Soulstice Spa Blog

Kicking the Sugar Habit November 30 2013


Have a sweet tooth?  You're not alone!  Tis the season for temptation and sweet treats are all around in the form of chocolate, pies, cookies and cocktails...   The holiday season is a time to celebrate & enjoy, and that means a little bit of indulging!   But don't let dietary indulgences wreck your health and immune system - enjoy in moderation, control your sugar intake, and sail through the season healthy and feeling great.

Why is sugar  - in particular - so hard on the body??   Read on!

1/ Sugar suppresses the immune system, making us less able to fight off cold and flu bugs

2/ Sugar stresses the adrenals, making us feel tired and lethargic

3/ Sugar can trigger headaches

4/ Sugar can worsen the symptoms of PMS, anxiety and depression

5/ Sugar contributes to mood swings and blood sugar & energetic instability

6/ Sugar exacerbates auto-immune conditions like arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue

During the holidays - a time of heightened stress for many - don't stress your body even more by overloading it with sugar...  Here's a short list of either/ors to help you limit the most-damaging sweet stuff and replace it with the healthier choices.

- Choose a glass of bubbly or red wine over sugar-laden cocktails

- Choose mixed nuts over chocolates, candies and cookies at holiday events and parties

- Craving something warm & sweet while out shopping?  Skip the whipped cream-syrupy mocha-frappe-whatevers at Starbucks and choose herbal tea.  Need a caffeine kick with a bit of sweetness?  Try chai or earl grey tea with a teaspoon of stevia, a plant-based natural sugar substitute

- Choose a dense fruit such as apples or pears drizzled with a bit of honey over frosted cake or cupcakes

- Start the day off right and stabilize blood sugar with a breakfast of figs, raisins or dried apricots with granola, oatmeal or yogurt instead of packaged cereal products, pastries or sweet rolls.  Sate your sweet tooth with fresh-squeezed orange juice or half a grapefruit.

- Need a midday pick-me-up?  Trade the sugar-laden coffee drink or candy bar for some lean protein and healthy fat... a hard-boiled egg, half an avocado on a slice of toast, or almond butter on apple slices.

It's natural to indulge a bit more around the holidays, and a little bit won't derail your health or well-being.  Just practice moderation and balance your diet whenever you can.  If you're craving that pie for dessert, then skip the bread basket with dinner.  Indulge in an oven-fresh cinnamon roll for breakfast?  Enjoy a big leafy green salad with plenty of veggies for lunch....   Balance is the key to happy - and healthy! - holidays.

Quick & Painless Feel-Better Fixes November 16 2013


At Soulstice Spa we see hundreds of customers every month and in the process we notice patterns showing up in people's bodies.  Tight hips, aching lower backs, creaky necks, swollen feet ....  these are just a few of the all-too-common symptoms we see walking through our doors.

Many of our daily life activities create or contribute to these issues, and with awareness and some minor fixes, they can be greatly improved with minimal effort!  The key is becoming aware of our bodies throughout the day and making small corrections consistently.  Below is a list of common things we see and our quick & easy fixes:

Stiff and Sore Muscles:  If you wake up stiff and sore, give your body time to warm up before leaping into action.  Every morning, be more conscious about moving more slowly, breathing more deeply and perform a few gentle stretches to begin the day.

Tight Forearms and Hands:  Many of us use far too much grip and pressure necessary, and this puts unnecessary wear and stress on the arms and hands.  Pay attention and relax the arms and hands when gripping the steering wheel, holding your children, and - most of all - while texting and typing!

Sore Lower Back and Inflexible Hips:  Don't sit when you can stand!  Many muscular and skeletal imbalances are created by too much sitting... in cars, on airplanes and at desks.  Too much sitting tightens hamstrings and hips, and can in turn lead to lower back pain and sciatica.  Whenever you have the choice of sitting or standing, opt to stand.  And if you must sit for long periods be sure to counterbalance by stretching to counteract its effects - strengthen your core and stretch/open hip flexors and hamstrings.

Swollen, Achy Feet:  Whenever possible, spend time without shoes... Many shoes (especially men's dress shoes and women's high heels) do a number on the feet, ankles and lower legs.  Symptoms of wearing unfortunate shoes are inflammation, plantar fasciitis, tight calves, and cramping in the lower legs.  When at home, give your feet room to breathe by wearing socks, slippers or going barefoot.

