Episode 317

Oct 6, 2020

YomassageⓇ co-founder Tiffany Ryan joins Allissa and Michael to talk about trauma-informed bodywork and how massage therapists can best serve their clients in difficult times.

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Discussion Topic

  • YomassageⓇ co-founder Tiffany Ryan joins the podcast to talk about trauma-informed bodywork and how massage therapists can best serve their clients in difficult times.
  • Referenced during this episode: the ACES Study



Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by Yomassage. Become an expert in all things restorative stretch, mindfulness meditation, and therapeutic touch in a comprehensive, three-week virtual Yomassage therapist certification. In this training, you will learn practices you can offer your clients virtually and an innovative modality that enables you to serve clients in a group or one-on-one setting. You will build community with the other therapists going through this training. You'll have assignments due each week, weekly discussion posts, live Q&A's, weekly quizzes, and lots of one-to-one feedback from your instructor. Payment plans are available for the May and June 2020 virtual trainings. And this training offers 10.5 NCBTMB CE hours, and because that's not enough, our listeners can get $50 off courses May through July. Use the code BLUEPRINT -- one word, all caps, BLUEPRINT. To learn more and register for Yomassage virtual training, visit massagebusinessblueprint.com/yomassage.

Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. And welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money, and improve your quality of life. I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines And I'm Allissa Haines. And we are here today with Yomassage co-founder Tiffany Ryan. Hi, Tiffany!

Tiffany Ryan Hi, Allissa, Michael.

MR Welcome back, Tiffany. Glad to have you.

TR Thanks so much. I love being here.

AH So we -- I'm going to tell you a tiny bit about Yomassage, everyone, and then I'm going to let Tiffany take it away, kind of talking -- introducing herself and her background. But in case you have not heard about Yomassage, it was created by Katherine Parker and Tiffany Ryan, founded on the belief that everyone deserves access to therapeutic touch. In order to make this happen, they created a modality in which clients can receive therapeutic touch in a small setting. And in addition to offering massage at an accessible rate, Yomassage classes appeal to more people because the participants can remain fully clothed, and it's offered in a safe environment.

And most recently, what I love most about Yomassage is how beautifully they have incorporated online education into their learning, into their Yomassage training, and also how incredibly generous Yomassage was with resources during the first half of this pandemic and ongoing, helping practitioners figure out how to move their practices virtually, and how to incorporate other modalities into their work so they could work through this pandemic, when appropriate according to everyone's environment.

So I'm going to be quiet now because Tiffany has a really interesting and varied background that makes her so suited for this work and the topic we're going to talk about today related to trauma. Tiffany, tell us about you and your background.

TR Yeah. So I do have sort of an interesting background. I have been a social worker forever. I have my bachelor's, master's, and my Ph.D. in social work. My Ph.D. work I focused on homeless youth, but when I was doing this work on homeless youth in the foster care system, child welfare system, I really learned a lot about trauma. And interestingly, a few years later, I was going kind of through my own traumatic, difficult experiences, and I turned to bodywork. I turned to yoga. I turned to receiving massage when I felt myself feeling anxious.

And so I took a little sabbatical from my university work, and I went to sail -- I sailed with my family along the east coast, down on to the Caribbean, and whatnot. But after that, we went to Costa Rica, and I went there specifically for my massage training and my yoga teacher training. And the reason I did that is because I really wanted to learn more about the mind-body connection, about how we can use integrative therapy when treating trauma. And I had this focus on trauma, which is really important, but I also have realized since that -- I mean, it's obviously certainly not just for trauma. We -- bodywork is essential for just our overall wellness, right, our emotional wellness. And so we talk about -- this is something I like to say, and I really want this conversation to kind of take hold, is we know we need exercise; we know we need to eat right; we know we need eight hours of sleep, or a certain amount of sleep. We know these things help keep us healthy, help our mood, but nobody talks about touch as part of that. And touch is essential to our emotional well-being.

So yeah, we -- Katherine and I -- developed Yomassage as a way for people to receive therapeutic touch in a really safe way and a way that they can do it often, so it's more affordable. So you can receive it weekly, which, really, we probably need it more daily, and we do talk about that a bit in some of our blogs and whatnot, and how to incorporate touch into your life. But yeah, that's a little bit about me. And I'm super passionate about bodywork and its impact on our emotional well-being.

