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Healing with Aromatherapy Massage

January 04, 2017 by Ariana Vincent, CEO of the Ariana Institute

What Is Aromatherapy?aroma-906137_1280

Aromatherapy is the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind, and spirit. It is a natural therapy using various essential oils gathered from certain fragrant plants that have the ability to aid us both physically and psychologically.

Essential oils are potent, volatile essences found in different parts of the plant such as the flowers, twigs, leaves and bark, or in the rind of fruit. For example, in roses the oil is in the flowers, in basil it is in the leaves and in sandalwood it is in the wood. These fragrances can be used either alone or in combinations to create desired effects.


How Aromatherapy Essential Oils Work

For hundreds of years essential oils, derived from roots, herbs, and flowers have been used to enhance emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.

Essential oils have an immediate impact on our sense of smell, also known as olfaction. When essential oils are inhaled, olfactory receptor cells are stimulated and the impulse is transmitted to the emotional center of the brain, or limbic system.

The limbic system is connected to areas of the brain linked to breathing and blood circulation, memory, and the endocrine glands that regulate hormone levels in the body. The properties of the oil, its fragrance, and its effects determine how these systems are stimulated and which neurotransmitters and feel-good, happy-hormones are released.

Aromatherapy massage is a gentle massage using essential oils that can be softening, healing, nourishing, and rejuvenating to the skin. The general benefits of massage combined with the healing benefits of certain essential oils can be very dynamic. When used in massage, essential oils are not only inhaled, but also absorbed through the skin. The oils penetrate the tissues and find their way into the bloodstream where they are transported to the organs and other systems of the body, including the nervous system. Essential oils have differing rates of absorption, varying from 20 minutes to 2 hours, so it is probably best not to bathe or shower directly following a massage to ensure maximum penetration and effectiveness of the oils.

Here are some of the general benefits of using utilizing essential oils in a massage therapy practice – remember that each essential oil carries its own unique benefits.

Physical Benefits

-Relaxes or stimulates the recipient                                           -Eases muscular aches and pains while improving muscle tone

-Relieves minor discomforts                                                        -Calms or stimulates the nervous system (depending on the oil)

-Diminishes tension headaches                                                  -Stimulates respiratory system

-Assists in reducing nerve entrapment and congestion         -Stimulates the immune system, strengthening resistance to disease 

-Improves circulation and lymphatic drainage, and helps to eliminate toxins from the body

Mental and Emotional Benefits

-Creates a feeling of well-being                                                    –Reduces levels of anxiety

-Calms or enhances mental activity and relaxation                 -Satisfies the need for caring and nurturing touch

-Increases awareness of the mind-body connection               –Releases endorphins, the brain’s natural opiates, which encourages a feeling of well-being 

Lavender Aromatherapy Benefits


Lavender is considered the most useful of all essential oils. Known to aid in the relief of headaches, insomnia, tension, and stress, lavender has therapeutic properties that have been well chronicled around the world. The essential oil of lavender is widely used for various illnesses and medical problems.

The flowery fragrance of lavender makes it the most versatile and useful essential oil. Essential oil of lavender is used in aromatherapy practices to get rid of depression, fight tiredness and enhance relaxation. A drop of lavender oil used in an aromatherapy diffuser is reputed to help relieve headaches, decrease body pain and help with insomnia. Lavender is found to increase the emotion of happiness through its calming and sedating effects.



Eucalyptus Aromatherapy Benefits

eucalyptus-771994_1280The benefits of eucalyptus essential oil can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, deodorant, antiseptic, antibacterial and stimulating properties. The numerous benefits of eucalyptus oils include the fact that it aids in the reduction of mucous deposition and helps with a variety of breathing and respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, nasal congestion, and sinusitis.

Since eucalyptus essential oil is analgesic and anti-inflammatory, it is also useful in relieving muscles from stiffness, aches, pains, and even nerve pain. Alternatively, eucalyptus can be used as a stimulant to remove mental exhaustion, stress, and sluggishness.


Clary Sage Aromatherapy Benefits


Clary Sage essential oil is known to be powerful for clearing and uplifting to the body, mind, and spirit. As a potent mood enhancer and antidepressant, Clary Sage balances hormones within the body to soothe nervous tension and anxiety. It is used to boost self esteem, confidence, and mental strength to lighten the mood and clearing negative energy from a healing session.

