By Heidi Aschenbrenner,BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA

Our bodies are wonderfully complicated entities, which makes the field of bodywork so exciting.  Any kind of bodywork that delves into the fascia prompts change in those tissues, on a level that can’t be accessed with other methods of healing.  (Fascia is a blanket term for all connective tissue in the body.)  Our soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin – all the softer fascia of the body) can be stretched, strengthened, injured, or torn.  Thankfully, our bodies adapt and compensate for an immense variety of potential mishaps that we encounter as we go about our lives with both our work and our play.  Also thankfully, our bodies do heal, and they can also be retrained out of any bad habits we’ve had – all we need to do is prompt our muscles to do different things to learn new behaviors.  What a wonderful fascial system we have!

Many of us have had some type of injury.  We may have gone through physical therapy, we may have just put some ice on it and taken anti-inflammatories until our acute pain went away, or we may have ignored the pain until we no longer noticed it anymore, pushing through the daily “have to’s.”  The fascia does eventually heal, sometimes in spite of ourselves.  But… if there was any emotional trauma connected to that injury, the emotional aspect of the injury does not simply go away as we ignore it.  Ah, the complication now arises. 

therapeutic-massage-bodyworkOur fascia retains those emotional memories.  If this is a new concept to you, then pause and think on that for a moment:  our fascia retains those emotional memories until we release them.  Unless you have experienced this phenomenon, it may be difficult to grasp.  I had grasped the concept mentally years ago, yet I still was not fully prepared for the first time I experienced this type of healing.  Many of us have learned to push down our emotions, pressing on and not stopping to feel or to grieve.  There may be fear, sadness, or anger associated with any traumatic event that results in physical injury.  How often do you think we allow ourselves the time and space to process those feelings at the time they occur? 

Many of our chronic pain issues are simply our bodies crying out, begging us to pay attention to what still needs healing, and it may need to be on an emotional level.  Our bodies can wait a very, very long time for this, but eventually push comes to shove and then someone’s back goes out simply from picking up some laundry.  Chronic pain plagues so many of us, and so often the medical community doesn’t understand exactly what is causing that pain.  Pain is the body’s method of communicating to us that we need to stop what we are doing and change something.  Discovering what needs to change is not always a simple task.

How do we experience this healing?  It requires trust in your therapist.  It requires slowing down and allowing your mind, body and spirit to express what needs expressing.  It requires not forcing your fascia to do what you think it “should” but rather just letting go.  It requires not having an agenda for your bodywork session, which comes back to trusting your therapist.  Letting go with your mind is imperative so that your fascia can then let go of whatever it still needs to; you need to be in a parasympathetic state for this type of healing to occur, and for any real changes in your fascia to occur.  If you are one who likes to chat during massage, you will never get to this level of healing.

Not everyone needs this deep emotional release during bodywork, but many of us certainly do.  If you ever feel the need to weep during a bodywork session, please remember that it is good and healthy to let that happen.  Don’t stifle the healing process with any “should’s.”  You are safe with your therapist, and all licensed therapists receive training on this very topic.  I recommend that you talk to your therapist if you’d like to know more. 

massage therapist certified cupping therapist

Heidi Aschenbrenner, BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork. Heidi’s team of therapists all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies.

By Heidi Aschenbrenner, BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA

We’ve all heard the term “aromatherapy,” which utilizes essential oils during massage, sauna use, or as an addition to a bath or lotion, but many of us aren’t exactly certain what those terms actually mean.  What exactly are essential oils?  How are they helpful?  Essential oils are extracted from a given plant (using all of its parts from root to flower).  The extraction is generally done using a steam distillation process to release the oils, and then the oil is extracted from the steam as the mixture cools.  With distillation, any pesticides or other chemicals that may have been in the plant should be removed.  Cold pressing may also be utilized for certain citrus oils. The health benefits from the original plant are then concentrated in the oil extraction.  Essential oils can be used to remedy a wide range of ailments, just as plants have been used to heal for centuries. 