Creaky and/or Stiff Neck:  Most of us are staring over and into a computer screen, desk or reading material for a large part of the day. Parents are toting young children around, and many women are dragging around huge and heavy over-the-shoulder purses.  All of these things create postural imbalances and - in particular - a forward rotation of the neck.  (If you wonder if this is you, stand naturally then look at yourself from the side, in profile, in the mirror.  If you notice that your jaw and chin are thrusted forward, this is typical of an imbalance in your cervical spine.)  To correct this, take time throughout the day to check your posture by opening your chest, lowering and bringing back your shoulders, tucking your hips and keeping your neck held in alignment with your spine.  Keeping your posture in check will do wonders for your neck stiffness and immobility.

Minor changes, applied consistently each day, will help alleviate the most common aches and pains and help prevent them from turning into more chronic conditions down the road....




Foil the Flu this Season! October 24 2013


Regular massage therapy is a wonderful way to boost and prime your immune system as we transition into the fall season, a time when cold and flu germs abound.  Massages reduce stress, relax the body and mind, and restore balance.  They improve circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system.  Finally, they help flush toxins from the body and create a sense of space, lightness and freedom of movement.

When you're stressed, the body's adrenals are in a constant fight-or-flight state and expend energy in an effort to manage your stress reaction.  By alleviating stress, you keep your body strong and better able to fight off bugs and infections.  Combined with plenty of purified water, deep tissue or Swedish massages enhance detoxification and balance in all the body's systems.

Other ways to keep your body strong and healthy:

- Minimize or avoid sugar altogether... instead, substitute stevia, a plant-based sweetener

- Break a sweat!  Cardiovascular exercise raises endorphin levels and, like massage therapy, relieves stress. 

- Wash hands regularly and often.

- Avoid crowds, especially if you're feeling run-down or tired.

- Drink extra water.  It can be harder to remember to consume as much water as we need during the colder winter months, but it's particularly important now, especially when we might be drinking more coffee or tea to keep warm.  Carry a large water bottle to work to help monitor your water intake.

- Get plenty of vitamin C and Bs - these antioxidants help fight off infection and keep the adrenals strong. 

- Consume leafy greens, lemon water and/or apple cider vinegar daily to alkalize the body

Finally, get plenty of deep, delicious shut-eye each night!  Give your body and mind all the rest they need during the darker, damp months. You may find yourself falling asleep earlier at night... or perhaps needing more hours of sleep than usual.  The body has its own deep wisdom and wants you to thrive and be healthy - listen to it!  




Sweet Dreams are Made of This... October 17 2013

"A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow" ~ Charlotte Bronte

If you've suffered from insomnia, you're not alone.  More than 1 in 3 people struggle with insomnia in their lifetime and over one half of all Americans lose sleep due to stress or anxiety.  Millions rely on alcohol, prescription sleep aids or synthetic melatonin to fall asleep at night...

The effects of disturbed or limited sleep are powerful:

1/ Lowered immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and flus

2/ Irregular digestion and metabolism:  the mind can confuse the feeling of fatigue with hunger, and instead of taking a nap or going to bed early you'll reach for a late night snack or caffeine boost

3/ Inability to think clearly and remain emotionally balanced: people who are sleep deprived have shorter fuses, are more impatient, and tend to have a yo-yo temperament with high highs and low lows

4/ Excess or fluctuating weight:  insomniacs will often reach for coffee, nicotine and sugar-laden foods (desserts, sodas, etc.) to counteract the physical and mental fatigue they're experiencing, often leading to weight gain

5/ Volatile or unstable mood: fatigue causes crankiness, negativity and sudden/severe mood swings

Do you dream of hitting the pillow at night and sleeping peacefully for 7-8 hours? 

1/ Exercise daily - even a 20-minute brisk walk will help you relax and unwind.

2/ Limit caffeine - especially coffee - intake to prior to 9am only.  If you're desperate for a midday pick-me-up, try green tea.

3/ Eat a balanced diet that is low in sugar and contains adequate lean protein.

