Category: Massage


STRAIGHTEN UP

Raised in the world of dance, I was always prodded (sometimes cruelly) and trained diligently to carry myself properly.

The study of ballet in particular revolves around the strength of the core of your body. Principally the belly, chest wall, spine, neck and butt must all be in perfect alignment and tone in order to hold the body in the air while balancing En Pointe.

My dear old dad also had the habit of telling me to stand up straight, while sometimes “lovingly” inserting a knee into the small of my back.

One of my greatest personal postural revelations happened when I was standing in church one Sunday. I remember it to this day as being pivotal in my endeavor to fight the 33 lbs per square inch of pressure gravity constantly exerts on the body.

That day in church, I looked around and saw not a single person standing completely straight with feet under the hips, arms at the sides, neck in alignment, and diaphragm region open. OK, no one was even standing with their weight on two feet, arms at their sides.

There were all manner of postural deviations: leaning into a hip, arms crossed, hands on the chair in front of them, legs crossed, etcetera, etcetera. Who passed my “postural pop quiz”? No one! Who came close? Kids did the best, men a close second. What’s my point?

Standing up straight while you”re doing nothing else (such as while in the grocery line) requires very little effort, and the return over time is amazing. It helps you teach your body how to stand correctly. Your neuromuscular (and sometimes genetic) pathways may have generated a slouching habit, and re-training them takes a very conscious awareness – and practice.

In my Bodywork and Massage practice I help you identify which muscles and areas of your  body are weak (i.e. under or over performing). This awareness or act of Simply Noticing jump-starts the retraining process. The intention to be healthier, stronger, and more beautiful by the simple act of standing straight will lead you to find a way of doing so that suits you perfectly.

Yoga, dance, massage, walking, stretching, dancing, and working out are all helpful activities. But until you are aware of how you hold yourself in space at any given time, you will not change.

Just think about what you’ve already noticed as you’ve been reading this. I know even I have made postural adjustments numerous times, some twice, while writing this post: I’ve lifted my rib cage, relaxed my thoracic forward thrust, dropped my chin, spread my feet apart, put both feet flat on the ground, raised up onto my “sitting bones,” relaxed my shoulders, checked my breath for holding patterns, and so on.

Welcome to my world: a constant heightened state of awareness about how my body is feeling. Because of my past and present roles as dancer and  instructor, model, bodyworker, and even skincare therapist, I have cultivated and learned how to not only impart these lessons , but also incorporate them into my own lifestyle. My profession is riddled with carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injury cases.

Our bodies are always changing, and major adjustments need to be done around menopause — but don’t even get me started. We must keep the pathway of awareness open about how we hold ourselves from moment to moment. Too much work, you say? OK, fair enough. But remember the old adage, “Faut souffrir pour être belle.” “One must suffer to be beautiful.”

See you at the spa!

Most massage/bodywork aficionados remember the uncertainty that came with their first service. What should I expect? Will I have to take off all my clothes? How much do I tip? Will the pressure be too deep or not deep enough?

I got my first massage when I was 15 (40 years ago!). There were very few therapists then, and only elite health clubs or vacation retreat and resort properties offered spa services.

In fact, the woman who gave me my first massage(s), later opened a school – and fast forward 25 years, I became a student there. 🙂

So, hopefully  I’ve established myself as a veteran massage recipient turned provider – but don’t assume that I’m perfect at setting and honoring boundaries; it takes conscious attention and personal assertion – let’s begin!

For newcomers to massage, the prospect of those first visits can be unnerving. Here are some basic bodywork/massage guidelines to help you choose a therapist, get the most out of your session, and create a healthy client-therapist relationship.

If there are no forms, and no intake interview – in my estimation, the service is no good. Massage “on the cheap” is just that (and I’ll admit I have taken part –  in desperation!).  Reputable massage clinics, with skilled therapists, do intakes.

Seriously – do you have athlete’s feet, herpes, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, history of seizure? We’re  talking safety here!

And what about your preferences? Do you get cold, are your feet ticklish, do you like light – medium or deep pressure, and so on and so on.

And, in regard to the pressure used during a massage – more is not better people! (Is drinking a bottle of wine better than enjoying a glass?) There is a term called “Echo Point” I like to use. It refers to the point between pain and pleasure – as far as pressure, there is no benefit in going  beyond this point.

Note: At Star Brows, I have a thorough intake/interview process.  Actually, it takes about 2-3 sessions for you to really get comfortable with a new therapist. It takes the therapist that long – and longer, to get to know you and your needs and preferences as well. Even if you only go a couple of times a year – go to the same person (once you find someone you like).

  • Punctuality = Full Session

If you arrive 5 or 10 minutes early each time, you will start the massage more relaxed and focused, moving sooner to a place of healing calm. Plus, you’ll get your full time on the table!