Massage oil and hot stones for therapeutic massageQuality does matter – it does seem to be true that you get what you pay for with essential oils.  It usually takes thousands of a particular plant to produce just a few milliliters of essential oil!  The term “therapeutic grade” is used by several companies, and though that term is not a regulated one, it is generally the industry standard that signifies that the oils are pure and contain no fillers or artificial ingredients.  But as with any unregulated term, ask questions!  Find out what the extraction process is – there should never be oily feel to a pure essential oil (which you can test on a sheet of white paper).  Some sources of good quality oils include doTERRA, Young Living, Swiss Aromatics, and Native American Nutritionals.

There are several essential oils I can’t live without anymore:  lavender, peppermint, lemon, and frankincense.  Lavender is simply the most versatile oil out there; it can be used to relax muscles, to soothe irritated skin (and is disinfecting), and is very calming and great for a bath or a massage.  It can spruce up a stagnant closet, freshen up a room, linens, really anything!  It can help keep winter dryness away when added to your moisturizer (fractionated coconut oil is best to mix it with). 

lavender-massage-oilPeppermint is wonderful for both digestive troubles and also for any sinus congestion or headaches.  It helps relax muscles too, so it’s a great blend with lavender if you’ve got a knot in your back.  Peppermint has soothed my tummy many a time after eating something that didn’t agree with me. You can double bag your peppermint tea or add a few drops of the essential oil to receive its soothing effects on your digestive system or to eliminate headaches without taking a pill.  Rubbing it directly on your belly works for digestive troubles too.  When diffused in a room, not only do you get its great benefits for your sinuses, you’ll also be encouraging your 6 and 8 legged uninvited guests to vacate the premises – insects and arachnids don’t like peppermint, an added bonus!

Lemon is such a wonderful immune-boosting oil.  Just a few drops to your favorite herbal tea will help detoxify your liver and give you an energy boost.  Mixing lemon and peppermint in your morning glass of water will give you a refreshing, energy boosting treat.  Lemon can also get the stink out of forgotten wet laundry and help with hard water deposits when cleaning. 

Ah, frankincense… My new favorite oil.  It’s calming to both your physical and emotional states.  Just taking a few deep breathes of frankincense can change your whole perspective and turn your day around.  It’s also good for skin conditions and is a diuretic, and it works very well with peppermint to relieve headaches.  Frankincense boosts your immune system and supports your body’s healthy production of white blood cells, and it makes you feel great while it’s doing all that. 

Who can benefit from essential oils?  Everyone!  They are particularly great for pregnant women who want more natural remedies for headaches, nausea, morning sickness, congestion, swollen ankles, or low-back pain.  Essential oils are a wonderful complement to any massage, and can be a great addition to any home. 

Heidi Board Certified Licensed Massage Bodywork Therapist and Certified Cupping TherapistBio:

Heidi Aschenbrenner, BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork. Heidi and her team of therapists all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies. 

Sounds crazy, right?  First I thought getting the flu in the middle of summer was weird.  Then… pneumonia? Wildly outrageous.  But there I was, not moving much more than from bed to couch and back again for nearly three weeks in August.  I had hoped to take a little time off before my part-time teaching job resumed, but this was really not what I had in mind!  But the complete break from pretty much all of my activities did have its benefits, not the least of which was avoiding the newspaper and all the disconcerting things contained therein.

couples massage package with towels and hot stonesAs my cough got worse, I began to slather on the essential oils that are soothing and promote healing:  tea tree oil (sometimes sold as melaleuca, its Latin name), peppermint, and eucalyptus were the main three.  Eucalyptus was great in the bath, so soothing.  Side note:  I don’t recommend putting peppermint oil in your bath – that was by far the weirdest bath experience I have had to date!  The water is warm yet I was cold from the peppermint so I had to keep adding more hot water. In August. So odd!

And two to three times per day – I’d mix those oils up with some jojoba oil and rub it all over my chest and neck, and put a little under my nose to inhale into my lungs. 

As I started to feel better and climb out of illness, I noticed something: the age spots on my chest that I’d been bemoaning looked visibly lighter.  I had noticed earlier this year that they seemed to have taken a turn for the worse, and I was not at all happy about that.  And there was no doubt about it – my chest looked much, much better.  How had I not heard of this particular benefit of essential oils? 

Massage oil and hot stones

I began to Google.  And sure enough – there are several oils that have this wonderful benefit, and among them… tea tree oil!  I had stumbled upon this quite accidentally and was thrilled.

