Usually, when you think about getting a facial, you think about the benefit to your skin. It cleanses the pores, helps reduce wrinkles and swelling, and can give you that extra hydration boost you need. But have you ever considered how a facial can affect your immunity, release tension and lower stress levels?
Our face is the part of ourselves from which we meet the world. We both express and protect ourselves through the structures of our face. It is home to almost 20 different surface muscles that control our expressions and help us communicate. These muscles hold tension from daily stress, whether it be in the forehead, jaw or around the mouth. When these muscles are massaged in a therapeutic way, this tension is released, and your face is able to let go of the stress it has been carrying.
Our face is also where we bring in air and food, and thus is where the majority of germs are able to enter our system. This makes our face a major player in our immune system, and it is home to dozens of lymph nodes and white blood cells. These lymph nodes, along with their associated vessels, are not only important players in our immune system, but also help to filter and clean our blood and fluids.
When our skin and muscles are touched and massaged, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated. This is the part of our nervous system that stimulates our digestive system, causes us to release hormones that relax the mind and body, and induces a state of peaceful awareness. It is one of the reasons that human touch feels so relaxing to us ‒ our body literally reacts by shifting toward a restful state.
We can also look at the face from an eastern, Chinese medicine perspective. Our face is home to many acupressure points ‒ almost every single meridian in the body starts or ends somewhere in our face or on our head. Stimulating these points can create a wide variety of effects, from clearing the sinuses, to getting rid of a headache, to calming the mind.
In addition to addressing the above, we also include aromatherapy as a part of our facial experience. The different scents can trigger a variety of emotional and physical responses ‒ such as an elevated mood, a clear and focused mental state, and release of tension.
All of these systems ‒ muscular, lymphatic, nervous and energetic ‒ are stimulated and affected when you receive a facial. From the moment your esthetician has you take a couple deep breaths, to the first touch of a warm cloth on your face, your nervous system will start to relax. As they massage your facial muscles, layers of stress will have the opportunity to melt away. When acupressure points are stimulated, you might feel a relief of pressure in your sinuses or your head. Or you might feel a release of tension that translates through your whole body.
At Osmosis one of our deeply held values is a dedication to continued growth, both professionally and personally. As such, our estheticians have many opportunities throughout the year to increase their skills through a variety of training. In the past 6 months alone they have undergone a facial massage skill sharing class, a cupping training, and product knowledge workshops.
Our goal is always to be offering more than just skincare, but rather a relaxation experience that not only brings you to a state of tranquility but also induces a whole body therapeutic experience.
Written by Heather Bishop, Spa Services Manager at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, April 2023
As a long time bodyworker I am always looking for new massage techniques, different ways to use my hands and deepen my understanding of the body, to help ease people’s pain and tension. Near the beginning of my bodywork career I had learned a Barefoot Shiatsu massage, done on the floor with the client clothed, and found it to be fascinating.
However it was lost amidst all the other massage modalities I was learning, and my interests, as well as my career in the spa world, veered toward a specialization in deep tissue, Swedish Esalen massage and other types of oriental bodywork.
Fast forward many years later and thousands of deep tissue massages, and I could start to feel the wear on my wrists and shoulders. I was worried that doing the work I love was no longer sustainable, and I knew that I needed to find a different way to address the deep tension that I kept seeing, in person after person. And then I was re-introduced to barefoot massage, and a whole new world opened up for me. This time I studied a Barefoot Masters™ massage, which is done with oil or cream, much like a Swedish or deep tissue massage, and on a massage table. Sturdy bars erected on the ceiling serve to help the therapist navigate around the table, and a solid table at the client’s head enables some seated massage to also be done, still using the feet. I was like a beginner again, fumbling through to learn how to use this tool that had been, literally, under me the whole time. I had to scrub and polish and take care of my feet like never before, and I had to learn how to use my body in a whole new way, engaging myself from head to toe. Like learning to dance it felt awkward at first, but with each practice session I found myself falling into rhythm and finding the flow, training my feet how to move with grace and ease.
Today I received a barefoot massage from one of the students I just taught, and it was like receiving that dance, with strong pressure and grace of presence, and feeling it change my body, melting and reshaping. When I laid down on the table at the start of the barefoot massage, my body felt hard and tight, full of stress and areas of mild pain. Afterward, as I drove home, I realized all that tension was gone, melted away, and I felt an ease of being that made me smile in deep gratitude. And if I hadn’t known she was using her feet, I never would have noticed, I was too busy feeling utterly relaxed by the slow, broad deep pressure being applied.
