Thirty Years in Freestone

Anniversary Message

By Michael Stusser

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

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

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

First day to offer the enzyme bath May 25th 1985

Photo by Linda Solomon

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.

Osmosis 1985After 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

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

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

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!

 

Benefits of CBD in Massage

Deep Tissue Pro 500 mg

By Heather Bishop, CMT

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

CBD Massage Enhancement at Osmosis using Lacuna Botanicals

Lacuna Botanicals

Osmosis is excited to launch our CBD Massage Enhancement, using products from Colorado-based company, Lacuna BotanicalsAfter 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.

For a more complete ingredient list of Lacuna Botanicals products, visit https://lacunabotanicals.com/pages/dtingredients

Heather Bishop, CMTHeather 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.

The Art of Watering

By Michael Alliger, Master Pruner

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.

Over-Watering

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.

sprayer

In-Ground Plants

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.

Drip Irrigation

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.

5 Tips for the Optimal Osmosis Summer Experience!

Couple at lunch in Osmosis garden
Summer. A time for being in nature. For fresh air. When our skin gets to feel the warm sun, lie in the cleansing sand. The season designated for relaxation. So what are the best ways to relax at Osmosis this summer? Luckily for us, our beautiful place along Salmon Creek in the scenic village of Freestone makes for a wonderful getaway. Our outdoor areas allow time in nature which is so vital to our physical, mental, and emotional restoration! Here are our top five ways to enjoy Osmosis during the season of abundance.

Pagoda massage osmosis day spa

Massage in the Pagodas. Take a stroll down the wooded paths to a private pagoda and enjoy the songs of nature as you treat your muscles, your skin, and your mind, to some healing kneading.

Hammocks. Need we say more? Sway in the soft breeze along Salmon Creek and rock yourself into a blissful summer dream while receiving a Metamusic sound therapy session.Field of Hammocks

Lunch in the forest. Taste the bounty of local Sonoma County farms while enjoying a fresh, local meal prepared by Fork Roadhouse. Get lost in the views from our eating areas tucked away among the trees.

Summer Skin Care. Let one of our expert estheticians rejuvenate you face, heal sun damage, and hydrate your skin–leaving you looking and feeling your best.

Meditation Gardens. Soak up some rays or relax in the shade. Let your mind come to stillness as you soak in the tranquility of Heart Mind Pond. Take a deep breath. This is what summer is all about.

Whatever you choose to do this summer, make sure you get out and enjoy this beautiful part of the country! These majestic natural landscapes make for wonderful getaways. The time in nature is so important to our physical, mental, and emotional restoration!

twilight in garden

What’s New at Osmosis? T’ui Na

T'ui Na MassageThis active style of Meridian Massage releases deeply held tension. Combining rocking, compression, stretching and joint mobilization, T’ui Na clears blockages, revitalizes your energy, and opens the joints for great ease in movement. This massage leaves you feeling both relaxed and energized.

 

T’ui Na Origins

The Chinese have taught us that tension or pain in the body is the physical manifestation of blocked or stagnant Chi. Developed over 5,000 years ago in China, T’ui Na is an ancient form of Meridian massage, aimed at increasing the flow of Chi through the channels, clearing blocked energy, thus decreasing pain and increasing ease of movement.

Emphasis in this massage is on opening the joints, the “gateways” through which Chi can flow from one body area to another. T’ui Na is an active style of massage mobilizing your joints, stretching muscles and Meridians, and energizing your Chi flow.

To understand T’ui Na, you must first understand the premise on which this massage was developed.  The Chinese medical model understands the human being to have 3 aspects:

  1. The Yang aspect of one’s being, the physical body, which manifests as activity or movement in the world.
  2. The Yin aspect, the Chi or bioelectrical aspect of the body.
  3. The refined product of the Yin and Yang relationship, which is the mental and spiritual body.

In T’ui Na, all 3 aspects of a person’s being are addressed, nourishing health on every level.

Understanding Chi

To many Westerners, Chi may be a difficult concept to grasp. Because it is invisible, people often wonder what it is or if it even exists. Ancient China knew little about the science of electricity. Electromagnetic science has been a field of growing knowledge in the West, in recent decades. Both Eastern and Western practitioners of Chinese medicine and massage have recognized that this energy referred to as “Chi” is the same thing as what today’s science calls “bioelectricity.” Dr. Robert Becker has done important research in the field of bioelectricity. It is understood now that the human body is constructed of many different electrically conductive materials and that it forms a living electromagnetic field and circuit. The body’s bioelectrical energy, Chi, is not only responsible for maintaining life, but also for repairing it.  It is the healing force when tissues of the physical body are damaged or body systems are limited.

tuina massage

Many Healing Benefits of T’ui Na

The Chinese understand that Chi circulates throughout the body through 12 organ Meridians, each of which connect to a different organ system of the body. Through T’ui Na Massage, Chi or energy flow to the internal organs is increased helping to heal tissues that may be weak, strengthening our organ functioning.

T’ui Na takes massage from the level of relaxation to the next level: deepening  health and well being. T’ui Na recharges the batteries of life.

It not only clears tension, promoting ease in the body and life, it also builds Chi, bringing increased energy to the tissues and organ systems of the body.  And as the Chi body (Yin) nourishes the physical body (Yang), we begin to feel more balance between the Yin and Yang aspects of being. There is a sweet sense of well-being that emerges from this feeling of balance. This feeling of well-being penetrates the physical, emotional and spiritual realms. This is the deepest healing that any spa service can offer.


Raizelah Bayen, Spa Services Manager Osmosis Day SpaRaizelah Bayen is the Spa Services Manager at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary. She has 25 years in the field of massage, 15 years as a massage and yoga instructor, and is additionally certified in acupressure, herbology and aromatherapy. Her teaching specialties include Eastern Massage Modalities and Acupressure, Body Mechanics for Bodyworkers, and Integrative Wellness workshops, weaving herbs, aromatherapy, self-massage and yoga into a cohesive themed workshop, such as the one above.  If you are interested in hosting a workshop, please contact Raizelah at raizelah@osmosis.com. For more information, connect with Raizelah Bayen on LinkedIn.

Please contact raizelah@osmosis.com for information on upcoming trainings in T’ui Na, Shiatsu, Thai Massage, Foot Reflexology, and Body Mechanics for Bodyworkers scheduled in Sebastopol, California.  Or book Raizelah for an on-site training in your massage school or spa in T’ui Na, Shiatsu, Thai Massage, Foot Reflexology or Body Mechanics for Bodyworkers.