By Melinda Minton

Color is such a simple thing. We almost take for granted the green of spring, the orangey glow of a sunset, or the magnificence of a rainbow - but color is much more than a treat for our senses. In fact, many color therapists, and others who incorporate color into healing, say that colors are actually varying energetic frequencies that affect us on mental, emotional and physical levels. Accordingly, the color of your sheets, the color of your essential oils and the color modalities that you integrate into your hands-on techniques or massage-therapy sessions can all have a profound effect upon clients.

Spas in the United States generally limit their use of color therapy to colored-water baths; however, there are plenty of other healing - and creative - uses for color in a bodywork session. This article is intended to give you some ideas about how to use color therapy in your own massage practice or spa.

How color works
Color therapy has been used for centuries. According to Jacob Liberman, M.D., a teacher at the London Centre of Vibrational Medicine in London, Ontario, Canada, color has been used for treating illness throughout history.

"Crystals, painted icons, artwork, items of clothing and decorative effects for dwellings were all treated ritualistically by various cultures for health and religious purposes," Liberman says. "The effects of color, in fact, became so interwoven into the psyche of the people that shaman[s], medical providers and religious figures began using colored linen, salves, ointments and plasters to treat a variety of maladies.

"There were many treatises on the effects of color on the mind and physical body," he continues. "Many students of Aristotle, forerunners to modern medical and scientific thought, were engulfed in the study of color and light with regard to energetic healing."

Brian Greenfield, a licensed color therapist practicing in Kent, England, defines the basics of color therapy. "Each color in the spectrum of all possible colors has a frequency or wavelength associated with it. Because illness can sometimes be caused by a lack of color and light in the cells within the organs of the body, a renewal of this energy can reinvigorate the health of the organs and systems within the body."

Greenfield points out that color frequencies can be transmitted to a client through a variety of means, including the placement of gemstones and crystals on the body, placing silk scarves on or around them, using solarized water and by bathing the client in colored light.

"Aromatherapy, reflexology, yoga and other complementary modalities can be combined with the massage and color practices to achieve optimal results," says Greenfield.

The client must also be put through some type of assessment process to detail where color frequencies are most deficient. "My initial appointments last about two hours. In that time I cover the client's mental and emotional state as well as discussing current health issues and concerns," says Greenfield. There are many different methods that a practitioner can use to identify the state of the client. "I use kinesiology to test muscle strength in relation to color, dowsing and diagnostic charts, in addition to considering data from other healers on the client," says Greenfield.

Although there are various schools of thought about the more intricate nature of color healing, the primary traits assigned to each color seem to be consistent throughout the literature. In general, bright tones like red, yellow and orange are stimulating and energizing, while cool tones like blue, purple and shades of green can be soothing, regenerative and calming. White is purifying and stabilizing to the individual's energy system. Black can be a protective and grounding color - but black must be used in moderation because it has a tendency to absorb negativity and is, therefore, best used with another color.

Using color with bodywork
Color therapy can be used in a variety of ways in one's spa or massage practice. With very little money, time or space, color can be added to a touch-therapy session, or offered as a service on its own. Beyond either of those options, color can play a central role in the life of your practice - even if you don't offer color therapy - through its use in your session room and accessories.

According to Caroline Bayard, founder and director of the Northeast Holistic Center in Belleville, New Jersey, and a feng shui expert, different colors correspond to different elements: red to fire; blue to water; yellow and orange to earth; and green to wood.

Colors can also be used to express the purpose of your practice and to affect the perception of clients, Bayard says. "To promote your business as a source of healing, try to use yellow, beige and orange colors," she says. Added accents of black will give your business that much more stability and financial stamina. Add splashes of purple for prosperity and fame for your career.

"To work on the health of the client while enhancing the health of your business, try a combination of yellow and lavender sheets on a black table," she adds. "The purple will bring prosperity to your business, yellow will bring help to the client and aid in opening up their chakras, and the black table will reinforce the stability of the massage practice."

Anne Tooley, a polarity practitioner in Pittsboro, North Carolina, has built a practice primarily focused on color therapy. "There are so many powerful ways to integrate color into your practice," she says. "One of the simplest ways that I apply color therapy to clients is by using swaths of material. I lay the cloth on them during different points of energy work. I primarily use raw silk. Silk has a much higher frequency than any other natural fabric because a living thing, the silkworm, weaves it."

Tooley places the cloth strategically on reflex points, near energetic points that affect the systems and organs of the body and on specific chakras. She also uses colored liquids, gels, pinpoint light wands and theater lighting to bathe the body in light and to energize oils and solutions.