I found LOTS of recipes using lots of different oils, but I don’t believe you need a magic combination or proportion.  It’s always best to mix essential oils with a carrier oil like jojoba, and I discovered that fractionated coconut oil also helps with age spots.  I already had some of this for the facial rejuvenation cupping service that I do at Renu…  So now I’m using that at home as well.

Other oils great for reducing age spots include frankincense, myrrh, and rose.  Frankincense is quite expensive but wonderful on so many levels, so I already had some of that.  But the best low cost trial would be just tea tree oil mixed with your carrier oil of choice.  Therapeutic grade oils are best for any medicinal purpose such as this.

Now I use the oils twice daily – morning and night.  I’ll keep going with this and am excited to see the results over time!

Here’s a site with a great list of oils:


Is massage or other kinds of bodywork part of your regular wellness habits?

Massage bodyworkOr do you just come in for special occasions when you believe you deserve a treat? Massage is considered part of health care in other countries and has been an ancient form of healing. It’s no surprise that most chiropractors have an onsite massage therapist as part of their practices.  Massage has benefits for the physical body, the mind, and your energetic life force.

9 Great Benefits of Massage

1. Do you see a chiropractor? Every time you get adjusted, your muscles will want to pull your spine or pelvis back to to where it was before, since those muscles had adjusted themselves to that position. Massage helps train them to go back to how they should be in relation to the newly adjusted bones. 

2. Do you exercise? Massage therapy has many great benefits when combined with exercise. Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, all adults should be getting regular exercise, and massage will help to:

  • reduce muscle soreness
  • improve your range of motion
  • balance your muscle tone (to prevent it from being too highly toned)
  • improve exercise performance
  • decrease muscle stiffness after exercise
  • promote relaxation

massage therapy myofascial release3. Massage relieves pain. Most people either already have or will experience back pain at some point, and massage enables those people to feel better and be able to function instead of remaining debilitated. Same goes for headaches and migraines.

4. Say hello to endorphins during every massage session. You know that great feeling you get after you’ve peaked in your exercise session? Get more of that natural goodness with massage.  Endorphins are our natural pain killers and stress fighters. Who doesn’t want more natural stress fighters?

5. You will sleep better! Most of us could use a little extra rest, so why not promote healthy sleep with regular massage? Your brain will thank you. You will also feel more alert, one 1996 study found.

6. Your immune system will be boosted according to a Cedars-Sinai study from 2010. “This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you,” said the principal investigator of the study. ”More research is ahead of us but it appears that a single massage may deliver a measurable benefit.”

7. You’ll even look better! Massage increases blood flow and stimulates lymphatic drainage, making your largest organ (skin) look healthier and younger. Cupping therapy on the face greatly multiplies this particular benefit!  We call this Facial Rejuvenation Cupping at Renu.

8. Soothe anxiety and depression without medication. Massage reduces cortisol, that pesky stress hormone. We all know cortisol much too well, and massage directly reduces cortisol levels, multiple studies have shown. 

9. Massage soothes the mind and spirit, not just the body. During massage or bodywork sessions, you will enter a parasympathetic state (like a meditative state), allowing mindfulness to occur naturally. This helps balance you emotionally and spiritually, in addition to all the great physical benefits mentioned above.


Massage is important for your health. It’s documented. It’s something that many people with debilitating pain have discovered has helped the regain their lives. But regular massage should not be enjoyed only by those in chronic pain; each of us will benefit by incorporating a monthly massage into our lifestyle. We really can’t afford not to!

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AMTA article

Science Daily article

Huffington Post article article article

Olga licensed massage cupping therapistExcellent and Affordable Massage and Bodywork


There are lots of massage and bodywork choices in Madison.  Why choose Renu?  I’d love to tell you all of the reasons that I think each massage and bodywork therapist at Renu is excellent, but I will let other clients do the talking:

