Soulstice Spa Blog
Your Five Daily Healthy Habits December 07 2013
Because of our modern, hectic schedules and family demands, it can be a challenge to make it in for regular massage therapy. The busier we are, though, the more important massage is for the mind, body and spirit. Our membership program is designed to make massage a wonderful habit - something you can commit to on a monthly basis - the benefits of which you will enjoy all month long.
There are a few things you can do to enhance and prolong the positive effects of your massage...
1/ Drink plenty of water before, after and on a daily basis. The more hydrated your muscles are, the better your body can respond to bugs and germs, recover from fatigue and injury and stay toned and healthy.
2/ Get plenty of vitamins and nutrients through food sources as often as possible, particularly B vitamins and potassium. B vitamins are particularly supportive to the adrenal system... the system that reacts to daily and sudden stressors. Excellent sources include avocado, pomegranate, dates, watermelon, and some berries are especially high in B-complex vitamins. Leafy greens and vegetables such as amaranth, bok choy, Swiss chard, kale, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, squashes and parsnips also contain significant amounts. Most legumes have a lot of B vitamins; however, soy beans, black-eye peas and edamame contain the highest amounts of B9, also known as folate. Potassium is vitally important in tissue repair and recovery. Great sources include avocados, leafy greens, bananas, apricots, dates, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, beets, tomatoes, mushrooms, soy and soy foods, peas, beans, turkey, beef, salmon and cod.
3. Stretch! Don't wait until your next massage to be stretched out. If time allows, try to attend a stretching or yoga class, practice in your home with DVDs, or develop your own easy routine. Even ten minutes of stretching per day will yield terrific results. Most people will be best served by stretching the neck, shoulders, back, hamstrings and hips; those areas are typically the most impacted by too much sitting, computing, and driving.
4. Practice relaxation techniques each day. Again, even ten minutes a day is beneficial! Do whatever you can and whatever works for you... a warm bath, soothing aromatherapy, meditation, a walk in fresh air, or even several deep breaths with your eyes closed.
5. Practice self-massage techniques or trade massage with a loved one. Touch is good for you! If you receive massage therapy on a regular basis you're already a believer in the healing power of touch... But everyday touch is wonderful for your well being as well. Caring touch can be shared with the one you love, hugging a friend, holding a child or petting an animal. Touch is soothing, nurturing and relaxing for both the giver and the receiver.
Practicing the healthy diet and lifestyle tips above will ensure your body, mind and spirit stay strong between your visits to your massage therapist.
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.
A Cure for the Common Brain Pain November 23 2013
Headaches are a pervasive problem for many individuals. Ranging from an occasional painful nuisance to chronic, debilitating migraines, massage therapy can be an effective remedy for both episodic as well as chronic headaches. The source of headaches is often related to the nervous system, which is why headaches often stem from overstimulation, noise, and stress. The trigeminal nerve in the head provides feeling for the eyes, sinuses, face, scalp and teeth; imbalance in any of these areas can manifest in headaches.
There are three primary types of headaches:
1/ Migraines - An especially debilitating condition where pain can manifest in specific areas of the head or may occur all-over the skull. The sensation is typically a throbbing pain that may cause vomiting, extreme sensitivity to light and dizziness. Migraine sufferers tend to have an especially sensitive nervous system, and prone to becoming overstimulated quite easily. These individuals should take extra care to keep themselves in balance through exercise, limit sugar and caffeine intake, relax through massage, meditation and yoga, and avoid crowds, violent films and environments that jar the nervous system.
Migraines can also be triggered by diet (red wine, monosodium glutamate, nitrates and artificial sweeteners), PMS, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, and weather/atmospheric changes and may last up to three days in worst cases.
2/ Tension Headaches - The most common type of headache, tension headaches can be occasional or chronic in nature. The sensation of a tension headache feels like pressure or squeezing against the skull and can last up to a week. They may be accompanied by sensitivity to noise and light, but not to the debilitating extent that migraines are... They are often linked to stress, repressed emotions, feeling overwhelmed and not getting enough sleep.
3/ Cervical (back of the skull) Headaches - These type of headaches originate from tension or imbalance in the neck, spine or surrounding muscles. Pain is most often felt in the base of the skull, but may also radiate up and over the head or along the sides into the temples. Pain can also manifest behind one eye and be accompanied by blurred vision and dizziness. Accompanying symptoms are restricted neck mobility, extremely tight neck and shoulder muscles, and a rigid jaw.
