education. The argument has been made that those with less than 100 hours of massage specific education have historically provided good care, and should not be subject to additional burdensome requirements.

CAMTC was founded by massage therapists to regulate our own field. The requirements set forth were agreed upon by a large and diverse group of massage, law enforcement, and other health care professionals seeking to define standards of expertise in the interest of public health and safety. Additionally, the hope was that these efforts would further the recognition of massage therapy as a legitimate and valuable health service.

Massage therapy has become part of the medical field, and as such, there needs to be definition of the training, practices and ethics of the field.

Massage therapy has become part of the medical field, and as such, there needs to be definition of the training, practices and ethics of the field.

The reality is that even if Petaluma chooses to adopt CAMTC requirements, California still has one of the lowest requirements of any state in the country. Massage therapy has become part of the medical field, and as such, there needs to be definition of the training, practices and ethics of the field. The public has a right to know that the therapy they seek for pain relief or injury rehabilitation is going to be performed by a skilled therapist with in-depth knowledge of applicable techniques, benefits and contraindications.

While I appreciate the City of Petaluma is striving to support the ongoing success of local businesses, I think it is important to also consider the profession in terms of emerging national standards and changing regulatory landscape.

No one opinion or constituency comes out the sole “winner” in this current version of the ordinance. I do believe however, that it addresses the issues well. For example, dictating a specific, professional dress code is unnecessary for lawful massage therapy businesses. Having been a massage therapist for 35 years, I have seen the field change and gain public recognition as a legitimate health service. It is a bit disheartening that we still must deal with any misperceptions as being entangled with the adult entertainment industry.

Nevertheless, I think it is important to remember, as we consider this ordinance, that the city and law enforcement are responding to valid issues of prostitution, and did not create this unfortunate circumstance. While I personally find denigrating the need for a dress code stipulating such things as opaque clothing, I recognize the need to take such measures is a result of the fact that illegal businesses use massage as a front for prostitution.

There are some who feel burdened by the need to meet the hourly educational requirements of the CAMTC certification. I know without a doubt that there are many current massage therapists who do perform a wonderful massage with only 100 or 150 hours of training. I was able to start my own career with 120 hours of training. That said, it is also a fact that at this time the public has no means of distinguishing between those who provide massage designed purely for relaxation, from those who practice therapeutic, issue-related massage techniques.

Regardless of training and experience, we all fall under one heading, Massage Therapist. Because of that I feel strongly that it is important to establish minimum education requirements that ensure public health and safety. As an educator in the field, I am committed to elevating the standing of our profession. To that end, National Holistic Institute offers support in the provision of free continuing education courses to help local practicing massage therapists achieve their permitting requirements, and hopefully alleviate some of the sense of burden they might feel.

I wish that I could say that as a community we had reached consensus about this ordinance. Unfortunately we did not arrive at that destination. My hope is that despite our differing views, we can rise above our individual wants and agree to the steps necessary to further our profession and support our local law enforcement in having the tools they need to ensure the safety of our entire community.

In the end, I think we all want the same things.

We would like to offer legitimate massage therapy services that provide support for the health and well being of those we serve. We would like to live and work in a community that is safe and free from crime. We would like to stand as professionals in the field of massage therapy and be recognized as legitimate and respectable. We would like the freedom to earn a livelihood through the means of our talents and skills. And, we would like to have a sense of belonging and meaningful contribution in the community in which we live and work. I think the city’s proposed ordinance meets those goals and I am in favor of approving it.


~ written by Tiahna Skye, Petaluma campus manager of the National Holistic Institute, a massage therapy school with locations in Emeryville, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose and Southern California. For more information about NHI, visit us at


What are your thoughts on the topic? Let us know in the comments below!

February 14, 2013   No Comments

Thanking Our Mentors

Thank You

January is National Thank Your Mentor Month – All Month Long!

January 17th marked a significant holiday for many of the students and Instructors at NHI. It was National Thank Your Mentor Day and anyone who has attended massage therapy school at NHI knows just how important and significant the role of Mentors are, both in and outside of the classroom.  National Holistic Institute‘s mentor program pairs each student with a teacher who is also a professional in the massage field to become their point person if they have any questions about the class material, need a little extra push, or just need some guidance on how to become a successful therapist and bodyworker.

We were excited to see that many of our current Mentors actually went through the program before they began teaching under the mentorship of some of our other long-standing Mentor/Instructors – Check out the longest image we’ve ever blogged – a screenshot of some of our graduate comments:

Facebook Comments NHI

If you haven’t had a chance to thank your mentor yet, you’re in luck! The holiday continues through the end of January. If you’ll see a mentor you’ve appreciated, tell them why you appreciate them – or if you prefer, go ahead and click here to add your 2 cents to the Facebook comments!

If you’re on Facebook and want to keep up with National Holistic Institute, you can Like our page at:
(After you click “Like”, make sure to hover of the like button and click on “Get Notification” so you don’t miss out on our updates!)

If you’d like to get to know some of the instructors at your local NHI campus, you can start here:

NHI would like to thank ALL of the Staff and Mentors who allow us to continue bringing in some of the best massage therapy students in the country and who never cease to fulfill their mission of “Helping People Have Work They Love!”

January 22, 2013   No Comments

A Peek Into The 2012 AMTA National Convention

NHI Graduate Frankie Menzel won the 2012 NHI/Biofreeze AMTA Convention Scholarship.  Read about his achievement here in Massage Magazine.  Below is Frankie’s take on what the award meant to him.

This is the second year that NHI and Biofreeze have teamed up to offer the Melissa Wheeler Scholarship, which sends a student or graduate from NHI to the AMTA National Convention. The scholarship was created last year when the AMTA was recognizing our very own Melissa Wheeler as Teacher of the Year! The scholarship is open to any student or grad from any of the seven NHI campuses, where only one is chosen.  I had to apply.

My name is Frankie, and I recently graduated from the Advanced Program in July from the Emeryville campus. My experience with attending NHI has been full, and I have loved every minute of it. I found myself in an atmosphere that was so conducive to learning, with an amazing support system. The campus, staff and students alike, radiated such positive energy, that it propelled me forward day after day, giving me a feeling of accomplishment. I craved more.

NHI has been so supportive  in and out of the classroom. I am very grateful that I have been given many opportunities, and I made sure that I was not going to limit myself. I took every one that was put in my path.

This was the second year that I applied for the scholarship. I obviously did not receive it last year, but the way I saw it, I had nothing to lose. I applied again this year, again throwing my chances up into the universe to see what would manifest. Little did I know the feelings and emotions that I would soon be experiencing.

I was in a parking lot when my cell phone rang. Melissa Wheeler was on the other end. “Frankie…..” she said. I could tell from the tone of her voice that the news was good. I was excited beyond belief, and in total shock. I have NO idea what the next 20 minutes of our conversation included, all I remember is that my face hurt from the smile that was smeared on my face from one ear to the next….I felt as though I had won the lottery. I was going to the AMTA National Convention!

Read On For Pictures and Frankie’s Diary of the Event! ☟

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December 20, 2012   1 Comment