AH And I know that Katherine's not with us today, but she's your co-founder. Would you -- can you tell us a little bit about how you two have kind of integrated your super powers to create Yomassage? And maybe a little bit more specifically what Yomassage is, what it looks like.

TR Yeah. So Katherine and I met when I came back from my yoga teacher training and massage therapy school. I met her at her yoga studio here in Portland, Oregon, and I just wanted to start putting my skills to practice. And when we met, I -- we chatted a lot about the importance of massage and touch. And so she contacted me a few weeks after that and said, you know, I think we should create something here where we can make massage more accessible to people because it's -- for her too, she said, I get it on my birthday maybe once a year, maybe, and it's a special treat. And I didn't realize until we started talking that it really should be more than that; this should be a regular occurrence.

So we took restorative, yoga-inspired positions as a -- we use that as a tool to be able to create this environment where you can receive massage in a small group setting, which brings the price down, obviously. But we incorporate mindfulness meditation and breathwork into the class as well, so it's really this luxurious experience that you get to have. It can be 60 minutes, 90 minutes, even up to two hours, but we have a strict ratio on how many people you can serve in a certain amount of time because we do want the clients to be able to receive a minimum amount of touch that research has shown to be effective at improving mood and decreasing anxiety and depression. So yeah, we created this class. It was super popular, and it was so popular that we decided we should create a training around it.

And Allissa, you had mentioned our virtual training. We had done that pre-pandemic because I had taught virtually for the university system and created curriculum. And we were at a World Massage Fest, and people were like, are you coming to our town? Are you coming to our town? And we couldn't get all -- everywhere, and we wanted to reach everybody. And that night in the hotel room, we were just like, why are we not taking this virtual? We totally can. So yeah, we're really proud of the content we've created virtually to make this training -- the training accessible to more people.

MR And one thing I'm really impressed by is how well you've built a community around Yomassage. So Allissa and I know a thing or two about building a community, and we're really impressed with the community you've built around Yomassage and the brand you've built around it as well.

TR Thanks. Yeah, that's been one of our goals is to create that community of Yomassage therapists, and it is fun. I think it's interesting because it's sort of this new, more innovative thing in the massage industry, and people that are excited about it are really excited about it, and they like talking to each other and sharing their successes and sharing what they're doing with their Yomassage practices. So it is fun. It's a nice little community.

AH And Michael and I have definitely talked about how part of the reason we were, really, right off the bat, attracted to Yomassage is that it is run by people who are no BS. You know what you're doing; you have embraced technology to do so; you are running your business like a business. And we have a lot of pet peeves about continuing educators who do not do those things.

TR [Laughing] Yes.

AH And it's just such a delight. And everyone we've talked to who's taken your training, either in-person or online, is just so happy with the whole process, which is really -- it's why -- it's part of why we love ya. We knew you were our people right away.

TR Yeah. [Laughing] Well, thanks for that feedback. And yeah, actually, when you were asking to introduce Katherine a little bit, I spaced on that, but she is the -- she's the brainchild behind the marketing and the professional look, and I'm just more like the content person. [Laughing] She's the one who knows how to do the business stuff, which is amazing, so we are a good team.

AH I love partnerships. It works for me. So this episode -- we're going to dive into our topic in a minute, specifically talking about trauma and how bodyworkers need to be aware of what's going on with trauma, and how bodywork can help our clients with trauma. But before we do that -- and we're going to do this again at the end of the episode, so y'all don't have to start taking notes and stuff, but give us your Yomassage shtick. Tell us where we can find you. Tell us about what you're doing and any offers you've got.

TR Sure. So our website is yomassage.com. We -- if you go to Training -- or Certification Description, you'll find all kinds of information on what's included in the certification. You can find us on Instagram, and we have a private Facebook community for people who are interested in Yomassage. Once you become certified, there's also a separate Facebook community for Yomassage therapists who have already taken the training. But we are constantly posting and coming up with special offers that we put into that private Yomassage Facebook group, so definitely join that if you're at all interested.

And then, yeah, for our Massage Business Blueprint people, we are offering $50 off of our certification training. Any training that you want to sign up for, the code is MBB, and that code will be good through the end of this year. And then we also -- the reason we wanted to come and talk to you about the trauma-informed stuff right now is because we just divided our trauma-informed bodywork training up into three separate trainings. It was a very long, big training before, and we wanted to chunk it up to make it more accessible, kind of our theme here. And so normally, our trainings are only available to our therapists, but we are creating Level 1 trainings, kind of introductory trainings, that are available to everybody, and so we have a Massage Business Blueprint special where we're offering our Trauma-Informed Bodywork Level 1 training to anybody, and that's for only $25, and the code for that is MBBTRAUMA.