4/ Make sure your body is getting enough magnesium; a calcium-magnesium supplement at the end of the day may promote calm and restfulness.

5/ Enjoy a cup of chamomile tea a couple of hours before bedtime.  Skip the nightly beer, cocktail or glass of wine - even one alcoholic drink can disturb sleep.

6/ Take a warm bath or shower an hour before bedtime... it's a great way to rinse the energy of the day away and prepare the body for the many cleansing processes that occur during your sleep cycle.  Try to hit the pillow at nearly the same time every night.

7/ Avoid over-stimulating books, films and television shows right before bedtime.

8/ Diffuse soothing essential oils that promote relaxation, such as pure lavender.

How can Massage Therapy help?

Regular massages are one of the best natural combats against stress and anxiety.  Massage eases the mind, calms the muscles and nervous system and makes you feel comforted and cared for...   Combined with a healthy diet, strategic supplementation and regular exercise, constant and contented sleep is possible for everyone.  Therapeutic practices such as massage therapy, yoga and acupuncture will put you in better touch with your body and spirit.  Disordered sleep and insomnia is very often linked to anxiety and depression, and the more you get in touch with yourself it is more likely you can overcome the root cause of whatever is troubling your sleep.  Full and restful sleep is a powerful force - if you wake up fully refreshed and rested you will make better choices throughout the day, whether it's choosing a smoothie over a soda, driving to work with more patience or communicating with compassion & kindness. 

If you're currently suffering from insomnia, give the above tips a try and commit to receiving bodywork and massage therapy once a week for 6-8 weeks.  The better you feel inside, the more the world will reflect that on the outside... like attracts like!  
















Choices, choices... October 07 2013

When it comes to massage therapy and bodywork, there are a range of styles (or "modalities," as we in the massage field like to call them) to choose from.  You have probably heard of deep tissue and Swedish massage... but might be less familiar with modalities like trigger point therapy or myofascial release.

Each of our talented massage therapists at Soulstice Spa brings a unique combination of skills, touch and training, and we encourage our guests to experience as many different styles of bodywork as possible as each has its own benefits.  Not all therapists practice all the modalities we offer - for example, some therapists practice prenatal massage and others do not - but as a group we offer an amazing array of styles and massages.

Here are some of the modalities we offer at Soulstice:


Deep Tissue

Sports Massage

Eastern Modalities such as Thai and Shiatsu

Reiki and energy work

Myofascial Release


Trigger Point

Hot Stone


Instead of attempting to put all these massage styles on a menu, we opt to keep things simple and utilize a *pricing system that is consistent and easy to follow.  In other words, we don't charge more or less for deep tissue, for example --- we want each therapist to have the freedom to customize their massage for whatever will best serve the client. 

(*The only massages that are priced differently are Hot Stone and Aromatherapy massages)

We encourage you to try different styles and practitioners... if you're stumped on which one to pick, let us know the answer to the following question:  How do you want to feel during and after your massage??   Relaxed?  Energized?  Nurtured?  Specific pain point addressed?  Emotionally balanced?  By giving us a description about how you'd like to feel, we're happy to recommend a modality that would best suit your goals.  Try something new during your next massage... give it a try!






Finding a Professional Massage Practitioner September 21 2013

When you're visiting a massage therapy center or spa for the first time, how do you know you'll wind up with a professionally trained practitioner and not Tony Soprano's cousin??
Here are a few tips to ensure you're calling a reputable, therapeutic massage center:
1/ Before calling the spa for an appointment, visit the spa's website.  Is it professional?  Does it provide a business address and contact information?  Search the spa online and check its reviews on sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor.
2/  Professional massage therapists must be licensed and certified to practice in the state of California.  When calling for an appointment, feel free to ask if all therapists working there are licensed and certified.  A legitimate establishment will answer in the affirmative, and often be able to tell you where the therapists were trained.
3/  Check the business hours of the spa.  If the spa is only open late at night, that is a red flag. 
4/  Ask friends and community members for a referral.  Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a great place to go for your massages.
5/  Check to see if the spa is listed in business directories and community organizations, such as Chamber of Commerce, Rotary or Tourism Boards. 
6/  How does the business present itself over the phone?  Does the receptionist communicate in a friendly, clear and professional manner?  Does he/she ask relevant questions such as asking what type of bodywork modality you prefer, or the type of pressure you like to receive during a massage? 
7/ Who owns the spa?  A reputable establishment will freely share the name of the people behind the business.
The above tips plus a bit of research and intuition should help steer you in the right direction when looking for a fantastic massage!

