In our busy lives it can be hard to find time to connect with our partner in ways that strengthen our relationship and create more intimacy. Giving your partner a simple at-home massage can be a great way to boost intimacy and help your partner feel nurtured. You don’t need to be a professional; all you need is some great massage oil (we recommend Kate’s Magik Aphrodisian Fire Body Oil), relaxing music, a bed, and your own two hands. With Valentine’s season upon us, it’s a great time to light some candles, turn up the heater, and pamper your partner using these easy to follow steps for a simple whole body massage. No experience necessary!
About Kate’s Magik Aphrodisian Fire Body Oil: Alluring and sensual, aphrodisian fire enhances romance and excites the senses. Evoking Aphrodite, this exotic blend highlights wood and flower notes. Sandalwood and patchouli are deep and sensual, while sultry rose and flowery ylang ylang instill a sense of passion and romance.
Prepare your massage space
Cover your bed with an old towel or blanket that you don’t mind getting oily. Have one or two pillows on hand to make your partner more comfortable. If you’d like warm oil, you can fill a large bowl with hot water and place the oil bottle in it. Have an extra towel on hand to clean up any messes.
Your partner may be more comfortable lying face down with a pillow under their chest, then they can turn their head to one side. Have your partner put their arms along their side, with palms up.
When your partner turns face up, they may want a pillow under their knees or head.
Use your whole hand while massaging, palm and underside of fingers will be touching your partner’s skin.
Keep your back straight while massaging and use the weight of your body to put pressure, rather than just your hands.
Before you start, place your hands on your partner’s back, and take several deep breaths together. Set an intention to be the giver, and honor the gift you are about to give your partner.
Massaging in the Back
Sit at your partner’s head, preferably in a kneeling position. Sit on a pillow for extra knee support. Rub a few squirts of oil between your hands. Place your hands, palm down, at the base of your partner’s neck, with the spine between your thumbs.
Glide your hands down your partner’s back, staying next to the spine. At the top of the buttocks, glide your hands out to the top of your partner’s hips, then slide your hands up their sides and onto their shoulder blades.
Make several circles with your whole palms over the shoulder blades.
Starting with hands-on their shoulder blades, glide your hands down their back with your hands moving toward each other so they come together over the top of your partner’s buttocks. Again, glide over the top of their hips, then slide your hands back together over their low back.
Slide your hands up their back with the spine between your thumb edges.
At the top of the shoulders, slide your hands out over the tops of their shoulders and then slide them back together to the base of your partner’s neck. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
Starting at the base of the neck, slide your palms out over the tops of your partner’s shoulders. Slide onto their very upper arm and then slide each palm all the way down their arms, onto their hands and then slide off their hands with your fingers going between theirs.
Repeat these strokes 3 – 5 times, varying direction and combining them as you like. Use more oil as needed.
Massaging Back of Legs
Sit at the outside edge of your partner’s lower leg. Rub some oil into your hands. Start with your hands, palm down, on either side of your partner’s ankle.
Glide your hands up the sides of your partner’s leg, all the way to their hip and inner thigh. Bring your hands together at the top of the thigh and slide your hands all the way down to their heel. Repeat 3 – 5 times, applying more oil as needed.
Now slide your way up the back of your partner’s leg making circles with each palm in an alternating pattern. (right-hand circles over middle and side of leg, left hand circles over the middle leg and inner calf/thigh, move up a few inches and repeat). Go back down the leg with the same pattern, alternating the direction of your circles.
Repeat on the second leg.
Massaging Neck and Arms
Turn your partner face up and sit above their head. Rub some oil on your hands. Place your palms at the base of your partner’s neck, with fingers facing your partner’s upper back and palms against the base of the neck where it meets the shoulders. Glide your hands out to the tops of your partner’s arms, then glide down over the outside of their arms down to the elbow. Slide your hands under their arms and then glide back up under their arms, under their upper back and up to the base of their skull. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
With your fingertips at the base of the skull, on either side of the spine, make small circles, letting the fingers move the muscles slightly. Check-in with your partner about pressure, the more you press your fingers up, the more pressure they will feel. Continue making small circles on the neck muscles, moving downward toward the upper back.
