Saturday, February 16, 2019

6 Ways to Treat Yourself (that don’t involve money or food)

It’s not hard to think up great ways to treat yourself.  We’d all love a spa day topped off with a gourmet meal prepared and served by someone else.  Maybe get a sitter for the night, so the little angels are asleep when we get home.  Or just enjoy a morning where the cat doesn't wake you up by sitting on your windpipe.

But for every article about self-care, I roll my eyes at least 12 times and think "Who can afford that?"  I’m all about realistic self-care.  Meaning, activities that aren't expensive, don't involve food, and will make you feel good about how you spent that time.  Here's a list of some of my favorites (bonus: most of these you can do with kids).

1.     Meditate, the easy way

If you're the kind of person who can't sleep during the day, napping can be more like torture.  But guided meditation is a whole other story.  It gives your mind something (easy) to do so the rest of you can relax a bit.  There are plenty of free guided meditations online; check out the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center website and the free version of the Headspace app, which has plenty of options to get you started.

2.     Read a book

When was the last time you read for pleasure?  Even if you can't get to your local library, there are plenty of free ebooks on Amazon, and your local library may have a free online borrowing program.  Or reread some of your favorite books from childhood if you have them hanging around.

3.     Learn something new

If you choose the topic right, learning is great self-care.  But here’s the thing: make sure you pick a topic for FUN.  Don't feel like you need to learn something pertinent to your work or a current hobby.  Check out Coursera, MIT or Harvard to start (but there are PLENTY of sources for free online classes – do your own searching, too!)

4.     Draw

Bust out a piece for paper and draw something.  Even if you don't have fancy pencils or crayons or markers, you can play with shading and pressure and make something cool.  There are plenty of free coloring pages you can download and print out.

5.     YouTube Karaoke

For nearly every song out there, there's a karaoke accompaniment channel on YouTube.  For reals.  Crank it up and let ‘er rip.  You’re a stress-free superstar now.

6.     And when all else fails: Nap

Put your jammies on and take a nap.  In your bed.  Not all squooshed up on the couch with the TV on.  Close the shades in your bedroom and hunker down for a proper sleep.

There.  You don’t have to spend money or fill your belly to feel great and treat yourself well!

…of course, you can always schedule a relaxing massage as well (we had to say it!).  It’s not free but it’s worth the investment in yourself – after all, you can’t run your car on empty, and the same goes with your body.  So here’s hoping you make the time this week for YOU and do at least one thing listed in this post.  You deserve it, and you are worth it.  

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #selfcare, #healthylifestyle, #relax, #meditate

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Strangest Massages in the World

It’s no secret that a conventional massage can be one of the best ways to relax.  However, there are tons of different types of massages out there!  Some are meant for more than just relaxation, such as our deep tissue and stretching massage options.

The variety that exists in the massage world is…impressive, to say the least.  Check out a few of the STRANGEST massage options that exist around the world:

1.     Knife massage - Yup. You read that right.  This Taiwanese form of massage, otherwise known as dao lio, uses butcher knives (dulled, but still...) to gently pound on the backs of clients for the purpose of releasing the body’s energy and stimulating blood flow.  This procedure is said to be recommended to treat conditions like insomnia and arthritis.

2.     Snail massage - This is technically not a massage (it’s a facial), but it’s still worth mentioning.  In a nutshell, snails are left to crawl around on your face and secrete mucus.  The mucus is reported to have beauty-boosting ingredients; proteins, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants that help exfoliate and moisturize your skin.

3.     Snake massage - We mentioned earlier that a massage can be one of the best ways to relax.  Well, some Bali spas are operating under an entirely different assumption; inducing fear by placing pythons onto a customer’s back in order to induce an adrenaline rush which is thought to positively affect your metabolism.  To each his own...!