Clary Sage is also useful in the treatment of spasms and related ailments like muscle cramps, respiratory system cramps, muscle stress, menstrual cramps, spasmodic coughs, stomachaches, headaches and migraines. This is done by relaxing nerve impulses to reduce the occurrence of uncontrollable spasms while being soothing to the skin.

Clary Sage kills bacteria and fungi, curbs the growth of bacterial infections, and protects against new infections with anti-bacterial properties. Clary Sage can be used to clear energy and disinfect the air within a healing session.

Incorporating Aromatherapy into Your Practice


Aromatherapy is a great healing modality to incorporate into your massage practice and expand the services you provide for your clients. Depending on the desired affect, essential oils can be added to carrier oils to be used as massage oils in your sessions. Here are a few some carrier oils that can be infused with aromatherapy essential oils:

Almond oil                                        -Avocado oil

-Apricot oil                                         -Coconut oil

-Grape seed oil                                  -Jojoba oil

-Olive oil                                             -Sesame seed oil

There are many other mediums for using of essential oils for aromatherapy, such as:

-Body lotion or oil                            -Chest rub

-Compress                                         –Conditioner

-Facial mist                                        –Facial oil

-Full bath                                           –Foot bath

-Humidifier                                       –Room spray


Indications for Aromatherapy

Keep in mind that each unique essential oil is believed to possess its own indications and contraindications. General Indications for an Aromatherapy Session vary with the aromatherapy selected for use with:

  • Stress and tension
  • Muscular tension
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue


Contraindications for Aromatherapy

  • Infants, young children, and people with skin allergies may want to approach aromatherapy gingerly
  • A person suffering from a migraine may not tolerate aromatherapy fragrances well. Check with your client prior to offering aromatherapy.
  • Aromatherapy is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Advise your clients to consult their physicians or health care professionals if they are pregnant or elderly or if they have any chronic or recurring conditions. Honor your scope of practice and refer your client to a qualified health care practitioner as indicated by your code of ethics.
  • Essential oils are potent, so exercise great care in blending and use. With the exception of lavender, never apply essential oils directly to the skin—instead, mix the recommended amount in a base oil or lotion. Test all oils for sensitivity, and advise your clients to consult their physicians or health care practitioners before using essential oils as indicated.

Inspirations and insights for this blog post were derived from the Techniques in the Spa World Massage Therapy Manual. For more information about aromatherapy continuing education please visit the Ariana Institute for Wellness Education or check out the Aromatic Medicine Blog for Ariana’s personal story and experiences in the realm of aromatherapy.




Exploring the Path of a Massage Therapy Instructor

December 20, 2016 by Ariana Vincent, CEO of the Ariana Institute



Choosing Your Path

There are myriad ways you can configure your career as an MTI. You can work part-time or full-time, you can use your experiences as an MTI as a stepping-stone to another career, you can focus on being an MTI as a second career, you can blend teaching with your current vibrant massage therapy practice, or you can supplement your retirement income by becoming an MTI. There are opportunities to work as an independent massage therapy instructor, like I do, you can work as an instructor at an established massage therapy school, and/or you can work for a nationwide company that provides massage therapy classes throughout the U.S.

Once you have been approved as an MTI and you have your MTI license and any other licenses and certifications you may need in order to teach, focus on setting goals for each of the massage therapy courses you wish to teach. Then choose the content and format that will make each course work for you and your students. If you choose a career as an independent MTI, you can utilize the information you gain in your MTI course to begin designing the content of your course notebook and structure. Remember to avoid using other people’s copyrighted material without permission and acknowledgment. If you choose to work as a MTI in a massage school environment, the school administrators will typically provide course notebooks and supporting media for the classroom. You should also think about how you will use technology in the classroom. Practice teaching your newly designed massage course to colleagues and friends and ask for feedback. It is not only an excellent idea to practice teaching, it is a NCBTMB requirement, as stated on their website, “Before submitting an application to NCBTMB for approval, you must have taught the course at least one time within the last year to a group of five or more participants. You must provide the participants with an evaluation requesting feedback on the course, instruction and material.” You could even videotape yourself practice teaching so you can study the pros and cons of your teaching style. An additional way to learn to teach would be to partner with another instructor during the beginning of your career or to serve as an assistant in a classroom.

