Welcome to the first Yoga Spa Blog! We want to begin posting these frequently as an opportunity to connect with our community and share what we love so much about providing yoga classes and spa services in New York City. Let us know what you think about our posts, and feel free to suggest ideas for what you’d like to read about next!
For our first blog we want to focus on what might be obvious in some ways, and also what we appreciate so much about the beautiful space we hold at Yoga Spa. The subject of today’s post is why offer yoga and spa experiences under one roof?
There’s a lot of overlap surface level – essential oils, focus on maintaining the physical body, doing something that makes us feel good. As we go deeper, we can see other common bonds. Breathing through an intense period of pressure during a deep tissue massage and breathing through a strenuous yoga pose may challenge the brain in a similar way. Relaxing on props in a restorative yoga position and resting on a massage table underneath skilled hands can both help release lingering tension built up from day to day.
We have a lot to gain from massage therapy and practicing yoga. You might feel it yourself when you roll off of a massage table or step off your mat – a sense of lightness, ease, balance, and improved health. We can also reference science and statistics that support the therapeutic benefits of massage and yoga.
One 60-minute massage can offer immediately noticeable benefits such as released muscle tension, increased circulation, and feelings of heightened relaxation. Regular massage therapy has statistically shown to decrease headache and migraine frequency (maybe even as effectively as popular prescription medications), reduce pain and improve physical function in arthritic knees, and help treat generalized anxiety disorder. (All of the studies aside, have you ever had a scalp massage? That sensation can stand on its own as a WOW experience.)
Significant studies have also been conducted on the benefits of yoga, which of course covers a broad range of lineages and many different activities. The posture (or asana) practice is one piece of a mosaic that includes breath awareness, meditation, and moral and ethical codes. A regular practitioner may be familiar with the Eight-Limbed Path that informs many modern yoga teachers, and even that philosophy is one of many. What’s especially beautiful about the wide scope of yoga is how adaptable it is for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or anything else. Each of these practices, from movement to meditation, supports “respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote[s] recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce[s] stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, [and] improve[s] sleep patterns,” (International Journal of Yoga). How many people do you know that could benefit from one or more of those effects?
Similarly to yoga, massage therapy can also be adapted for each person. Where one person may enjoy deep pressure, another may feel more at-ease with a lighter touch. Warm stones, oils, and other props may be used. A licensed massage therapist is trained to consult on health history and intentions for each individual client’s session, check in on each person throughout the session, and foster an environment where safety, comfort, and relaxation are prioritized.
So if they provide a lot of the same benefits, what’s the point in offering both? One of the great areas where yoga and massage therapy diverge is the scope of services provided by yoga teachers and massage therapists. A yoga teacher may be able to provide skilled and subtle hands-on adjustments during your practice, however a massage therapist goes through extensive training in how to effectively handle someone’s physical body. Body work is a science as much as an art! And how a massage therapist is trained in the hands, a yoga teacher is trained in verbal instruction and how to speak in an efficient way to offer a seamless practice to a range of practitioners. A good teacher may also weave in themes and philosophy through the class to leave a lasting impression on each student, so they may take something they learned off of their mat and into other areas of their life.
While we think of yoga as healing from the inside out, perhaps we can consider massage therapy as healing from the outside in. In tandem, one may find a multi-pronged yet balanced wellness practice. How do you predict you would feel if you committed to consistent yoga practice and massage therapy? You would not need to go every day to see the benefits – simply setting aside routine time for yourself, whether that’s weekly, monthly, or a couple times a year, could make a difference. Your shoulder tension may return, and your worries won’t melt away forever, but as we step out of the spa and studio, we may bring with us a sharpened sense of mindfulness that can help us respond wholesomely the next time life gives us a challenge. And even if you don’t find that to be true, at least you can find satisfaction in investing in yourself during a demanding, busy, beautiful lifetime.
If you are interested in trying out massage therapy or yoga, for the first time or hundredth time, please give us a call or drop by the studio to meet our skilled massage therapists and yoga teachers. And if you visit Yoga Spa regularly for one service or another, maybe try something new! With several different services and class styles, there is something for everyone.