AH I was typing that furiously because I am down with that and will be taking that class immediately. Thank you.

TR [Laughing] Awesome.

AH And we'll have this all in the podcast notes for everyone. Anything else to add there?

TR No, I don't think so. We just -- we're wanting to really engage therapists in this conversation around trauma-informed bodywork, and so I'm excited to start that conversation here with your listeners.

AH All right. So let's do it. So at the beginning portion of this quarantine, and in whatever portion we are in it now -- whether it be the second part of the beginning or the middle, we don't know and we won't know for a while -- people started really realizing the need for touch but were still in the throes of experiencing this pandemic and this trauma. And the need to be able to perform trauma-informed bodywork is greater than ever. But let's start with, "What is trauma-informed bodywork?" What does that mean because I hear it all over the place. I don't know exactly what it means.

TR Yeah. And it is sort of -- I kind of felt that way before I got into the massage and yoga training. I would hear trauma-informed yoga, but what does that mean? And basically, what it means is that you're being mindful, you're being aware, and you're being intentional about what you're doing with your body, the language you're using, how you're engaging the client, what you're asking in the intake -- it's really just about being very aware and intentional around the population you're working with.

And so Allissa, you mentioned this crazy time that we're in, and I'll go back to this idea of -- hopefully, massage therapists have heard about the parasympathetic nervous system is sort of your rest and digest; this is where you can relax, your body can restore, you can have proper digestion happening. And then we have the sympathetic, which is your flight-or-flight. And the sympathetic isn't bad; it's there for a reason. It's there to keep us safe, protect us from danger, but when we're stuck in that elevated state of stress for a significant period of time, more than just a little bit, it's not good for us. We are excreting cortisol; we're causing inflammation and disease in the body; we have anxiety. And so it's really important that we're able to kind of come down from this sympathetic response.

But the thing is, with what's happening with the pandemic and a lot of other things in the world right now, we are staying in this elevated state more and more. More people are staying in it, and we're staying in it longer. So I would say, before this, a lot of people already were sort of in this elevated state frequently, just stress, work -- work, work, work, we got to be busy all the time and whatnot -- and we didn't take the time to bring ourselves back down into this parasympathetic state. But now really more than ever, we truly have this -- we talk about the sympathetic and parasympathetic in terms of cavemen stuff, right, and so you may have heard the adage about the saber-tooth tiger that it's really about like, oh, my gosh, there's a saber-tooth tiger, I need to kick my body into gear so that I can run or save myself. And we would say, oh, but we don't have that saber-tooth tiger anymore, we really don't need this crazy response in the body, but we kind of do now. We have a pandemic where a lot of people are worried about their health, and we're worried about our life. And so it really is kind of, I think, more relevant than ever. It's always been relevant, but it's more relevant than ever right now, the trauma-informed bodywork idea and implementation.

AH And I think that we've lost -- that portion of our body and that response doesn't -- it doesn't know the difference right now between an appropriate reaction, say, when you find yourself packed in a grocery store with people and half of them are wearing masks under their noses. That's an appropriate response versus when our email alert pings and that sends our heart rate going. I think our bodies don't -- they adapted to have these responses to things that are not harmful, but they're -- like you said, they're really -- we don't have saber-toothed tigers, but there are times when this response is necessary to get us out of a dangerous situation.

TR Exactly.

AH But we can't have the same physiological responses to a text message as we do to actual danger, and so -- but here we are anyway. Here we are.

TR Exactly. Right. And so -- and you could say the same thing with the news cycle too, right? What should I really be freaking out about and worried about, and what should I not? But I guess, what it all comes down to is the fact that we talk about trauma-informed bodywork, and some people might think, oh, that's just for people who've been sexually assaulted, or a victim of a violent crime, or something like that. And that's not the case. There's a lot of different types of trauma, and it's really -- we don't need to divvy it up and say, well, these people need this kind of bodywork, and these people need this; everything's individual.

I just took part in a study around alternative therapies for sexual assault survivors, and it is definitely not one-size-fits-all. Everybody has different things that work for them. And so we talk about bodywork as one thing, and bodywork is very helpful for a lot of people. It's not for everybody, but yeah, I don't think we need to say this type of trauma gets this response. It really doesn't work that way.

