Benefits of Massage
By: Mary Von Ahnen, Certified Yoga Instructor & Horizon Hot Yoga Owner
Many people enjoy massage therapy. There are so many benefits, and it just feels great. As a devotee of massage, but as someone who knows very little about what it actually does for me, I decided to consult an expert…Christina Woodall (pictured below), our massage therapist on staff at Horizon Hot Yoga…to learn the ins and outs of massage therapy.
Mary: Some people have never experienced a massage. What should someone expect who is doing a massage for the first time?
Christina: This is a frequently asked question, and I’m so glad we get to talk about this. So many people don’t really know what to expect from a massage the first time or what to do to prepare for one. That’s okay because it’s a first time experience, and there is no need to be nervous. I always say come into a massage in a relaxed state and be ready to communicate with your therapist. You’ll first fill out some quick paperwork and have a short discussion on what you want to accomplish with the massage. Be honest with your therapist about what physically is bothering you or even just simply letting the therapist know you want to relax. I love when my clients are open and honest from the beginning because we can get so much more accomplished in the first session to help on the road to recovery. Also, drinking water before and after is a key to helping unlock your muscles so they can relax during the session and release any toxins that have been built up over time. BUT make sure not to over-drink; otherwise you’ll have to go to the bathroom during your session, and we all know that’s no fun. 🙂
Mary: What are the benefits of doing yoga and receiving regular massages?
Christina: Mary, I could go on and on about this! So many come to mind but one of the biggest for me is that consistent massage and yoga can lower cortisol (the stress hormone in your body) levels by 30%. That number alone is HUGE to overall wellness in your body. Life is a series of domino-effect decisions and lowering stress can begin to open up so many doors for clear thinking and a connection between body and mind.
Mary: I’ve heard that a basic massage is called a Swedish massage. What does it entail?
Christina: Swedish style happens to be one of the most popular modalities and can help your body in so many ways. A full body Swedish massage is meant to relax the entire body and contribute to blood flow, enhance the body’s immunity responses, and help with flexibility and range of motion.
Mary: What are other types of massages and what purpose do they serve (benefits above the basic massage)?
Christina: Trigger point is one of my favorite types of massage, and it’s done by first finding then pinning down the muscle tissue to release “Facia restrictions”. The word Facia means tissue in the body (in this case, it is muscle) that can be locked up or stuck in a position that’s not natural for our bodies. The muscle can get locked up in various ways, eg., vigorous exercise, long periods of stress, childbirth, lack of proper sleep or nutrition, or injury. It’s similar to deep tissue in the style but much more effective, in my opinion, to finding an issue and helping to resolve it. I also love craniosacral therapy and lymphatic drainage. Craniosacral therapy (CST) is used to gently work on the synarthrodial joints of the cranium and works with the central nervous system to help relax the body. Lymphatic drainage uses light touch to manipulate the fluid in your body and helps with swelling, digestion, and absorption of nutrients.
Mary: Are there any illnesses or conditions for which massage is prescribed?
Christina: As a massage therapist I highly suggest massage for a variety of conditions, but all of our bodies are different. If you aren’t sure, talk to your doctor before trying anything new. I’m not a doctor or a magician, but I’d be happy to discuss a plan to help accomplish any health goals through massage before planning a session and be of any assistance in that process. Of course, there are illnesses and conditions where massage can be contraindicated, but in my experience, I’ve seen massage do wonderful things for many people.
Mary: What made you decide to be a massage therapist?
Christina: I’ve always been fascinated by the human body and grew up playing sports and watching the Olympics and Special Olympics. It made me have an appreciation for what we can do as humans! It’s so inspiring to see others do things that they didn’t know they could achieve. Seeing them accomplish that goal is truly amazing, and I love to help assist and be a part of those goals, whether small like working out a little knot or big like someone running a marathon!
Mary: What training did you undergo to become one?
Christina: I had already attended college when I went back to school to become a massage therapist. Although that’s not necessary, it’s a great step to assist in your training. The massage program was 6 months plus internship hours. The program consisted of health science, anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, pathology, hydrotherapy, business and various different massage techniques, such as prenatal massage, reflexology, deep tissue, lymphatic, and trigger point.
Mary: Thank you Christina for taking the time and sharing your knowledge and the many benefits of massage for Dallas Yoga Magazine!
There concludes our brief “101” overview of massage therapy. It’s great to learn a little more about massage therapy and especially the synergies with yoga. If you want to learn more, you can contact Christina directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or Horizon Hot Yoga at email@example.com
About the Author:
Mary Van Ahnen is a certified yoga instructor and owner of Horizon Hot Yoga in Frisco. For more information on the variety of classes the studio offers go to www.horizonhotyoga.com