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Restorative Yoga Therapy and Massage
by Nirmala Nataraj on Oct 10, 2008
Combining your trips to your yoga studio and massage therapist seems like the ideal kind of fusion. After all, physicians have been touting the stress-combating and corrective benefits of yoga for years, and recent studies that reveal massage’s curative effects on both stress and chronic pain have made the requisite spa trip way more than frivolous pampering. Now, harried San Franciscans can get their yoga on and take in a bit of bodywork, or simply do one of either, at Prasadana.
Local certified massage therapist and yoga teacher Dana Greenbaum (who named her studio after a fusion of her first name and the Sanskrit word “prasad,” which translates to “blessed offering”) plies weary limbs into tip-top shape with her one-on-one yoga sessions and muscle-slackening massage. Dana’s cozy Potrero Hill hideaway is the perfect stopover for a tension-zapping afternoon lull. A diminutive studio with sun-dappled hardwood floors and the wafting scent of incense, Prasadana blends ultimate relaxation with the rigor of Dana’s yoga practice.
Dana has been practicing massage for 10 years but became interested in yoga a little later, in 2002. “Yoga empowers people to take their health into their own hands; massage can be a little more passive, but when you combine the two, it’s that much more powerful,” she says. “Especially when you warm up the body with a session of yoga, it can take you into the therapeutic effects of massage more deeply.”
Dana, who also offers group instruction at Yoga Tree and Yoga Kula, acknowledges that private yoga therapy can be beneficial in ways that a larger studio setting might not offer. Aside from offering shy yogis a personalized experience that focuses on their special needs, the private instruction can be easily custom-tailored to both beginners and experienced practitioners of yoga. “I love public classes, but the personal yoga therapy is also wonderful,” explains Dana. “There is an attention to alignment you may not get in group settings, so it becomes easier to stay safe and to heal from injuries. Also, in a private session, you can stop at any time…there is also more attention to helping my clients build a home regimen, as well as deepen their understanding of or relationship to a certain posture.”
While the needs of her clients vary, Dana has developed a reputation for her nurturing yoga sessions (“Private instruction feels very natural to me, given my experience working as a massage therapist”) and her work with expecting mothers. “I do a lot of prenatal yoga and massage. When women are pregnant, their bodies are going through a lot of changes, and they are more receptive to the therapy,” she says. Also, both prenatal and postpartum yoga are important in alleviating depression and helping women get back into their bodies.
Similar to her background in yoga, which includes a blend of Vinyasa and Anusara training, Dana is trained in a variety of massage modalities, ranging from craniosacral therapy (which works with the spine, skull, cranial sutures, and fascia to ease restrictions of nerve passages) to deep tissue and energy work. She also offers craniosacral therapy to newborns and small children. “Babies tend to get chronic ear infections and are susceptible to other illnesses,” she explains. “Craniosacral therapy can be an important preventative tool to help them function most optimally.”
A visit to Dana’s retreat -- preferably to sample both her yoga and massage -- is the perfect exercise in alignment of body, mind, and spirit. Clients can opt for 60- to 75-minute-long yoga sessions that promote the fullest expression of each yoga pose without the extra pain and discomfort. When I visited Dana for the first time, she went through a series of hip-opening asanas with me. The focused nature of the exercises, customized to my own challenges and strengths, was an eye-opener. By the end of the session, I could feel a newfound sense of receptivity, poise, and comfort that I hadn’t experienced in that portion of my body before -- not even in the restorative yoga classes I’ve been attending for several years.
Moving into a massage with Dana was equally divine. Since my limbs were already mush before we even got to the bodywork, Dana’s gentle yet precise touch was able to do its thing more effectively. Like her yoga, Dana’s massage techniques are tailored to personal needs and areas of tension—as well as previous injuries.
Given massage and yoga’s general functions of restoring the body (and spirit) to its best possible condition -- aiding in things like respiratory problems, chronic fatigue, and plain ol’ stress along the way -- Prasadana’s unique offerings enable devout yogis to combine their workout with some requisite R&R. It’s the perfect marriage for those of us in search of better health and a little indulgence.
Potrero Hill, San Francisco
Hours: by appointment
by Nirmala Nataraj on Oct 10, 2008