4.     Elephant massage - While this can sound like an exciting and memorable tourist activity, unlike the others on this list it’s got some ethical issues attached to it.  The elephants obviously didn’t learn to massage tourists on their own, they were taught to.  The problem is in the teaching methods; the elephants had to be broken into submission to learn these “tricks”.  Equally troubling is the fact that tourists are in direct danger when paying for this service.  Elephants have been known to act out aggressively in captivity (understandably so).  By paying for this service you are not only encouraging further animal abuse but also endangering yourself!  Do yourselves a favor, stay away from this one.

Don’t panic! Not all massages have to be this eccentric. If you’re looking for a slightly less nerve-inducing experience, our relaxing massages might be right up your alley!

BONUS: Check out our blog post from 1/24/18 entitled “How to get a massage without being touched by people” to learn about cat massages, fish pedicures, llama therapy, robotic massage, and more…

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #relaxing, #healthylifestyle, #energy

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Service Spotlight: Pilates

You may have heard the word “Pilates” thrown around at your local gym. You might even know that it’s one of our many corporate wellness service offerings. But how much do you really know about what Pilates is and why you should give it a go? Let’s dive in!

Essentially, Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while emphasizing proper postural alignment, flexibility, and targeting the core. Movements are all slow and controlled, and the focus is on quality of movement, not quantity. The result is a unique mix of gentle but challenging movements.

Fun fact: the creator of Pilates (Joseph Pilates) actually dubbed his exercise regimen “Contrology” (it was only later named after him) and was inspired to create the concept by the classical Greek ideal of a man balanced in mind, body, and spirit.

There are two basic forms of Pilates; mat-based and reformer-based. The Reformer is a specialized machine used for Pilates. The classes we offer through our corporate wellness services are of the mat-based kind and aim to condition deep stabilizer muscles while strengthening and elongating bigger muscle groups resulting in improved posture, balance, and coordination.

Okay so that all sounds great…but why is this service part of corporate wellness?

Well, just think about what sitting at your desk for hours on end does to your body. Most of us have less than ideal posture and are slumped at our desk for most of the day, which can lead to pain over time. Luckily, Pilates emphasizes strengthening your core, which includes all the muscles responsible for your ability to sit up straight. By learning to not only engage but also to strengthen the muscles responsible for stability in a sitting position (abdominals, back, shoulders), you will not only adopt better posture, but you will be able to sustain it for a longer period of time. This translates into your muscles being strong enough to withstand a traditional workday without fatiguing and allowing you to hunch over, therefore avoiding pain.

Need a way to sell your employer on the idea? This study found that when employees exercised at work they reported managing their time better, having more pleasant interactions with colleagues, and increasing their productivity. They even reported going home more satisfied at the end of the day. That sounds like a win-win to me!

Talk to your employer today about our incorporating our Pilates service into your work day to boost productivity and satisfaction at your organization.

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #pilates, #healthylifestyle, #energy, #productivity

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Mindfulness: What it is…and isn’t

The concept of mindfulness has become widely popularized in recent years.  However, there still seems to be a wide range of misconceptions regarding mindfulness and what it actually is.  Danny Penman (Ph.D. and author of Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World) says, “Mindfulness is, quite simply, full conscious awareness.  It is paying full conscious attention to whatever thoughts, feelings and emotions are flowing through your mind, body, and breath, without judging or criticizing them in any way.” Essentially, being mindful is to live fully in the moment.

However, notice what isn’t mentioned in the quote above: there is no mention of any specific deity or religion.  Mindfulness is not inherently spiritual.  Atheists, agnostics, and people of all religions are able to practice and benefit from mindfulness and the mental clarity it brings about. Mindfulness is simply a way to slow down, focus, and be more present. 
In fact, mindfulness can even be a scientific practice.  Harvard researcher Gaelle Desbordes is currently studying the effects behind mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to treat depression, an alternative approach that has been shown to have effects on par with other more traditional treatments.  And there is another Harvard study that found that mindfulness practices actually changed gene expression in hypertensive individuals, effectively lowering blood pressure.  How cool is that?

