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Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Therapeutic Reflexology

Paula Stone bookTherapeutic Reflexology – A Step-by-Step Guide to Professional Competence is a really good book. In addition to 343 pages of content and 94 pages of useful Appendices, it comes with a DVD demonstrating reflexology techniques and self-care stretches, and offers an online companion study guide. There is even separate online access for instructors – a move that clearly demonstrates the author’s intent for her labor of love to serve as a text for teaching organizations.

Therapeutic Reflexology was written by Paula Stone, a nationally certified massage therapist and reflexologist who can boast over 30 years of experience as an educator and wellness advocate. The book has been available for awhile and is the culmination of Paula’s professional life; her gift to the world of wellness, as she moves into her retirement years. Here’s how Paula describes the beliefs from which this book was born:

“Contemporary holistic reflexology views the body as a whole organism. Correct technique applied to the reflexes of the feet (or hands, ears, etc.) affect the entire body – helping it to achieve homeostasis and through homeostasis, better health. Often those who practice reflexology feel a tender point, refer to a chart, and conclude, “There is a problem with so and so.” There are several issues with this approach. First, this is diagnosing, which is legal only when the practitioner has a license permitting diagnosis. Second, this reflects the conventional view of the body as a collection of symptoms. All actions – all states – of the body, emotions, mind, and spirit – are interdependent on each another. There is no separation. This holistic view is the underlying principle of this book.”

I am a firm believer that one must learn hands-on applications, such as reflexology, in a live classroom setting, where observation and feedback are available from a highly qualified and experienced practitioner/instructor. It is essential that a teacher both see and feel a student’s work in order to guide a learner’s path to that of skilled practitioner. That said, Therapeutic Reflexology serves as a wonderful adjunct to a classroom setting.

The book (which I reviewed for the publisher before publication) is broken down into four parts, each of which is amply illustrated with graphics and photographs. Each part begins with stated learning objectives, and ends with a summary of the material presented and questions to test what the reader has learned.

  1. The Overview begins with the history, science and various forms of reflexology (foot, hand, ear, body, iridology). Then the author moves onto theories and allied practices such as massage, aromatherapy and manual lymphatic drainage.
  1. A Reflexology Practice delves into the core competencies of running a reflexology-based business. This chapter deals with more than just sound business practices, scope of practice, licensing issues, certification requirements, book-keeping, boundaries, ethics and insurance. It covers basics like designing a session, frequency of sessions, identifying goals, contraindications and considerations, client responses to reflexology and charting. These are all critical topics to know before opening your door as a reflexology business owner.
  1. Fundamentals. This is the section “newbies” will likely be most interested in (but please do not ignore the previous chapters). These pages focus on the core hands-on techniques, after covering the anatomy, physiology and biomechanics of the lower leg and foot, ergonomics and all-important self-care strategies.
  1. Reflexology in Practice shows the location of reflexes on the feet, takes a look at the anatomy and physiology of all the systems of the body, and suggests a protocol for addressing each within a reflexology session.

There are many features of this book that I like. One is the case studies sprinkled throughout Part 4; another, the “Think It Over” boxes, which ask questions on thought-provoking topics – often controversial – that provide opportunities to develop necessary critical thinking skills.

I am in awe of the love and thoroughness that went into compiling Therapeutic Reflexology. If you have a sincere desire to help others through reflexology and are self-motivated, then you could well learn how to build a successful reflexology practice by completing the activities outlined in this wonderful text after you have completed your initial training.



Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Your Two Brains

vagusI have been intrigued with the “gut brain” and the vagus nerve for some time now. I think that my curiosity has blossomed into love though; sparked by numerous articles that have come my way in the last couple of months. The most recent was published by Neuroscience News and reveals a relationship between Parkinson’s disease and the vagus nerve.

The study sited in the Neuroscience News publication clearly identifies a link between constipation, the vagus nerve and Parkinson’s disease. It’s an important study; I hope you will take a moment to read it. If it’s true that chronic constipation and other digestive issues are early markers for Parkinson’s disease, it makes sense to take steps early in life to ensue a properly functioning gastrointestinal tract.

