What inspired you to become a massage therapist?
I started with energy work, Reiki, in Quantico. I met a lot of military families and discovered touch is a key component to healing. Especially the women who were staying at home taking care of their families needed a hug or touch to know that someone was there. With Reiki there is little to no touch and I wanted to be able to touch. I completed a massage training which created balance in my life and taught me healing on physical and spiritual levels.
How does your intuition and spirituality inform your practice?
The body is made up of many systems but a lot of things originate at the emotional and spiritual levels. A lot of times we carry stress in our shoulders or our lower backs. It is not that all of a sudden we get a shoulder or back pain. We need to get to the deepest level of that pain so we can resolve the other levels. Whenever I go into a session I try to focus with the intention that I’m working with the musculoskeletal system and I am also working with the deeper layers. With the energy work I not only hold the energetic space but assess why we are in that space. What is going on in our lives that could have contributed to the pain. It’s going to keep knocking at the door until we answer it.
Tell me about your mentor.
I have had many mentors throughout my training and I bring their knowledge into the massage room. I have also learned a great deal from my clients. I consider Jeff Kuykendall, a fellow massage therapist at Pekoe, a mentor. One mentor I talk about a lot is Zoe Moret, an energy mentor who taught me vibrational healing. She used to be a medical doctor at Harvard. She believed in healing at multiple levels and taught me that the body can be a map to what is going on within our world. Every bit of us is cosmic to me. Every body part has a message. It is more than physical. Sometimes someone gets a pain and they don’t know why. They have tried other ways to feel better and it is not working. So they turn to alternative medicine not just to recover but to heal it. In this way, we can get to the deepest level of a pain to heal it at the root. Every therapist who has been doing this work for the while is no longer trying to beat your body into submission. They are trying to understand the body and work with you so you can do self care as well. You can have an overall healthier, happier disposition. A lot of therapists do more than one modality to heal at the different levels.
How does massage support a healthy pregnancy?
With expecting mothers there is a lot of stress and anxiety especially in first time mothers. Massage can be a relaxing tool for the body and the spirit. I always begin and end with a focus on the mom and baby recognizing the connection. The mother is not just a vehicle for the baby but is on a journey going through a transformation. Postnatal massage is important too because once you have the child you are not taking much time for yourself. It is a time to relax and let someone take care of you.
Ashley added that there are some important things to consider when you’re going in for a massage. Allow yourself this time and space– you are paying for it and want to get the most of your treatment!
Ashley’s Recommendations to Enhance Your Massage
1. Breathe! – Most people forget to breathe during a massage/bodywork session. This is so important to me. If you feel tension or tightness in an area that is being worked on, try first to breathe into that space and allow your body to relax. Notice the effects these simple breaths provide.
2. Allow – This is your time to relax. So if we’re going to lift your arm, please don’t help! Here’s why: 1. Your arm or leg may seem extra heavy to you but believe me, they probably aren’t. 2. we are trained therapists and thankfully part of that training was on lifting body parts. 3.Sometimes your assistance is actually blocking the stretch. Let us do the work! The more you Breathe and Allow the easier it will be for your body to release.
3. Relax – Take this time for yourself. How often in the day do you allow your mind to just be completely silent. Not thinking of what you have to do next? Give yourself this gift.
4. Hydrate – After a session drink plenty of water (really just drink plenty of water all the time). This hydration will help move the fluids that we’ve begun flushing during the session. It will tell the body “Hey, I’m trying to let go of some things.
5. Know – Know that you are wonderful. Some people come into sessions with certain fears about their bodies. In all the years I’ve been working as a massage therapist and bodyworker, I’ve yet to hear any therapists speak about a person’s body in anyway that doesn’t benefit them. Scars are natural, they say you’ve survived, and believe me we barely noticed. We’re here so you feel better than when you walked in. I’m blessed to work in a space where every practitioner is here for your highest good.