Slide your hands under your partner’s upper back, with your fingers on the muscles between the shoulder blades and spine. Glide your hands up to the base of the skull. Repeat 3 times.
Sit at your partner’s side near their hand. With oil on your hands, place one hand on your partner’s wrist. Slide that hand up their arm to the shoulder, followed immediately by your second hand. Slide one hand under their shoulder and keep the other hand over the front of the upper arm. Slide both hands down the arm to the hand while squeezing your hands slightly to create pressure. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
Repeat on the second arm.
Massaging Legs and Feet
Sit at your partner’s side near their ankle. With oil on your hands, place your palms and fingers on either side of your partner’s ankle. Slide your hands up the sides of their leg to the upper thigh/outer hip.
Bring your thumb edges together at the middle of the upper thigh, with your palms and other fingers resting on the sides of the upper thigh. Slide your hands away from each other toward the sides of the leg. Move your hands down a few inches and slide your hands away from each other again. Continue this down the leg to the ankle, watching out not to press on the knee bone or the shin bone.
Repeat these two steps 3 – 5 times, using more oil as needed.
Place hands on foot, with one palm on top of the foot and other on the bottom. Slide your hands up and down your partner’s foot, from toes to heel/ankle, pressing your hands toward each other. Repeat several times.
Using fingers, make circles around the ankle bones. Rub your palm in a circular motion over the front of the ankle. Finish by rubbing your palm in a circular motion over the bottom of the foot, from toes to heel and back again. Use a loose fist to make circles if your partner wants more pressure.
Repeat on the second leg and foot.
When you’ve finished massaging your partner, place your palms on the bottom of their feet and take several deep breaths together. Take some time to snuggle up with your partner and let them give you some appreciation, in whatever form it comes. Enjoy the time you’ve spent together, even if you stumbled through, and know that moments like these are precious. And make sure to find a time when your partner can take a turn as the giver too!
Heather Bishop is the Massage Therapy Supervisor at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary. She has been practicing massage and bodywork for over 17 years and performs a wide variety of modalities, specializing in deep tissue and east-west fusion massage. In addition to massage, Heather is also a Registered Yoga Teacher of 15 years and teaches at Soulstice in Santa Rosa. She loves having daily opportunities to help others and is a proud member of the Osmosis team.
Facial gua sha is a form of gentle massage, using a smooth object or stone. It was adapted from the traditional body gua sha massage technique used in Chinese Medicine.
While gua sha bodywork involves vigorous and deeper pressure that’s meant to increase blood flow and Chi to areas of the body in need of healing, facial gua sha uses a gentle but firm, slow pulling of the skin. This benefits the skin by moving lymph and increasing blood flow and blood volume. By manipulating subdermal fascia, it activates and promotes tissue healing. This helps to not only promote overall wellness by detoxifying, boosting the immune system and calming the nervous system, it also greatly improves the complexion! It can help clear the pores, firm and tone the skin, soften lines, lighten hyperpigmentation, and give the skin a radiant glow. With the face carrying over a third of the body’s lymphatic system, facial gua sha can be an incredibly effective tool to promote both overall well being and skin health. Some results are seen immediately while others develop over time with consistent gua sha practice.
The Numerous Benefits of Gua Sha
Stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory systems and boost the immune system – Practicing gua sha regularly helps to move and renew fluids including blood and lymph. This improves circulation and clears stagnation. In Chinese Medicine, stagnation of lymph and blood flow or Chi can be the root of illness. It can also be the root of many skin conditions and signs of aging. The lymphatic system plays an important role in our immune function. It helps the body rid itself of toxins and moves white blood cells to where they are needed for fighting infection.
Calm the nervous system – This gentle massage technique is exceptionally calming and soothing for our nervous system. When we are in a relaxed state, our immune function works more optimally and the body can naturally heal.
Promote collagen production – Stimulating the lymphatic and circulatory systems through facial gua sha can help increase collagen production. This increased collagen helps to fill in wrinkles and plump the skin.