According to an older research study published in Denmark, chronic constipation is the second leading ailment that brings people to seek out reflexology. I can certainly agree with that; it’s one of the top reasons people have sought out sessions from me.

The Vagabond Nerve
The wandering vagus nerve (vagus is Latin for “wandering”) is the most important nerve of the parasympathetic system that influences digestion. This vagabond nerve meanders from the brain to the stomach and digestive track, with stops along the way at the heart, lungs, spleen, liver and kidneys. Branching nerves are involved in speech, eye contact, facial expressions and even your ability to recognize other people’s voices.

The vagus nerve is also known as cranial nerve X, the tenth and longest of the cranial nerves to emerge from the posterior skull. It has approximately 1000 single nerve fibres and over 100 million nerve cells.

A couple of points that that have really grabbed my attention are:

~ Ninety-five percent of serotonin produced by the body is found in the digestive track, not the brain, as previously believed. Serotonin is often prescribed for reasons of psychological health, but interestingly, also for digestive distress. That makes sense now. In addition, dozens of other neurotransmitters and hormones we thought only to exist in the brain and spinal cord are now known to also live in the intestines.

~ One of the more fascinating facts about the vagus nerve is that 10% of these nerve communicate to the organs in the gut, while an astounding 90% communicate back to the brain. That certainly explains why in traditional Chinese medicine, the gut is referred to as the second brain. Maybe it should be the first?

Since the vagus nerve operates as part of the autonomic nervous system (the critical part that runs the show, behind the scene), we aren’t aware of its role in our lives; however, without proper functioning of this nerve, it would be difficult to carry out the everyday functions that we take for granted, like breathing, eating and speaking. No wonder I’m in love with this nerve!

The Vagus Reflex
The vagus nerve reflex is found bilaterally on the plantar surface of the feet under the medial sesmoid bone of the first metatarsal. Try incorporating it into your sessions with people struggling with respiratory and digestive issues. Who knows – it may end up being good medicine against future brain disorders.

Read more research on the vagus nerve.


Friday, August 14th, 2015

Why You Should Attend These Classes

EO BottlesI love to share my knowledge and experience regarding the safe and legal use of essential oils in my practice and my success in helping people with chronic headaches. There are some good reasons to add this information to your tool kit, and there are some great opportunities to learn in the next few weeks.

Say Goodbye to Headaches

Lac Brome, Quebec

August 28


Say Goodbye to Headaches and Reflexology and Essential Oils 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

September 12 and 13

(discounted price if you attend both!)


Reflexology and Essential Oils

Minneapolis, Minnesota

October 24


Reflexology and Essential Oils

First off, I will not be promoting essential oils from specific distributors. I do not represent any company, nor am I a distributor for any multi-level essential oil company. Instead, I will teach you the easiest and most accurate way to determine the quality of oils from companies you are interested in purchasing from.

Essential oils are not just nice-smelling potions; they are strong, medicinal chemicals that must be treated respectfully and with knowledge. The class, therefore, will focus on the safety factors in using essential oils in your practice. We will look at the therapeutic properties of some easily accessible oils, dilution options, and choosing oils to match your client’s profile and health needs. The application methods shared will all be topical or via inhalation; to use essential oils internally in the United States is classified as practicing medicine – a license for which is required. I will share ways in which you can safely support your reflexology clients with the addition of essential oils, and you will have the opportunity to make two products to take home to use.

Although I created this class for reflexologists (we will talk about some of the common conditions presented to reflexologists that we can help with essential oils), it is not necessary to have experience in giving reflexology or massage. We will not be practicing bodywork, but instead will be making essential oil products that can be used in your practice or for your own personal use. Feel free to invite friends who are interested in improving their wellbeing with aromatherapy (adults only). The cost of materials is included in the registration fee.

Say Goodbye to Headaches

Apparently, about 45 million people in North America suffer regularly from headaches. The most difficult part of eliminating headaches from one’s life is of course, identifying the cause. And that is especially true for reflexologists. When someone presents to a massage therapist with a headache, the session is focused on relaxing the muscles of the head, neck and shoulders. Good choice if the headache is what is classified as “primary”. If, on the other hand, the headache is “secondary”, it is essential to be able to identify the health situation, so as to focus a reflexology session accurately. Massage helps primary headaches, reflexology, primary and secondary.

