Robert Byrnes has been providing bodywork in a professional setting since 1994, and integrates several modalities for a unique treatment that is individualized to each client’s needs. He provides therapeutic treatments by appointment in his Mill Valley, California office. Call 415-360-4389.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I RECEIVE A MASSAGE?
I recommend that clients book a number of consistent sessions, especially in the beginning. This allows us to adequately work into the deeper layers of the problem. When the restrictions in the tissues are properly removed, and balance is restored, maintenance treatments can be done less frequently. However, the more frequent the treatments, the better the results. And the most important factor is consistency. So if someone gets treated once a month, the results are better than for someone who only receives treatments randomly and sporadically throughout the year. Many people wait until they are in an acute state of discomfort before they will take action. This passive approach to self-care produces the least effective results.
Honor yourself by taking the time to plan for your self-care! When you wait until the last minute to book your massage, instead of getting the best therapist, you simply end up getting the first one who’s available, usually with mediocre results. You’re paying a lot of money, so why don’t you plan your self-care accordingly? Book your massage in advance with an experienced therapist and get the results you deserve! Someone busier than you is getting their massage right now. It’s never too late to plan ahead!
You can receive massage as often as possible. It’s really only an issue of time and of money. If you had the time and the money you could get a massage everyday. I have people that see me once a week, others that see me every other week, some every three weeks, and some that see me once a month. You really can’t over do it.
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO PREPARE FOR MY MASSAGE?
A shower or bath is always highly recommended before your massage, especially if you’ve been out in the sun. Clean bodies are easier and more pleasant to work on. Unpleasant body odor and/or dirt are very distracting and it makes giving 100% during the massage more challenging. A strong dose of perfume is not a substitute for a little washing up.
A hot bath with Epsom Salt is a wonderful way to prepare for a massage treatment. Add two cups of Epsom Salt to warm water in a standard-sized bathtub. Double the Epsom Salt for an oversized tub. Soak for at least 12 minutes. Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate) is inexpensive and can be obtained at any drug store.
HOW DO I GET THE MOST OUT OF MY MASSAGE?
This is a time for you to really relax into your body; a time of healing and rejuvenation. You are making time just for you to take care of yourself. This is how you honor your body.
Some talking in the beginning of the treatment is probably good just to establish a little rapport with your therapist. But, in general, you will receive more benefit from the massage treatment if there’s not a lot of chatting. Instead of being focused outwardly on a conversation, you want to bring your awareness inward. When your attention is focused on the area that is being treated, and on what your therapist is doing, this awareness will feed back to the therapist. This will concentrate The therapist’s energies and allow the massage treatment to be more effective.
As your therapist is working on your problem areas, you will want to bring your awareness to your breath, and consciously visualize your breath moving into those tight, tender, and sore areas. Where awareness goes, energy flows. This will help these areas to release, relax, and heal. The point is to be in your body and FEEL, instead of thinking, and being in your head. Do not try to “help” your therapist by anticipating what will come next, but allow yourself to simply be in your body. The more you can surrender yourself to the experience of simply receiving, the more you will relax, and the more benefit you will gain.
DO NOT HESITATE, HOWEVER, TO SPEAK UP IF THE PRESSURE IS TOO MUCH OR SOMETHING IS MAKING YOU UNCOMFORTABLE! The massage is for your benefit, and you are paying a lot of money, so it is your right to communicate your needs. Giving feedback to your therapist during the massage will only help you receive a better treatment.
- Minimize the talking
- Focus on the breath
- Give feedback
AM I COMPLETELY UNDRESSED EVEN MY UNDERWEAR?
You are always free to undress to your comfort level. I want you to feel totally comfortable, and I keep you covered with a sheet and bath towel at all times. Many people feel most comfortable wearing at least their underpants, and this is perfectly acceptable.
It is also perfectly acceptable for you to wear clothing during your massage treatment, if you perfer to not be nude. In this case, you would need to wear a yoga style outfit, or clothing that is loose-fitting and comfortable. Thinner, flexible clothing works best.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER MY MASSAGE?
Drink a lot of water. Ideally, you should continue drinking pure water until your urine becomes totally clear. This will aid your body in eliminating all the internal waste that was stirred up during your treatment. Most people are not properly hydrated, and this can intensify any potential achiness one might feel after a good massage treatment.
It is best if you have nothing else planned after your massage treatment except to simply relax in solitude. A hot bath with Epsom Salt is a wonderful follow-up to a massage treatment. Add two cups of Epsom Salt to warm water in a standard-sized bathtub. Double the Epsom Salt for an oversized tub. Soak for at least 12 minutes. Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate) is inexpensive and can be obtained at any drug store.