AH And I love that in the past couple of years, this has become more common verbiage. I had this experience last night, even -- and I promise this goes into the next question -- where I've had a client for, I don't know, maybe eight years, and I've seen this client monthly. I know his kids, I know his wife, I know his father just passed away and that was a complicated relationship, and so I know this client pretty well. And then I have opened a new office, and I am having every client completely fill out a brand-new intake form. And I looked at this intake form last night because this first appointment at my new office is tonight, and it -- I ask about health issues and medications. And for the first time, someone wrote down anxiety -- I take this medication for anxiety and depression related to childhood abuse and trauma. And this is not something he put on his intake form eight years ago, even though I'm pretty sure he was taking the meds for that at that time. We -- and it was such an interesting -- I gasped. And I was like, oh, okay. Well, I knew this about him, but he may not have known this about him or had the verbiage to express it eight years ago when he first filled out the very first intake form. I don't think my first intake form asked about trauma. I don't even know if this one does specifically.

But our awareness as humans, as people, and as practitioners is so different than it was before, and that's very much my next question, is how does this manifest in -- we've talked a little bit about it already, but how does it manifest in a body and in a human? What are -- for a client who doesn't have that awareness to write this down, who has not sought lots of help and is able to verbalize this, how does trauma manifest in a body, and what are the clues that a client might give us during intake or mid-session or after several years of working with them, that might help us shift our thinking to be sure that we are caring for them holistically, especially in regards to trauma? That was a huge question. I'm sorry. Go wherever you want with that.

TR [Laughing] Well, there is a lot of meat there to talk about. So I don't know if you'd heard of the ACE Study. It's the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, and this is was a longitudinal, massive study that was done. And basically, it showed the long-term impacts of childhood trauma. If you want -- this is part of -- I can't remember if this is -- I think it's in the Level 2 Trauma-Informed Bodywork, but we give you the link to go take the ACE questionnaire. Now, most people, I am willing to bet, who take that questionnaire are going to check at least a couple items. So what that tells us is that most of us have experienced some type of childhood adversity. Many times, when we're an adult, we don't even realize -- I mean, I just had this recently where it's like you're talking to somebody, and you're telling them a story about your childhood, and they get this concerned look, and it's like, oh, I guess that was worse than I thought it -- I didn't realize how bad that was or how that really impacted me. And so I think, as adults, a lot of people -- we don't really realize the impact that our previous experiences have had on us, but many, many, many of us have had these issues that we are either currently dealing with or maybe we just don't know we need to deal with them yet.

But how it manifests in the body, the ACE Study really showed that it leads to disease; it leads to early death; it leads to a lot of mental health issues, substance abuse, risky behaviors like drug use or sexual promiscuity -- there's a whole host of things, and it's because we're trying to deal with this emotional trauma that maybe we don't even know that we have, that we're trying to deal with. So a lot of times -- I mean, I say I would just assume everybody on your table has experienced some sort of trauma. Now, some people deal with it better; some people have more resources that help them be more resilient to this, and so maybe they're not acting out with risky behaviors. But maybe instead, this is something that a lot of people -- it might be a lightbulb. Maybe instead of having risky behaviors, they're a workaholic; they're addicted to work. They're addicted to success instead of being addicted to a substance, but both of those are not great for your emotional wellness or your physical wellness. So I would say approach everybody as if they have experienced some kind of trauma.

But I wanted just to make sure that -- I want to talk about scope of practice for a second because I don't want to get too far into this. I think a lot of people -- a lot of massage therapists are interested in doing trauma-informed bodywork, but they're like, oh, how does that work with scope of practice? And it's really important because unless you do have a mental health background, you don't have the knowledge to really be talking to the client about their traumatic experiences, and even if you do have a mental health background like me -- I mean, I am a doctor of social work, and if I am performing massage, I am not allowed to mix those two per my licensing bodies. So that's something you really want to be careful about.

So I always say you're never -- even if, on your intake, you're asking if there's a specific area of the body where they've experienced trauma that they'd like to stay away from, or maybe they want to focus on, or maybe they want to work up to being able to focus on, you can ask about that, but you're never asking about the story behind it. That's not yours to know. That's not yours to ask. If the client wants to tell you about it and you have not asked, you can listen, but there's no feedback from you other than maybe something like, I'm so sorry that happened to you, or that sounds really hard. Something like that.