The class I am offering focuses a lot on identifying the cause of headaches, the changes that need to be introduced in order to eliminate, or at least reduce, the severity and occurrence of headaches, and focused hands-on sessions for specific causes that include reflexology, massage, essential oils and acupressure. So that you may help as many people as possible in your community (remember those 45 million?), I will provide you with tools and forms with which you can conduct individual or group coaching sessions with people to help uncover the cause of their headaches. Together we can reduce that outrageous number!

I hope the above helps clarify things and that you will take a moment now to register. I am confident that you will leave these classes with additional knowledge and tools that will increase your ability to help more and more people in your circle.

Thank you in advance also for sharing this post with anyone you think might be interested in joining either or both of the classes.

Say Goodbye to Headaches

Lac Brome, Quebec

August 28


Say Goodbye to Headaches and Reflexology and Essential Oils .

Santa Fe, New Mexico

September 12 and 13

(discounted price if you attend both!)


Reflexology and Essential Oils 

Minneapolis, Minnesota

September 24



Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Make The Senses Work For You

relaxing environThe five senses often hold the key to quick stress relief. Turns out that engaging all of the senses, rather than just one, can multiply the benefits. This is so easy to do in a bodywork practice.


  • How does your space look? How it looks affects how people feel. Remove clutter. Clutter engages the brain; you want to encourage your clients to disengage from thought, if only for one hour.
  • Choose soothing colors, textures and images. Bright colors, mind-engaging art draws the attention first outward and then towards thought.
  • Lighting. Provide adequate lighting for pre-session discussions and for your client to disrobe and get dressed following the session. Dim the lights during the hands-on portion of your time together. This subtly distinguishes a separation between the outer and inner worlds. Some clients love to block out all visual contact when receiving; have an eye pillow on hand.
  • How are you dressed? Neutral, calming, conservative clothes, or bright, stimulating, eye-catching attire?


  • Start with the ambient noise of your office. Reduce disturbing outside noises, using a white noise machine if necessary.
  • Choose music (if the client wishes to have) carefully: instrumental, rather than singing; constant rhythm, low volume. Maybe even ask the client to choose.
  • How about the tone of your voice?
  • Are you inclined to chatter throughout the session, a practice that many clients find disturbing and even resent? Establish beforehand how much conversation the client wants; let her decide.


Olfactory impulses are conveyed to the primary area of the limbic system (visceral brain or the emotional switchboard of the brain) of the cerebral cortex of the brain, where they are interpreted as odor. Because the limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing & hormone balance, fragrances may be one of the fastest and more pleasurable ways to achieve physiological and/or psychological effects on the body.

  • Study aromatherapy; incorporate essential oils into your lubrications. Burn candles between sessions to infuse the air (blow out during session; burning candles eats oxygen).
  • Remember that your own body odor will have a strong impact on your guest’s experience. Odors such as garlic, onions, perfume, cigarette smoke and strong body odor are not generally well received.


  • Offer a hot or iced herbal tea to clients to enjoy while filling out initial forms. Stock your waiting room with seasonal healthy drinks and/or water flavored with fresh mint, fresh fruit and/or cucumber slices.
  • A “homeopathic dose” of chocolate is often appreciated following a session! 

And finally…


This is what your clients expect, what they came for! The above-mentioned sensual gifts simply serve to prepare your clients for your skilled and healing touch.

  • Use an “airplane approach” when beginning your session. Abrupt contact can put the person’s nervous system on alert; a slow, gradual sinking in will continue your well-thought-out plan to bring your client to a deep state of relaxation.
  • Adjust pressure to client’s desire. But that goes without saying, doesn’t it?


Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Peripheral Neuropathy and Reflexology

Nicole Banner, 2014 Academy grad, decided to investigate whether regular foot reflexology sessions would help someone suffering from peripheral neuropathy due to chemotherapy treatment for a rare disease he was diagnosed with. The 5-week study charts the effects of hour-long reflexology sessions on his physical discomfort, sleep patterns and medication use. It’s worth a read, especially if you know anyone suffering from this progressive condition. . . . → Read More: Peripheral Neuropathy and Reflexology

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