Studies have shown that regular massage therapy can improve and reduce the severity of all of these types of headaches. By relaxing the neck, shoulder, scalp and facial muscles you may lower the incidence of cervical headaches. Specific trigger point and myofascial work on the neck and scalp may release tension headaches. And by relaxing the overall nervous system you can reduce the onset of migraines and tension headaches. Massage is also a more natural alternative to over-the-counter and prescription drugs, many of which have unfortunate side effects. Chronic headache sufferers should try to receive weekly massages for 6-8 weeks and then assess their improvement.
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....
Staying Soothed and Sane this Holiday Season! November 09 2013
The holidays are a time of celebration, joyful reunions and shared meals and laughter... However they can also be a time of traffic jams, long lines and high expectations. For many, the weeks leading up to the new year can be the most stressful of the year. Stress leads to muscular tightness, lowered immune system, headaches, insomnia, anxiety and depression. Rushing around, tense and anxious, are not what the holidays are meant to be about... so make a pact with yourself that you will float through this holiday season feeling calm, peaceful and detached from the stress that so many in our society get caught up in.
Here are some of our best tips to help you stay physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy!
1/ Unplug. Choose to turn off the television, talk radio and popular magazines that bombard you with the non-stop marketing of gift-giving.
2/ Choose experiences over "things." If you do participate in gift-giving, make a conscious effort to give meaningfully, not out of a sense of guilt or pressure from society. Shared meals, experiences, outings... these things often mean much more than widgets.
3/ Pre-plan "you time." This one is important! The holidays are a time when many are running around like mad; it's very easy to let your health and self-care go by the wayside. Now more than ever, it's important you take care of yourself, so schedule time for healthy activities like exercise, yoga, massages, and walks in fresh air. Yes, that's right! Pick up your planner right now and schedule in "you time" each week from now until the clock strikes 2014.
4/ Get your shopping done early. Avoid malls and corporate America. Shop local and buy from small businesses. Waiting till the last minute and "door-busting" big business isn't good for your sanity or your community. By shopping local, you help keep money in your community, create jobs and get to know the people who are making your goods and providing your services. You'll feel great knowing you're supporting people you actually know, and chances are you'll be much more appreciated as a customer than you will at the mall.
5/ Get a massage or two! I know, I know... I can hear what you're saying: "I don't have TIME for a massage!" But it is precisely because you're busy that you most need a massage. Massage relieves stress, reduces anxiety and makes you feel like everything in life is that much more manageable. By renewing your mind, body and spirit, you'll stay strong and healthy and better able to enjoy the true spirit of the holidays.
From now through December 24, 2013, we're offering a special Give One Get One Massage Special to help make massage convenient and affordable for you, and a thoughtful and meaningful gift for a loved one or colleague. For $99, you receive a 50-Minute Massage for yourself plus a 50-Minute Massage Gift Card to gift to someone special. To take advantage of this special package, please stop by the spa or phone us at 707-843-3539.
Cheers to a beautiful holiday season!!
Vibrant Health! - Detox & Cleanse November 01 2013
With leftover Halloween treats upon us and the holidays coming up, many of us over-indulge in tasty sweets, warm baked goods and seasonal cocktails (eggnog, anyone?) We all look forward to Thanksgiving pie... Christmas cookies... and holiday cocktail parties. Unfortunately indulging over the next couple months can lead to unwanted weight gain, a compromised immune system and a feeling of lethargy and sluggishness. It's very possible to enjoy the holiday spirit - as well as seasonal yumminess! - and stay healthy & vibrant. Moderation and mindfulness is the key!
The beginning of November and the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are a wonderful time to detox and cleanse the body through diet and massage. Heading into the holidays feeling great will help keep you motivated to reach for the fruit plate and skip the pecan pie!
You may opt for a Whole Food Cleanse or a Juice Cleanse. If you're new to cleansing, we recommend a Whole Food Cleanse that incorporates fresh juice. A pure juice-only cleanse is best for those who have done cleanses before... And a pure juice cleanse is often easier for the body to adapt to in the warmer months of spring or summer. Now, in the cooler months of autumn, a whole food cleanse will detoxify your body while sustaining your energy and metabolism.