  • Cancellations

Most practitioners require a 24-hour notice to avoid fees. Outside of an emergency situation, last-minute cancellations or missed appointments usually result in paying a fee. Your therapist reserved that time for you and may have turned away other clients.

  • Honor Your Body

Figure out what you like, and communicate it. Yes, the therapist is trained to do her job – but it’s YOUR body. Be in charge!  The therapist should provide a  comfortable atmosphere for you to express your needs and preferences. They should be checking in with you, asking questions about likes and dislikes – and if they aren’t, you need to – as my dad  says, “wiggle your lips”. 😀 If they don’t listen, end the service – and don’t go back.

Some people have a hard time even considering massage because they are so unhappy with their body. This is primarily a female issue. It may be  hard thinking about getting naked, lying on a massage table having a virtual stranger touch you, as a pleasurable experience.

For those dealing with self-esteem or body image issues, massage therapy and bodywork can be produce anxiety. But developing trust and rapport with a skilled therapist can be transformational!

  • Shower Up

Common sense? Not always. 😉

  • Consider Talking and Confidentiality

Sometimes massage sessions can bring up intimate issues about yourself, an issue,  or a relationship. The spirit, soul and body are one – so integration of these realms can bring miraculous healing on a physical and emotional level. But, keep in mind – massage therapists are typically not trained in professional psychology. Some issues will require a referral to a skilled professional. An ethical service provider will refer if professional help, such as a counselor, seems needed.

To stay safe, only share what you want to share. Quietness is preferable overall – you should lead the way if there is going to be conversation.

Sometimes people become chatty because they are nervous. Keep your focus on breathing – and speak only when you feel the need.

Just know, confidentiality is an ethical code that therapists ascribe to.  It’s best to get to know the therapist before disclosing intimate life details, until you have developed trust.

If there is unwanted conversation happening, simply say something like; ” I would like to have quiet so that I can relax”. Remember – it’s your dime!

  • Sobriety, Please

If you’re on vacation, at a resort – you may be drinking. But, the last thing you want is to have alcohol in your system when you get a massage.

Alcohol wreaks  havoc with the body’s systems. Combine that with the increased circulation from massage and you have increased absorption rates, potentially making you nauseous or outright sick. That’s no fun and a waste of good time and money.

Water, before and after is what the body really wants.

  • You’re Human

The body can have a lot of responses to therapeutic massage. While avoiding food at least one hour before your massage, not drinking the night before, making sure your bowel is empty, and drinking plenty of water the day before will help, there’s still the chance that you’ll have bad breath, tummy gurgles or pass gas (excuse me is all that’s needed).

Note: I don’t see male clients unless it is a referral from an existing client, primarily because of the sexuality issues involved. Advice for those  who get “accidental erections” – don’t get professional massage (especially from a woman) if you are that sensitive, and control your thoughts while you are on the table – where your thoughts go, your body follows.

  • Tipping Tips

When it comes to gratuities, it’s ultimately the client’s decision whether or not to tip. Like in other service industries, providing a tip is usually done in response to excellent service. According to CNNMoney.com, the tipping norm for massage and bodywork services is 15-20 percent.

That said, I don’t see tipping as a way to compensate an under-paid employee (which in some clinics is the case). You paid for the service – if it was above and beyond your expectations, then a tip is appropriate. Sometimes the fee for service is all you can spend – this is understandable. Sometimes people tell me, “I would love to give you extra, but I only have enough for the service itself”. I understand, I’ve been there.

See you at the spa!

Cleansing the skin correctly is so important!

I have gone back to a cleansing system from Tu’el I had at my spa in MN 15 years ago.

It is the foundation of the launch of a new service called Star Massage utilizing the Tu’el Cleansing Oil System:

The service when combined with an eyebrow design is the Ultimate Brow Experience! It is a 20 minute face, neck and scalp treatment using aesthetic and massage techniques. The treatment clears sinuses, reduces puffiness and brightens skin-tone. It is customised to each individual skin-type and also releives swelling, waste in the tissues and holding patterns that create tension and lines in the face.

Let me introduce you to hydrophilic cleansing oils which are water loving and water soluble.  I know – it seems counter intuitive (especially if you have oily or acne prone skin). You may be imagining a pore clogging, grease slick, that you are smearing on your face – am I right?

So, trust me, would I lead you astray? Instead I’d like you to imagine a Zen-like spa experience at home. Think fresh smelling mandarin oil, calming chamomile extract, healing extracts of arnica and purifying grapefruit extract. Imagine sitting in a comfortable, cozy spot and giving yourself a soothing facial massage.