Smooth fine lines and wrinkles – We often hold emotion and tension in our face. This can lead to tissue adhesions and cause lines and wrinkles. When we relax the face through gua sha massage and release tension and tissue adhesions, we can smooth out these lines and release the emotions and tension behind them. The stimulation of the circulatory systems increases blood flow and blood volume and opens up channels for chi flow which also aids in plumping fine lines and wrinkles.
Lift and firm – This massage technique manipulates the fascia, muscles, and layers underneath the dermis which helps to contour and lift the skin.
Reduce puffiness and enhance eye area – Puffiness is usually caused by fluid accumulation due to toxins, or excess salt in the body. Gua sha can help move and drain this excess fluid and help to move toxins out of the body. It is particularly helpful in depuffing the eye area. It can lift hooded lids so the eyes can open wider. Additionally, it helps release tension between the brows softening of any furrows.
Lighten hyperpigmentation – By stimulating blood and lymph circulation, we are aiding the body to repair micro-wounds, scarring and hyperpigmentation
Make skin glow – Moving the lymph and blood detoxifies and brings nutrients and oxygen to the skin, giving it a healthy natural glow and awakening dull skin.
Facial gua sha massage has countless benefits and is a beautiful and nurturing ritual for self-care.
The inspiration for Osmosis was born in Japan the day I took my first enzyme bath in the spring of 1984. As the healing warmth of the bath enveloped my entire body, I was relieved of a crushing nerve pain that had plagued my body for months. At the same time, I dropped into an indescribable experience of sensing the entire universe like never before. As a minuscule part of this journey, a vivid picture of a healing sanctuary with the enzyme bath at the core surrounded by meditative Japanese style gardens and gracious hospitality flashed before my minds eye. From this remarkable moment, I knew it was my calling to bring the Japanese enzyme bath back to West County.
Largest Enzyme bath in Japan
I knew nothing about spas or business. I found a partner in Calistoga who helped me learn about how spas work in exchange for providing the enzyme bath to his mud bath spa. On November 11th, 1984, the foundation was poured for a 400 Sq. ft. prototype which was built out of wood from a recycled chicken coop in Theresa Beldon’s back yard west of Sebastopol. I worked with my friend Steve Stucky from Zen center to create a garden with a stream and beautiful stones to greet guests when they arrived on their way to the small building on the hillside setting.
Prototype Foundation pour 11/11 1984 with Bruce, Evan and Chris Fortin, Ruho Yamada, Allison Dykstra, Eileen and Fay Mulligan
The first baths were offered in May of 1985. My tools were a snow shovel, wheelbarrow, sifting screens and a 1950 Chevy pick up truck with a long bed and tall sides. For years I shoveled, sifted and hauled tons of sawdust as I searched different sources, trying different wood species and delivering the mix to the spa in Calistoga every week. It was a slow start and building interest took time. It was a hand to mouth time and I lived in the same room that I received guests, managing to store my bedding and keep a basic kitchen in a 4-x4 storage area.
First day to offer the enzyme bath May 25th 1985
Photo by Linda Solomon
In the fall of 1987, an article about the enzyme bath was published in the Sunday section of the San Francisco Chronicle. The phone went crazy for months! There were far more people wanting to come than either the Calistoga outlet or the Sebastopol prototype could handle. It was time to start looking for a larger place. I saw an ad in the classifieds for commercial property in the bucolic village of Freestone. When I went to see the place, it was really hard to visualize how it could be nice. The property was very run down with an enormous amount of junk stacked up on the 5 acres. The back of the property along the creek was an undisturbed wilderness paradise that called out for love and protection.
After lots of soul searching, I decided to go for it. It took an arduous 18-month process of fundraising, design work and working through 18 governmental agencies to find out if it could really even happen. In the end, permits were issued and investment money came in, 400 cubic yards of debris was removed, and a complete renovation of the property was completed for a grand opening on November 11th, 1989. My cousin Susan Stein with an extensive background in hotel management soon arrived as Osmosis’s 1st hospitality manager and applied her exceptional expertise and talent to help shape the emerging company culture.
