Garden Journal for Spring 2017

japanese garden master pruner

By Michael Alliger

The garden in spring is a growing thing; never more apparent than following a rainy winter such as we’ve experienced here in West Sonoma County.


Pruning is the subject at hand. The question is often asked whether winter is the best season for pruning. It is one of them but a spring such as this should put paid to the question. From maples and pines to hedges and ground covers, the garden’s plants are burgeoning: encroaching on paths, nudging neighbors, blurring definitions, feeling themselves in such abundance that nature’s drive is palpable. It’s a celebration in the garden! An explosion of flowers and tender new foliage. Yet at the same time a garden without defined space soon reverts to the wildness of nature. So not only are we weeding at full tilt, but the ebullience of spring alerts us to the need for pruning.  With its absence of leaves winter asks for pruning, but with its leafy eruption spring demands it.

Pine Trees

Mugo pine

Mugo Pine

One of the most interesting forms of new growth occurs on pine trees. The Japanese Black Pine, the rounded Mugo Pine and our native Shore Pine all have very prominent spring shoots standing straight up like fingers or “candles” as they are referred to by garden pruners.  From the thousand-year old tradition of Japanese gardens to today scores of techniques have developed for embracing the pine tree’s growth habit in the interest of control and style.  Control and style are the watchwords of Aesthetic Pruning. 

Here at Osmosis, an Asian-inspired garden, our approach to these enthusiastic candles is to remove them entirely banking on their replacement shoots over the summer months for health and style. 

Indeed, the single candle removed will be replaced by a multiplicity of shorter shoots more conducive to the size and shape of the garden’s requirements.

Maple Trees

mounding maple

Mounding maple

Maples are another genus of trees prominent in Asian gardens and we have several varieties here at Osmosis.  Even with winter pruning these trees need a spring thinning.  There are generally two flushes of growth: one in early spring (April-May) and another in late summer (July-August).  Spring growth on maples is usually fine textured and thick while summer growth can be more coarse and rangy.  

Two broad categories of maples are upright and mounding (umbrella-style).  Upright maples are reduced and opened at the top to control size as well as let light and air into lower and inner branches.  The middle of the tree is thinned to reveal graceful structure and to enhance the interplay of light and shadow.  Lower branches are pruned for horizontal effect, creating layers or planes.  Mounding maples are usually of the dissectum type with finely cut leaves.  Their weeping habit allows for increase in size (especially height) much more gradually than upright trees.  This makes control less important while thinning is emphasized to show structure.  The beautifully arching branches can be obscured as they lay on top of each other sometimes creating a dense mound.  Pruning is approached in two ways: the outer branches may be gently lifted and cut back to reveal those beneath while the inner branches are thinned (surprisingly enough!) by working beneath and inside the tree where possible.

The focus here has been on two focal point trees as they are, being the most noticeable, the first to be pruned.  As the season progresses and time allows, the background and other supporting  plants are groomed.  So now, take heart, and answer the call of spring’s beckoning!

The Osmosis Fusion – Our Signature Massage

By Raizelah Bayen

Pagoda massage osmosis day spaEstablished in Northern California in 1985, Osmosis is a living blend of Eastern and Western culture, esthetic and hospitality.  The development of our signature massage, the Osmosis Fusion, reflects this by weaving together Eastern and Western massage modalities.  Launched in May of 2016, the Osmosis Fusion is one of our most popular and frequently booked massages at the spa.  

Roots of the Fusion Massage

The Osmosis Fusion Massage is a blend of four different massage modalities. Long strokes of Western Swedish Esalen Massage, pressure point techniques of Japanese Shiatsu, joint mobilization used in T’ui Na (Chinese Massage), body stretches common in Thai Massage, and a taste of our unique offering of Essential Acupressure.  

Taking the best from the West and the East, this massage is revitalizing, opening, gently energizing while simultaneously deeply relaxing.  

Blending Modalities Bearing Deeper Benefit

Swedish Esalen Massage was developed in the 1960’s at the Esalen Institute with the understanding that massage deepensswedish esalen massage body awareness.  The long full-body strokes characteristic of Esalen Massage give you the opportunity to experience your body as a whole, rather than in parts. The dynamic mobilization used in Esalen Massage nurtures a sense of connection, particularly of how one body part, such as the arm, is connected to the other body parts, such as the shoulder and chest. Esalen techniques cultivate an experience of wholeness, feeling how the front and back bodies relate through movement, or how the inner and outer bodies form a complete experience of self.  Swedish Esalen Massage nurtures self awareness.

