Welcome to our series of wellness dialogs focusing on the people and local businesses of WNC and our relationship to health and wellness. For this installment, I interviewed Gary Lloyd — owner of West Asheville Massage and Healing Arts — to get his take on wellness and a look into the different healing modalities being offered at his local practice.
MXwellness: Hi Lloyd. At the start of our continuing WNC Wellness Dialogues, we’ve been asking the question: Where does wellness come from?
Lloyd: Wellness comes from within us. Our body has natural systems that keep it safe, healthy and functioning properly. These systems work with body, mind and spirit for our best health. Most people are aware of the state of their health, and make choices about how they live. Wellness is determined by choices about how we take of ourselves through exercise, diet and mental attitude. Ultimately though, wellness comes from within.
MXwellness: Please tell us a little about yourself and West Asheville Massage and Healing Arts. How did you get started along this path?
Lloyd: Presently, I am a massage therapist and Reiki Master. This is my second career after spending many years as an engineer. This path started when my wife and I were introduced to Reiki nine years ago in Pittsburgh. Two years after beginning Reiki, I enrolled in massage school and then began my career as a massage therapist.
After moving here, I was attending Mountain Bizworks’ Foundations program to work out how I would run my massage private practice. Halfway through the course, I was presented with the opportunity to rent the space we are in, and suddenly I was working out how to run a business renting space to other healing artists, as well as my own private practice. West Asheville Massage and Healing Arts became a group of independent therapists who share the space. As in any group, the make-up is always changing, as lives move along their different paths. Consequently, we are looking for new people to join us.
Recently the business was approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork as a provider for continuing education for massage therapists. We teach classes in all levels of Reiki for massage therapy CE Hours.
MXwellness: What are some common misconceptions about massage therapy? What are the health benefits?
Lloyd: I think the most common misconception about massage therapy is that it is just a “feel good” experience. What many people do not realize is that it is very healthy and is good health-care. While massage therapy is relaxing, which is one good way to take care of yourself, it is also therapeutic.
Massage has positive effects on all the body’s systems, from the skeleton out to the skin. Massage helps the body slow down, affecting the nervous system, which controls all the other systems. Other effects on the body include muscle relaxation, increased pliability of the skin, enhanced blood flow return to the heart, reduced pain, increased joint mobility, release of endorphins, improved breathing, and improved immune system function.
MXwellness: How many different modalities do you and your team practice?
Lloyd: We offer a variety of massages — Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, prenatal, medical massage for pain and massage for people living with cancer. In addition, we provide a couple’s massage which is two simultaneous 1-hour massages in our peaceful room with beautiful music and candlelight. Modalities in the healing arts realm are Reiki, shamanic healing and Alexander technique. All modalities assist our clients in living healthier lives.
MXwellness: Your profile notes that you are a Usui Reiki Master. Could you tell us about what that means?
Lloyd: Reiki is an ancient Japanese method of energy healing that involves light touch by the practitioner. Reiki can reduce pain, mental and emotional stress, and foster a feeling of serenity. The literal translation of Reiki is “universal life force energy.” During a treatment, the practitioner places his hands at various places on the client and there is an energy transfer through the practitioner to the client.
Reiki was discovered by Dr. Usui, where the name comes from, in the early 1900s. After providing Reiki healing for many people, he began to teach others how to provide Reiki. There are three levels of Reiki practitioner: Reiki I, Reiki II and Reiki Master. The Reiki healing ability is passed on to the students through attunements to the Reiki energy. At each level the practitioner obtains additional abilities. Reiki Masters are able to teach and attune students.
MXwellness: How long have you been in Asheville? What motivated you to set up shop here?
Lloyd: My wife, Deb, and I moved here in 2006. We were drawn to Asheville by Asheville. There is an aura about this area that drew us here. It was something we could sense when we visited on an exploratory trip in April. After being here three days, we were hooked! We moved here in July that year. It is an area that is very open to natural healing and healthy lifestyles, which is conducive for a career in massage. The community has a diversity and acceptance that is very open to the variety of people that live here.
West Asheville Massage and Healing Arts will hold an open house on June 13. They are located at 602-A Haywood Road. Their website is westashevillemassage.com.