As the boom of the ’90s unfolded, things really took off and the business grew. Outdoor massage areas were added and the main building was repeatedly expanded. Osmosis was one of the only spas in the area for years outside of Calistoga. We were featured in the New York Times several times and as well as a favorite local television show, Bay Area Back Roads, that aired following the Super Bowl Sunday in 1997 which packed the house for months.
First Pagoda Massage 1993
We began the construction of a Kyoto style meditation garden designed by a world expert on Japanese gardens and built by Zen priest Steve Stucky and his landscape crew in 2000. Taking time to view the garden adds an enormous aura of tranquility to the Osmosis experience. It has since been meticulously curated by two dedicated garden artists and has become recognized as one of the most authentic Japanese style gardens in the US.
Meditation Garden 2003
In 2006, we doubled down on our commitment to sustainability and conducted a total eco renovation of the property and our operations including building a constructed wetland to recycle all the gray water from the spa. At that time, I also founded the Green Spa Network which has become a national organization supporting environmental consciousness and practices within the spa industry.
Constructed Wetlands 2006
As a cornerstone of our business our remarkable staff formed the following vision and mission for Osmosis:
Introduce and establish the enzyme bath as a genuinely beneficial form of heat therapy.
Build a profitable, sustainable business enterprise that conveys a right-livelihood opportunity/situation for owners, managers, and employees.
Create a restful sanctuary conducive to effective relaxation and therapy that contributes a sense of well-being to this world.
As we arrive at our 30th anniversary in Freestone on November 11th, 2019, we celebrate how the “Osmosis Experience” has touched so many people. This experience, in its totality, resonates at a deep level with our guests and creates a feeling of being at home, comfortable and very well taken care of. The whole gestalt of Osmosis; the services, the place and the people are like a magic balm that soothes one’s soul. We now have a dedicated following that holds Osmosis with a sense of reverence and gratitude as well as a staff that is committed to creating a “zone of peace” while fulfilling their needs and expectations.
Watch our video where Michael Stusser, founder and owner of Osmosis Day Spa, shares the story of how he discovered the Cedar Enzyme Bath in Kyoto, Japan over thirty years ago and brought it back to the States HERE!
You are invited to join our anniversary event on Monday, November 11th from 6 to 8 pm.
There will be plenty of good company on this festive evening with a wonderful spread of food provided by Goatlandia and wine compliments of Woodenhead Vineyards.
Be the first to receive the healing vibes of our NEW mini massage spot treatments, see and hear stories of our colorful history including the premiere of the 3 minute Osmosis 11/11 anniversary video and soak your feet in a healing Cedar Enzyme Footbath.
Sign up for our 30 Years in Freestone Celebration HERE!
No matter where you go these days, you hear about CBD. It’s in massage oils, tinctures, gummies, even lotion at the grocery store. In just a few short years, the CBD market has exploded, with an overwhelming range of products available. Yet many of us do not understand what CBD is, how it works, or how to choose a product. Read on to have these questions answered and learn about our exciting new Osmosis CBD enhancement.
What is CBD?
CBD, Cannabidiol, is one of over 100 different plant cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant species. The most commonly known cannabinoid from this plant is THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive, and has been found to have a wide range of potential health benefits. Since most marijuana plants have a relatively low amount of CBD, usually owing to their high THC content, most CBD on the market today comes from hemp plants, which are now federally legal to grow as per the 2018 Farm Bill.
How Does CBD Work?
In the early 1990’s scientists discovered a system of receptors and naturally occurring molecules in the human body that mimics the molecular shape of plant cannabinoids, and named it the endocannabinoid system. Moreover, they discovered that the presence of plant cannabinoids, such as CBD, trigger our body’s natural endocannabinoid production and essentially help to “turn on” the endocannabinoid system to its full effect.
The main function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis within our various body systems. In other words, it exists to return us to biological harmony when we have gotten out of balance. Further study revealed that endocannabinoid receptors are present all over the body: in the brain and nerves, skin, immune system, bone, fat tissue, liver, pancreas, muscles, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, reproductive organs and intestinal tract. In each of these areas, the endocannabinoid system works to return the body to homeostasis and optimum functioning.
