The Hippo


May 24, 2020








Gifts that would make Santa say “ahhh”


There’s a lot of hustle and bustle in the holidays, and come New Year’s Day, we’re all ready for a little “me time.” Even the pickiest of people on your list can appreciate the gift of relaxation, whether it’s a gift certificate for a facial, a free yoga class or a scented candle.
Yoga meets massage
Can’t decide whether to give someone a gift certificate for an hour-long massage session or for a yoga class? Well, with Thai massage yoga, you can give both. Massage therapist and yoga instructor Carol Bates offers classes for gentle yoga with Thai massage at Jeca Yoga (55 S. Commercial St., Suite 204, Manchester, 204-4284,, and said that those classes are great for beginners.
“It’s a different kind of relaxation,” she said. “It’s absolutely for beginners. You don’t have to have previous knowledge of yoga, and if you do have a yoga practice, it’s great to add in because it’s relaxation and mindfulness.”
When incorporating Thai massage into yoga, Bates said, classes will include gentle yoga postures and Thai massage, which incorporates assisted stretches, to work on the meridian lines in the body.
“It’s a different intention, a different theory than regular massage. ... When you lay down on the [massage] table, often times you can fall asleep. Whereas I find that Thai massage, and yoga as well, are more meditative,” Bates said. “It’s more sort of working with your breath. When you’re breathing deeply and fully it’s very relaxing to your nervous system. That’s the whole idea behind yoga is it’s calming the nervous system with the breath and with the stretches.”
Giving the gift of relaxation can last longer than one session when you give a gift certificate to a yoga studio, too. If a loved one might be interested in trying something like yoga out, ask for a gift card for one class or a workshop.
“It’s more taking care of yourself — going and getting a massage, you’re taking care of  yourself — [but] because yoga is a practice and you would do yoga more than once a month. When you practice mindfulness, it becomes more of a part of your life,” Bates said. “That’s what I love about it. It’s more about making changes in your life rather than just going for one day.”
Fa-la-la-la-la at the spa 
Whether it’s for a day or even an hour of luxury, spa treatment packages make for great gifts for the holidays — especially after a frenzied month of making lists and checking them twice.
“There’s a lot of gifting around this time of year, which means a lot of people are focused on others, which is great,” Concord’s Lotions ’n Potions co-owner Andrew Hatch said. “And if you’ve been gifted something, you feel you can indulge.”
Hatch recommends giving a special spa package combining different treatments as a holiday gift for relaxation from head to toe. At Lotions ’n Potions, Hatch said there are package specials just for the holidays, like combining a facial with a pedicure, or a full combination of facial, pedicure and stress therapy massage.
Hatch said that for many people, getting a spa treatment is considered a luxury, which makes receiving a gift certificate or spa package all the more indulgent.
Relaxation for the senses
Pleasant scents of cinnamon and nutmeg don’t have to come from just the kitchen this time of year. Apply the essentials of aromatherapy and give scented and herbal candles, lotions, bath salts or bath bombs, soaps and home perfume oils to give the gift of relaxation.
“There’s a lot of herbal fragrances that are not only nice fragrances but they’re also therapeutic,” Hatch said. “The lavender is really the calming scent across the board. It’s not just a nice fragrance, it definitely has medicinal properties.”
Hatch recommends rosemary for tired feet. Arnica as a massage oil will make a natural pain reliever. Arnica’s complement, calendula, pairs nicely for a salve for dry or itchy skin and is great for anyone with sensitivities. Hatch also said scents like lemongrass and almond promote comfort.
Concerned about skin sensitivity or that the person on your list might not like the same fragrances as you? There are fragrance-free options, like unscented shea butter moisturizer and goat’s milk soaps.
He also recommends giving neck wraps infused with lavender or buckwheat and combining that with a body lotion. There are booties and mittens that can be heated in the microwave, too.
“It’s one of those universal gifts,” Hatch said. “It will work for men, women, old and young.” 
As seen in the December 11, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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