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A Trio of Massage Treatments

Contact Author Cathy Christensen November 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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The Herbal Balancing Treatment from Miraval

The Herbal Balancing Treatment from Miraval

Editor’s note: Skin Inc. magazine recommends that skin care professionals obtain the proper training before offering any new treatments or services.

According to Associated Massage & Bodywork Professionals (ABMP), Swedish massage therapy is the most requested service in spas, and spas are the most common place to receive a massage (43% of all sessions). Although there is a time and place for Swedish massage, perhaps it is time for your facility to go above and beyond to meet your clients’ needs for complete relaxation of the mind, body and spirit. Consider reaching deeper to offer a variety of therapeutic and beneficial massage services to your clients. Following are step-by-step how-to massage treatments to get your imagination pumping, supplying you with guidance from three top spas about the logistics of offering these services, along with marketing and retail advice, and the history behind them to help you decide if they are a good fit for your business.

Herbal Balancing Treatment: The Spa at Miraval Resorts, Tucson, Arizona

The Herbal Balancing Treatment is designed to help connect the mind and body through abhyanga massage, or ayurvedic oil massage, in addition to balancing with marma, or energy points. According to Simon Marxer, spa director at Miraval Resort, the treatment has been derived from techniques of the ayurvedic system. “Part of ayurveda is that it recognizes that people have individual issues, so therapists offering this treatment should be trained to identify constitutional characteristics to determine what kind of oil to use in the treatment, depending on whether clients are stressed, irritable and overheated, or sluggish and depressed,” explains Clinton Horner, massage therapist and ayurvedic practitioner at Miraval Resort. “You need to look at the person and make an assessment based on conversation and visuals, and select the appropriate oil.”

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According to Horner, because oil massage takes up the bulk of this service, it is crucial to select the correct oil. “When you oil the body with herbal oils, they are rubbed in and penetrate deeply to help loosen up toxins and work for the client’s body type. The oils have a sedating, grounding effect,” he says. After oiling the body, the treatment involves 10 minutes of marma point therapy based on the client’s constitution, followed by a body wrap to help heat the body, loosen the tissues and help with circulation.

“In order for a service to be successful, there has to be a level of authenticity,” emphasizes Marxer. “It is important to bring in a professional to provide training and education to your staff members about the principles of ayurveda so they truly have an understanding of what it is doing.”

The Herbal Balancing Treatment is a great service for most of your clients—except those who are pregnant or experience hypertension—but the best recipients are those who are highly stressed with nervous disorders, insomnia and anxiety, and those who are overly busy and overworked. The service works to soothe and pacify the nervous system to help ground the client and restore a sense of balance. These are the types of clients who you should focus on when marketing this treatment. To tie in retail, consider selling the oils used in the actual treatment to help clients bring the experience home.

Mama Felice Tangerineand Rosehip Prenatal Massage: The Spa at Ravella, Lake Las Vegas, Nevada

The Mama Felice Tangerine and Rosehip Prenatal Massage features a blend of organic oils that nourishes the skin and helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks. It includes a relaxing massage that releases tension from tired muscles, and is emotionally calming and safe for both mother and baby. The organic oil blend uplifts spirits with organic tangerine and jasmine oils, as wheat germ and rosehip help feed and protect the skin. According to Nancy DiMaio, director of spa and fitness, the massage is meant to help ease fatigue caused by pregnancy, offering a state of peaceful contentment. Although prenatal massages can often be found on service menus, this treatment takes into account the mother-to-be’s mind and spirit, as well as her body, by using the oils to help elevate the mood, lift spirits and restore a sense of calm while treating the skin.

The Mama Felice Massage can be performed as a 50- or 80-minute service, and mothers are supported by a pregnancy cushion or are asked to lie on their side, depending on her comfort. In this massage, tangerine and rosehip prenatal massage oil is used and is completely safe for both mom and baby. Aromatherapy can be an added service in this treatment—lavender is great for relaxation and also is safe. The intention of this treatment is to pamper and refresh mom, reduce discomfort and swelling, and release natural endorphins. Extra attention should be given to mom’s aching back and hips, or wherever her discomfort may be.

According to DiMaio, the service is perfect for pregnant women in their second or third trimester of pregnancy, so consider this client group when devising your marketing strategies. Retail can be tied into this treatment by offering shea butter made with essential oils that is used in the treatment to help keep her skin quenched and nourished while helping to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. As always, be sure to discuss the client’s health history and ask her to fill out a health history form while waiting for the service.

Shoshin Shiatsu Treatment: Urban Oasis, Chicago

According to Randy Cummins, shiatsu instructor, massage therapist at Urban Oasis in Chicago and founder of, Shiatsu is a traditional form of bodywork that originated in China and is based on an observation of nature. “In the teaching of shiatsu, there is a lot of common wisdom about how to treat yourself, change with the seasons and exercise. Shaitsu is performed on mats on the floor and the client is fully clothed, so that can supply a built-in sense of comfort for some people,” explains Cummins. Shiatsu uses the same concepts, approaches and techniques as acupuncture, without the needles, and has a strong resemblance to yoga. As far as appropriate clients, shiatsu is good for everyone except those who are pregnant, are healing from burns and infections or have new scars and injuries, and is meant to be a preventive form of bodywork. The stretches are intended to keep the body healthy, but it is very good for common injuries and pattern injuries, such as when people have shoulder and neck pain from working on computers. It is also good for athletes. Remember these clients when developing your marketing strategy. Consider selling mats and instructional booklets in your retail area. Also, teach clients stretches they can do at home.