The last misconception of mindfulness we’ll discuss here is that there is one very specific way to practice it.  Spoiler alert!  There isn’t.  What usually comes to mind when most people think of mindfulness is someone meditating.  And while there are four main kinds of meditation (breathing meditation, body scan, loving-kindness meditation, and observing-thought meditation), none of these force you to sit cross-legged and chant!  Each one is a great option that can bring about incredible benefits, but meditation is not the only way to be mindful.

This article by Dr. Penman offers some wonderful suggestions on how to implement mindfulness practices seamlessly into your every day life anytime, whether you’re standing in line or spending time with a loved one.  Another great option for mindful movement is yoga.  

A major reason mindfulness is becoming more and more prevalent in the workplace is because of studies that show it leads to improved cognition and better focus.  Even a brief, 4-day course was shown to significantly improve memory and visual-spatial processing skills.

Like anything, mindfulness is a practice.  If you want to see how it can benefit you, there are myriad apps, books, and YouTube videos – find one that resonates with you and commit to a daily practice.  It can be as little as two minutes a day.  After a week, evaluate how you are feeling and make any necessary adjustments.

Implementing mindfulness practices into your work life as well as your personal life can lead to a significant increase in productivity.  Many companies are now offering this benefit to their employees, so talk to your employer about our corporate wellness services.  We offer both yoga AND mindfulness meditation, so there’s something for everyone!   

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #mindfulness, #meditation, #yoga

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Should I cancel my massage if I’m sick?

Yes, please.  Definitely cancel your session if you’re sick.  Great!  We’re done here.

…Nah, we’ve got a bunch more to cover.  There are lots of variables to being sick.  What does that even mean and why does it matter?  Let’s dig in.


What is ‘sick’?

For determining your ability to receive massage, ‘sick’ means one or any combination of the following:

     Fever and related symptoms



     Unusual fatigue

     Respiratory issues



     Very runny and/or stuffy sinuses

     Sore throat

     GI issues




If you have any of the above happening, it’s best to cancel.


Massage isn’t going to help you get better

A sick body needs rest, and receiving massage is an active task.  Massage causes change in the body and your body has to work to maintain stability.  Getting a massage when you are sick takes attention away from rest and recovery, and that’s not helping you get better.

Plus, you’re not going to be comfortable on the massage table.  Sure, it sounds like a warm, squishy massage table would be great.  But the moment you put your already-stuffy head into that face cradle, you’ll realize the error of your ways.  Gravity and pressure are not your friend here.  Even if I do a great face massage to drain your sinuses, you’ll likely feel worse when you get off the table.

If you’re feeling at all dizzy or loopy, lying face down can make that sensation even worse.  Remember getting ‘the spins’ when you drank a little too much?  That.  Only worse because you’ll be worried about puking on the floor of the massage room.

There is often some gray area, especially if you are in the recovery phase of a virus or bacterial infection.  You may have that lingering dry cough, well past the stage of contagion or actual illness.  Or you could have seasonal allergies that make you a runny mess.

If you’re unsure about your situation, please call us before your appointment and we can make a decision together. 

It’s really, really easy to spread those germs

If you come in sick, you may get the massage therapist (and her other clients) sick.  Even with the best handwashing, coughing into your elbow, and precision skills slam-dunking your dirty tissue into the trash bin, you’re likely to leave a few germs hanging in the air and I’m likely to breathe them in.

There’s a lot we just can’t control about cold and flu season.  We may have been exposed without knowing it yet, and be contagious for a few days before symptoms show up.  That’s just part of living in a world with other people.  But we can control where we go and who we see while we are symptomatic.  I know it’s a bummer to delay your massage, it’s also the right thing to do when you are contagious.

Stay healthy

You already know the best ways to stay healthy through cold and flu season (but I’ll remind you anyway).  Get a flu shot, wash your hands, get enough sleep, and get out into the fresh air when possible.