Let me stop there because I kind of just said a lot. So I don't know if you want to --

AH You did -- I just love how you phrased that. That's probably the most clear answer I've ever heard regarding when a massage gets into something else. And you can validate without giving feedback.

TR Yes.

AH You can accept what they have said as truth in a validating way and an affirming way that does not move beyond that affirmation that they have said something to you and you have heard it. And that is probably the best description I've ever heard of that and has -- and just helped me a lot because as I reboot my practice, there's a handful of things I'm making a very conscious effort to do better, and that is one of them, having more affirmative and no-feedback-y responses to people.

TR Exactly. Yeah, I mean, it's really -- it's so easy for us because -- or I'm sorry, it's not easy for us. It's so hard for us, I think, as massage therapists because we're caring -- we really -- we care, we empathize, we want to help. And you have that heart, but it's so important for the wellness of the client because you may think you have the right thing to say, but you don't have the training in it. And if you say something that then hurts that client, I mean, that's just -- that's the opposite of what we want to do, right? And so it's so important to stay within your scope, and your scope is just providing that space and bodywork for the client to heal themselves.

And I like to talk about that -- that's sort of my pet peeve too. A lot of people see themselves as healers. With my background, it's all about we're providing a space for people to heal themselves and the opportunity for them to heal themselves, and bodywork is the perfect place for that. It's the -- we can help provide that mind-body connection for clients that maybe they're not able to do on their own, and so we're a huge component of that, but we're allowing the clients to do that work for themselves.

AH That's awesome. What are some physical cues that we might get for clients who have not mentioned trauma or even considered it themselves? If I'm mid-session with somebody, what might I see that could set off a thought in my head that says, okay, maybe I need to approach this differently?

TR Yeah. I mean, I think the eyes are wide open, right, not able to close the eyes. You can -- there's a lot of fidgeting, movement, they're not able to settle down or relax, they're having -- and I mean, that's just obvious cues that they're not able to settle into that parasympathetic mode, right? And when we're talking about people -- now, this is sort of another level where we're talking about people who have been diagnosed with PTSD, they are stuck in that flight-or-flight; they're just stuck there, and it gets engaged very easily. So you're looking for those cues that they're not able to get into the parasympathetic. Maybe the muscles tense up in a certain area of their body, or they're whole body is just very, very tense. I'm not talking about knots that need to be worked out, or the shoulder area has got some work that clearly needs to happen. It's more the whole body is tensed up. Maybe even the hands are in fists. Maybe you notice the jaw is clenching.

So these -- and in trauma-informed bodywork, the number one thing that I talk about is communication. So when you're noticing that, communicate about it because the client needs something different. [Phone rings] Oh, sorry about that. [Laughing]

AH [Laughing]

TR Hopefully, you guys are able to maybe cut that out. [Laughing]

AH That's fine. It's all good. I call it the "full body clench" when I find a client who is just in such a state of just tight all -- like head to toe, the "full body clench," which I think most of us have been in for six to seven months now.

TR Yes. Yeah. [Laughing] Totally. Exactly. That's what I'm talking about. Yes. Yes.

AH So how does massage help this? And for some of us, this is review, and for some of us, this is totally new information because when we went to school 15 years ago, we were not taught this. How can modalities incorporating movement and touch -- how can they help bodies that are in this state?

TR Yeah. So I like to talk about massage to people who aren't familiar with the benefits of massage. I like to say that it's an opportunity for induced meditation and mindfulness practice. And really, when you're being touched, if you can focus on just that sensation of being touched and how it feels in your body, that is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is basically just trying to focus on one thing and get all the other crap out of your head, right, all the worries and the lists and the playing conversations back in your head -- the stuff that's playing kind of on repeat in your head that you don't even realize is playing on repeat. When you're receiving bodywork, it's this perfect opportunity to engage your client with that mind-body connection, reminding them to take a deep breath before you apply pressure, reminding them to focus on the sensations they're feeling in their body as you're doing this work, engaging with communication.

I know a lot of people, when they massage -- and I'm one of them; I don't really like to talk during massage, as the client. As a therapist, you're -- we were taught to not talk at all, really, outside of asking about pressure and comfort checks. But I would say, if your client is somebody that you think would benefit from this mind-body connection -- which really, I think everybody can, but -- and they would be receptive to it, include that in the session, and include that kind of conversation, reminding them to focus on their breath, reminding them to focus on the sensations in their body.

