Once a week meet a local health & wellness expert who’ll 'll share their advice, suggestions & wisdom.
This week let's get to know our local health and wellness expert Ashley Denk. Ashley is a Certified Massage Therapist with 17 years experience and a B.A. in Communications Disorders, Special Education, and Anthropology. She attended the Lifestream Massage School in Napa, CA and the Sebastopol School of Accupressure. She is currently continuing her Accupressure training through the Ear Seeds Academy for Auricular Therapy, as well as becoming a Certified Aromatherapist from the Aromahead Institute. She has worked as a Spa Director and Massage Therapist in California and has been in private practice providing therapeutic massage in the Upper Valley since returning to Vermont 10 years ago. She has offices in both Norwich and South Strafford, Vermont.
Tell us about yourself and why you choose to go into a health field?
I spent a lot of my childhood exploring the outdoors and being in nature and was always curious about the natural world and its interactions with and without humans. When I was pregnant with my son I read an article written by a massage therapist, and mother, who gave her young child regular massages and boasted he had never been sick since he was born. This fascinated me. What parent wouldn’t want this for their child. I wanted to learn more! I bought a book on infant massage that outlined massage beliefs from all over the world across multiple cultures, and how certain strokes and techniques could calm a fussy infant, boost health, and eliminate certain ailments, as well as create a strong and healthy bond between parent and child. Once my son was born I took an infant massage class, and I realized that with an inconsolable crying newborn sometimes giving a massage to him was as therapeutic for me as it was for him. He still got sick often enough, however this only made me want to have better training and understanding. I never thought my massage training would go beyond taking care of my own child, but by the time he was 2 I was enrolled in the Lifestream Massage School in Napa, CA and I have been continuing my learning ever since. I am now a full time Certified Massage Therapist with clients that range from pregnant woman and children to athletes and laborers, to the elderly on hospice in their last days of life. I love my job because I love making people feel better.
What makes you unique in your field?
I think every massage therapist is unique, you never really know until you try us out and find what works for you! My latest training has been in Auricular-Therapy, which is acupressure on points of the ear that correlate with systems of the body. It can have quick and dramatic effects at calming the mind, reducing pain and addressing a wide range of symptoms and conditions related to stress, anxiety, addiction, pain, insomnia, and weight loss. I even have special seeds to apply to the points so you can continue to work the benefits of your treatment after you leave your session. Acupressure can also be added to a therapeutic massage session. Also, I love incorporating massage with the natural world and the outdoors. My Strafford Office has a deck that hangs out over a creek so in warmer weather you have the option of being outdoors on a private porch up against the woods with the sound of the creek, birds and wildlife sightings and fresh air. It’s a beautiful spot in any season, but the live sound of the water really adds to the experience.
What question do your clients ask most frequently and how do you answer them?
How much do I get undressed? Some of my modalities are done while fully clothed. Otherwise it is as much as you are most comfortable; you will be covered with sheets and blankets, and I only uncover what I am working on while working on it.
What do you see as the greatest health risk posed to this generation?
Stress, without a doubt, leads to a decline in our health and wellbeing, from mental and emotional stress, to physical and environmental stress, if we don’t unwind and detox, the stress hormones just build up in our bodies until they transform to other physical health conditions. By reducing our body stress we are reducing our susceptibility to other illness and disease, and massage is a really great way to help reduce stress!
What’s the best health/fitness/wellness advice you ever received?
Be the example. As a parent and caretaker, it’s easy for me to take care of others and a challenge to take care of myself. But the best advice I received or can give is we need to teach our loved ones it’s healthy to take care of ourselves in order to stay healthy and be there for others, and we need to demonstrate this by our own example. Sometimes this is just little steps towards bigger goals, even if it ends up being just a few minutes a day doing something you enjoy. Especially when our children are young, it helped me recognize we need to treat ourselves as we hope they will treat themselves one day when we are not there or able.
What is your favorite area of wellness to practice?
Anything that involves fresh air and being outdoors - in any weather - everything is just better outside, from exercise and yoga to having some quiet time in the woods, along a river, or at the ocean... even cooking and eating is better when experienced outside.
What’s one book you recommend everyone should read?
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It teaches accountability and a positive approach to life, and definitely influenced mine.
What one suggestion would you make that would have the greatest impact for improved health?
Get a massage. Even if it’s just your feet or your ears, or an acupressure treatment, it will increase circulation, reduce unknown stress, and make you feel better. It really helps keep you connected to yourself and in tune with your own body - and ultimately it should keep you happy! Just Imagine what this world would be like and how much positivity could radiate if everyone got regular massages.
How can people learn more about you and what you offer?
Send me an email at email@example.com, call me at 802-291-0370. I am going to offer classes using Ear-Seeds Acupressure Healing and continued self-healing on Saturday April 6th, Tuesday April 30th, and Wednesday April 15th. More information please email me.
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