During the treatment, both the practitioner and the client should wear loose-fitting clothing, such as yoga wear, and the treatment needs to be performed in a well-defined space that promotes openness and relaxation. Shiatsu involves a series of heartfelt compressions, stretches and stimulation to various pressure points to promote balance and the harmonious flow of energy throughout the systems of the body. This allows for the decompression and strengthening of the physical body while quieting the mind, deepening the breath and supporting inner reflection.

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Treatment How-to: Herbal Balancing Treatment

From The Spa at Miraval Resorts, Tucson, Arizona

Duration: 80 minutes

Cost: $195

Supplies and equipment needed:

Hot towel cabbie

2 metal cups

3 large towels

Cotton blanket

Space blanket

Half sheet

Full sheet

Products needed:

Marma oil

Abhyanga oil

Eucalyptus oil

Room setup: Dampen two large towels with hot water, apply 10 drops of eucalyptus oil to each towel, and put them in the hot cabbie. Layer the treatment table with a cotton blanket, space blanket, half sheet, full sheet and towel drape.

Step 1: Personally greet and escort the client to the treatment room while describing the service on the way. Discuss the client’s health history, and remind the client that pregnancy and hypertension are issues that may require a different service.

Step 2: Ask the client to remove her robe and lie on her back under the towel, leaving room to allow for privacy.

Step 3: Perform an ayurvedic oil massage.

Step 4: At the end of the massage, finish with full body sweeps and prepare for the marma treatment, which should be given with the client mostly undraped and lying on her stomach.

Step 5: Add 3–4 drops of marma oil in a metal cup with just a bit of abhyanga oil.

Step 6: Using your middle and ring finger only, make slow circles using light pressure 5–10 times, then hold 5–10 seconds on each point, using a minimal amount of oil. (Editor’s note: To access a chart specifying where these points are, log on to and check out “Web Exclusive Content.”)

Step 7: Do one point at a time; you can use a “mother hand,” or dormant hand, leading to next point. The marma point therapy should take approximately 10 minutes.

Step 8: Do one side of the body at a time, or you can do the lower half and then the upper half.

Step 9: After completing the points, place hand over the client’s sacrum and heart, and hold for 30 seconds.

Step 10: Ask client to turn over to lie on her back while draping the towel for privacy, and repeat the points on the front.

Step 11: Begin the wrap by covering the client with the sheet and removing the towel drape.

Step 12: Bolster the knees.

Step 13: Remove hot towels with eucalyptus oil from cabbie and place drape towel in cabbie to warm.

Step 14: Place one towel on top of the client and then the other directly on top of the first towel. Make sure to cool towels sufficiently to create a comfortable heat.

Step 15: Wrap the client in layers: sheet, space blanket and cotton blanket. Sit with client and do Reiki, face marmas or gentle massage. Keep the client in the wrap for 10 minutes.

Step 16: Unwrap the client, remove warm towels, remove sheet, and cover with warm, dry towel from cabbie. Give a dry rub over the towel to help warm the client.

Step 17: Place shoes on the floor mat, and ask the client to put on her robe. Inform her that you will be outside the room when she is ready.

Treatment How-to: Mama Felice Tangerine and Rosehip Prenatal Massage

From The Spa at Ravella, Lake Las Vegas, Nevada

Duration: 50–80 minutes Cost: $130–190

Supplies and equipment needed: Massage table with pregnancy cushion or pregnancy massage table

Extra pillows and bolsters for added comfort

Hot towel cabbie

Warm towels

Products needed:

Tangerine and rosehip massage oil

Organic essential oils

Room setup:

Place pregnancy cushion on top of massage table, adjust to proper size and shape for client and cover with sheets. Warm tangerine and rosehip prenatal massage oil in hot cabbie, and lower table for mom to easily get on it.

Step 1: Escort client to treatment room and describe service.

Step 2: Ask the client to lie face down. Use a pregnancy cushion make her comfortable.

Step 3: Begin the massage with downward compression on the sacrum, as well as a compression on the glutes and hips.

Step 4: Perform a scalp massage before undraping the back.

Step 5: When massaging the back, be careful to not use too deep of pressure on the lower back, and then move to the legs to perform massage.

Step 6: Undrape the legs one at a time. Give extra attention to help reduce swelling and increase circulation using very light, upward effleurage strokes. Avoid any large veins; start at the upper thigh, then move to the lower leg and finish with the foot. Repeat this sequence on the other leg. If performing the 80-minute massage, focus on any problem areas defined by the client such as the feet, lower back, hips or any others that may be bothering the expectant mother.

Step 7: When finished with the back side of the body, ask the client to get on her hands and knees; adjust the pregnancy cushion. Fold the cushion under so that it creates a large wedge. Assist the client in turning over safely, and allow her to rest in a reclined position. Makes sure to check for comfort before beginning the second half of the service. At this time, also ask the client for permission to rub her belly.

Step 8: Starting at the feet, use the same fluid-reducing strokes on each leg, then move to the belly, making sure that she has a breast drape and her belly is uncovered.

Step 9: Perform light strokes in the direction of digestion, paying extra attention to the obliques, or lower sides of the belly, where there may be strain from the weight of the baby.

Step 10: Next, massage the upper body, including arms, décolleté, neck and shoulders.

Step 11: Finish the massage where it started—with the scalp. Then use warm, moist towels with compression on the client’s aching feet.

Step 12: Place one arm behind the client’s shoulders/upper back to help her to a seated position. Ask the client to put her robe on when she’s ready, then step out of the room for privacy and to get the client a refreshing beverage.

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