  1. A recent client wrote on Google that the Couples Massage Package is an “absolutely wonderful experience!” We regularly get lots of positive feedback from couples about this package, such a treat and hard to find at other places. Three years ago, another Google user wrote that the Couples Massage Package “was truly amazing! So relaxing, and the massage therapists were exceptional. Would definitely recommend!” Keeping clients happy year after year is what we love to do.
  2. Affordable, consistent massagebodywork “the costs and knowledge of different techniques are what keeps me coming back,” Jeff licensed massage therapistsaid another satisfied client, who prefers Renu under its current ownership and management which has been in place since 2011. Renu strives to provide excellent, affordable massage bodywork.
  3. Pain Relief – a recurring theme is how many people are shocked that there is a path to healing from all kinds of conditions and previous injuries, and that this path was unknown by the medical community:
    • “After 4 years of daily pain, including sciatica, which resulted from a leg injury — not from my back, as I was told by medical professionals — she is helping me heal.”
    • “Great place! Highly recommend the cupping therapy if you have never tried it! I had a knee injury and Heidi got me back and moving pain-free very quickly.”
    • “I first visited Renu after dealing with some upper back pain for several weeks. Heidi suggested cupping therapy, which was exactly what I needed. My pain was completely gone after ONE session! It just doesn’t get much better than that, folks.”
    • “I’ve been working with Heidi, the owner, who does incredible work and has helped me cope when my doctors Magdalena neck massagecouldn’t.”
    • “I found the massage so helpful that I am going again this weekend to help with some of the pain I have left over in my left arm. I will continue to go in the future just for other future health benefits and to relax.”
    • “I have had chronic back pain and very stiff muscles since high school (more than 10 years ago) and I have heard about the cupping therapy. It is very different, but does it make a difference!

Each member of our team has excellent therapeutic skills and is a joy to work with. We invite you to find out who’s your favorite!

Katie licensed massage therapist facial massage

What is a salt glow treatment?spa salts

At Renu, Mediterranean sea salts are blended with jojoba oil and your essential oil of choice. It’s specially mixed just for you and your appointment; there are no additives or anything artificial. This mixture is applied by hand to your arms, legs and back, with special care on any rough areas to thoroughly cleanse the skin of its dead cells.  The therapist will rub the salt mixture on your skin to break up the top surface and remove the outer layer of skin that is ready to go. The salt scrub is removed with warm wet towels, leaving your skin feeling soft and refreshed after shedding its dead layer.

Sea salts have many health benefits and work well with the skin in ways that table salts cannot. Exfoliation with sea salts helps to remove dead skin particles, tones up the skin tissues, encourages peripheral blood circulation, and helps in skin renewal. Sea salts have an anti-inflammatory effect and also aids in detoxification, while at the same time improving blood circulation during the salt glow treatment. Sea salt works especially well at revealing your soft and smooth skin. 

mineral salts bamboo massageJust like getting a facial periodically is so good for your skin, doing a full body salt glow treatment is wonderfully healthy for your skin and your body – you’d be amazed how much dead skin accumulates over winter! Plus it feels so good and leaves you with beautifully soft and rejuvenated skin. Combine it with a massage in any of our salt glow packages, and you will feel like a new you. This is healthful indulgence – you feel like you are splurging, but you are in fact taking care of both your outside as well as your inside self.

Smile Your Way to a Healthier Heartheart chakra reiki energy healing

In the center of our own body, there is a small shrine in the form of a lotus flower

And within it can be found a small space.

The heavens and the earth are there: the sun, the moon, and the stars, fire and lightning and winds    the whole universe dwells within our heart.

~ Adapted from the Upanishads, M. Shimoff

What does it take to have a healthy heart? Exercise? Friends? A loving partner?
Loving our self.
A healthy anything starts with a desire to take care of our self and, most importantly, our heart. For eons people all over the world have known that the heart is the seat of our emotions. We recognize this when we suffer “heartbreak.”
Healing from such pain can take days, months or ever years. How do we do it? Marcia Shimoff, author of Happy For No Reason, writes, “Happy people let love lead in their lives.” Just as much as we feel the pain of heartache, we can feel the joy of happiness in its place. I know, I suffered from a heartbreak for years until I learned her secret.

chakras meditation reiki balance“All of our emotions can be divided into two basic categories: Love and Fear,”(2). When we love with an open heart, we are literally, opening up the energy field for love to flow out and to come into our hearts. When we reside in fear our hearts “contract” and close off to any heart-healthy emotion: gratitiude, forgiveness, lovingkindness, etc.

