I’ve been working from the Alma Vale centre for more than a year now since the Relaxation Centre in Clifton closed. I’d been working there since moving to Bristol 14 years ago. But I didn’t have to move very far – one street south and I feel grateful that the Alma Vale Centre was just round the corner, literally. I’d been going there for many years for acupuncture and appreciated the clear welcoming energy I felt there. It seemed an easy transition and I feel calm and centered working in the spacious massage room, with clients that all love the space.
I have trained in various types of massage: Thai, deep tissue, Swedish, some energy healing. I’m now working at the centre primarily as an Aromatherapist, which is what drew me to massage in the first place – I’ve always had a strong sense of smell and loved mixing up oils and potions. Essential oils can add another dimension to a massage as well as their own individual healing properties. They are the aromatic signature of each plant, flower or tree and they have an effect on the body through inhalation and through the skin when the oil is applied in a massage. Our sense of smell is our most profound sense and each oil can trigger different chemical changes in the brain. My favourite oil is sandalwood album from the Indian Sandalwood tree. Unfortunately due to over harvesting it is no longer sustainable to produce; it’s supply is limited or unethical. I use a lot of frankincense and myrrh oil at home in my burner for relaxation and deepening the breathing. I also love the gentleness of mandarin oil, it’s a lovely oil to help with sleep. I mostly use organic oils in my aromatherapy massage and well as herbal infused oils.
Alongside Aromatherapy, I practise herbal face massage and hot stone massage. I’ve always loved the heat – saunas, hot water, hot springs – and the stones fitted right into this. A hot stone massage is a nurturing , warming experience and a great way of easing the tension in the muscles and letting go. The stones help that with their weight and earthiness. We use basalt stones in hot stone massage. Basalt forms when molten lava cools following a volcanic eruption so they contain iron, magnesium and other metal elements. It’s the presence of these that gives basalt the ability to hold and emanate a consistent, soothing heat for long periods of time. The stones I use were collected from a beach in Tenerife by a friend, so they have been naturally tumbled by the waves and sand, not by a mechanical tumbling process which can weaken the stone.
My background is in music – I studied the cello at a music college in London and have worked as a musician mostly in the world of improvisation and theatre. I still play for a monthly Taizé group, which is meditative chanting. I’ve found it interesting to source different relaxation music to use in the massage. I’m pretty choosy but have found some great music over the years and mix my own cds. I recently found Yuval Ron’s albums and bought ‘Six healing sounds’ and ‘Vital harmony: Sound healing of the Doshas.’ They are wonderfully meditative and lovely to massage to. I have listened to Deva Premal and Miten for years and they will always have a place in my heart. I find inspiration from many spiritual traditions – Ramana Maharshi, Buddhism teachings, the psalms, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao-te Ching, 12-step literature, books on early British shamanism and indigenous cultures around the world. I also like listening to the CDs of Clarissa Pinkola Estés and her call to awaken our creative vibrant essence.
I’ve been living out near Leigh Woods this last year and my biggest joy is feeling a connection to nature through taking my dogs out every day in the woods and trying to grow different herbs and vegetables with a little bit of success. The slugs are trickier than I thought and coming up with a non-invasive way to remove them is tricky! In the end, picking them off by hand after dark and then taking them on a trip at least 100 metres away was the best method, although it took a bit of getting used to! Nematode worms are something I’ve been recommended and I’ll try these next year… I’ve also enjoyed taking photographs of the nature around me.
So, as we move into winter, a time for drawing in and slowing right down just like nature does, may you have a restful season where there is time for you to nourish and replenish yourself.
As a thank you for reading my blog, receive 15% off your next treatment (valid until February 2017). Simply mentioned ‘Rowan’s Winter Blog’ when you book your appointment.
Would you like to give the gift of a massage this Christmas? Contact us to buy a massage with Rowan Jamal Gift Voucher.