"I like to combine sound therapy using crystal bowls and blend in essential oil mixtures with color mechanisms for the optimal effect on the system," she says. Tooley believes that by working on a systemic feature of the body, like the spine or lymphatic system, the healing energy is more rapidly dispersed throughout the body.

This same concept is explored in a variety of modalities within the general practice of color therapy. One practice known as Colorpuncture, discovered by Peter Mandel, a German color therapist, scientist and naturopath, involves applying light to acupuncture points, meridians, reflex zones and chakras. According to the 1997 book, Colour Me Healing: Colorpuncture: A New Medicine of Light, by Jack Allanach, the theory behind Colorpuncture is that light is the medium by which cells communicate.

In Colorpuncture sessions, frequencies of colored light are focused on an area of the body using glass rods that beam the light. The client is diagnosed with Kirlian Energy Emission Analysis that reads where energy is deficient in the body and prescribes a Colorpuncture treatment to restore balance. The results are seen through before-and-after Kirlian photographs. Allanach's book further explains that Colorpuncture can clear energy blockages in the body and help heal old psychic wounds.

Colors' Healing Properties

  • Violet: Dignity, spirituality. Related to insight and inspiration.
  • Blue: Tranquility, devotion, inspiration, peace. Expander of space and time.
  • Turquoise: Healing. Immune system strengthener.
  • Green: Harmony, sympathy, balance. Creator of wholeness in mind, body and spirit.
  • Yellow: Intellectualism. An energizer and stimulant.
  • Orange: Creativity. The color of happiness and joy, related to feminine energy.
  • Red: Vitality, strength. An energizer and stimulant, related to masculine energy.
  • Magenta: Release. Encourages the release of negative thought patterns.
Color in the room
Holly Hogue, a Reiki practitioner and energy worker in Louisville, Kentucky, often integrates color therapy into her sessions. She makes the application suit the client and the need. "Sometimes I use crystal cards, which are color energy cards about the same size as credit cards. I use them for working on different chakras and changing the conscious awareness of the client while doing other forms of energy work," she says.

Hogue says that she places the cards on various areas of the client's body, or has the client hold the card while focusing on a specific color. Hogue believes that color healing is very intuitive, but also thinks therapists should also be aware of the client's attitude during the session. "It really depends on the individual. Color is very therapeutic, very helpful to facilitating wellness; however, it really depends on the client's frame of mind how the session should be approached and what tools should be used," she says.

Aguillard agrees. "Many of my clients have an adversity to crystals and color therapy. They are more conservative and the color methods are just too "out there" for them," she says. "Oftentimes I will integrate color without making it a pronounced portion of the session. For instance, I will visualize colors as I work on certain chakras. I don't do anything without pure intent or anything that would compromise my relationship with the client."

Bruce Rawles is a metaphysical practitioner in Nevada City, California, who has performed extensive research into color therapy. He says that color is a vibrational and visual source of energy that we interact with on a daily basis.

"There are energy frequencies all around us that we don't necessarily always pick up on," he says. "Intent is at the core of the frequencies that we emit and, to some extent, also at the core of the nature of the frequencies that we receive."

On a subconscious level, we are constantly affected by the frequencies of the colors around us, Rawles says.

"It is important to use the bright colors to energize a room and soothing colors to calm your client during a massage," he says. "It is also crucial to create a color scheme that energetically complements the mathematical lay of a room. For instance, in nature straight lines and sharp angles are rarely found. Curvature, soft lines and shapes are more forgiving and naturally softer, which is also more pleasing to the eye."

Rawles also points out that the various colors used in a session and in the design of a room can have a profound impact even when they are only used as accent colors.

"Because the energies of color combinations can be so subtle, it is especially important to be aware of every nuance contained within the massage practice or in the elements surrounding the session," says Rawles.

Reflect your creativity
No matter how you choose to utilize color therapy in your practice, the price of exploring the methods of color healing are low and the selection of modalities is vast. An online search reveals an abundance of information about color therapy, including literature, schools and various philosophies. Your local library or bookstore should also have a selection of books about the therapeutic uses of color.

Most importantly, color therapy comes in such an array of methodologies that your personal choices for integrating color into your spa or massage practice can be slight or robust - and they can be selected to reflect your own creativity.

Create Color-Charged Waters and Oils
Making your own color-charged waters and oils is easy and inexpensive. Use a clean, colored glass bottle or a clear bottle wrapped in colored cellophane. Fill it three-quarters full with water or massage oil and close firmly to keep dust from getting in.

Place the bottle where it will receive morning sunlight for six to eight hours.

Melinda Minton, L.M.T., is an esthetician, cosmetologist and former spa owner. She currently works as a spa and salon consultant, E-business expert and free-lance writer. She calls Fort Collins, Colorado, home.