Q&A With Our Shoji Spa Supervisor

  1.  Are you an early bird or night owl?

I used to be a night owl all the way but this year I made it my goal to become an early bird. Now I love it and feel so much more productive and ready for the day when I get an early start. 

2.  Who has influenced you the most when it comes to how you approach your work?

I would have to say my biggest influencer when it comes to how I work would be my first boss Jessie who I met when I worked at the Asheville airport. I was very nervous on my first day and throughout my entire time there she taught and constantly reminded me that it was ok to approach my job with a fun attitude even if it was serious. This has continued to help me see the light in things and be able to approach stressful projects with a better mind set.

 3.  One thing that’s surprised you about working at Shoji?

The one thing that constantly surprises me about working at Shoji is how I find myself looking forward to coming to work. We have such a great team of employees and great relaxing environment we get to be in everyday.

 4.  What is one thing that you are trying to make a habit?

I used to be an avid reader. As I got busier with work and school that hasn’t been something I have kept up with much. I would definitely love to make reading a habit again and I hope I will one day.     

 5.  If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? 

If I could choose any superpower I would choose to be able to speak every language in the world fluently. I am already bi lingual and I love being able to switch back and forth between English and Romainian. It would also make traveling all the more exciting and easy.

 6.  What is your favorite TV show?

My favorite TV show would have to be The Office. That’s a show that I’ve always got playing in the background and never fails to make me laugh.

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

Even though they are thousands of miles away and separated by oceans, the climate and mountains of Kyoto are not so different from the Blue Ridge Mountains we call home. 

 

The temple Otagi Nenbutsi-Ji nestled in the mountains of Kyoto much like Shoji, is well over a thousand years old. Guarded by its collection of 1200 rakan statues depicting the disciples of the Buddha; this peaceful and meditative retreat in the cultural center of Japan was not always so tranquil. 

 

The original temple built in the Higashiyama area in 770 completely washed away in a flood. It was reestablished in the early years of the Heian period (794-1192), only to fall into dilapidated condition again until the only structures left were the main hall, the Jizo hall and the temple gate. 

 

In an effort to preserve what was left, the temple’s remaining structures were reassembled in their current location in 1922 and for a third time the temple was destroyed. It was not until 1955 that the temple’s fortunes changed when Kocho Nishimura was appointed the new head priest. Not only a priest but an accomplished sculptor, he began the long process of renovating the temple.  

 

Teaching visitors how to sculpt in the Japanese tradition, priest Kocho Nishimura and guests created the 1200 “rakan” statues that fill the temple’s grounds. Peaceful and moss covered these statues spill down the mountain, filling the area with their serene presence. 

 

If you are interested in Japanese folklore, its traditions and history, or are looking for a place to retreat to when exploring Japan then the temple Otagi Nenbutsi-Ji is the perfect destination. 

 

A Therapy As Old As Time

Contrast therapy (i.e. hot and cold therapy) has been used as a healing tool for thousands of years and is one of the oldest natural treatment modalities. In essence, this therapy involves alternating between hot and cold temperatures, typically in water like a shower or tub.

The heat allows blood vessels to open up (vasodilation), increasing blood flow to our extremities and causing connective tissue to become more flexible. This promotes a reduction in joint stiffness, pain and muscle spasms. Conversely, cold therapy (vasoconstriction) causes a reduction in blood volume to our extremities and increases blood flow in the core of the body. This cycle of tightening and relaxing effectively acts as a “pump” in the lymphatic system moving stagnant lymph around the body and strengthening the core of our immune system.

The lymphatic system’s main function is to cleanse the body and protect against disease but can easily become stagnant when it is overwhelmed with toxins. This can lead to not only impaired immunity but also fluid retention, chronic pain and swollen glands. Stagnant lymph may also be the root cause of swollen ankles and eyes, arthritis, upper respiratory infections and other chronic illnesses.

Here at Shoji, our guests enjoy the benefits of contrast hydrotherapy with the use of our 180°+ wet cedar sauna and cold showers as a part of our amenities pass or in combination with salt hydrotherapy tub, our private spa pass.

As with any treatment, you should always consult your primary care physician to discuss risk and/or benefits before incorporating contrast therapy into your health regimen.

Q&A w/ Shoji Masseuse: Lucas Stevenson

Meet Lucas Stevenson!

He is one of our world-class massage therapists, offering us another look behind the scenes. We’re excited to share with you his thoughts on his craft, favorite relaxation techniques, and all things Shoji!

Where are you from?

Northeast Kansas

What brought you to Asheville?

Business – I began working a small company here in Asheville back in 2008.

When or why did you decide to get into massage therapy?

