Yomassage is a modality that combines restorative yoga stretching with gentle massage and guided meditation in a group class. It’s a complete self-care package—one that can create a new income stream for massage therapists.
Yomassage was founded by massage therapist and yoga teacher Tiffany Ryan, PhD, LMT, and yoga teacher Katherine Parker in 2018, they say it’s a complete self-care package—one that can create a new income stream for massage therapists.
“When massage therapists started to hear about what we were doing, we could tell it was really resonating with them. It struck a nerve for something that was needed in the industry,” said Ryan.
It is that combination of restorative yoga, massage and mindfulness that was exactly what massage therapist Leti Mathews, LMT, owner of Integrated Bodyworks in Kingwood, Texas, was intrigued by.
“I was immediately curious. I needed to know more about this combination of two of my favorite things,” said Mathews, who made the short commute to Austin for the training in 2019.
“I took away a newfound love and appreciation of the power of touch, stretch and mindfulness,” Mathews said. “I left Austin with a sense of being more than just a massage therapist. I had new tools in tow and I was ready to share them with my clients and community.”
Ryan’s career prior to being a massage therapist and yoga instructor was as a social worker developing virtual curriculum for universities. When the demand for Yomassage classes grew, the founders came together and developed a 25-hour online training course that includes research on stress and mindfulness, restorative yoga, techniques for gentle touch, how to teach a Yomassage class, and business and marketing strategies. Yomassage training may be taken in person as well.
The signature course covers 10 gentle massage techniques that can be used during a class and variations that accommodate various populations. To learn Yomassage, a massage therapist does not need to be certified as a yoga instructor. “We teach our therapists everything they need to know to facilitate a Yomassage session,” said Ryan.
Yomassage Signature, Barefoot Yomassage and Table Yomassage are all available only to massage therapists. There is a version called Mindful Touch by Yomassage that uses different touch techniques that are not massage, and that course is available to anyone. Yomassage Facial is open to estheticians.
Ryan said all the courses contain a trauma-informed language and approach, which many practitioners shared they were interested in.
“Combining mindful movement and hands-on therapy allows an opportunity for people to access and release trauma that they may not even be aware they’re still holding on to, in a safe, supportive setting,” said Dawn Kuleana Freitas, CMT, NMT, who owns New Dawn Therapies in Culver City, California.
Massage therapist and Yomassage practitioner Alison Blythe, LMT, of Alpharetta, Georgia, said she felt strongly about the benefits of the trauma-informed aspect of the course.
“Seeing a massage table can be intimidating to some people. In my massage, I assure people that they are going to be draped properly, but with Yomassage I don’t have to worry about that. Their clothes are on; there are no lubricants,” said Blythe. “It is great to introduce people to massage in a non-intimidating atmosphere.”
What a Session Looks Like
In a Yomassage session, the practitioner guides the clients in meditation and offers instruction on how to position the props, which offer additional support and comfort to the clients. They then offer a gentle massage to each client while they are in a restorative yoga posture.
Teaching requires a specific skill set, said Ryan. Many massage therapists find that the Yomassage training helps them build the confidence to teach and learn how to maintain their presence in the room. It is different from what they are used to with one-on-one treatments, but they gain so much from the experience and end up loving it, said Ryan. Students also learn about tone and speaking in a soothing voice, and are given sample verbiage to use during the class to guide clients into each position.
For massage therapists who are also certified yoga instructors like Freitas, the course is a blueprint for combining her two modalities. Freitas already had the experience of teaching regular yoga classes and working with her massage clients one-on-one.
“I was curious about bridging the gap between two effective modalities for my yoga students and massage clients. Massage therapy alone was not enough for most clients, who needed more healing tools while off the table, to balance out their high-stress lives. On the other end of the spectrum, many of my yogis were missing out on the powerful miracle of safe, loving touch,” said Freitas.
Massage therapist Jill Harding, LMT, owner of Day Dreams Wellness Studio for Women in Greenwood, Indiana, became a certified Yomassage practitioner in 2019 and was inspired to follow it with a yoga teacher training.
“During the pandemic when my studio was closed and I was unable to give hands-on work, I ended up taking an online yoga teacher training. I was inspired by Yomassage to go deeper and do different movements in addition to restorative yoga. It was a great kick-start for me and in an odd way the pandemic gave me time to get my yoga certification,” said Harding.
Harding was interested in Yomassage because her massage style takes on a gentle approach, and many continuing education courses she had taken in the past were focused on deep-tissue work. “This was a perfect continuing education class for me because the yoga part is soothing and the massage is still therapeutic but slow and gentle,” she said.
The business and marketing aspect of Yomassage classes is very appealing to massage therapists looking to branch out of their treatment rooms and into community settings. With the option of offering a private or group class, the marketing opportunities are vast.
“It allows me to appeal to a larger group of people,” said Blythe, who is planning weekly Yomassage classes in a spa setting. Harding, who has a women-focused practice, sees opportunity in facilitating connection among women.
“I love the idea that clients could come in with a group of girlfriends, or family members could come in and take it together. They could have a girls’ day, and from what I’ve seen in my classes with mothers and daughters coming in together, it creates a bonding opportunity for them. I also like the energy of having multiple people come in and relaxing at the same time,” said Harding.
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About the Author
Aiyana Fraley, LMT, is a freelance writer and health care professional with more than 18 years of experience in the massage field. She teaches yoga and offers sessions in massage, Reiki, sound healing and essential oils. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “Yoga Nidra for Self-Care.”