Of course we know this but, do we know this? When we are angry or sad we give in to the emotion – which is healthy initially (as long as we don’t harm ourselves or another). It’s when we stay stuck that it becomes unhealthy and can be debilitating. One way to get out of this is to “force” your self to think about the positive. Our brains are not “cemented” to a certain way of thinking. We train our brains to think certain things by ignoring the subtle signs we are headed down that path. But, we can retrain them to go down the path of uplifting and loving thoughts as well.

Daniel G. Amen, of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, offers similar advice, “Focus on what you love about your life and those around you, and your heart will be healthier and happier.” It will also help you live longer.

I can tell you from experience this sometimes seems impossible but, just try these few steps listed below the next time you find yourself “stuck in a rut” over something and see if it helps – even a tiny bit. After all, you didn’t get in that habit overnight. Doesn’t it make sense to try to change it back to “Happy” one thought at a time?

  1. Laughter – Laughter can influence our whole bodies, uplift our moods, reduce levels of stress hormones (i.e., cortisol, dopamine and epinephrine) and increase the love-your-body hormones, endorphins.
  2. Gratitude – You don’t need more of anything in your life to be happy – just simply be grateful for what you do have. Look around you. Think of ten things right now that you can be grateful for: a wonderful spouse/significant other, kids who laugh (they’re a natural at this!) for silly reasons, cool socks with funky designs – make a list! 

Having a hard time with that? Commit yourself to this then: Every time you think a negative thought, force yourself to come up with 5 positive things about that one negative situation. However, remotely connected push through the negative to think positive thoughts. It may truly be a struggle sometimes but, you CAN do it!

  1. Meditation and Yoga – Both are proven stress reducers, which leads to opening our hearts.
  2. Warm hands – Yes, I said, warm your hands. Not just blowing your breath on your hands but, using biofeedback techniques to increase the blood flow from your brain to your hands will help your body relax (think of placing your hands in warm mittens or, “seeing” the blood flow from your brain to your hands, etc.). Or, grab the hand of your partner. A study done at the University of Colorado at Boulder, “…found that holding warm things may actually make people view others more favorably and may also make people more generous.” (1)
  3. Get some body work done: soothe your heart with some Reiki energy, an acupressure treatment, an overall body massage – anything to help relax you and aid in releasing the stress and emotions you’ve been carrying around.

There are lots more ways to take care of our hearts and lead happier lives. Start with these simple steps and you’re on your way to more “healthy and happy” overall.

  1. Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Amen, Daniel G. 2010, Harmony Books, New York, NY.
  2. Happy For No Reason, Shimoff, Marci 2008 Free Press, New York, NY. 

Kathy reiki master teacher

Kathy Bryant contracts with Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork, is a Reiki Master Teacher, a Certified Crystal Therapist, trained in acupressure and is currently working towards certification in Cranio Sacral Therapy. She is a native Madisonian and enjoys helping people achieve overall body wellness.

Several months ago, I shared with readers how Reiki is helping my chronic pain – it was the beginning of my journey with chakra stones energy servicesthat particular method of emotional and spiritual healing.  I recapped my history with lingering chronic pain and shared how Reiki was helping to release another layer, and how wonderful it felt!  I promised an update when I felt my journey was complete, and though I can’t know with certainty if completeness has occurred, I do feel enough changes have occurred to provide that update.

What exactly is Reiki?  I find a whole lot of people have no idea.  It is spiritual; it works with the energetic forces in our bodies similar to acupressure and acupuncture, and it helps release and resolve areas that get “stuck” with various baggage we’ve been carrying around from old injuries, traumas, and stressors.  Stuckness creates an environment for pain to thrive, and it literally keeps us from moving forward when it is time to let go.  A gifted Reiki practitioner can assist us in letting go on levels we are not aware of, like a therapy for your subconscious and spiritual self.  A am so thankful for the very gifted therapist at my place of business who has done wonderful work with me!