And basically, all the research shows that when we're receiving medium pressure, moderate pressure massage, we are increasing the production of the good hormones that make us feel happy, that make us feel connected, that are reducing anxiety and depression, and our cortisol stops pumping because it does put us into that parasympathetic mode. And I'll talk a little bit about the moderate pressure here: If the pressure is too light, it's not engaging the sensor receptors in the same way to activate that hormone production, and it can feel ticklish, which will do the opposite. When you feel like you're being tickled, it puts you into the sympathetic. So the super light pressure is not great. I would say full palm -- it needs to feel secure. Instead of a little finger, you're using the full surface area of your hand or your forearm or whatever it is that you're using. And if you're going too deep, if you're doing a really deep massage, that -- it might be productive in some way in terms of addressing some physical issue, but it's not productive in terms of getting the client into the parasympathetic mode because you're accessing the pain receptors. And once those pain receptors are activated, now you're not in your parasympathetic mode anymore.

So there are certain things you have to think about to be able -- in massage to be able to deliver a massage that will be beneficial for this particular thing that we're trying to achieve.

AH That was -- and that's so great because there's so much crap out there about -- and I'm totally air quoting this "relaxation massage" and some people thinking that it is very light work, and many of us who have doing really profound relaxation work for years being like, no, it's definitely not super light work on most people. And the idea that you can't have some amount of pressure and still be engaging the parasympathetic nervous system is just kind of wackadoodle. And it's nice to hear it articulated the way you articulate it.

TR Yeah. And the other thing to think about is pacing. There's some research on that as well where there's a specific pace of moving your hand that is most effective at activating the parasympathetic, and it's super slow. It's slower than you think it would be. And so I'm one of those people where I -- my body automatically starts working to the rhythm of the music, which is not good, but it's much better to move your hands very slowly. If you're moving them quickly, again, you're going to be more likely to activate the sympathetic.

AH That is good to know. That's actually a -- another one of my missions is I kind of reboot my practice, is to go slower in all of the things I do in my business -- decision-making, bookkeeping, and actual hands-on practice -- to be quieter and go slower.

TR Yes. Yes. And then you can kind of listen to the body better that way, too, and feel what responses you're getting, if the muscles are tensing or if they're -- the client's able to relax. Yeah, going slow is always good.

AH So how -- with regards to -- well, I should say, with respect to the fact that every county across the country and every town across the country is having a radically different COVID-19 experience -- and some places are fully open with life going seemingly back to normal, and some places are still just dramatically and mostly shut down -- recognizing that we can't speak to all of those places at once, how can small group classes be safe, now and in the future? How -- or can they not be? Are you suggesting treatments be straight up virtual or limited one-to-one right now? What kinds of advice are you giving Yomassage practitioners and other kinds of practitioners who do either one-to-one or small group work?

TR Yeah. A lot of our practitioners during the pandemic have done virtual Yomassage. And they've done "date night" virtual Yomassage, which is really fun, when during the time when nothing was open and everyone was bored out of their minds. That was really popular. But we've been seeing people doing outdoor sessions, small group outdoor sessions. We've been seeing people just even do them indoors but spaced out quite a bit with masks. And then I think there are some parts of the country where they're just doing what they want to do. But we recommend -- right now, I think a lot of people feel comfortable -- if they're going to do a small group, it's with their pod, their quarantine pod, right? So it might be their family or their friends that they're already around and sharing space with. And so that's really -- I mean, that's what a lot of people like during anyways for Yomassage is, I want to take my mom and my sister with me, or I want it to be with my husband, or maybe it's a family thing, and so that's always popular. I do think that's still an option. Yomassage can be delivered one-on-one for sure, and a lot of people are doing it that way -- or couples is, like I said, I think really popular.

I don't think we're in a spot where we can't do small group sessions. I think there are ways. We have a whole blog on sanitary precautions and how to lead a class safely. It's a little different with the props we use to make sure that everything's super safe and clean, so we do have guidance for that for people.

AH Great. Yeah. Again, I've been super impressed with all of the resources that Yomassage has given everybody -- not just their private communities, but everybody in the profession and related professions through this whole thing. It's been really, really helpful. And we've referred a lot of people to your stuff because it saved us from having to create it. So yay, thank you.

TR I'm so glad. Yeah, we just -- when all this started happening, it was like, oh, my gosh, we need to get out there and make sure that everybody has this information. And we did. We put a lot of work into getting that stuff out there, so it feels really nice to hear that it was helpful.

