Holistic Massage School Teaches Students About the Mind-Body Connection

Did you know…your immune system’s ability to heal your body is linked to your state of mental wellness.  In fact, your level of optimism and your expectations of what could happen can affect what goes on inside your whole body.  Over the past 20 years, medical science has made great strides in understanding how our thoughts, expectations, and emotions affect our health.  The study of how our psychological processes affect the nervous and immune systems of our body is called Psychoneuroimmunology or PNI.   PNI takes a holistic approach to health when assessing a person’s state of health. shutterstock_107396864

On a typical day in the brain, trillions of messages are being sent and received. The messages that are happy messages are carried by the brain’s “Happy Messengers”. Other messages that are gloomy or unsettling are carried by the brain’s “Sad Messengers”.  Most nerve centers receive input from both types of messengers throughout the day and as long as this input is balanced, all remains well.

“Happy Messengers” or chemicals created in the brain include Serotonin, Noradrenalin and Dopamine.  SEROTONIN, lets you sleep and sets your body clock so all the various functions of your body are well coordinated.   NORADRENALIN, has many important functions in the body’s nervous system and is essential for us to feel energized.  DOPAMINE is our body’s naturally occurring mechanism for regulating pain and pleasure.  Concentrated in areas of the brain immediately adjacent to where the major Endorphin releasing mechanisms lie, Dopamine allows you to enjoy life.  If Dopamine function declines, Endorphin function also declines, causing the loss of your body’s natural “pain killer.

When too much stress is experienced, these Happy Messengers begin to fail and important nerve centers then receive mostly SAD MESSAGES.  When this happens the person enters a state of brain chemical imbalance known as – OVERSTRESS.   When overstress occurs, the body’s chief stress fighting hormone, CORTISOL, is secreted eliciting our fight or flight response (the sympathetic nervous system).  This wreaks havoc on the entire system resulting in an inability to sleep well, an increase of body aches & pains, and a lack of energy and enjoyment of life.  People experiencing chronic overstress feel over-whelmed, depressed, anxious, or just unable to cope with life.  The amount of stress one can tolerate before these Happy Messengers malfunction is called your “Stress Tolerance”.

shutterstock_33614977The only time we build/replenish tissue is when the body is at rest.  When someone is very anxious and not sleeping well, they lose the ability to produce enough B-cells and T-cells for the body’s immune system to function optimally.  We see this phenomenon when someone loses a spouse and in their grief state of not sleeping well, their immune system becomes jeopardized and they get a lot of colds and flus.

The good news is that Massage Therapy utilizes a system of conscientious touch to activate the parasympathetic nervous system or relaxation response.   With the body at rest, our innate healing system can do its job.  B and T-cells increase to reinforce the immune system, and tissues can then repair or build as needed.  In addition, Massage Therapy boosts the release of the “Happy” chemicals Serotonin and Dopamine (by 30 to 40 %) and reduces Cortisol levels (“sad chemicals”) by 30 to 40% making it the quickest way to bring the body to a calmed resting state.  Other body/mind balancing practices include: meditation, yoga, and group talk/support.

Since your level of optimism affects the whole body, below are four strategies anyone can use to improve their emotional health:

1) Live a balanced life. Try not to obsess about the problems at work, school or home that lead to negative feelings. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be happy when you feel stressed, anxious or upset. It’s important to deal with these negative feelings, but try to focus on the positive things in your life too. Let go of things in your life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed and make more time for things you enjoy.

2) Develop resilience. People with resilience are able to cope with stress in a healthy way. Resilience can be learned and strengthened with different strategies. These include having social support, keeping a positive view of yourself, accepting change and keeping things in perspective.

3) Take care of yourself. To have good emotional health, it’s important to take care of your body by having a regular routine for eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and exercising to relieve pent-up tension. Avoid overeating and don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.

4) Calm your mind and body. Relaxation methods, such as meditation, are useful ways to bring your emotions into balance. Meditation is a form of guided thought. It can take many forms. For example, you may do it by exercising, stretching or breathing deeply.

Holistic Massage School – Quinoa Recipe’s

Many students enjoyed the food at the retreat so much, they wanted to keep the recipes forever!  So this weeks recipe blog features the quinoa dishes.  Enjoy!

Quinoa w/veggies – 20 – 30 minutesCypress


  • Quinoa – cooked
  • broccoli
  • snow peas
  • kale
  • chard
  • carrots
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lemon (optional)
  1. Get your Quinoa started – 20 minutes cooking time for Quinoa
  2. Steam all the veggies  for 10 mins, till they are nice and green but not too soft
  3. Add cooked veggies to cooked quinoa
  4. Glaze quinoa veggie medley with virgin olive oil (dress like a salad) and add sea salt and black pepper
  5. (Optional) add some lemon juice.

Taste and Enjoy!


Best-Friend Bean Quinoa – 20-30 minutesMassage School Holistic Retreat

  • 1 onion Chopped
  • 6-10 Fresh Garlic Cloves Chopped
  • 1 can of Organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of Black Beans
  • 1 can or Red Kidney Beans
  • Carton of Mushrooms sliced
  • Olive oil – 1 tbsp
  • Quinoa – cooked
  1. Get your Quinoa started – 20 minutes cooking time for Quinoa
  2. Saute Onions in1 tbsp. olive oil for 5-7 mins until translucent
  3. add mushroom and cook for another 5 -7 mins until soft
  4. Add tomatoes, garlic, beans and cook for another 10 mins
  5. then pour mixture over the cooked quinoa and stir
  6. Add salt and pepper if desired and drizzle with olive oil

Enjoyed cold or hot!

