A local healer’s journey into the deep

Shasta Angel of Hope takes massage therapy to a new level, as she undergoes an intense two week course in El Salvador

A group of 10 students practice yoga therapeutics during a training session in El Salvador.

A group of 10 students practice yoga therapeutics during a training session in El Salvador.

Shasta Angel, of The Purple Fern Bodywork & Massage met up with The Hope Standard to discuss her trip to El Salvador late last year. The massage practitioner graduated from the Vancouver School of Bodywork and Massage in 2010, and has been running her own practice in Hope, ever since. Shasta offers a holistic approach to her clientele, utilizing a plethora of techniques in combination with a cross cultural perspective on body healing.

Venturing to El Salvador to complete her last level of deep flow tissue massage, known as Level 2, Shasta braved the beach, glorious sunsets, body surfing and an in-house chef over her two week stay at a mansion by the ocean. With 10 other students in tow, Shasta began an exciting journey, that not only enhanced her core techniques but challenged her spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

The Central American oasis provided a stunning back drop to her vigorous training as she explained some of the nuances of El Salvador.

“It was very friendly, and I felt very safe — just don’t drink the water and you’ll be fine,”  she said jokingly. “The course itself was amazing, but there was a whole new level to it because you’re in a foreign country.”

The fundamentals of the course involve deep flow, which means to work with the fascia (a thin sheath of fibrous tissue enclosing a muscle or other organ) in the body.

“Fascia runs throughout your body, it wraps around every muscle fibre, and it’s made of the same stuff as tendons,” said Shasta. “If you can affect that, it will affect the muscles and everything else in the body, so basically it’s just fascia work.”

Deep flow is implemented to reach the fascia, combined with breath coaching and restorative work, where there are positional release type moments. Yoga therapeutics, deep tissue, arithmetic and reflexology are other elements that one can bring to deep flow methodology according to Shasta.

“Basically there’s the ground basis of fascia and then you are encouraged to bring in anything else you think your client might need, incorporating any other style you’ve studied, so it’s quite a holistic and creative massage for that person — when people can’t stand correctly, you make it so they can stand correctly in their bodies.”

“It’s sort of like a two for one,” said Shasta.

The seasoned masseuse explained the chronology of her journey to the majestic nation of El Salvador.

“When we got there, we were like cool, it was a mansion on the beach and there was black sand and a beautiful, beautiful pool — we were spoiled rotten.”

The adventurous two week course began with an introduction from the instructor Melina, where students were directed to find a place to meditate and ponder the reason for their journey to El Salvador.

“We sort of knew this was coming, and we had to come back and tell the group why we were there,” said Shasta. “You really have to tell it from a spiritual place, why you think you are there, so we were being tested right away.”

It has been four and half years between courses for Shasta who has been busy establishing her practice here in Hope.

“I really felt that I was ready for that next bout of information. I knew that I was ready for the course and that it was going to make a difference for me and my practice and I was pretty sure that Melina was going to be the lady to lead it,” she said.

Day one was very challenging for the student.

“Between the breakfast hour of 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. there was complete silence, no questions, no talking — so everyday we started with and hour of silence, as beautiful music would play throughout the whole house,” said Shasta. “You have to sit and be near the others and you have to learn how to be comfortable and at peace in a space, and just learn how to be with other people.”

It took Shasta about three days to master this technique and soon after she was very comfortable with silence, seeing it as an exercise in patience. This was followed by yoga therapeutics (applying yoga techniques to massage therapy) in the morning.

“She taught us how to breathe in different parts of our body, and we learned how to use different tools that help in releasing fascia including sensi-balls, which help to unlock the fascia. Releasing the fascia can often be an emotional experience for people, as it triggers certain memories that get stuck in the tissue from past life experiences or trauma,” Shasta told The Hope Standard.

This was followed by a two hour lunch provided by a gourmet chef who made everything from scratch, when students would often reflect with one another on the morning’s activities.

“She made everything fresh, she would go to the market every morning to buy produce,” said Shasta of the dining experience during her stay. “She was a fantastic cook.”

In the afternoon the students would partake in deep flow and fascia training, followed by dinner, and by that time they were all pretty tired. There were some experimental exercises throughout the arduous and enlightening two weeks, as students continued to grow in their practice at the beautiful location.

For more of Shasta’s El Salvador journey please see our April 7 edition.