CBD, by stimulating our own endocannabinoid system, has been found to have an effect on a wide variety of biological functions, such as pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, and reproductive function.
How can CBD increase the Benefits of Massage?
Many of the benefits of CBD are to be gained from taking an internal CBD product, such as a tincture or edible. Due to CBD’s interaction with certain medications, a consultation with a doctor is recommended before internal use. A CBD massage, on the other hand, is safe for everyone, making the benefits of CBD accessible for all, while enjoying the gifts of touch.
When considering a topical CBD product, such as an oil or cream, it is important to look at the ingredients. Many oils, such as almond or coconut oil, are not able to penetrate the many layers of the skin, so CBD blended in these oils are not effective in carrying the CBD into the deeper layers of tissue. There are, however, specific carrier oils, as well as several essential oils, that are able to permeate the skin layers and into the tissues below, entering the muscles, connective tissue, and blood vessels. When CBD is blended with these specific oils, it is able to deliver the CBD into deeper tissue layers optimizing its benefit to the body.
Eight Benefits of a CBD Massage:
Reduces post-workout soreness and muscle fatigue
Decreases back, shoulder and neck pain
Assists with arthritis pain and joint inflammation
Reduces inflammation due to strain or injury
Helps with sore feet, plantar fasciitis, or bunions
Decreases discomfort associated with peripheral neuropathy
Helps with fibromyalgia pain
Addresses skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne mosquito bites
Osmosis is excited to launch our CBD Massage Enhancement, using products from Colorado-based company, Lacuna Botanicals! After months of testing and vetting various CBD products, we havefound a product that we find highly effective, and feel great about sharing it with our guests.
Combining thoughtfully sourced ingredients with a potent dose of CBD, Lacuna Botanicals has created an effective line of products that are capable of addressing a variety of physical ailments. Using over 10 different essential oils with plant terpenes to help direct the action of CBD into deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue, Lacuna Botanicals offers a CBD product highly effective in the relief of pain and inflammation.
What we Love about Lacuna Botanicals:
Farm to massage table supplier. Lacuna Botanicals grows their own hemp.
Isolated CBD used in their products mean they are 100% THC free, while still being naturally sourced from homegrown full-spectrum hemp oil.
Carrier oils help to deliver CBD to muscle and connective tissue where it is most needed.
Pain reducing essential oils help to direct the action of CBD for maximum relief.
Earth friendly farming practices are combined with sustainably sourced all-natural ingredients.
Our CBD Massage Enhancement utilizes both the Lacuna Botanical Deep Tissue Cream and the Lacuna Blue Pain Relief Lotion to provide over 180 mg of CBD in a full body massage with spot treatment on the areas you need it most.
The formulators of Lacuna Botanicals products carefully selected ingredients to complement and enhance the benefits of pure CBD isolate. Some of these include:
Beeswax: Beeswax carries antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that are essential in fighting chapped skin and bacterial infections that tend to affect us most in the dry, winter months. It forms a protective wall by sealing in moisture in our skin without smothering and clogging up the pores.
Basil Oil: Basil oil contains vitamin C that boosts skin cells metabolism, improves blood circulation and helps increase and optimize various metabolic functions of the body.
Borage Seed Oil: Borage Seed oil is rich in gamma-linoleic acid, or GLA, an omega-6 type of essential fatty acid. Oils high in GLA (like borage oil) could help reduce inflammation associated with acne and support fuller hair growth.
Tea Tree Oil: This seemingly simple oil contains around 100 different components, including molecules called terpenes that seem to exhibit antimicrobial properties. Specifically one active ingredient called terpinen-4-ol has gained attention because of its antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inﬂammatory and antifungal properties.
Wintergreen Oil: Wintergreen oil is readily absorbed through the skin and the presence of methyl salicylate causes an anesthetic effect. It also increases the circulation of the blood and brings warmth to the area in which it is applied.