AH Super helpful. And I'm throwing a curveball here mostly because I am curious. Michael and I have talked a little bit here and there about how we are as -- in relation to our lives having changed because of pandemic stuff. It's no secret I had to close my multi-practitioner office, and I've been home kind of doing this kind of virtual work for Blueprint, and then having kids do this kind of fake emergency remote learning at the end of the school year, and now real remote learning and also some hybrid stuff for my kids.

TR (Indiscernible).

AH And it took a surprising toll on me. I guess it's not surprising over all, but it was surprising to me when I started to realize like, oh, the reason you can't focus on this most easiest 400-word blog post is because your brain is in crisis mode. And it took me several months and a couple of medications to realize what was fully happening with me and also the people in my house. And it's only the last month or two that I'm like, oh, okay. No, all right. I'm getting better. We're getting a feel for this. We're all finding our equilibrium. You've got kids, and you've got this business, and you have -- you had a huge change in your business this year where you were already planning to do less traveling, but now there is no traveling.

TR Yeah.

AH And you -- are you still teaching? You're still teaching at the university, right?

TR No.

AH No, you're not. Okay.

TR I took the plunge in January and said I'm going to focus solely on Yomassage. So then when the pandemic hit, I was like, oh, please, please let this have been the right decision. [Laughing] You know?

AH I hear that. So how are you -- how has this been for you? And have there been any kind of epiphanies for you that have helped you kind of related to your work and relate to the people we serve better?

TR Gosh, yeah. It's been really, really challenging. I have three kids, all -- a 2nd grader, a 6th -- my son just started middle school in 6th grade, and then I have a 7th grader. And the uncertainty with the massage business in general was really scary at first, but honestly, I think that really only lasted, I don't know, maybe a few weeks. And then we realized we were actually busier than ever, and I think it's because people have this time to sit and rethink their businesses and what they wanted to do when they were able to reopen. We have this really amazing virtual training that was already available for people, and so it actually was not as dire as we thought it was going to be, which is a huge relief.

And I think -- what we've seen as -- unfortunately, there are a lot of people that are just closing their businesses, but I think the ones that are staying, that aren't -- or that have decided to return are doing so in a really thoughtful manner in figuring out how to create businesses -- we have a couple blogs on this too -- how to create a business that can withstand any storm that life has to throw at us, right? What are different offerings that we can bring to people that are especially relevant, that can be provided not just in person? What are the skill sets that massage therapists have that we can use outside of just table massage? And so I think those are the people that we're seeing now that are taking our training and becoming a massage therapist, and they're a really solid group. And so it's exiting to see what they're doing.

But yeah, I mean, for sure I've been crazy stressed out, and I've been trying to do more meditation myself. Yoga was closed up, so I was doing more home practice. But honestly, the touch component I was missing just like everybody else, and it really made me feel it more. We created, at the very beginning of the pandemic -- gosh, that feels like forever ago -- but we created a training for community, for anybody. It could be your massage -- it was really intended for massage clients, and it's called Mindful Touch at Home, and it was on the importance of touch, what is touch deprivation, how can we deliver safe touch, how can we engage in communication around touch, and how can we increase touch in our day-to-day lives. And that was really prompted by this, oh, my gosh, I feel touch-deprived, and this is awful.

AH I think so many of us felt that as practitioners. I'm used to having my hands on people 20 hours a week, and then all of sudden I didn't.

TR Yes.

AH And then the first two weeks that I didn't see patients, I was also quarantined in my bedroom because I had been exposed. So it hit me super hard, and it took me a couple weeks after that to realize that was a big part of my crankiness and to kind of recoup from that. And I think, for a lot of us who live with other people and can get a hug on occasion, have a much greater appreciation and sympathy for our friends who live completely alone and have not had a -- I have a friend who said, I haven't had a hug in seven months. I have not touched, physically touched, another human being except for accidentally bumping into somebody at the grocery store. I haven't physically gotten touched in seven months.

TR Oh, my gosh.

AH And I think it's given -- my own experience with that now has given me a much greater empathy for people and for the work -- a greater appreciation for the work that we do. And I think we're going to see that on the consumer end.

TR Yes.

AH I think we're going to see new clients who have read all the various articles in mainstream media in the last couple of months about touch because it's a thing.

