What a time we have lived through in the last 10 months! A global pandemic that has affected our lives, and our culture, in irreversible ways.
Extreme political division and civil unrest, repeated shutdowns of all non-essential services, and a life suddenly lived over zoom, email, and working from home–if you’re lucky enough to be working at all. Every day we are being asked to bear these burdens and more, which wear on our emotional and psychological resilience. At some point, I am sure almost every single one of us has had a moment of wanting to give up, or a moment of stress levels that feel completely unmanageable. Some words I’ve heard from friends to describe emotions experienced during these moments are: frustrated, worried, isolated, tired, and sad.
How much would you love to know there was something you could do that would lower your stress to pre-COVID levels, relax your muscles, soothe your tensions and boost your immune system? And as an extra bonus, it could also fulfill that deep human need for touch and connection, and provide an opportunity for your body to enter a state of deep relaxation and renewal. What if your doctor, naturopath, chiropractor or acupuncturist could prescribe this treatment for you, as part of your routine preventative health care?
Therapeutic massage can offer relief from a long list of medical symptoms and conditions, as well as provide an essential immune system boost, lowering of stress level, and reset for the nervous system. When massage is provided upon receipt of a doctor’s referral, it is an essential service and can become an integral part of your preventative health care practices, even during this time of COVID shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders.
But is it safe to receive massage right now, when COVID case numbers are rising and ICU beds are full? Unfortunately, nothing short of total isolation in our homes is safe right now; we assume COVID exposure risks every day. However, with that in mind, consider this question – would you visit your doctor right now, if you had a need to see them for an important health concern? What if you knew that visit to your doctor would be a pleasant and effective medicine, and that you would come out feeling relaxed, renewed, and realigned?
It is a time for us to think about risks and priorities. Staying safe and minimizing situations where we could be exposed to COVID is important and a top priority for everyone. However, rising stress or anxiety levels, coupled with social isolation and cabin fever, leaves the body depleted. Stress hormones compromise the immune system, making us more susceptible to any infection. Depression or anxiety further decrease our immunity and can leave us struggling to make it through each day. All of these symptoms are dangerous to our health and enjoyment of life. So I ask you to consider this – would boosting your immunity and mood be a priority to you as well? If you could get a massage in a setting where all COVID guidelines were followed: surfaces sanitized, masks worn, temperatures taken, thorough hand washing before and after your massage, plus two systems of air purification designed to block an airborne virus–it might be worth the very low exposure risk to give your body the boost it needs to keep going, with a renewal of strength and function.
Osmosis values the safety of clients and staff as the highest priority, and we follow all COVID guidelines set forth by the state and county. We also believe that massage IS an essential service, in this time of COVID, and we would love to share this gift with you.
All you have to do is reach out to your trusted doctor (this can include naturopath, chiropractor or acupuncturist, as well as MDs) and let them know you are ready to include massage in your preventative health care practices. Want to know more about how massage can benefit you? See the 25 reasons to get a massage below, have a look around on our website and check out our many massage blogs, or call our Guest Services department. We look forward to hearing from you!
“At a fundamental level, humans have an innate need to connect with nature. When we are in nature – particularly, in a Japanese garden – we feel grounded and our senses are alert. Our pace slows, our heart listens, and our eyes catch subtle moments, like the light shining through the canopy of trees. The mind and body harmonizes with nature, and this journey continues as you step deeper into the garden, where you might encounter unexpected aesthetic or spiritual experiences. In these times, and always, everyone needs a Japanese garden.” – Sadafumi Uchiyama, Chief Curator, Portland Japanese Garden
The Osmosis Spa, best known for the Japanese Enzyme Bath, is also recognized for its authentic Japanese gardens where visitors are invited to experience a healing relationship with nature. Our garden’s flowing waters, soothing evergreens, compelling rock arrangements, and mysterious pathways takes one far away from the familiar demands of daily life. And there are countless subtle fascinations and wonders throughout our garden sanctuary! Artfully pruned shapes that capture the essence of each plant, quiet spaces discovered in corners or reflective pathways, as well as rocks placed in esoteric patterns intended invoke profound stillness.