Heather Bishop is the Massage Therapy Supervisor at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary. She has been practicing massage and bodywork for over 17 years and performs a wide variety of modalities, specializing in deep tissue and east west fusion massage. In addition to massage, Heather is also a Registered Yoga Teacher of 15 years and teaches at Soulstice in Santa Rosa. She loves having daily opportunities to help others and is a proud member of the Osmosis team.
Summer’s here in Sonoma County California and the rains have stopped. This means it’s time to water. Since water is increasingly precious it’s important to use it to best effect. My pruning mentor Dennis Makishima enlivened in me the love of growing trees in containers and it was he who said, “Watering is an art”. Those words changed me forever, remaking what might have been a mindless routine into a conscious relational act bordering on spiritual. As I came to understand it watering is a complex, intriguing aspect of plant care.
Effective watering depends on a plant’s needs, soil composition, sun and wind exposure, and temperature. A recurring concern is how much water and how often. Over-watering is especially problematic since we generally don’t see the effects until it’s too late with no remedy short of re-potting. To avoid this dilemma we learn from bonsai artists to use soil mix that is virtually without organic matter consisting only of drainage material. Most bagged potting mixes have high levels of humus, compost, etc. which retain water in such varying and unknown quantities that accurate assessment of soil moisture is difficult. Using the high drainage formula allows excess water to drain immediately. While eliminating the fear of over-watering this mix also means we must guard against drying out. So a regular seasonal schedule of watering is required. To help gauge soil moisture an inexpensive hydrometer may be available at local hardware stores or nurseries. In the absence of a hydrometer, a quick check of water retention can be done by lifting the container (when possible) to judge weight. A light container likely means it’s time to water. A plant that has seriously dried out can be dunked in a bucket of water; holding the soil level below water will elicit bubbles as air spaces are filled with water. Remove the container and water runs out to proper level. Another aspect of humus-free mix is that fertilizing is up to us. Proper fertilizing is an art unto itself and too lengthy a discussion for the current effort. Stay tuned.
Hose-end hand watering is best with a gently showering nozzle. This implement avoids splash-out of soil while freshening foliage without damage.
Most considerations for watering containers are applicable to watering in-ground plants. While clearly we are not responsible for overall soil conditions in our garden (e.g. loamy, clayey, sandy) amending that soil is critical. Adding humus-y composted material is almost always a good idea. It adds nutrients, aerates, and paradoxically improves both drainage and water retention. Hand-watering (holding a hose in hand) is generally ineffective for getting water to the roots of all but the slightest of bedding plants. For trees and shrubs a simple inexpensive sprinkler does the job nicely, especially when combined with a calendar and a standard household timer. For most trees, it’s best to water infrequently and deeply: every 3 to 4 weeks; 45 minutes; shrubs 20-30 minutes. Native plants may require less water, but please remember that drought “tolerant” plants may actually do somewhat better with slightly more water. Careful experimentation is the key. Established trees and shrubs should be watered out to the drip line (foliage circumference) as this is where the feeder roots grow. Watering at the trunk is largely ineffective. Newly planted specimens should be watered so as to encourage roots to spread out.
Regarding drip irrigation, there are pros and cons with both containers and in-ground gardens. On the plus side, drip allows us to water without being present and it can be automated. It helps sustain life, especially with initial planting. On the other hand, while seemingly carefree drip irrigation requires regular attention. We must examine emitters for location and potential clogging due to soil and bugs. Tubing should be checked for leaks, disconnects and kinks. Also, dissemination of water is limited by emitters (narrow gravity-driven trajectory) and sprayers rarely get deep enough. In addition emitters are rated at gallons per hour and it’s unusual to see a system set for more than 15 to 20 minutes. This might be ok for bedding plants but has little effect on trees and shrubs. Just as we water the newly planted increasingly toward the drip line, drip emitters must be periodically moved outward to accommodate spreading roots.
For me the biggest drawback to drip is that it separates us from actually tending to and interacting with our plants in an essential way. Hand-watering, when done consciously, affords an opportunity to inspect our trees forinsects, disease and general well-being. We become familiar with a healthy look and are therefore more aware of changes that indicate stress or threat. Perhaps the most profound benefit is the intimacy it brings – a chance to say hello to each plant and to bask in the silence of its reply.