Abbie is a Massage Therapist and Reiki Practitioner, usually offering treatments from St Davids Wellbeing Centre until COVID-19 put a stop to it for now. She is currently studying for her Level 3 Diploma in Aromatherapy and offers discounted Aromatherapy treatments as part of her practice. Here we chat to her about her background, practise and how she’s coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How did you get into holistic therapies and what made you want to go into practice?
I first got into Reiki after having a treatment from a friend. I was due to fly out to Bali on my own the following day and didn’t feel like I could even set foot out of the door let alone on the plane. After receiving a Reiki treatment and a massage, I literally felt so confident and positive, all of my negativity had vanished – at that moment I knew it was a system I wanted to practise. I then decided to do my certificate in Swedish Massage as a doorway into Aromatherapy as I’m really interested in the healing benefits of plants/essential oils. I’ve struggled with mental health challenges myself throughout my twenties and found holistic therapies to be incredibly helpful for me. It was my experience with them that made me want to be able to help other people using them too!
How would you explain Reiki to someone who is new to the term?
Reiki is a form of energy healing, used to balance the energy centres (chakras) of the body. Through channelling universal energy and focusing it to various parts of the body, emotional and physical grounding, and balance, can be achieved. During a treatment, the therapist will place their hands on or over the client’s body in a series of positions. Sensations may sometimes be felt throughout the treatment such as hot, cold and/or tingling. After a treatment, it is usual to feel a sense of relaxation and groundedness.
How do your massages differ from one another and what are their benefits?
Swedish Massage is predominantly a relaxation focussed massage which aims to release tension in the muscles. It uses a range of techniques to warm up the muscles and then works on releasing the tension through kneading movements. The typical Swedish Massage techniques such as ‘hacking’ are usually incorporated to re-energise the nervous system and stimulate lymphatic flow.
Deep Tissue Massage works on alleviating tension in the deeper layers of muscle using long, sustained, slow strokes. Often different parts of the body are used (i.e. elbows) to apply pressure to a specific area needing targeted treatment. Deep Tissue Massage is used more frequently to treat muscle pain and stiffness, rather than being a relaxation treatment. However, it does have many psychological benefits too and can still help you to unwind.
Aromatherapy Massage uses essential oils derived from plants/flowers/trees in order to target a specific requirement. The massage can be tailored to suit the individual’s needs, and their own blend of massage oil will be made up at the time of the treatment, after a thorough consultation. Essential oils have a range of therapeutic effects which can be beneficial for a range of psychological and physiological ailments. The best way of feeling the benefit of essential oils is through massage into the skin (the benefits last longer than inhalation alone). The massage itself uses repeated long and flowing strokes aimed to get the oils into the skin, whilst releasing muscular tension.
For you, what are the main benefits of regular massages?
I find through having regular massages, that my psychological wellbeing is calmer and more grounded. It also really helps to keep on top of general tension, which many people hold in their shoulders (myself included). It’s very easy to forget to give yourself that half-hour/hour of self-care, but when you don’t honour it, you really do notice the difference!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of trying Reiki?
Try different therapists. I think Reiki is a very personal thing, and a good, friendly connection with the therapist, for me, is really important. It’s taken me a few treatments with a few different therapists to find the person that I really connect with on an energetic level.
How are you adjusting to our new circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It’s certainly challenging! Personally I am throwing myself into my yoga practice! I’m due to start my yoga teacher training in September – so all the time on my hands has been quite the blessing in being able to immerse myself in my daily practice. Alongside this, I am also working my way through my assignments for my Aromatherapy diploma – so I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied! That’s not to say that I’m not having some very unproductive days where motivation is lacking! It’s certainly a lesson in uncertainty and acceptance! On a professional level, in doing the above studies and research it means I’m keeping up with my own career development. I think as much as it’s important to have things to keep us going during these hard times, it’s important to be kind to yourself and listen to your body. If you need that duvet day and have the opportunity to, then take it!