IS TIPPING REQUIRED?
Any therapist working for someone else, or in someone else’s establishment only gets a cut of the treatment price. In this situation a tip is expected, and generally 15-20% is appropriate. An 18% tip is automatically included at many resort spas.
This tipping arrangement is similar to eating out at a restaurant. The tip is part of the cost of the experience. One may leave the restaurant without tipping, or with an inadequate tip, however, this is socially unacceptable. The food server and the restaurant relies on your tip for the food server’s compensation. Massage establishments with employees operate the same way.
WHY MASSAGE AND YOGA ARE SO IMPORTANT
Left to its own organic devices, without the exertion of sensibility and will, protoplasm will simply respond to local forces, bad as well as good. We are sol/gel, semi-solid, fluid crystal, and when we are not actively firming ourselves up into functional structures we are sagging and slipping. Our flesh is like silly putty that distorts when it is ignored. We are constantly obliged to actively participate in its formation, or else it will droop of its own weight and plasticity.
This incessant formation we cannot stop. We can only make the choice to let it go its own way – directed by genetics, gravity, appetites, habits, the accidentals of our surroundings, and so on – or the choice to let our sensory awareness penetrate its processes, to be personally present in the midst of those processes with the full measure of our subjective, internal observations and responses, and to some degree direct the course of that formation.
We do not have the option of remaining passively unchanged, and to believe for a moment in this illusion is to invite distortions and dysfunctions. Like putty, we are either shaping ourselves or we are drooping; like clay, we either keep ourselves moist and malleable or we are drying and hardening. We must do one or the other; we may not passively avoid the issue. Like Job, we must learn to take our flesh in our own teeth, put our lives in our own hands, and actively participate with the subtle and awesome forces which weave the web of our existence.
From Job’s Body : A Handbook for Bodywork
by Deane Juhan
Please read the personal story of my yoga journey.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TOUCH
Margaret Mead made a study of two New Guinea tribes that throws some light on this influence of touch in such markedly different cultural circumstances. The members of the Arapesh tribe take great delight in children, and fondle them regularly; an infant is rarely out of someone’s arms. The mother carries it in a sling around her body all day long, regardless of her activities, and if she is absent for any length of time she is careful to devote enough attention to the child upon her return to make up for the lost hours. Nursing continues three to four years, and mealtime is a happy affair to both mother and baby, with nuzzling, tickling, rocking, sucking, playful pats, and laughter being usual parts of the ritual.
The whole matter of nourishment is made into an occasion of high affectivity and becomes a means by which the child develops and maintains a sensitivity to caresses in every part of its body.
Nor is the mother the only source of affection; virtually every adult treats every child in the same fashion.
The result is an easy, gentle, receptive unaggressive adult personality, and a society in which competitive or aggressive games are unknown, and in which warfare, in the sense of organized expeditions to plunder, conquer, kill, or attain glory, is absent.
Living to the south of the Arapesh are the Mundugamors. To them, children are not a joy, and often before a child is born there is much discussion about whether or not to let it survive. If it is allowed to live, it is promptly placed in a hard, rough basket carried like a pack on the mother’s back, or hung from the wall while she is working. Infants are suckled when their crying cannot be stopped by other means. The mother stands to nurse, and indulges in no fondling; as soon as suckling stops, the infant is put back in the basket on the wall. Thus the infant has to fight for its food, clamping the breast aggressively and frequently, choking, which infuriates the mother. The nursing experience is “one of anger and frustration, struggle and hostility, rather than one of affection, reassurances, and contentment.”
It is time for weaning as soon as the child can walk, and this is done with abrupt harshness, as often as not by repeatedly slapping the child when it approaches the breast. The Mundugamors are “an aggressive, hostile people who live among themselves in a state of mutual distrust and uncomfortableness.” They are cannibals.
From Job’s Body : A Handbook for Bodywork
by Deane Juhan
FOR PROSPECTIVE THERAPISTS
Questions from prospective massage therapists:
Did you feel that your massage school taught you enough to succeed in the profession?
Success comes to those with determination in the face of failure. It’s not something that gets delivered in the classroom. Any massage school can teach you the basics but massage is performance art like dance or music. Anyone can attend art school but that doesn’t mean they’ll become an artist. You can teach someone how to play a musical instrument, but if they don’t have emotional depth, their music will not be satisfying. Likewise, if someone doesn’t naturally have rhythm and coordination, they’ll never be a good dancer. So the question really should be whether or not you have a natural ability for this kind of art.
If you have the opportunity to study anywhere, the best work is being taught in Big Sur, California at the Esalen Institute. Personally visit the schools you’re interested in and see for yourself what’s going on before you start spending a lot of money going down the wrong path.