Teach what you truly love and what you are qualified to teach. Think about how good it feels to have a positive influence in the lives of those around you. Create a structure for your classes in an environment that participants will enjoy. Utilize the information and resources presented in your MTI course material to create the ideal classroom environment. Make sure the classroom is well lit, properly ventilated, clean, comfortable, and that there are appropriate restroom facilities. Decide whether or not you are going to provide massage tables. Make sure to have a balanced percentage of hands-on experiential training and cognitive information. My preferred balance is 80% experiential and 20% cognitive.

Once you have developed your course material, if you are an independent MTI,, focus on setting prices, registering participants, and preparing rosters and certificates of attendance. Set up a spreadsheet to track your income and expenses on a daily basis so you can carefully monitor your progress. It is also important to remember that the first three to five years of any business, including massage therapy education, are building years as you lay the foundation for your ongoing success. Keep the appropriate tax records for the IRS. Also maintain  student records, rosters and course evaluations for NCBTMB and your state massage board. Please be sure to comply with all of your state board rules and regulations.

Develop marketing strategies by taking some marketing classes, reading books that offer tips for successful marketing and utilizing the services of mentors and consultants. The Ariana Institute’s MTI course includes information on marketing your courses as an independent MTI; however, not all MTI courses provide this component in their curriculum. Next, determine what marketing techniques work best for your business and budget. Think of ways to develop compelling descriptive titles for your courses to capture the attention of your students. Believe that you can be successful and surround yourself with competent people who support you in achieving your goals and dreams.

We will next explore ways of finding and creating opportunities to advance your career as an MTI.

Opportunities For Massage Instructors

Search engines come in handy for researching opportunities for massage therapy instructors. If you want to work at a massage school, simply search the name of the city where you want to teach and then enter “massage school” and find out the name of the director of the school and contact that person to see if there are any positions available for MTIs. You could also offer to teach one-time continuing education classes in your area of specialty as well as seeing about becoming a part of the part-time or full-time faculty. Create a proposal for the CE classes you want to teach at the schools and submit it to the school administrators along with your resume and cover letter. Go to events and CE classes at the schools where you are interested in teaching so that you become known in their environment.

If you are interested in teaching for a national massage company that hires instructors, you could do some online research for names and contact information and then follow-up to see if they are hiring.  You could take some courses offered by that company and talk to the instructor to see what his or her teaching experiences with that company have been like.

Another approach to utilizing your MTI certification would be to establish yourself as an independent MTI and CE provider. Design and develop your own course curriculum and market your class to the local community. Once you have achieved your desired level of success, consider expanding your market.

You can develop name recognition by offering to teach classes for local massage groups, such as massage Meetups and local AMTA chapters. On a larger scale, you can submit proposals for state and national conventions, for example, AMTA national conventions and The World Massage Festival.

Consider writing a book on the massage technique that you want to teach. This can help you market yourself as an educator. This can be done for every course, or bundle of courses that you offer.

In today’s technological world, another good marketing avenue is to create instructional videos for your courses and (1) publish them on the web, (2) send them to prospective students, (3) place them on your website, (4) include the URLs for these videos in the books that you publish, and (5) include the URLs in your course notebooks.

Resources for Advanced Information

The Ariana Institute’s Massage Therapy Instructor Course

ABMP Instructor Resource Programs

AFMTE’s Educational Resources for Massage Therapy Teachers

AFMTE’s National Teacher Education Standards Project (NTESP)

Coursera Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education

Educational Training Solutions

ELAP (Entry Level Analysis Project)

Florida Board of Massage Therapy Education Programs Page

NCBTMB Information for Continuing Education Providers

NCBTMB New York Approved CE Sponsor

Now that we have explored many options on the MTI path, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts and insights. One of the most important things you can do is to impart the knowledge and wisdom that you have gained over the years. Teaching can be a rewarding and enriching process that benefits the teacher, the student and the recipients of massage. Take time to look inside and see what you can do to let your light shine and manifest your dreams into reality. As Nelson Mandela shared so eloquently, What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.

The information above includes excerpts for an article “Positive Influence: Become a Massage Therapy Instructor,” by Ariana Vincent, originally published in the June 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.

Visit the Ariana Instiute’s website to learn about opportunities and courses for future Massage Therapy Instructors at!