TR Exactly. And that's -- it's so -- I mean, if there's any silver lining, right, from this, it's -- before the pandemic, we were really trying to start that conversation in the larger community, the world, about the importance of touch and touch deprivation and what is this. And we had done this blog, this kind of experiment of like, okay, I'm going to do a log of how I get touched, how many times a day I get touched or whatever for a week, how do I feel in relation -- all this stuff. We wanted to create this movement. And then pandemic hit, and then I was like, this is the perfect -- people now, whether they like it or not, they have this experience, and we all now can relate to how this touch deprivation has impacted us and how important it is. And I think now we can really start the conversation about the science behind why that is. It's not just, oh, touch feels good, it's a luxury. It is not. It's not. And it feels wonderful, but it's not a luxury; it's a necessity.

And so that I think is the silver lining, is I definitely think you're right; on the consumer end, we're going to see more people. And that's what we love about Yomassage, is this fully clothed way to receive touch for people who maybe are brand new to this idea of incorporating touch into their lives in more of this intentional way with a therapeutic practitioner. So yeah, I mean, find -- my advice would be find ways to capture those new potential clients that are new to massage.

AH And there's plenty of them. I can tell you I've only been back to work for 48 hours and my October schedule is almost booked. And I'm turning away new people at the moment. [Laughing]

TR Wow.

AH It's pretty cool and terrifying and good, but we'll save that for another episode. I -- and mind you, I have made many notes about future episode ideas with you, so thank you. Let's wrap this up. What do you want to tell us again about Yomassage, how people can find you, and what the special offer for our listening -- listeners are again? And everyone, this will be in the podcast notes as well, but we've covered so much in the last little bit that I need to hear it again. So Tiffany, bring it.

TR Yeah. Okay. So you can find us at yomassage.com. Make sure to join our private Facebook group, Yomassage Facebook group, and make sure you answer the questions. Sometimes, if -- just have to say that you're a massage therapist and you agree to the terms of the group, and we'll admit you. But without that, we don't, so make sure you do those. And we post all kinds of great offers and information and tools in that group. So if you're interested at all, it's a really great place to be. And we're happy to answer any questions you have about Yomassage in that group as well. And then we're on Instagram. Follow us there. We've got a pretty exciting announcement coming out in October also, so be on the lookout for that.

But for you, Massage Business Blueprint listeners, we have -- the code is MBB, and it's $50 off any training through the end of the year. And then we have a separate code, MBBTRAUMA, and basically, on our website, you just go to Community Courses, and you'll be able to find the Trauma-Informed Bodywork Level 1 course. I can't remember -- I think it's one-and-a-half NCBTMB hours. It's sort of a teaser; it's a broad overview of trauma-informed bodywork, and if you like it, if you like the content and the layout and all of that stuff, then you know you would be interested in the Level 2 and 3. Level 2 and 3, those are only available to people who are Yomassage therapists already, though. So yeah, the Trauma-Informed Bodywork Level 1 is a great intro to that content.

And I just want to also real quick say I -- please don't advertise trauma-informed bodywork classes unless you've taken some kind of training in trauma-informed bodywork -- or sessions. I say "classes" because that's what we call our Yomassage classes. But it's important -- it's very, very important that you're trained in how to deliver trauma-informed work if you're going to advertise that. But yeah.

AH Yeah. But taking a one-hour, online class shouldn't -- you shouldn't be starting to put wacky initials after your name or anything.

TR No, exactly. Yeah, [Laughing]. Exactly. It'll just kind of give you an overview and some things to think about and other things to research. And we have some books we recommend and other things like that that you can kind of start looking at on your own as well.

AH Excellent. Thank you so much for doing this with us, Tiffany. We really appreciate it, and we know you're going to be back for more. And Michael, are you ready to take us home here?

MR Happy to. Tiffany, I also want to say thank you. I've just been kind of listening in the background here, super fascinated with this discussion. I've learned a lot. And one more time, I just want to say, Tiffany, you and Katherine have built an amazing business. I'm always really impressed with how mindful and the intelligent way you approach your business and the work you do as well as the way you've built a business around it and built your community.

TR Thank you.

MR So massage therapists can learn a lot just by watching your business in general. You've done a really good job at marketing, brand, community, and again, just the thoughtful way you approach the work. So thank you. I appreciate that.

TR Thank you, Michael. That's really nice to hear.

MR And I'm glad we are going to have you back in the future. So thanks, as always. So thanks, everyone, for joining us for this episode today. Be sure to check the show notes and the Yomassage website for those offers you heard. And you can find us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. So thanks, again, for joining us today. Have a great day. We will see you next time.

AH Bye. 

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