An Interview with Joanna Nichols, LMP, at Light of Hand Massage

Ahhh….a massage. How many of us have received a gift certificate or scheduled a massage for ourselves as a special treat? Massage is often considered an indulgence or a luxury and not as a regular tool for good health. Research has shown though that aside from stress and muscle relaxation massage is complementary to many health issues such as nerve and joint pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, digestive disorders, and anxiety. There are many different types of massage, all of which can be confusing, so take time to discuss particular needs with your practitioner. Not all practitioners can deliver every type of massage and it’s important to see someone who is skilled in the area of massage that you need. The most common are Swedish, deep tissue, sports, and trigger point.

Recently, after a few too many hard workouts and unsuccessful attempts to loosen up my muscles, I went to Joanna at Light of Hand Massage for a deep tissue massage. I’ve had massages before for the same issue and I can honestly say that Joanna is one of the most sincere, caring, and gifted massage therapists I’ve come across. She is the only therapist who took a significant amount of time to understand my needs and treat accordingly which incorporated deep tissues and Swedish, not just the deep tissue I originally sought. I subsequently decided to ask her to join me in an interview on massage therapy for Bria’s blog. Light of Hand Massage is located next to Bria. Be sure to check out the current discounts and Groupon offerings at the end of our question and answer session. A link to her website and how to get in touch with her is also included. Joanna may or may not be the right therapist for you but massage therapy isn’t just an indulgence but a way to improve physical and mental health. Since when did good health become an indulgence? Never. We all deserve to feel good. If you aren’t there yet, hopefully you will be soon.

How did you come up with the name of the business?

I was sitting down with my boyfriend and I had no idea what to call the name of the business. This was the hardest part for me and he just said, “why don’t you call it ‘Light of Hand Massage”? It’s a play on words.” At first I didn’t like it and then it became the whole idea behind the business too. When I think of “Light of Hand” and I think of the logo and the name of the business….it just sort of evokes caring and warmth for me. This business is my heart. I’m living from my heart. I don’t call it work. It’s a dream come true for me.

What can a client expect from a massage at Light of Hand?

If it’s their first time, usually I will walk them through the entire process. I will tell them to keep in communication with me and I’ll keep in communication with them. I let them know their modesty will be respected at all time. I really like to tell people to melt on the table. I like to get people into a place where they are almost falling asleep, where their body just completely lets go. And I feel like a lot of work can be done by getting people to that place, more so than just digging my elbow into their shoulder. I pay attention to details, down to the linens, the color of the walls, the temperature of the room, the type of candles I buy. It’s all part of the experience even if they don’t notice. It’s very personal. Very intimate.

What is your background and experience?

This process started in 2011. I’m actually from Mississippi so when I was living there, I started massage school and was absolutely enthralled with it but unfortunately, finances kept me from finishing. I finished about a third of the program and then I lived in Denver for a little while. There, I also studied naturopathy and I went to a school in Boulder. I studied herbal medicine, reflexology, and all of these wonderful things. That again was sort of a finance thing and maybe too it just wasn’t the right time to be studying. As soon as I came to Seattle, all of the pieces sort of fell into place by themselves. All I had to do was walk this path that was laid out in front of me. For me. That was what it sorta felt like. So I started massage therapy school at Everest College and I literally just made up my mind that day. I walked in there and enrolled the same day and started two weeks later. I started in June 2013 and finished in late March 2014. So, I’ve only been at this 7 months but I feel I’ve been doing it for 20 years. It’s almost been surreal in how quickly I’ve adapted and be involved with this work that I’m doing. I feel so connected to what I’m doing. It feels natural, like I’ve been doing it forever.

What are the benefits of massage that you see most often in your clients and how often will they need to come see you to see those benefits?

The benefits with massage in general are so vast from increased circulation, decreased stress, maintaining integrity of your muscle tissue because you’re bringing more oxygen to your muscle tissue. Not only that but there’s also an energetic and emotional aspect of massage too. I know this sounds cheesy but they tell you in massage school that the “issues are in the tissues”. You can hold emotional issues in your muscle tissue. Sometimes people will have sort of memories of a time when they were at their grandmother’s house. That’s a part of massage that I find fascinating besides all the physical benefits. The emotional and spiritual benefits of massage therapy are just as great as the physical benefits.

Regular massage is once to twice a month and that’s ideal. I think twice a month is ideal. I think there are a lot of people who feel guilt over spending the time, and/or money, and/or energy on themselves to get a massage because a lot of people still sort of see it as this luxury which is understandable but I think that it’s an invaluable tool because you come into a massage studio, you speak with a massage therapist, and for that whole hour or hour and a half is all about you and they are asking you about you. You’re laying on a table and they’re holding space for you and when else do you get that?


Do you work with pregnant women?

So with women who are pregnant, obviously there are a few things that are different about the massage. You don’t want to have them lay on their stomach. We typically will use pillows and/or   bolsters to get them in positions that are comfortable for them.  The main different though is that they will be in a position called “side line”  which is essentially when you have them lay on their side and have some support between the knees. There are certain precautions you want to take as well. A lot of women don’t want massage during their first trimester. [Later on in pregnancy], a lot of women want deeper pressure when they’re pregnant, especially around their hips.

Do you take insurance?

I don’t currently take insurance but it’s not something that I’m not willing or wanting to do. It’s just that having a new business I’m trying to take things one step at a time.  So it’s probably something that in the next year I will offer. A lot of people have actually asked me that. Hopefully that will be something I can do in the future.

[Note: you may be able to use your employer-provided PSA account or be reimbursed partially through your insurance company. Just check before you assume but it’s definitely worth investigating!]

I hope the above interview has inspired you to explore this measure of good health for you or someone you know. If you want more information, please contact Joanna at or visit her website: First time clients receive 25% off the first session – 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes -and Bria members get 10% off any session thereafter. Be sure to check out the current Groupon offering as well.

As always, feel free to email me with feedback, questions, or suggestions for topics that interest you. I can be reached at or contact Bria directly. Thank you for reading!


This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about med­i­cine, health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a med­ical emer­gency, call your doc­tor or 000 immediately.The views expressed on this blog and web­site have no rela­tion to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other insti­tu­tion with which the authors are  affiliated.


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