I do have to be honest – I slacked a bit on consistency with Reiki after giving it a solid go in the Spring.  But over those slacking months, my emotions were also in a stuck place and weren’t yet ready to move.  That’s the thing with Reiki – as with most any type of therapy, you have to be ready for it and be willing to partner with your therapist to see results.  I began regular Reiki treatments in March for my chronic pain, then in April a bunch of things got shaken up in my world, and it took several months for my attitude to be okay with the changes.  Coincidence?  I’m thinking not.  It seems when we open ourselves up to a treatment to help us change, move on, or move through any type of stuck pattern, we should not be surprised when our world gets shaken up a bit.  I took a break from Reiki while my attitude decided it wanted to stay in an unhappy place for awhile. 

As I started to accept and embrace the changes, I saw that these changes really were good for me, and it seemed to be confirmation that the Universe was giving me wonderful gifts despite my begrudging attitude at my inconvenience and things not happening the way I had planned or envisioned.  Then I noticed something else… I had not felt my back pain in quite some time!  It had been getting pretty bad there for awhile, and though the Reiki did provide some relief, it wasn’t going away entirely.  Somewhere in that span of time when I decided to catch the wave of change and ride it instead of fighting it, I also let go of my pain. 

reiki energy bodywork sessionWhen I went back to Reiki, I felt some amazing sensations during the session, which seemed to be getting deeper into areas I have felt were holding onto past pain.  I was told my energy is much smoother than it had been several months prior.  It was such a beautiful experience!  And as before, it seemed to stir things up again for awhile as things shift within me (this time internal, not with my external surroundings as had happened before).  And now I feel more in tune with what I’m feeling and experiencing, like I can tell we’re getting to some really good things. 

I know I’m not complete and done with Reiki, but as I was feeling some deeply held sadness over the holidays (that I still marvel can hide out within me for so long), it actually felt like I was reaching the bottom of it.  I was letting it out, letting it go, and replacing it with wonderful love and security now that I now feel so strongly. 


massage therapist certified cupping therapistHeidi Aschenbrenner, LMBT, CCT, BCTMB, and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork specializing in Eastern bodywork therapies and the healing arts. Heidi and her team of bodywork therapists, a Reiki master, and a Certified Personal Trainer, all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies and have all been trained in Eastern healing techniques and cupping therapy.  Renu also offers an infrared sauna from Sunlighten Saunas for deeper healing and detoxification after your session. For more information or to contact Heidi, please visit

Does this topic seem out of place to you? I find that the average person who does not work in bodywork associates grief healing massagemassage with a range of things from treating oneself for a special occasion, to working on a chronic pain problem to achieve results, to providing therapeutic maintenance to the muscles we use daily for years and years. Many of you have probably experienced massage in one or more of these capacities, but not all of you might know the benefits of massage during grief.

Grief is broader than dealing with loss from death; it can be experienced from any significant change in which you are losing something that has been a part of you or your life, even it if is moving onward and forward to something that is “better” in your mind. This can be a change of jobs, change of residence, shifting relationships as people grow and change, move, or have children and become less available. It can be giving up certain foods once you find your body doesn’t respond well to them. And of course, the most painful of all forms of grief is losing a loved one due to death. All of us experience grief as a natural process of life; it is vitally important that we acknowledge and feel our grief, in all its painful and shameless glory, to fully let go, heal, and move forward. Pent up grief manifests itself in many ways in the body, mind and spirit, and often gets expressed with anger when bottled up for too long. Grief demands that we let it have its say one way or another; best to let it have its due as you are experiencing your loss. This will not be easy nor will it be pleasant, but it is necessary for your overall health and well being.

grief healing massage abandoned sadNow that we are experiencing grief, what next? Many people have trouble balancing life responsibilities while allowing grief to take its course. Sometimes it’s small outbursts of emotions when you can sneak them in during your own private moments – crying in the car is a great emotional outlet; I’ve used this many times after significant losses, and didn’t mind so much when I had a long commute. Allowing yourself these expressions of emotions whenever you can will help you fully feel, experience, and ultimately move through your grief.

Massage is one of those outlets too, particularly when grief or trauma is fresh. Massage teams are often in place as part ofgrief massage healing emergency response after a tragedy such as a plane crash. After the Oklahoma City bombing, the state medical examiner observed that the massage therapists were “accomplishing more in 15 minutes than psychologists could in an hour or two” (Life, Aug. 8, 1997). How can that be? The need for touch is powerful, and it is often the most immediate need that we have after tragedy or loss. It allows us to take a break from life’s responsibilities and just feel for however long we are in session. We might even cry on the table or massage chair, and that’s not only okay, it’s good; it’s healing. The space of massage is always a safe place. You can be who you are, wherever your emotional state might be that day, that hour, that minute.