Nothing cleans the skin like a hydrophilic oil. Why? Let Lori Nestore, Eva’s CEO and founder of Tu’el tell you!

As skin cells die, they lose moisture, flatten and migrate to the skin’s surface. The face excretes a very sticky substance known as sebum that bonds to dead skin cells. In order for these cells to be released, this oily sebum must be dissolved.

When the hydrophilic Cleansing  Oil is massaged into the skin, it bonds with the sebum and releases the dead cells. This release of the dead layer of skin achieves exceptional pore cleansing, decongestion and a more refined skin appearance.

Adding the correct Herbalizer, a sugar -based extract with essential oils, creates a custom cleansing system. This unique method balances the skin and eliminates the need for astringents or toners.

Let’s talk about the do’s & dont’s of good basic facial cleansing:

Don’t

  • Use soap. Why? It strips the skin’s PH balance and leaves a film. Note: Suds = stripping.
  • Over exfoliate. Why? The facial tissue is delicate and easily inflamed.
  • Skip morning cleanse. Why? The skin has been repairing and working all night – debris needs to be washed away.
  • Skip nighttime cleanse. Why? Uck! The skin should be sent to bed in a clean relaxed state  in order to optimize the healing that it does while you rest.

Do

  • Use cleansing oils for your skin type. Why? Oil dissolves oil.
  • Spend time massaging the skin 2-3 times per week. Why? To exfoiliate, relieve swelling and waste in the tissues, and relax holding patterns that create tension and lines on the face
  • Have a gel based or treatment strength alternative cleanser available. Why? The skin sometimes needs an AHA for aging or an acne treatment cleanse. I always have 2 or 3 cleansers available for myself at home.
  • Always follow with moisturizer, & sunscreen for day use. Why? Cleansing is only the first part of the all important two-part system for great skin, “cleanse and protect”.

There are 4 different Oils and 5 Herbalizers, each for differant skin types:

  1. The Vitamin Family hydrates the skin, stimulates sebaceous oil production and seals in moisture. This skin type is primarily characterized by small pores, is not product sensitive, lacks the ability to produce sebaceous oil and easily becomes dehydrated. It may have underlying congestion and may also be flaky.
  2. The Azulene Family balances sebaceous oil production, hydrates and calms. This skin type shows two different textures covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the face, and appears to have medium to large pores. It may be congested and dehydrated due to improper home care. It needs balancing of oil production without dehydration.
  3. The Purifying Family acts as a germicide to target impurities while keeping skin feeling and looking great. Impure skin can be dry, combination or oily, and any age with visible and constant breakouts.
  4. The Chamomile Line calms while gently improving, maintaining and enhancing the skin. This skin has some of the same properties as dry skin – small pores, possibly congested, easily dehydrated and irritated – and also reacts to products.
  5. The Regenerative Line stimulates cell production, hydrates, nourishes and firms. Mature skin is dry, combination, oily or dry-reactive that has aged. Tanned skin at any age is considered mature.

What’s in them?

VITAMIN CLEANSING OIL
Sunflower Seed Oil, Mandarin Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate(Vitamin C), Chamomile Extract, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid. 4oz $27

VITAMIN HERBALIZER
Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of Arnica, Cucumber, Elder Tree, Mallow, Ivy, Pellitory, Dandelion, Bladderwrack, Hops and Soapwort, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium
Sorbate, Fragrance, Caramel. 4oz $23
REGENERATIVE HERBALIZER
Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of Lemon, Hops, Pine Tree, Horsetail, Rosemary, Coneflower and Hydrocotyl, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance,
Caramel. 4oz $23

AZULENE CLEANSING OIL

Sunflower Seed Oil, Grapefruit Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Grapefruit Extract, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid. 4oz $27

AZULENE HERBALIZER

Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of: Burdock, Ivy, Lemon, Sage, Soapwort, Watercress, Comfrey, Parsley and Agrimony, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance, Caramel. 4oz $23

PURIFYING CLEANSING OIL

Sunflower Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Chamomile Extract, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid. 4oz $27

PURIFYING HERBALIZER

Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of Horsechestnut, Arnica, Ivy, Red Vine, St. John’s Wort, Witch Hazel, Mistletoe, Urtica, Garlic and Goldenrod, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol,

Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance, Caramel. 4oz $23

CHAMOMILE CLEANSING OIL

Sunflower Seed Oil, Chamomile Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Chamomile Extract, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid. 4oz $27

CHAMOMILE HERBALIZER

Purified Water, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Extracts of Chamomile, Cornflower, Lime, Marigold, St. John’s Wort, Coltsfoot, Fenugreek, Basil, Green Tea and Thyme, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance, Caramel. 4oz $23

See you at the spa!