I am beyond ecstatic that Osmosis Day Spa, my beloved work home, will be able to offer this transformative type of bodywork starting December 2022. We have taken the best of the Barefoot Masters™ work, Barefoot Shiatsu, Esalen influenced Swedish massage, and our own innovation to create an Osmosis Barefoot Massage. It might sound strange, to be massaged by feet, but I can promise you, it will blow your mind.
Because a foot offers a broad, wide surface to distribute the weight of the practitioner’s body, the Osmosis Barefoot Massage is able to offer a highly effective deep massage that does not feel pokey or bony or painful. Moving slowly, the practitioner’s foot is able to broaden and smooth out knots in the myofascial tissue while simultaneously creating deep relaxation for the nervous system. Using the full weight of their body, and with the help of overhead bars to adjust pressure, practitioners are able to give as much pressure as anyone could want, but also go lightly if needed.
You might think – “Well that sounds great on my back, or maybe my legs, but what about my arms and hands, or neck?” Believe it or not, our barefoot massage has got those areas covered too! Using the ball of the foot, or even skillful toes, practitioners can give the best forearm massage you’ve ever had (I’m not kidding), loosen the neck and even take care of your foot tension. It really is almost too good to be true, but I promise you it is. And today, I was the lucky recipient!
One could also ask – “But aren’t the feet dirty?” Yes, but we have figured that out as well. Using freshly cleaned sandals, our barefoot practitioner will wash their feet with soap and water while you get on the table, and their feet will not touch the ground again until they finish the massage, protected in their sandals. We also keep disinfecting wipes and warm towels on hand, just in case. Our therapists have been trained to safely and effectively perform this massage, taking every precaution to ensure your comfort.
Clearly, the only question left to ask is – “When can I get an Osmosis Barefoot Massage?” As soon as you can book one! We can’t wait to see you in the treatment room.
_____ Written December 2022, by Heather Bishop, Spa Services Manager at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary
We are thrilled to be able to offer this amazing and effective new modality to our valued clientele starting December 2022!
Drawing from a variety of foot-based massage techniques from around the globe, this massage is performed almost entirely with the practitioner’s feet, using cream or oil. Therapists use bars on the ceiling to manipulate their body weight to be able to provide a variety of pressure levels for a truly therapeutic experience.
EXPERIENCE DEEP BODYWORK
Utilizing the broad, firm pressure offered by the feet, this modality is both thoroughly relaxing and highly effective at releasing myofascial tension and working through multiple layers of muscle tissue. This full body massage is appropriate for anyone who likes deep work, has an athletic body type, or has myofascial tension needing to be released.
Have you ever wished your massage therapist could penetrate your muscles and tissues more deeply? This is the modality for you, and we think you’ll love it! Reach out to our Guest Services team at 707-823-8231 to book your experience today!
Osmosis is proud to partner with Laurel Skin Care, a local Sonoma County brand that uses entirely plant based and organic ingredients in their handmade skin care products. Laurel is a perfect partner for Osmosis, as we share in our vision of enriching the local, and broader, community with earth friendly products created and delivered with love and intention.
With a handful of partnering regenerative, organic and biodynamic farms, found within 100 miles of their Petaluma apothecary-lab, Laurel’s namesake line captures California’s hearty terrain and natural abundance in each and every bottle. In the practice of mindfully sourced beauty, Laurel relies on her own manufacturing and production capabilities for every step.
Unlike many spas that rely heavily on fancy equipment and chemically enhanced products, the Osmosis approach to skincare is holistic and based in our reverence for nature and the healing power of touch. Rather than rely on chemicals and machinery, we have learned that plants contain a much more potent and bio-available form of skin healing that works with our body’s own chemistry, not against it.
Our Laurel facials are entirely plant-based, using the potent healing power of roots, leaves, stems, flowers and seeds to cleanse, fortify, and enrich the skin. Used consistently over time, a plant based skin care regimen can work to draw toxins out of the skin and replenish with vitamins and minerals designed by nature herself, right here in our own backyard.
In addition to this plant-based healing, our highly skilled estheticians offer up their compassionate touch to enhance the power of plant medicine with facial massage that helps to clear the lymphatic system, reduce the effects of aging, increase circulation and induce deep relaxation. We offer natural and effective enhancements to our facials as well, such as Gua Sha, facial cupping, and plant based enzyme peels.
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. 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.