From the least to the greatest detail, our large Meditation Garden is most captivating. Many visitors have discovered this jewel as a welcomed antidote to the pervasive stress of digital overload and the global health crisis. In addition, Osmosis recently streamed a powerful winter solstice ritual from this garden which was led by an inspired Siberian shaman, to the delight of colorful carp who formed endless patterns among the water lilies as she chanted songs of her ancestors.
Guests who receive services are invited to visit the garden and stay as long as they like, savoring the heightened sense of sensory awareness and inner peace that often follows Osmosis treatments. The impact from your bath, massage, or facial can be amplified many times over by entering this quiet sanctuary.
As we prepare to reopen indoors, Osmosis would like to ensure our community of guests and staff understand the extensive measures we have taken to treat the inside air at Osmosis.
We installed a state-of-the-art air cleaning system in July, called Atmosair, at Osmosis. We feel it is imperative to do everything in our power to protect you and our guests. This system in combination with the 4-stage HEPA filters in every room provides a high level of hygienic indoor air quality.
The system we have installed in our HVAC equipment is called bipolar ionization. It energizes the air to form bipolar — positive and negative — air ions that flows into all of the spaces in our building.
AtmosAir’s technology proactively emits bi-polar ions that attack and neutralize bacteria, mold and virus in a continuous way. Unlike many unverified products, AtmosAir Solutions is backed by science. Bi-Polar Ions emitted to ambient air by the AtmosAir System continuously disinfect both the breathing space and surfaces. It is the most effective system for continuously cleaning and decontaminating indoor air. AtmosAir has shown significant reduction of bacteria and viruses in both laboratory and in situ testing. AtmosAir is over 99.9 percent effective in reducing the coronavirus on surfaces.
This excerpt from a paper written by Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr., Professor of Microbiology and Pathology, New York University School of Medicine in April 2017 provides details on the air purification system that has been installed in the Osmosis HVAC system.
Cleaning Indoor Air using Bi-Polar Ionization Technology
Bipolar ionization is created when an alternating voltage source (AC) is applied to a special tube with two electrodes. When voltage is applied to the tubes electrodes (like electricity is applied to a light bulb’s filament) an ionization field is produced around the tube (just as light is produced from the light bulb). However, the ionization cannot be seen but its presence will result in “mountain air” freshness. Such ions occur naturally especially on mountain tops and waterfalls, where the production of both positive and negative ions purify the air.
The airflow distributes the energized ions into all spaces served by the duct system in an in-duct installation.
Unlike most air purification systems AtmosAir seeks out particulates and contaminants, including germs and does not wait for pollutants to find their way into the filter within the air handler. Instead charged ions go to the contaminants in the space where you breathe, just as in nature, and do so in a continuous fashion and with continuous disinfection.
These positively and negatively charged ions have an effect on dust particles, allergen VOC’s, odors, and bacteria, viruses, molds and mold spores. For example, regarding particles—oppositely charged ions cause particles to attract to other particles and become bigger and heavier, by a process called “agglomeration”. These bigger heavier particles can now be better trapped by HVAC system filters so the filters operate more efficiently. Also the many small particles that are generated within a space by people and their activities may never get to system filters and ordinarily stay suspended in air for long periods and can be breathed in, increasing the chance of illness and respiratory distress. The bi-polar ion process will drop these to the floor quickly taking them away from where we breathe. VOC’s or gaseous chemical off gasses typically cause odors and irritations. These are also a major source of “Sick Building Syndrome” complaints, where people feel ill at work but feel better when they leave the building. Bi-Polar ions break down hydrocarbon chains that make up these complex compounds into immeasurable levels of carbon dioxide and water vapor.
