Available as an optional add-on service to end your Holistic Manual Therapy or Somatic Experiencing sessions, Swedish Massage is simply fantastic at bringing on deep relaxation and calm. And there's good science behind it; we know that massage stimulates the parasympathetic branch of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), which counters the effects of the ANS's sympathetic branch, from which fight/flight reactions arise. When our system enters a parasympathetically-dominated state, we are able to relax and unwind, and give our system a break from feeling the full weight of whatever stress we're carrying around.
It is important that everyone find time to relax amidst this fast-paced life, but especially for those that are dealing with a lot of stress and are often in fight/flight, doing relaxing things like massage to help balance out the overactivity of the sympathetic branch of the ANS is absolutely critical to their health. You've probably heard the phrase "Stress will kill you", and it is the truth; being in a chronic state of stress wreaks havoc on the entirety of the body's structures and functions. Our body is designed for only short bursts of stress and its accompanying hormones and processes, not long-term exposure. For example, cortisol―one of the body's main hormones produced when in a state of fight/flight―while fine in smaller quantities, becomes toxic to the brain that is constantly saturated in it, and causes inflammation and compromised brain functioning.
Swedish Massage is available as a 15-minute or 30-minute add-on to Holistic Manual Therapy sessions (including Prenatal Bodywork) and Somatic Experiencing sessions. It takes place on a heated massage table and can include whatever level of pressure you prefer. Choosing to focus the massage on one particular area of the body or on several areas is up to you. While massage may be intimidating or scary to someone who has been through particular kinds of trauma, we hope you find that at Studio A it is an entirely different experience, one in which you are treated with utmost sensitivity, compassion, regard for what you have been through, and consent throughout the session as we move from one area of the body to another.
This add-on service is available to be incorporated into Integrated Floorwork Sessions or as an optional add-on to the end of Somatic Experiencing sessions, and takes place on heated floor mats and has the client stay fully clothed.
Add-on to Integrated Floorwork Sessions
Whereas Integrated Floorwork Sessions alone (without this add-on) are inspired by Thai massage and typically involve a lot of sustained stretches to release tight fascia in the low back, hips, pelvis, and legs, adding in extra time (15 or 30 minutes) for more pure components of Thai massage to be incorporated gives more room in the session for the dynamic movement, flow, and pressure that Thai massage is known for. It's like yoga being done to you, while you simply relax into the unique sensory experience that comes with being moved around, loosened up, and massaged. Plus it provides excellent practice at the art of letting go while the trained therapist moves your body in safe, gentle, and fun ways. Don't be afraid to try something new; you may just discover, as many have, that it's their new favorite thing!
Add-on to Somatic Experiencing Sessions
For those who opt to add on a Thai Massage at the end of their Somatic Experiencing session, you will find this to be both deeply relaxing and yet awakening to the nervous system at the same time. It can leave you in a relaxed, calm state without the sleepiness that typical Swedish or table massage can induce. This is because of all the movement involved in Thai massage, which is very different from the stillness of Swedish massage. This is perfect, then, for those whose nervous system tends toward freeze/shut-down/collapse (versus toward fight/flight), as this will leave you feeling alert yet grounded, and with looser muscles in whatever area you requested.
One benefit of particular interest to those trying to recover from a traumatic childhood is that Thai massage is great at improving body awareness and helping to build back a sense of self, which are things that are frequently compromised when a person has undergone adverse experiences during their formative years. Touch of any kind (assuming it is safe and invited) can be very healing to trauma survivors, and I find that to be especially true of Thai massage since it involves so much proprioceptive input from all the movement of the arms, legs, hips, and even the trunk. Proprioceptive input tells your brain where your joints are in dimensional space, like having GPS in every joint of the body. When there is a lot of movement, especially of the passive kind (where the therapist is initiating and moving the client, versus the client moving themselves), the "GPS system" of the joints has to work harder in order to continually update the brain with its whereabouts, which strengthens it over time. Exercising your proprioceptors in this way makes for stronger awareness of your body, and a stronger sense of one's self overall.