Originally published in Taos News
Having a business background is a great foundation for people who decide to start their own companies. Kyoko Hummel, proprietress of Essential Massage and Spa Therapies, has a BS in business and extensive experience in the marketing field. She also knows firsthand the relaxing benefits of a good massage session.
“When I worked for a big corporation in Oregon I used to get massages to relieve the stress,” she said. “They helped me a lot and that’s one of the reasons why I went into massage school.”
Hummel quit her job and moved to Albuquerque, where she attended the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics. She graduated in 1992 and worked as a massage therapist for several years. Then she moved to Taos and, the moment her son was 8 months old, she felt ready to return to work.
“I found this charming building that now houses Essential Massage and Spa Therapies and fell in love with it,” she said. “Although I had previously worked in clinics with other therapists, I chose this space to rent and I started my practice in Taos in October 15, 2000. We are now celebrating thirteen years in business.”
Services: massage, treatments, facials and more
Hummel and her staff, comprised of licensed massage therapists as independent contractors, offer a variety of massage modalities that include deep tissue and sports massage, prenatal massage and craniosacral therapy.
They also have spa therapies like river rocks massage, facials, aromatherapy body steam and herbal foot wraps.
Hummel herself has created two signature treatments.
“One of them is the herbal foot wrap combined with massage,” she said. “We cook up four herbs and wrap people’s feet with herbal towels, then apply arnica and do some foot reflexology.”
An anti-aging eye pampering treatment can also be added into any session.
“We have herbal pads that soothe irritated or tired eyes and use acupressure face-lift to refresh the eyes,” she said. “It’s great for eyes with computer or electronic fatigue.”
The lead massage therapist, Ananda Kali, is a licensed esthetician who combines massage and advanced facials.
“My focus doing facials is on education and home self care,” she said. “I give my clients tips on how to take care of their skin and let them know about good, affordable products to use, though I do not sell them.”
For 22 years, Hummel has specialized in prenatal and craniosacral therapies.
“The craniosacral massage is a gentle palpation of the cerebral spinal fluid to help it move through the spinal cord and the brain,” she said. “It can soothe trauma and injuries and improve the flow of the spinal fluid. This is deeply relaxing and helps the body do the healing by itself. It also reduces headaches, vertigo and dizziness.”
In recent years, however, she has focused more on therapeutic touch for elderly clients.
“I don’t like putting elderly people in a category just because of their age,” she said, “but I am aware of the fact that they are in a different time of their lives that requires careful touch, slower movements, and gentle pressure. Many of them are amazingly active! A client of mine is a gold medal Senior Olympian, he is eighty two years old and has found out that massage helps him to release pain and increase flexibility.”
Another regular client is Mrs. Esquibel. Hummel has been giving her massages for about two and a half years.
“She is 95 years young and especially likes to have her hips and feet massaged,” Hummel said.
Hummel also offers colonics.
“This cleansing method is not for everyone,” she says. “But it’s really useful for people who have constipation, extreme gas, bloating and discomfort, or those who are trying to clean their bodies of harmful toxins or too many medications.”
Visitors and locals
Their most popular service for Taos visitors is the river rocks massage, in which warm smooth stones are incorporated into the massage session.
“The heated stones are soothing and help quiet the mind,” Hummel said. “Visitors find that Taos is a great place to try something interesting and ‘new’.”
For locals, the most popular service is the “health maintenance” massage.
“We have many local clients who know how regular massage benefits their overall wellbeing,” she said. “We get request for massages in a short notice and are happy to accommodate them, since we are open seven days a week.”
Working with a team
Hummel says she enjoys the collective nature of her business and the companionship of the other massage therapists.
“Working with a team means we can help more people feel better,” she said. “We all provide great massage sessions with graceful professionalism.”
She also likes the special connection that she establishes with her clients.
“I love helping people feel better and enjoy learning how each person is unique and needs special attention,” she said.
Asked for advice, particularly to those who want to get into the service business, she said, “You need to love what you do. You can’t go in for the money or you will burn out soon. And you also have to listen to your clients’ needs. I listen to my clients not only with my ears, but with my hands and, above all, with my heart.”
Essential Massage and Spa Therapies is located at 824 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos
Phone: (575) 751 4040