Massage is still beneficial when grief is not as fresh. As you have no doubt experienced, grief takes a long time to finally be on its way, waving goodbye to you from afar and wishing you well. Grief can feel like a long winter that just doesn’t want to let go, but Spring does eventually come. As you move through grief in all its stages that seem like forever, massage is always that safe space for you to just feel and be whoever and wherever you are at the moment. It helps you feel supported so that you can continue to move forward and survive. It answers that vital need for support through touch, while at the same time allowing you to be with your emotions, your mind, and your body.

massage therapist certified cupping therapistHeidi Aschenbrenner, LMBT, CCT, BCTMB, and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork specializing in Asian bodywork therapies and the Eastern healing arts. Heidi and her team of bodywork therapists, a Reiki master, and a Certified Personal Trainer, all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies and have all been trained in Eastern healing techniques and cupping therapy. Renu also offers an infrared sauna from Sunlighten Saunas for deeper healing and detoxification after your session. For more information or to contact Heidi, please visit


facial cupping therapyCupping therapy is by far my favorite modality to work with because it is so effective and has so many applications.  If you are already familiar with cupping therapy, it is important to note that the facial cupping techniques described here will not leave discoloration on the face, because of the techniques used in this protocol.  It should also be noted that facial cupping may be done therapeutically for TMJD, Bell’s Palsy or other more significant restrictions in the fascia of the face, and these therapeutic techniques might produce the discoloration that many have experienced with cupping therapy on other parts of the body.  Our focus today is on facial cupping for rejuvenation and to reduce wrinkles and puffiness – very much like getting a facial, but with cups instead!

Facial cupping uses negative pressure with small cups to eliminate the build up of wastes and fluids in the face and neck.  With cups specifically designed for the face, the facial tissue experiences a vacuum and lifting effect, resulting in lymphatic drainage, which reduces chronic puffiness to a great degree.  Once one side of the face is completed, there is a visible difference from just one treatment – the completed side looks more lifted and has that healthy glow.  It’s a wonderfully relaxing treatment that leaves you looking and feeling great at the end of the session!

Not only are you looking and feeling great, but you are also increasing circulation, which enhances both nutrient absorption as well as absorption of any topical treatments such as essential oils.  The muscles of the face often have quite a bit of tension – how many of you have had TMJ pain or a popping jaw?  Facial cupping reduces that tension and tightness, softening those muscles and any scar tissue, and filling out lines and wrinkles as well.  Facial cupping treatments are cumulative, especially when treatments are done once or twice per week, which is recommended to achieve lasting visible results.  And beyond the health benefits, the treatment simply feels great, whether you’ve ever had any noticeable tension in your facial muscles or not.  Everybody’s skin needs a little rejuvenation from time to time.  When was the last time you treated your face to some TLC? 

Another great result is the drainage of the sinuses during facial cupping.  Anyone who experiences any inflammation, infections, or other sinus congestion would also benefit from facial cupping, while simultaneously receiving the other aesthetic and health benefits mentioned above.  Combine that with some essential oil for the sinuses at the end of the treatment, and your sinuses will thank you!  Once again, it will likely take a series of treatments to see lasting results for sinus drainage, especially if the source of the recurring sinus infections or congestion is not addressed. 

Facial cupping requires specific training and should be performed by a Certified Cupping Therapist (CCT) who has been trained in this protocol.  There is an extensive network of nerves in the face, and care must be taken when performing this service.  There are several therapists at Renu who are both trained and certified to provide this service, and we’d love to work with you to achieve your facial rejuvenation!

Heidi Aschenbrenner, LMBT, CCT, BCTMB, and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork, Heidi massage bodyworker cupping therapistspecializing in Eastern bodywork therapies and the Eastern healing arts. Heidi and her team of therapists all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies and have all been trained in Eastern healing techniques and cupping therapy.  Renu offers an infrared sauna from Sunlighten Saunas for deeper healing and detoxification after your session. For more information on cupping therapy in general, please visit