Back in 2005. I chose to go into massage therapy as a gateway into Alternative Health, and it became my primary practice.

What do you love most about massage therapy?

I love that people nearly always leave happier and healthier than when they came in, and I love using my knowledge of the human body to accomplish that.

What do you love most about working at Shoji?

Great atmosphere, great staff, great visitors! We get to work with relaxed people and make them even more relaxed.

Can you share with us a time when you helped someone with massage?

My favorite experience was with a young woman, a really talented musician who had severe arm and hand nerve issues. Her mom brought her in a couple of times each week for specific work. It was a group effort – her Physical Therapist, her mother, myself, and most especially her determination and hard work – but she is playing professionally and is now also a conductor. That makes me smile every time I think of it.

What kind of music or sounds do you like to play during massage therapy?

Anything relaxing that helps myself and the client get into the zone. Singing bowls, chanting, New Age music, nature sounds, etc.

Favorite Japanese food?

Sashimi – all of it!!

Q&A – Massage Therapist, Kaleigh Goodford

Meet Kaleigh! 🙂

Kaleigh Goodford is a world-class masseuse who, like the rest of our talented team, make the Shoji Spa experience possible.

We recently had a chance to ask her some questions. Enjoy!

Q:   Where are you from?

A: Upstate New York & Western Pennsylvania

Q:   What brought you to Asheville?

A: Pursuing a massage career (to start my massage career)

Q: When or why did you decide to do massage therapy?

A: I didn’t… it found me.

Q: What do you love most about massage therapy?

A: Being in the Body and connected to our senses. It’s great for anxiety & overthinking.

Q: What do you love most about working at Shoji?

A: Relaxed atmosphere, the clinic is beautiful, it’s a really special place, and the flexibility – I can practice massage the way I want. To really help people.

Q: Can you share a story of how you helped someone with massage therapy?

A: I once had a client with massive discomfort issues in her hip – replacement, bersitis, etc. She could only get around using a cane. After our massages, her pain would disappear, and she could walk without her cane.

Q: Favorite massage oils? Types of massage?

A: For massage oils: olive, safflower, Hinoki (anything w/ grip). My favorite types of massage are Thai, Swedish, & abdominal work.

Q: What kinds of music or sounds do you like to play during the massage?

A: Anything atmospheric, sounds of crystal bowls

Q: Do you have any favorite parts of Japanese culture?

A:   Anime (i.e. Sailor Moon), acupuncture, shiatsu (a type of bodywork), martial arts… I’ve practiced Judo, Kendo, & Jiu Jitsu. And Bushido (code of honor, ideals, and way of life for samurai)

Food-wise: unagi, sashimi / sushi, tomago gohan, & dango dumplings

10 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Day

Time is one of our most valuable resources, but as Steve Miller Band famously wrote, it keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future. Whenever you have free time, rather than Netflix, try some of these fun ways to make the most out of your day!

1. Catch the Sunrise

Start off the day by waking up early to watch the sunrise! The countless ‘overlooks’ on the Blue Ridge Parkway are excellent destinations to take in the view of the morning sun emerging from behind the mountains. Getting up early to greet the sun can help you gain more energy and begin the day in a positive light.

2. Practice Meditation

Meditation is a great way to practice self-care during your free time. Sitting still with your eyes closed may seem unnecessary, but this brief repose rejuvenates your mind, body, and soul in a very beneficial way. Focus on your breathing, and try to clear your mind. Think of this like a mental reset button!

3. Get Crafty

Arts & crafts provide enjoyable opportunities to express yourself! Start a watercolor painting, take up pottery, or stylize your favorite clothing. Not only will you be refining your artistic skills and hand-eye-coordination, but you will have a creative outlet for your emotions and experiences. Pinterest is a great tool for finding inspiration for your next craft!

4. Plant a Garden

It’s not too late to start a garden! It is such a wonderful feeling to watch your little babies grow until healthy plants. Gardening connects us with Mother Earth, provides nourishment, and teaches us valuable life lessons. A healthy garden requires hard work, love, and patience, skills that carry into our everyday life. Also, when you grow your own food, you help the planet and your budget!  

5. Nurture Relationships

What good is time if you spend it all by yourself? When we connect with others, we’re able to reflect on ourselves and grow. Take a moment out of your day to reach out to a family member, nurture a friendship, or rekindle an old one. Visit, call, text, or if you really want to surprise someone, write and send them a letter!

6. Get Outdoors

Summer is the perfect time for going out and reconnecting with nature. Surround yourself with nature simply by going out for a walk in the park or a hike in the forest. There is no better way to take in the beautiful summer scenery than to be immersed in the great outdoors. Since daylight hours are longer in the summer, there is plenty of time to do a variety of exciting outdoor activities!