Set aside ten days for your cleanse, during which time you will eliminate all of the following foods from your diet:
1/ Bread and wheat products
2/ Sugar, and foods containing any sugar
4/ Coffee (if you can function without it! - if not try to limit yourself to one small cup in the morning)
5/ Processed foods - anything in a box or a can
6/ Dairy products, cheese, yogurt
7/ Frozen foods
8/ Fast food
9/ Fried food
10/ Cookies, candy and other sweets - if you have a major sweet tooth, try fruit instead!
Ok, so what does this leave for me to eat, you might ask? :) ....Lots!
1/ Fruits - especially apples, figs, dates, raisins, pears and fruits that are in season
2/ Vegetables - unlimited, preferably raw or steamed
3/ Lean protein and seafood, preferably steamed
4/ Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds and nut butters
5/ Beans and lentils
6/ Brown rice
7/ Wild salmon
8/ Salads - have a big, leafy-green salad at least once every day of your cleanse
9/ Veggie and fruit juice - especially green juice, carrots, ginger and beets
Begin each day of your cleanse with a large glass of pure, filtered room-temperature water with fresh-squeezed lemon. In the course of each day, drink your weight in ounces of plain or lemon-infused water. (Yes, this is a lot of water!, but remember that the goal of the cleanse is to detoxify the body and water will help flush toxins.) If you get hungry or cranky - common in the first couple days but will usually subside by the third day - snack on an apple, raisins or some nuts.
If you have trouble falling asleep during the first couple nights of your cleanse, have some sliced apple with almond butter or some raw cashews to sate your appetite. By the third night you should fall asleep peacefully and be amazed by how deeply you sleep without alcohol, sugar and caffeine in your system. After ten days you will feel amazing, your skin will be glowing and your eyes will be bright and shining. Feeling great, you'll head into the holidays strong and vital and better able to make healthy food & lifestyle choices. Give a cleanse a try - your body will thank you!
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:
Eastern Modalities such as Thai and Shiatsu
Reiki and energy work
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!
October Massage Specials at Soulstice Spa! October 03 2013
Choose one of the following massages:
1/ Lavender Harvest Massage: A blissful and restorative Swedish massage incorporating lavender aromatherapy
2/ Asian Fusion Massage: A custom massage incorporating Eastern techniques such as Thai, Shiatsu, Reiki and more
3/ Warming Ginger Massage: Ease, warm and soothe tired muscles with a relaxing massage incorporating warming ginger aromatherapy
If you've never received an 80-Minute Massage, this is a great opportunity to experience an extended session and more detailed work. Please call 707-843-3539 to book!
Oh, Baby! September 30 2013
As many of our customers can attest, we've had babies on our minds at Soulstice with two of our therapists welcoming little boys in recent months! We love taking care of expectant and new moms, and enjoy nurturing them during this special time in their lives. Massage therapy is a safe and wonderful way to ease the body, mind and spirit through the many physical and emotional changes it is going through during the nine months of pregnancy.
Body ~ Massage with rich, emollient natural oils can help keep skin supple and pliable, minimizing stretch marks. It can also help ease the aching in the low back or hips that comes with carrying a growing child. Sciatica - a very common and painful condition where the nerve is compressed - can send shooting pain down the hip and leg. Massage can be very effective at loosening the tightened muscles and easing the discomfort of sciatica. Lymphatic massage can improve swelling in the feet and legs as well as water retention and bloating.
Mind ~ Expecting a baby is a joyful time, but it can also be a stressful time! Massage is one of the best stress-relievers around... it is very calming to the mind and nervous system, reducing anxiety and worry. Feeling calm and balanced will help you feel more in control and grounded.
Spirit ~ Massage therapy puts you in touch with your sensations and feelings. This can enhance the connection between your heart, mind and emotions, and bonding with your growing baby. Nurturing yourself makes you stronger and better able to nurture others, including your baby-on-the-way.
Massage during pregnancy is safe for most women. Prenatal massage therapists are specifically trained to administer massage during and after pregnancy. If you have any complications, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor or midwife if there are precautions you should take or if massage might be contraindicated. During a normal pregnancy however, massage is a wonderful way to nurture and prepare yourself for motherhood.
Depending on how far along you are, your prenatal massage may be completed while you're laying face up or on your side... whichever is more comfortable for you. Additionally, we have a specially designed pregnancy cushion that can allow you to lay face down if you like, even during the latter stages of pregnancy!
If you or someone you love are interested in receiving massage during pregnancy, please give our friendly staff a call. We're happy to answer any questions you have!