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Kumi Sawyers

       

The latest in our CAP residency program, healing massage artist Kumi Sawyers takes massage above and beyond. The NYC-based yoga teacher cum massage therapist unites the worlds of strength and flexibility to free and release stagnant energy in the body. This bespoke bodywork focuses on the fascial lines of the body, working and restoring fluidity to bring bodies into a soft and malleable state. Shift, rebalance and let the healing begin.

Can you explain your theory of massage?

Like all living things the human body is extremely intelligent. Everything that we do, feel, think, and experience is received and stored within our tissues, via our nervous systems. The quality of these experiences is therefore reflected in the quality of our muscles, bones, joints, organs, and skin. Our biography is in our biology. Massage Therapy is a language of touch that communicates directly with the nervous system, helping to shift it from the sympathetic/flight or fight, which we associate with the stress response and survival, to the parasympathetic/rest and restore, which we associate with healing.

Stress makes us rigid. Wether it is physical stress from overworking the body, emotional stress from heartbreak or mental stress from the demands of everyday life, it shows up in the body as rigidity and it blocks the circulatory flow of the bodies fluids (blood, lymph, synovial) and the current of its energy. When stress becomes chronic and is sustained over a long period of time, the body begins to inflame, and breakdown, and that is when we begin to experience pain.

Massage Therapy soothes the nervous system and helps to break the pain cycle, by increasing circulation which helps to deliver nutrients that the body needs to repair itself.

What is the difference between your massage and conventional massage? What makes your massage technique stand out?

My massage work is deep yet subtle, and very precise. I work with the fascia, which is the connective tissue that surrounds every muscle. Fascia does not release under force, it actually hardens, so when I am working with it, I ease my way in. I listen with my fingers and I watch the rhythm and quality of the breath, and I let the body let me in. Once I am in, I do the deep work of reforming the body. I work with the muscles the way a sculptor works with clay.

What are the benefits of lymphatic drainage?

Our Lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins. Its main job is to transport lymph, a wonderful fluid that contains infection fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. The Lymphatic fluid, unlike blood with the circulatory system, is not pumped throughout the body by the power of the heart. Instead it relies on the movement of the body and the vasoconstriction of the lymphatic vessels to transport lymph. Often times our Lymphatic System can becomes sluggish, due to disease, surgery, or lack of exercise. Lymphatic drainage massage helps to manually keep the lymph flowing in the body.

 

How do you feel like yoga plays into your manipulation and understanding of the body?

I started teaching yoga a couple years before I went to massage school. I got into this work because I wanted to be in preventive medicine. I wanted to help people live well so they didn’t get sick. To me, the most powerful medicine for all illness is movement. Once something stops moving, it stagnates and festers, which eventually leads to disease. We have to keep our bodies fluid. Going into massage work from the background of yoga really helped me to understand that the body has a rhythm and a current of energy and circulation that is essential for maintaining our health and well-being.

What other things can people do to benefit your body? In terms of daily, weekly or monthly practices?

Eating well is everything.  We have to nourish our bodies with beautiful whole foods in order for it to serve us well.

Drinking water all day. Every day.

Finding time to meditate and get quiet is essential for our mental health. It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. Just sit and get quiet and listen to your breath.

I am a huge fan of therapy. We have such busy lives and so many distractions, that we often don’t give ourselves time to process the events of our lives. We end up shoving painful things down and we keep moving forward, thinking that it will go away. But it doesn’t, it lives in our bodies and it shows up eventually again, either as physical pain, anxiety, depression, or worst case scenario; disease. Finding a good therapist that can help you do deep personal work, is such a gift and is very important.

What are your favorite products from CAP?

Shiva Rose Face Oil I love anything rose, and this oil is divine

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum  My skin loves this

Living Libations Rose Glow Mist

Sun Potion Ashwagandha Ayurvedic Antioxidant

What does a day in your life as a yoga teacher and massage practitioner look like?

Every work day is a little different, which I love. But my mornings are important to me and I always like to give myself a proper one since my days are so physically and energetically  active. I always start my day with a big glass of lemon water and a walk to the coffee shop with my dog, Lemon. I eat a simple breakfast of either avocado toast, fruit, or yogurt and granola. I write emails, do a short mediation and movement practice and then walk to work. Most mornings I see private yoga students in their homes, and then I make my way to Sky Ting Yoga where I teach Yoga classes and  have a treatment room where I see my massage clients. Most days I go home to make lunch, which is generally a big salad, and to walk and play with Lemon. This is also the time when I do my computer work and writing, and fit a yoga class in. Then I head back to the studio to see more clients and on most week nights teach class. I finish work usually around 9pm. My days are full, but my work is really rewarding and I love that I get to spend my days working with people and helping them live healthier more loving lives.

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