Note: these recipes are vegan and gluten free – feel free to add to your dish!

If you would like to see more posts like this, please comment on the dish you make!


Holistic Massage School Meets Demand for Sports Massage Training

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014-15 (Occupational Outlook Handbook), employment of massage-related occupations, like Sports Massage Therapy, will grow at a rate of 23 percent through 2022.  Sports massage therapy is often called Therapeutic Massage, with focus moving away from relaxation and towards a more rigorous soft tissue manipulation approach.  In physical therapy offices, chiropractic setting, instead of the title ‘massage therapist’ the title might be, ‘Soft-tissue Therapist.’  A ‘massage’ may be called ‘soft tissue therapy’.  While a 23% employment growth is faster than any other industry segment, the Directors of Healing Hands School has seen an increase in students going to school specifically with a focus in Therapeutic Massage.  Classes have changed to reflect this increase, there are more modalities and hours of training available then ever before.

sports marathon with Brandon “We have definitely seen an increase in the demand for (Therapeutic Massage) Sports Massage Therapists, in recent years”, said Harmony Curtiss, Laguna Hills Branch Manager .  “While our graduates have always been in high demand by area DaySpas, Resorts and Massage Clinics, they are now being pursued by Physical Therapists, Doctors, Chiropractors, Gyms, and even managers of area Sports-teams! That’s why we offer classes like Sports Injuries and Neuromuscular Therapy, Therapeutic Stretching, Structural Analysis, Structural Integration, Somatics, Trigger Point Therapy and MyoFascial Meridians for Pain Relief – to name a few,” she added.

Traditionally,Therapeuticmassage therapists simply provided treatments to athletes before competitions to help improve their flexibility and after competitions to alleviate injuries and keep muscles from tightening.  Today, however, they might also work in private health care practices or athletic facilities where every-day clients are familiar with and seek the many benefits of a therapeutic sports massage.  These benefits include increased flexibility and long range motion, increased blood flow and lymph circulation, a reduction in muscle spasms and pain, a lowering of blood pressure, reduced stress response, improved recovery time from workouts, and a faster rehabilitation of injured muscles and joints.

Students interested in pursuing a career in sports massage must have an excellent understanding of Anatomy and Physiology which are essential to a providing a safe, restorative massage.   Students will also need physical strength, stamina, effective client communications skills, and knowledge of therapeutic stretching and strength-building exercises.  If working for a sports team, the student must also have the freedom to travel and mental flexibility to adjust to a frequently changing work environment.

Healing Hands offers Advanced Circulatory & Sports massage- whichcan sometimes feel like a Swedish massage, it also includes invigorating strokes to warm muscles and restorative techniques like trigger point therapy to break down adhesions (knots in the muscles).  Rather than giving you a full-body massage, a sports massage therapist generally focuses on a specific problem area, such as a sore lower back or frozen shoulder. sports marathon 1

There are four basic types of sports massage.  The Pre-event Sports Massage is given 15 to 45 minutes before an event and is directed toward the parts of the body that will be most involved in the exertion. The therapist provides a short, stimulating massage coupled with a round of therapeutic stretches to help warm and prepare the muscles for action. The Post-event Sports Massage is given within an hour or two of the event and is intended to normalize the body’s tissue and reduce post-event tightening or cramping.  The Restorative Sports Massage is given during training to facilitate harder training with less injury.  The Rehabilitative Sports Massage is provided to athletes with active injuries and is intended to alleviate pain and restore optimal health.

To find out if a career as a Sports Massage Therapist is right for you, please visit us on-line at www.HealingHandsSchool.com  or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills or at (760) 746-9364 in Escondido.

Yummy Gluten Free Pancakes at Holistic Living Retreat Massage School

Did you enjoy the retreat?  Did you enjoy the food?  As I get recipes I will post them for you all to enjoy!

The Holistic Living Retreat is made up of a wonderful group of individuals working together to create a safe, fun, healing, and enriching environment.  There was meditation, prayers, songs, chants, dances, art, music and so many joyful workshops!  One aspect of making our surrounds and ourselves beautiful consisted of an awesome kitchen crew.  Many folks who attended the retreat asked if they could have the recipes.  So they will be here on the blog  – and under the section Nutrition & Recipes.  Enjoy!

Today’s post:  Gluten Free Pancakes

  • 1 batch = 8 – 12 pancakes

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • optional: ( add 1/4 cup arrowroot or cornstarch or potato starch for fluffier pancakes)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Mix all this dry stuff together

Wet ingrediants:

  • 1 banana mashed
  • 1 egg (Subsidize for vegan: 2 tbsp Chia mixed in 4 – 5 tbsp water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or another type of oil)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water (add until consistency is a thick pancake batter)

Mix wet ingredients together

So, 1st) mix dry, 2nd) mix wet, 3) add dry to wet and combine them

Pancakes are more dense and filling then a typical box of pancakes.

Recipe given to us by Katie Mattson


Holistic Living