Join our Massage Club and Save! September 08 2013

Receiving regular massage therapy is one of the best ways to improve your overall mental, physical and emotional health.  Everyday stresses can take their toll... lowering our energy, depleting our body's innate ability to heal and creating imbalance in the body and mind leading to aches, pains, anxiety and mood swings.  The benefits of massage multiply with consistency, and the best way to make the practice a regular healthy habit is to commit to a monthly massage visit.

At Soulstice we offer annual wellness memberships designed to make regular massage accessible, affordable and efficient.  With over 800 appointments available monthly plus evening and weekend availability, our therapists can accommodate the most demanding of schedules.  In addition to a discounted monthly massage, our members receive a discount on all retail offerings, VIP notice for events and specials as well as priority booking.

Here are a few frequently asked questions about Membership:

1/  Can I share my membership with my (husband/wife/BF/GF/colleague/child) ???

Yes!  You sure may...  You may share your membership with one other person and they need not be a relative.

2/  If I miss a massage one month, do I lose it forever?

No, if you can't make it in one month your massage will "roll over" into the following month.  You may use massages yourself, or turn them into gift cards to give to others...

3/  If I move or can't continue to receive massage, am I on the hook for the rest of the year?

No, we ask for a 30-day notice when discontinuing a membership.

4/ Can I prepay for a membership, or be gifted an annual membership?

Yes, you or a loved one are welcome to prepay for an annual membership rather than having it billed monthly on a credit card.

Our friendly staff is happy to answer any questions you have about Membership; give us a call (707-843-3539) today!


Harvest Specials at Soulstice Spa August 29 2013

Harvest season is upon us, one of our favorite times of year in Sonoma County!  Celebrate the season with us and our wonderful neighboring wineries...

Enjoy special savings on massages and complimentary wine tastings from our featured vineyards!

For just $139, you'll receive two blissful massages and complimentary wine tasting passes of your choice during the months of September and October.  (Retail value up to $199)

Featured wineries include:  Truett-Hurst, Rodney Strong, Peterson Winery, Dutton Estate, Amista Vineyards, West Wines, Amphora, Paul Mathew Vineyards, Siduri, Mercury, Hanna and Kokomo Winery.

Combine two of Sonoma Country's best and brightest - spa + wine! - and come celebrate with us at Soulstice...

Offer good through October 31, 2013.  By appointment only.  Massages are for two 50-Minute Custom Massages. Wine tasting passes are subject to availability, limited quantities.


Timing is Everything August 22 2013

Clients often ask us how often they should get a massage in order to receive the most benefit...

The answer is different for each client, and depends on a few factors:

1/ The current state of your health.  If you eat healthy, exercise, practice good posture, do yoga and meditate, your body will have different needs than someone who is nutrient-deficient, sedentary, over-worked/stressed/anxious and out of touch with what's going on with their body.  Give some thought as to where you fall on this spectrum...

2/ Problematic or chronic conditions.  Are you suffering from a specific condition?  Frequent headaches?  Or are you so stressed that anxiety is affecting your ability to function?  If so, more frequent massage at first might be beneficial for you...

3/ Time and money.  We want the best for your health, but realize you need to take steps toward healthy living in the way you're able to balance self-care with other life responsibilities.  We'll help you determine what your body needs, and work with your lifestyle and budget to help bring your body back to health and balance.

Many people thrive on weekly or biweekly massages, but the minimum we feel everyone should strive for is one massage monthly.  Our wellness membership is based upon this premise and makes it affordable (less than $2/day!) for everyone to receive massage twelve times per year.  Have questions about how massage can fit into your life?  Give us a call!



Benefits of Regular Massage August 06 2013

Many people initially come to massage for a specific injury or problem area...  A sore back, chronically tight shoulders or the zinging pain of sciatica.  Massage therapy can be very effective for all these issues, but it isn't until you begin receiving regular massages that you'll experience the many other amazing benefits. 