What is the face for? In addition to being a place for makeup, the face is a communication and sense reception center…just to name a few of it’s many diverse functions.

Your face  is the front of the cranium. It protects the brain, drains the head, receives nerve impulses and much, much more – it  is amazingly complex!

I usually talk about the skin itself, and in the end the skin quality is of utmost importance in my profession as a skincare professional. But I am also a massage therapist who deals with muscles and soft tissue tone as well. My practice is holistic in nature, so I am always addressing the “whole” when considering “the part”.

I want to announce a new service I’ve developed, that is unique and highly effective: It’s called Star Massage!

Star Massage is a 20 minute facial treatment that can be added to any facial or eyebrow service. Using aesthetic and massage techniques, it is customized to each individual skin type to relieve swelling, waste in the tissues and holding patterns that create tension and lines on the face. First time brow clients should try the Ultimate Brow Experience Star Brows plus Star Massage. The service isn’t officially on my menu or website yet,  so I’m particularly excited to be introducing it to you first!

Star Massage is great if you suffer from:

  • Puffy eyes
  • Dark circles
  • Swelling
  • Allergies
  • Sinus Congestion
  • Ear Aches
  • Teeth grinding or tight jaw
  • Headaches
  • Sluggish skin-tone
  • Aging skin
  • Congested skin (bumps and whiteheads)

The techniques used for the Star Massage come from my training in aesthetics as well as massage and bodywork. My studies of the bodywork modalities, Lymphatic Drainage, Myofascial Release, Craniosacral Therapy and Zen Shiatsu contribute to this new approach to facial massage.

The results you can expect are:

  • Improved circulation
  • Release of toxins trapped in the tissues
  • Enhanced lymph flow affecting the immune system
  • Smoother skin
  • Relaxed facial nerves, resulting in a softer looking face
  • Tissue oxygenation
  • Physiological and psychological benefits
  • Aids in extractions (removal of blackheads etc.)

I also use special products during the Star Massage that are amazingly soothing!

Call or email me to set up an appointment for a Star Massage–or any other type of treatment.

See you at the spa!


Last week I received an email from an editor of a local publication who wanted to do a story on  Star Brows.  Naturally, I was ecstatic and spent a good portion of my week preparing the perfect answers to all of her interview questions and even took the time to snap some new “action shots” of me at work to coincide with the interview.  Unfortunately, a few days after I sent her the materials she requested, she emailed me back to say that her senior editor was “no longer interested in the story.”  Sadly, they only wanted to focus on a service I no longer offer.  Needless to say, I was disappointed.  Who wouldn’t be? Or should I say, who hasn’t been?

Seriously. Who hasn’t gotten all excited about an upcoming event, only to find that what you’ve been anxiously anticipating wasn’t going to happen after all?  When things like that happen, we all have two choices: 1.) wallow in sorrow, self pity and schemes of revenge  (which, I’ll admit, is very tempting) or 2.) make the most of the situation by doing something constructive with the frustration (energy).  I chose option two–and hopefully you will too, when your next disappointment strikes.  And, just in case you’re needing inspiration, here’s a few suggestions for fighting off disappointment–the Star Brows way:

Exercise – Come on people – the magnificant Pacific Ocean is in our backyard and heading to the beach is one of my personal favorite forms of exercise.   In fact, while I was in Minnesota last week I got a new pair of running shoes (to walk in). While I walk, I put an ear peice in so I can pray for people, sing, and yell about things I’m angry about (Don’t worry! People won’t look at you weird. It just looks like you’re talking  on the phone!). But even if you’re not near an ocean, you can still find a place to walk and get a work out in, while your getting other things out!

Take a dance class – I teach a couple of children’s classes at Coastal Dance and Music Academy on Grande Avenue in Arroyo Grande. They offer adult ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop.  If you’re not in Arroyo Grande, there’s probably still a dance studio near you.  Look it up and get a friend to join you!

Dress up and go out clubing with friends – Native in San Luis Obispo is my favorite place to go if I want to dance the night away (and be the oldestc woman in the club!).

Get a spa service – This is one of my personal favorite ways to destress and relax. I go every month. And in case you didn’t know, I offer luxurious facials and relaxing or deep massages at Star Brows too!

Get a chiropractic adjustment or an accupuncture treatment. These are also staples for me – I can give you the names of some excellant people…call me.

Friends, Food & Family– The great thing about each of these is that they’re good together or enjoyed seperately. I married an Italian, who is also a chef, so we are real foodies; but I also adore the “soosh” (sushi – I think Umi is best in my area!). And if you have children close by, (we have 4) they bring joy unspeakable. As for friends, make all kinds so you have choices for who to hang out with!

What about you? I’ll bet you thought of a few ways to destress while I was talking care to share?

See you at the spa!

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