On micro-organisms like bacteria, virus and molds, bi-polar ions will interrupt the reproductive ability of these organisms so rather than colony forming units (cfu) increasing and spreading and expanding, they shrink away and lessen the chance of infection. The Effect of Bipolar Ionization generators on microorganisms: The negative and positive ions that are generated by BPI are designed to treat and allow energy imparted by the ions to transform ordinary oxygen into Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), Superoxides, Peroxides, and Hydroxyls. These ions have the property of clustering around micro-particles, and thus, they surround harmful substances such as airborne mold, viruses, bacteria and allergens. At that point, a chemical reaction occurs on the cell membrane surface, and they are transformed into OH radicals, which are powerfully active (Standard Oxidation Potential [V] = 2.81 for OH vs H2O2 = 1.78 and OO2 = 1.23) and because they are unstable, they rob the harmful substance of a hydrogen atom (H). The result is that they are inactivated by severing the protein on cell membrane, which causes the opening of holes, thusly destroying the entity. The OH radicals instantly bond with the removed hydrogen(H), forming water vapor (H2O) which returns to the air. It is most important to note that bipolar ionization kills microbes without damaging DNA (therefore it does not cause cancer) in the interior of cells and unlike other physical and chemical agents, such as UV light, radioactivity and use of caustic chemicals, BPI is totally GREEN and it does NOT adversely affect the environment in any way. —
In this current time, during the crisis imposed by COVID-19, we find it imperative to discuss the proverbial elephant in the room in our space and industry: the concept of touch.
Our world has endured much in this global pandemic and it has caused many to retreat to home for remote work, learning, and shelter-in-place restrictions.
This limited access to community has put us in a mental, physical, and emotional state of yearning for more interaction; this overwhelming need for interpersonal connection has us figuratively starved in many ways that we may not have quite experienced before.
Having arrived here, let’s consider how we can address and restore comfortability and relief in experiencing healing touch for the purposes of our collective wellbeing.
It is a journey and process.
To start, we must understand that in these very new circumstances, our approach to becoming more comfortable with outside interactions and experiences will be a process and unique personal journey.
It is certainly not a race to normalcy, especially right now; nothing is normal about any of our routines. We must revisit the concept of learning to crawl before we can walk and then run again.
Physiologically, our central nervous system must acclimate to the understandable, reasonable stress of this time.
We have resorted to our most critical routines and behaviors and have not necessarily considered those things that we must do to support our health and wellness needs.
In our personal lives, we’re all finding ways to balance and acclimate in our behaviors. Evaluating reasonable risks against our individual need to stay safe, while also satisfying our holistic needs, is indeed the new-normal. We are all learning how to do this without compromising ourselves and our close-knit communities. There is no right or wrong in how we do this, and it will work differently for everyone.
There are wellness benefits in healing touch.
We believe that healing touch is vital to our wellbeing, and that belief is the core and mission of what drives our existence and who we are at Osmosis.
We also understand how delicate the balance of revisiting our, or any, wellness spa can be against shared, new realities.
In recent months, we’ve heard from all over just how much people are missing their wellness interactions and how they are slowly integrating their yesteryear spa routines back during this time. From physical therapy and rehabilitation to massage treatments, the nurture and healing benefits of touch should not be underestimated—nor should they be considered luxury.
In fact, California has recently approved indoor massage as an essential service when prescribed by a doctor. Massage offers relief for patients struggling with any of the following conditions, which may include chronic stress, anxiety, insomnia, sports injuries, arthritis, soft tissue injuries or strain, headaches, digestive disorders, and more.
Both indoor or outdoor massage at Osmosis may be covered by your Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Savings Account (FSA), workers compensation, or private insurance. Prior approval from your insurance company is recommended and a reimbursement would follow your submission of a receipt from Osmosis. We believe that our massage treatment is beneficial for both health and wellness.
Wellness is a lifestyle and way of living.
Currently, we are observing a notable resurgence in priority of care and wellness during the pandemic. It is becoming a way of life, more than ever now, to make every intentional effort to create the moments of peace and space that refuel us in our daily lives.
From home to work, and everything in between, we support our existing and growing community of guests and patrons in their discovery and balancing of wellness in the face of adversity. Sometimes we all wonder what true wellness should look like, but the truth is there are no hard-and-fast rules or rigidity to what wellness is; but instead simply learning to navigate the flexibility required to be well in mind, body, and spirit—especially now.
Stay well, friends. And do your intentional best to not make concessions on your wellness needs, whatever they may positively be. May the gift of healing touch continue to nurture us along the way. All our love and support to you and your community as we all get through a truly pivotal time. We are here to serve our community, now more than ever, in providing a sanctuary for healing and peace.
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.