7. Discover New Methods of Healing

The rush of our daily schedules makes it easy to ignore the physical and emotional pressures put on us by life. Take time to relax by discovering new ways to relieve your body from stress or pain. You can spend the summer solstice getting rid of built-up tension with massage therapy or acupuncture. Here at Shoji, we offer a select number of massage options to put both your mind and body at ease.

8. Read a Book

When was the last time you read a book from start to finish? If it has been awhile, let’s change that! Reading is not just entertaining – it improves our vocabulary, lengthens our attention span, and expands our worldview. If you are on the go, pick up a book on tape! You may also have book clubs near you related to some of your favorite topics.

9. Host a Gathering

Invite friends and family to a gathering with a meal full of fresh ingredients from a local farmers market! You can quench your thirst by mixing up some herbal teas and flavored lemonades for everyone to enjoy. Pot lucks are also fun, when each of your guests brings an item to the gathering. Gatherings like these strengthen relationships and remind us of all of the positive things life has to offer.

 

10. Volunteer

Volunteering is a wonderful way to connect with and improve your community. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to your local city government or search on a volunteering opportunity database like VolunteerMatch. Not only does volunteering help your community, but it also improves your mood and sense of wellbeing.

What are some of your favorite ways to make the most out of your day?

6 Ways to Relax (for People Who Don’t Meditate)

May 15th 2019

Let’s be honest, meditation isn’t for everyone. But that’s ok! Taking the time to relax is vital to your mental health. So, here are six ways to relax for people who can’t sit still!

1. Going on a Walk (or a Hike)

Just getting outside and taking a walk can do wonders for your mental health. Focus on the nature around you, your footsteps, and try not to let you mind trail off. Just enjoy the moment and keep yourself as grounded as possible.

2. Arts & Crafts

Arts & crafts time isn’t just for kids, it can be great for adults as well! Working with your hands is a great way to get your mind off the stresses of the day. It’s important to divert your energy into other things instead of letting it just build up inside, thus causing you more stress.

3. Journaling

Writing things down can be a game changer when it comes to managing the day-to-day stresses of life. It is a great way to collect your thoughts and sort out things weighing heavily on your mind. Plus, revisiting your journal entries later on down the road can be fun and a great way to reflect.

4. Stretching

Our bodies hold so much tension, and stretching is great method of release. Stress and anxiety have a tendency to manifest itself in our bodies, making us feel worse than ever. So, next time you’re feeling stressed, take a moment to stretch and release all of that built up tension.

5. Get Active 

Repetitive exercise can be a great relaxation technique. Biking, running, and swimming are all good examples of repetitive activities that can induce a meditative-like state. Others may refer to this as a “flow” state.. Doing something repetitive helps you live in the moment and just focus on the task at hand. Think of it like giving your mind some rest before or after a long, stressful day.

6. Visit the Spa

Spending a day at your favorite spa is a great way to balance your mind, body, and soul, even if you don’t like meditating. The services we offer at Shoji, like hydrotherapy and bodywork/massage, have been tried and true for thousands of years. We all deserve to treat ourselves every once in awhile!

See? You don’t have to sit cross-legged and say “ohm” to meditate. There are many ways that you can calm your mind and find relief from the day to day stresses of life!

4 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

April 18th

Shoji Spa & Lodge

You can often hear people say that traveling back in time and doing something small can drastically change the present – but no one talks about how doing something small today, like planting a tree, can drastically change the future. Earth Day has been a globally recognized holiday since 1970 and is celebrated in over 193 countries. We believe we can do more for this important holiday, and therefore more for our beautiful planet.

Here are four ways we can celebrate Earth Day together!

1)#Trashtag

Screen Shot 2019-04-17 at 9.38.40 PM

Use this week to get out in your local community and clean up a part of town that needs it. We would love to see some Asheville locals using the hashtag this week by joining together with other locals and making our great town cleaner! Or even if it’s just joining in the conversation to spread awareness, search the hashtag and share your favorite #trashtag stories.

2) Use Life Hacks to Form Healthy Habits

Spend the day researching and planning life hacks that you can add to your everyday life to benefit the planet. For instance, find out if someone at work lives close and start carpooling! Pick up some reusable bags and start getting into the habit of bringing your own bag to the grocery store to save on paper and plastic usage. You can even take your eco game a step further and begin composting your waste weekly. It is important to be mindful of the products you purchase, which brings us to our next way to spend Earth Day!

3) Think Green While You Shop

Make a list of the products you buy and consume regularly to make sure you can’t be doing a better job minimizing your carbon footprint! Are you buying locally? Local goods can reduce the time it takes for your products or consumables to reach you, benefit local services and economy, and promote the community you are working to improve!

