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Healing with yoga, meditation and massage on retreats

Yoga massage on retreat

We are delighted to have the very talented Amanda Tizard on our retreat team and we take her to as many retreats as we can!  With over 10,000 one to one sessions and more than 15 years professional experience as an advanced Massage and Craniosacral Therapist, Amanda is highly regarded within wellbeing circles and has been described as one of the top body fixers in the world.

Amanda uses her extensive knowledge of advanced bodywork techniques during each tailor-made session, including slow deep tissue massage, acupressure, guided visualisations, trigger points, breath work and myofascial release. At the heart of her work is her ability to listen and connect with her clients inviting them to let go of self-judgement, attachments, expectations and dive deep into their bodies. There is a lightness and sensitive nature to her approach enriched with appropriate boundaries, laughter, kindness, deep compassion and respect for the receiver’s journey.

Amanda’s training to date includes Holistic Massage, Deep Tissue, Meridian Acupressure, Trigger Point Therapy and Soft Tissue Release, Hypnotherapy and Meditation. She is a Transformational Breath® Facilitator, a certified Craniosacral Therapist and Wataflow Practitioner (a bodywork technique carried out either in a pool or the sea). In addition she completed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training with Suzanne Faith and further studies in yoga nidra and yin yoga with Melanie Cooper and Jennie Wadsten.

Her interest and journey in the Healing Arts began 35 years ago when she attended her first yoga class aged 16 in the 1980’s with her mother. After this she readily started to educate herself by receiving different healing modalities. “I would spend any spare money I had on receiving Traditional Medicine at a time when the industry was tiny, and you had to really seek out the good teachers and practitioners. This was long before the internet existed! I was hungry for knowledge and deeply curious about the relationship between mind and body.”

Somatics at work

At the heart of Amanda’s treatments is somatic bodywork. Thomas Hanna was the first person to coin this term, he describes somatics as “the study of the self from the perspective of one’s life experience, encompassing body, mind and spirit.”

Amanda describes her somatic work as “exploring your body as whole and not separating the mind, emotions and body, “.

We sat down with Amanda to find out more about what you can expect from a session with her.

“At the start of the session I have a conversation with my client, taking note of their history and any significant events in their life – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I go through injuries, accidents, birth, schooling and we discuss diet, lifestyle and sleeping patterns. We also cover their relationships – to themselves, to immediate family, partners or children. I listen carefully as sometimes the one thing they have not focused on holds the key to how the session will flow. This conversation gives me an overview so that we can decide what they would like from the session. I find it useful for them to set an intention too.

Sometimes people ask for particular work to be done, maybe they need a deep-tissue massage, they feel the need to be stretched or have a relaxing cranio sacral therapy session. Other times they want to do some emotional work. I specialise in trauma and anxiety, so I tend to facilitate a lot of those kind of sessions.

People tend to relax very quickly. I use a guided meditation technique – a body scan with breath work – to help with this. It is surprising how many people who have never done anything like that before can locate with exact precision in their body where they are holding tension and release it within the first ten minutes.

Once my client is in a relaxed state, I often work by switching between bodywork and cranio techniques. I also do breath-work with them and sometimes use client led guided visualisations and Somatic Emotional Release techniques. It’s a dance between the conscious and subconscious between myself and the receiver. This is where the healing is happening, the release of tension physically, emotional and mentally, the sense of stillness of non-doing, of coming home.

I believe that 80-90% of the discomfort people feel in their bodies has an emotional trauma at the source which is why somatic work is so effective. During a treatment session the mind switches off and a softening follows. Stubborn muscular, fascial (connective tissue) tightness, pain and restrictions can diminish and release. This letting go gives rise to a new found internal space for profound openings and new beginnings. Clients are often amazed at how easily uncomfortable and seemly persistent old physical pains are released when the emotional holding memory behind those discomforts are witnessed and resolved. A new way of feeling is then integrated and embodied.

I work carefully with everyone as there are a lot of boundaries that must be respected – it is very important that a client feels safe by going at their own pace. And I always make sure the receiver feels grounded, centred and balanced before they leave the session.”

How do your sessions add to a retreat experience?

“When people come from their busy day to day lives to a retreat, they have the space and time to stop and feel how they feel. Every part of them is being opened up in yoga and as there are two long yoga practices each day some big shifts can happen. It can be challenging for participants particularly if they have been suppressing emotions in order to cope with daily life back home. They begin enquiring inwards, reconnecting to themselves, getting grounded, connecting to their internal universe. The landscape within and our relationship to ourselves and others moves quickly on a retreat like this. It is an amazing opportunity for letting go, forgiveness and growth. The bodywork and sessions I do with them provides another opportunity to go deeper and it also soothes and supports them to process any challenging feelings and emotions that arise.

Having the time to rest, reflect and process gives the opportunity for participants to nourish the part of us that craves pleasure.  Even if someone has regular bodywork or a daily yoga practice at home they rarely have so much time to process what comes up. The joy of hanging out with a group, the feeling of community, fun and friendship can provide a vessel for a new gratitude for life and an understanding of themselves.  I love watching the interaction in the groups, the energy and the love and support guests exchange, even the challenging moments are fantastic opportunities for learning.

This connection that people experience is where I find the most joy in my work. When people are fully present and connected this is when they have an opportunity permanently release some of those holding patterns.  I am being there for the receivers to allow initiation of the inbuilt healing mechanism of their body to let go of old emotional blockages and ancient traumas and move forward in their life.

What are you favourite retreats to work on?

Iceland and Tuscany are my favourite so far, especially Iceland as the energy there is powerful and the landscape view from the cabin I work from is mind blowing.  I love being in the cold but all wrapped up, feeling the history of those ancient lands and people.  The local people are so warm and that water is the best water I have ever tasted! Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world.  I can never get enough of that place!

Yoga massage room in Iceland
Amanda’s massage room on the Iceland retreat

What makes a great therapist?

Amanda is without doubt a great therapist.  We have seen the positive impact she has on our retreat guests time and time again.  We asked Amanda what she thought makes a good therapist and she gave us this quote by Peter Levine:

“Presence, the ability the remain centred and resonate in a primitive way with your clients. The ability to connect with their inner world, nervous system to nervous system. Let difficult feelings and sensations move through you, showing your client how to feel their feelings, and then let them go. Do your own work so you can resonate emotionally. The treatment modality is only 15% of the therapy, 85% is the relationship you develop together.”

If you’d like to find out more about Amanda or book a session with her click here.  Join her for some deep work in Tuscany and Iceland.

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