Would you recommend this profession?
It’s a lot of work, physically and emotionally. And you’ll never make really big money unless you run your own offices with employees, etc. But that’s not really being a massage therapist. Of the people coming out of massage schools today, many of them never end up working as therapists, or they quit before they even hit the burn out stage at about the six or seven year mark. But for those who persevere, it’s an extremely satisfying profession. And I love it. That wasn’t always the case. The path I choose was the more difficult one. I focused on building a private practice. I succeeded, I burned out, I reinvented myself, and I continue to be fulfilled in my work. It’s my passion. So if you have the talent, and you have the drive, the doors will open. And today it seems there’s a lot more opportunity to get a “job” as a massage therapist, so if that’s your inclination there’s more of that available. If you’re a natural, as you gain experience you’ll do really well. Once you get the basics down, practice, practice, practice – and then take more training from people who have been doing this work for a long time: at least ten years or more. That’s how you get better. That’s how you succeed. I can work anywhere I want and I still study all the time. It’s a constant process of discovery and creation for me. I love it.
RECOMMENDED REFERENCE BOOKS
Beck, Mark. Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massagee (5th). Independence, KY: Milady/Thomson Delmar, 2010.
Benjamin, Ben & Sohnen-Moe, C. The Ethics of Touch: The Hands-on Practitioner’s Guide to Creating a Professional, Safe and Enduring Practice. Sohnen-Moe Associates, Inc.
Beresford-Cooke, Carola. Shiatsu Theory and Practice (3rd). St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier Health. 2010
Biel, Andrew. Trail Guide to the Body (4th). Boulder, CO: Books of Discovery, 2010
Clay, J.H., & Pounds, D.M. Basic Clinical Massage Therapy (2nd). Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2008.
Clemente, Carmine. Anatomy: A Regional Atlas of the Human Body, 6th Edition. Hagerstown,MD: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins. 2010.
Fritz, Sandy. Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage. (5th). Mosby. 2012
Fritz, Sandy & Grosenbach, James. Mosby’s Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage: Anatomy, Physiology, Biomechanics and Pathology (3rd). St. Louis,MO: Mosby/Elsevier, Health Services Division. 2008.
Holey, Elizabeth & Cook, Eileen. Evidence-based Therapeutic Massage: A Practical Guide for Therapists (3rd). St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier Health. 2011.
Juhan, Deane. Job’s Body : A Handbook for Bodywork. Barrytown/Station Hill Press, Inc. 2003
Lowe, Whitney W. Orthopedic Massage: Theory and Technique (2nd). Churchill Livingstone. 2009
Marieb, Elaine & Hoehn, Katja. Human Anatomy & Physiology (10th). San Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings/Pearson Education, 2011.
McIntosh, Nina. Educated Heart: Professional Boundaries for Massage Therapists & Bodyworkers, The (3rd).. Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins. 2010.
Muscolino, Joseph. Kinesiology: The Skeletal System and Muscle Function (2nd). St. Louis, MO: Mosby/Elsevier, Health Services Division, 2010.
Muscolino, Joseph. Muscular System Manual: The Skeletal Muscles of the Human Body, The (3rd). St. Louis, MO: Mosby/Elsevier, Health Services Division, 2009.
Osbourne, Carole. Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide to Prenatal, Labor, and Postpartum Practice. (2nd). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011
Premkumar ,Kalyani. Anatomy & Physiology: The Massage Connection, The (3rd). Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins, 2011.
Rattray, Fiona & Ludwig, Linda. Clinical Massage Therapy: Understanding, Assessing and Treating Over 70 Conditions. Elora,ON: Talus Inc., 2001.
Saeger, Jan & Kyle-Brown, Donna. New Foundations in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. New York,NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc. 2007.
Sohn, Tina & Sohn, Robert. Amma Therapy: A Complete Textbook of Oriental Bodywork and Medical Principles. Rochester,VT: Healing Arts Press. 1997.
Sohnen-Moe, Cheri. Business Mastery: A Guide for Creating a Fulfilling, Thriving Business and Keeping it Successful (4th). Sohnen-Moe Associates, Inc. 2008.
Stillerman, Eileen. Modalities for Massage and Bodywork (1st). Mosby. 2008
Tortora, Gerard & Derrickson, Bryan. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (13th). Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley and Sons, 2011.
Venes, Donald (Ed.). Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary (21st). Philadelphia, PA: F A Davis Co. 2009.
Werner, Ruth. A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology (5th). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2012
Williams, Anne. Massage Mastery: From Student to Professional. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 2012
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