Physically, massage enhances circulation, eases digestion, improves range of motion and relaxes tight muscles.  It can help improve posture, prevent and ease chronic overuse conditions and enhance flexibility.  You will feel lighter and more "at home" in your body after a great massage.  Mentally, massage lowers stress, relaxes the nervous system and mind and gives you a moment's pause in our fast-paced and overstimulated world.  Many health conditions are brought on by stress, and controlling stress levels will go a long way toward disease prevention and enhancing your overall health.

Regular massage feeds a healthy habit cycle... When you feel great, you naturally want to exercise more.  When you exercise more, you sleep better.  And when you sleep better, you're more likely to reach for nutritious foods rather than the quick fixes of sugar and caffeine.  You may be surprised at the wide-ranging impact massage can have on your well-being and health.  For less than $2 per day, you can incorporate massage therapy into your life on a regular basis --- come visit us at the spa and ask about our Wellness Memberships! 

It's Not Easy Being Green. July 30 2013

Thinking about getting your first massage?  Or maybe you've only had a handful, or one back on that honeymoon in 1989.  Fear not, we therapists love working with you newbies and our friendly staff is here to help every step of the way.

There are a great many types of massage therapy - Swedish, deep tissue, Shiatsu - and some have some pretty weird names... it can be confusing!  A great place to begin is to let the receptionist know the following:

1/ Pressure:  When a loved one gives you a shoulder rub, do you tend to like a gentle, nurturing touch, or do you prefer a firm to deep pressure? 

2/ Problem spots:  If you're experiencing occasional or chronic pain in a specific area, that is great info to let us know.  For example, frequent headaches, neck pain, overall aches and pains or sciatica are all common complaints that will help us match you with your therapist.

3/ Concerns or questions: Will I get completely undressed? Will my therapist be male or female?  Will the massage be painful?  Let us put your mind at ease by answering your questions or concerns over the phone.

If you're relatively new to massage don't be afraid to let the receptionist know that at the outset - we're here to help!  Don't be shy about communicating to your therapist what you like or don't like, if the pressure is too light or deep, or if you're too hot or cold.  Finally, keep an open mind - there are many types of massage, so if you're not crazy about the first one you received back on that honeymoon, don't give up!   Once you get comfortable and matched with the perfect therapist, you'll get the hang of it and begin to experience massage's many amazing benefits.

Making the Most of your Massage July 28 2013

In the course of our busy days, it can be difficult to carve out the time to take care of ourselves.  For this reason, it's important to schedule healthy activities and nutrition into our lives.  Proper sleep, a nutrient-rich diet, regular stretching & exercise, and a monthly massage are a vital part of keeping your mind and body functioning optimally.  When hours in the day are limited, it's especially important that you maximize your relaxation time...

Here are some tips on how to get the very most out of your monthly massage:

1/  Choose the best day and time. Try to book your appointment when you won't be rushed to get to your appointment.  If possible, try to take a soothing bath or shower before leaving for your session to warm the muscles and unwind your mind.  Leave early and arrive in plenty of time in order to feel relaxed and unrushed.  Ideally you won't have anything scheduled immediately after your session, leaving yourself free to absorb the feeling of deep relaxation and stay in your bliss-state as long as possible. 

2/ Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Before your session, drink plenty of water and refrain from caffeine 4-5 hours before your session.  Dehydration can lead to dry skin, headaches, sore muscles and a weakened immune system.  Try to drink 24-48 oz of water in the hours following your massage, especially if you enjoyed a deep tissue session.  This will help your muscles recover, eliminate toxins and cleanse your body from the inside-out.

3/ Clean the Slate.  Try to get your work, chores and errands out of the way before your massage so you can free your mind from running through the things you still need to attend to that day.  A relaxed mind allows for a relaxed body.

4/ Un-Plug.  After your session, try to unplug from unnecessary stimulation like email, crowds, television or other burdens to the mind and nervous system.  Instead, try a bath, spending quiet time with the one you love, cuddling a pet, gardening or walking in nature.

You will feel the effects of a great massage for days to come, especially if you prepare yourself to receive and allow yourself the space to absorb all its amazing benefits.