Make sure your products are being made with natural ingredients and are being manufactured by companies with the right intention. It is important to know where your goods are coming from! When you have some great products you know are benefiting the environment, flex your eco ego! Share those local products with your community and do your part in spreading the word! All of our products at Shoji contain all-natural ingredients and are locally sourced, reducing our carbon footprint and our customer’s as much as possible.

4) Non-Profits

Bring awareness to a local non-profit that works everyday to help protect our environment. Do some research today and pick a local non-profit that benefits something you love and get in touch with them to find out how you can make an impact with them.

Here at Shoji, we love working with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, a local non-profit that has conserved over 75,000 acres of mountain land in North Carolina and Tennessee for the last 45 years. Get in touch with them to see how you can make  Do a little research and pick a local non-profit that you can get involved with to help preserve the beautiful land we inhabit!

Japanese Spring in Asheville

March 12, 2019

Shoji Spa & Lodge

Ahhhhh…. We can feel spring time approaching, with the slight scent of blooming in the wind as the cool breeze sweeps what is left of the previous autumn’s leaves. In two weeks, it will officially be Springtime here in Asheville. And at Shoji, we love and respect Spring (Haru) as much as Japan does. So, what does Springtime mean to Japanese culture?

Japan has a rather short Spring season, beginning in late March and ending in late April. During that short time, the Japanese celebrate the harmony between humans and nature with picnics under the Cherry Blossoms and countless festivals. Being an agricultural country, and since agriculture is controlled by the seasons, Japan is characterized by the leisurely change of the seasons. “In contrast to the Westerners who fight with and conquer nature, the Japanese live in harmony with nature and desire to become one with it.” This respect for and celebration of nature is most aesthetically prominent during the most beautiful time of year: Spring! And in Japan, that aesthetic comes from the beautiful and momentary blooming of the Cherry Blossoms, or Sakura.

For just a couple weeks out of the year, typically between March and April, these beautiful, vivid magenta flowers cover the landscape of Japan like a pink umbrella. The flowers symbolize a beautiful innocence during a seasonal representation of renewal and growth that has become almost internationally and inherently recognized by other cultures.

The Haiku, which has become an globally recognized form of poetry, is rooted in Japan’s oneness with nature, and more often than not is representing of Spring time.

The cherry blossoms:
Being ill, how many things
I remember about them

Scatter layer
by layer, eight-layered
cherry blossoms

Moon at twilight
a cluster of petals falling
from the cherry tree

cherry blossom petals
blown by the spring breeze against
the undried wall

  • Masaoka Shiki

Asheville may not have thousands of cherry blossoms, but the region does celebrate the blooming of spring with the beautiful pink hues of the rhododendron. Asheville also has a spiritual sense of harmony between humans and nature. Here at Shoji, we celebrate Spring by immersing you into the spiritual nature of the Blue Ridge Mountains and sharing that experience with those individuals that can feel the season’s power as much as the Japanese people have for centuries.

Beautiful flowers of rhododendron. Closeup

Four Fabulous Health Benefits of Hot Tubs

Hot tubs have this magical way of making us feel immediately more at ease. Our breathing deepens, our muscles loosen up and we let our troubles dissolve away. It’s not all in our heads either… taking a soak has been proven to have quite a few health benefits. Here’s four of them!


1. Lowering blood pressure

plastic heart display

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a hot tub soak causes blood vessels to slightly dilate, thus lowering overall blood pressure. Soaking in warm water can cause internal body temperature to increase slightly, in turn blood circulates more efficiently and blood pressure decreases. As always, consult with your physician before engaging in any form of self-therapy, including hot tub use and hydrotherapy for high blood pressure.


2. A better night’s sleep

baby sleeping

A Study in the journal, ‘Sleep,’ showed that soaking in a hot tub prior to bedtime will not only help individuals fall asleep but will also provide a deeper, more relaxing sleep as the body cools.


3. Aid in weight loss

bubbly hot tub water

It’s estimated that sitting in hot water burns about 3% more calories than sitting on your couch. It may not seem like much but, let’s be honest, every bit helps when it comes to losing weight!


4. Ease muscle tension

tight knot

Any physical therapist will tell you that heat from water penetrates the body better than any other type of heat. While heat increases blood flow to muscles and accelerates healing, buoyancy eases the built up pressure in your joints and muscles.  Additionally, hot tub jets provide therapeutic massage, stimulating the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain and stress diffusers.


man relaxing in outdoor hot tub in asheville

Which benefit will inspire you to hit the tub? If you are interested in learning more about other health benefits of tub soaking, spa therapy, or sauna, subscribe to our monthly newsletter or follow Shoji Spa on social media!

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