If you feel something coming on, do your best to cancel whatever you can, keep your activities to a bare minimum and just rest.  Stay hydrated.  Ask for help if you need it.  That’s sometimes hard to do, but worth the effort.

Here’s to staying healthy throughout the flu season and the rest of the year too!


More sources on contagious factors, etc.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

A Spotlight on the Cranial Release Technique

Cranial Release Technique (CRT) is one of the many massage services we offer here at Healing Hands Miami.  This service may be less immediately recognizable than something like a relaxing massage or a deep tissue massage, but offers a host of benefits you don’t want to miss out on.  So what is it exactly?

In short, cranial release technique is a short treatment (often lasting only a minute or two) that aims to “release” the cranial bones (the 22 bones that make up the head) by correcting and restoring proper movement to them, which in turn triggers a realignment of the tissues and structures associated with the cranium, such as the spine, the fascia, and the extremities (arms, legs, shoulders, etc).   

The treatment developed out of the research initiated from the discoveries of Dr. William G. Sutherland, who discovered that the bones that make up our cranium actually move, and that this movement is responsible for proper function of the nervous system and optimal health.  This alignment can become distorted due to factors like chronic stress, and the distortion throws off our body’s innate ability to heal, while maintaining our bodies in a constant state of stress otherwise known as the “fight or flight” response.

CRT can restore the gentle movement to the bones of the head known as the cranial pulse, with the ultimate goal of triggering the aforementioned release and realignment of all the affected structures and effectively shifting the body out of “fight or flight” and back to “rest and digest,” a balanced state where it can focus on healing and being well.

If you feel like you suffer from chronic stress (and unfortunately, most of us do), CRT can help.  CRT has been shown to decrease heart rate variability (a medical marker of stress) and to have positive effects in reversing this abnormal stress response. 
Intrigued?  CRT can be added to any service given by Healing Hands founder Anastasia Yecke Gude (currently Anastasia is the only practitioner with this accreditation, having studied with Dr. William Doreste in 2012).  And remember, with our All-Inclusive Massage there is never an upcharge!  Book your session today.


#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #cranialmassage, #healthylifestyle, #massageservices, #stress

Saturday, January 5, 2019

4 Reasons to Adopt a Pet After the Holidays

The holidays are over, which may leave some of us in a bit of a slump as we return to work and day to day activities, but here’s an idea to beat the post-holiday blues: adopt a new furry friend.  Of course this should never be a spur-of-the-moment decision (pets are a lot of work and need lots of love), but if it’s something you’ve been considering for a while and you’re ready to make a 10 to 20 year commitment, now is the perfect time for a couple of reasons:

1.    Shelters are often at their max capacity around this time it’s the heartbreaking truth; between owners who surrendered their pets so they could take long vacations and pets that were given as gifts (please don’t ever do this), there’s an influx of pets given up or returned to shelters around this time of year.  By adopting now, you’ll have more options and you’ll save a life.

2.    You’ll be more realistic now that you’re back to your normal routine, you can more accurately gauge your ability to make the financial and emotional commitment a pet requires.  Are you able to make the time to walk a dog every single day?  Are you home enough to give that kitten the attention it deserves?  Once you reassess your daily routine, you can make a more informed decision about your ability to properly care for a pet.

3.   It saves a life by adopting, you give an animal a second chance.  It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do!  You get to watch them thrive in their new home and give them much-needed love.  Pets that are rescued from shelters often go through amazing transformations and flourish once they’ve found their forever family.

4.   It might keep you healthier Harvard scientists say the emotional attachment you develop with your pet causes biological brain effects that reduce the stress response – much like massage does – and can end up lowering your blood pressure, oxygen consumption, and anxiety level.

If you’re ready to adopt a furry friend, don’t forget to do your research and make sure you’re 100% prepared!  As a proud pet parent myself, I can tell you that it will be one of the best decisions of your life. ❤️

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #pets, #healthylifestyle, #energy