Japanese massage, Shiatsu, addresses the body with pressure point massage, and complements the feeling of connectedness cultivated in Esalen Massage, by working along the meridians or energy pathways of the body. The meridians of the body either course from head to toe, or from the outer extremity, such as the finger or toe, to the torso. With pressure point Shiatsu, we are stimulating the acupressure points along these meridians to activate the flow the Chi where it may be blocked, to build Chi where it may be deficient, and the bring about greater balance.

T' ui Na MassageThe range-of-motion of T’ui Na, opens the “gates,” so to speak. These “gates” are the major joints of the body. In order for Chi to flow freely from one body area to another, these gates need to remain open. To ensure freedom of movement and abundant Chi flow, T’ui Na emphasizes joint mobilization.

The stretches of Thai are a perfect complement to the other massage modalities, opening and lengthening the muscles,
meridians and gateways of the body. Thai is sometimes referred to as “yoga massage.” But do not be intimidated by this name. You do not need to be a yogi or to be especially flexible to receive Thai Massage stretches. The gentle stretches used in this massage will increase flexibility for you.

Finally, the Osmosis Fusion Massage includes a taste of Essential Acupressure. Here we are using specific Essential Oils onEssential Meridian Massage particular acupressure points to bring about greater balance and sense of well-being. The function of the oil is matched with the function of the acupressure point for a deeper synergistic effect. Essential Acupressure can be used to address a wide variety of health concerns. In the Fusion Massage, we use Lavender and Marjoram essential oils on the Master Points of the Great Regulator Channel to regulate the flow of the Yin and the Yang Chi of the body.

By blending this variety of techniques, you can be sure this massage addresses every level of your being – physical, emotional and energetic. It clears tension, builds Chi, opens the joints, lengthens the muscles, and brings balance to the emotions.

You will leave Osmosis, after a Fusion Massage, feeling deeply relaxed, gently revitalized, moving with greater ease, and enveloped with a sense of well-being.

Osmosis Fusion Arises from Osmosis Teamwork

The development of our unique offering, the Osmosis Fusion, arose out of teamwork and collaboration. The Massage Therapist Supervisor gave a group of massage therapists, each with extensive training in both Eastern and Western massage modalities, the opportunity to have input on the development of this massage. Three massage therapists met with their supervisor to sketch the protocol, which was later refined with group input, and then presented through a series of trainings to much of the large massage staff at Osmosis.

Osmosis is a unique healing center, and continues to be a leader in the spa industry. We continue to grow, creating new and refined services of unparalleled quality. The Osmosis Fusion is a prime example of our team’s pioneering spirit, creativity and innovation. Try it for yourself!  Click here to book an appointment for a Fusion Massage or for a Transformation Package, which includes both a Cedar Enzyme Bath and an Osmosis Fusion Massage.  


Raizelah Bayen, Massage Therapist Supervisor and Trainer at Osmosis Day SpaRaizelah Bayen is a California Certified Massage Therapist, currently employed as the Director of Training and Massage Therapist Supervisor at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone, California.  She has been practicing massage for over 25 years, and teaching T’ui Na, Acupressure, Sports and Pregnancy Massage in massage certification programs for 15 years.  Raizelah is an approved CEU Instructor by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), offering trainings in Freestone, California and on-site training at your massage school or spa.  For more information, connect with Raizelah Bayen on LinkedIn.

Please contact 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.

Essential Meridian Massage

By Raizelah Bayen

Osmosis Day Spa continues to be a pioneer in the spa industry, blending bodywork modalities to develop unique services that are unmatched by other spas.

Two years ago, Osmosis launched an Eastern massage combination, exclusive to our spa, called the Essential Meridian Massage.  This modality combines T’ui Na, which is Chinese Meridian Massage, with Essential Acupressure, utilizing the potency of essential oils to activate acupressure points.  

What is T’ui Na?T' ui Na Massage

T’ui Na is an ancient form of meridian massage developed over 5,000 years ago in China. T’ui Na Meridian Massage is comprised of several massage techniques performed along the Meridians of the body to build and balance Chi flow, or the bioelectrical currents of the body.  The Chinese have taught us that tension or pain in the body is the physical manifestation of blocked or stagnant Chi. Chinese Meridian Massage techniques increase the flow of Chi through the channels, clearing blocked energy, what we may refer to as tension, pain or soreness.

To understand T’ui Na, you must first understand the premise on which this massage was developed.  The first premise is that the physical body is only part of your entire being. The Chinese understand the human being to have 3 aspects:

  • The Yang aspect of one’s being, the physical body which manifests as activity or movement in the world.
  • The Yin aspect, the inner Chi or bioelectrical aspect of the body.
  • 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.

What is 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 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 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.

The Healing Benefit 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 systems 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 the 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.

Essential Meridian MassageWhat is Essential Acupressure?

In Essential Meridian Massage, we dedicate the first half of the session to T’ui Na, recharging our batteries and rebalancing the Chi flow over all. In the second half of the session, we apply specific essential oils to specific acupressure points, addressing expressed health concerns. Acupressure points are vortexes of energy located along the meridian pathways.  Devices that measure bioelectricity measure higher at these points. There are various methods traditionally used to stimulate these points, such as acupuncture needles or Chinese massage techniques. In Essential Acupressure, the points are stimulated by the essential oil. The oil is carefully matched with the point, so that the healing properties of the oil complement the healing function of the point for a greater synergistic effect.  

What Health Concerns can be Addressed with Essential Acupressure?

There are wide variety of health concerns that Essential Acupressure can address, such as:

  • Release shoulder-neck tension
  • Deepen sleep
  • Calm and center a scattered mind
  • Ease digestive tension
  • Increase mental focus
  • Build energy
  • Build immunity
  • Lift low spirits
  • Clear swelling
  • Clear frustration/agitation
  • Warm cold, stiff muscles or joints
  • Ease menstrual tension
  • Relief of menopausal hot flashes

When combined in one session, Chinese Meridian Massage and Essential Acupressure address the whole person. While the Meridian Massage is brisker paced and more nourishing to the organ systems, Essential Acupressure is more meditative, promoting greater balance and health.  

How can I learn more or book an appointment in Essential Meridian Massage?

To book an appointment in Essential Meridian Massage, contact Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary. To learn more about Essential Meridian Massage, click here to view our video explanation.  To learn self-help tools in Essential Acupressure, Follow our YouTube Channel to view our upcoming series.



Raizelah Bayen, Massage Therapist Supervisor and Trainer at Osmosis Day SpaRaizelah Bayen is a California Certified Massage Therapist, currently employed as the Director of Training and Massage Therapist Supervisor at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone, California.  She has been practicing massage for over 25 years, and teaching T’ui Na, Acupressure, Sports and Pregnancy Massage in massage certification programs for 15 years.  Raizelah is an approved CEU Instructor by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), offering trainings in Freestone, California and on-site training at your massage school or spa.  For more information, connect with Raizelah Bayen on LinkedIn.

Please contact 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.

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary Leader, Raizelah Bayen, Approved to Offer CEUs in Massage and Aromatherapy in California



April 3, 2017

Raizelah Bayen, Massage Therapist Supervisor and Trainer at Osmosis Day SpaFREESTONE, CA  Senior Massage Supervisor at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, Raizelah Bayen, is now approved by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) to offer CEUs in massage and aromatherapy. Ms. Bayen’s NCBTMB Board certification is the highest voluntary credential available in the massage profession.

Ms. Bayen has lead Osmosis’s team of 35 massage therapists for over three years and has over 15 years of teaching experience in a state approved massage certification programs. Ms. Bayen has offered classes in Body Mechanics for Bodyworkers, Table Thai Massage, Table Shiatsu, Pregnancy Massage, Sports Massage, and Lymphatic Drainage Massage. Of recent merit was her leadership in the development of the Osmosis Essential Meridian Massage, which combines T’ui Na Chinese Meridian Massage with Essential Acupressure, and the Osmosis Fusion Massage.

Osmosis is excited to announce that Raizelah Bayen’s massage modality trainings are now open to the public, providing massage therapists the opportunity to enhance their skills while receiving continuing education credits. Upcoming trainings include Body Mechanics for Bodyworkers on May 10, and Foot Reflexology for Everyone on June 5 and 6. Trainings will be held at the Sebastopol Community Center. Class descriptions and registration are available at


About Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary Inspired by a vision of healing, beauty, and inner peace, Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary was founded in Sonoma County in 1985 by Michael Stusser. A leader in the day spa industry, Osmosis has established a reputation as a landmark hospitality destination in Northern California. The Cedar Enzyme Bath, a rejuvenating heat treatment from Japan is offered exclusively in the U.S. by Osmosis. Located on five secluded acres in a scenic valley 1.5 hours north of San Francisco, Osmosis is an Asian-style retreat with authentic Japanese gardens. Just minutes from the breathtaking Sonoma Coast, wine country and redwoods. For more information, visit or call Jennifer Klein at 707.827.1203 Link to High Res Photos: Press Kit

Osmosis Day Spa Meditation Garden

Vital People – Vital Planet

Creek-path at osmosis

By Michael Stusser

We are deeply impressed with the stellar work of an international tree planting organization. WeForest, the source of the content below.

Our question is: How can the Osmosis community of staff and guests support this vitally important work?

“We are a global tribe of Climate-conscious citizens committed to Making Earth Cooler with trees. Why plant trees? Forests represent one of the largest, most cost effective climate solutions available today.”

With the Paris Agreement (COP21 in December 2015), world governments committed to limiting carbon emissions to keep global warming “well below” a 2°C rise above pre-industrial levels, and possibly below a 1.5°C rise. In order to achieve this we must achieve carbon neutrality by the second half of this century.

While reducing carbon emissions is critical, research suggests that even if carbon dioxide emissions came to a sudden halt, the carbon dioxide already in the Earth’s atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years. Therefore, the challenge is to not only reduce future carbon emissions, but to actively remove existing carbon from our atmosphere.

The solution

Trees are the best technology to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reverse global warming.

  • Forests balance the Earth’s water-cycle essential for cooling our climate.
  • In addition, forests play another vital role in stabilizing the climate by sucking carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere and fixing it into soils and biomass.
  • 50% of a tree’s biomass is carbon which remains stored, acting as a ‘carbon sink’, unless the tree decays or is burned.
  • Global forests are estimated to hold more CO2 than the atmosphere.


More than 2 billion hectares of land  (or the equivalent of 50% of the world’s forests) are degraded and have been identified as having potential for Forest Restoration. Restoring 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded soils by 2030 (the equivalent of 41% of the size of Brazil’s land surface), whilst at the same time reducing deforestation rates by half, may be enough to limit global warming to +2 °C The timing and extent of action is critical.



Women make up 70% of the world’s poor and earn only 10% of its income. Planting trees creates jobs. Restoration activities such as establishing tree nurseries, seed collection, tree planting and aftercare, create jobs that are inclusive of women and provide opportunities for them to become entrepreneurs.

Livelihood: often the problems of poverty and forest degradation are intertwined. Restoring forests, coupled with sustainable forest management, can help lift economies and provide business opportunities which depend on the protection and nurturing of natural resources.


Water: trees maintain a healthy soil filtration system which helps ensure water quality. They enhance water quantity by promoting cloud formation and precipitation, slowing surface ‘run-off’, stabilizing water course flow, and helping recharge groundwater reserves.

Soil: trees restore soils by enriching the organic content and protect them, preventing erosion and landslides. This benefits both climate and agriculture, yet 75% of world’s soils are considered degraded.

Biodiversity: forests are home to 80% of terrestrial biodiversity and house over two-thirds of known terrestrial species, including the largest share of threatened species. By restoring forests we help expand habitat ranges for both flora and fauna.

Oxygen: Forests are the lungs of the Earth, producing oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. They play a key role in generating air moisture content, generating air flow, and improving general air quality.


Clouds: Tropical forests are critical for regulating the climate because they not only absorb carbon, they increase cloud cover through transpiration and cloud nucleation, which helps cool the planet.

Carbon: 50% of a tree’s biomass is carbon which remains stored (unless the tree decays or is burned), acting as a ‘carbon sink’. In addition, trees are essential for preventing soil degradation and loss of carbon stored in soils.

This information is taken from the website