Written by Alison Chambers (@dtlvblogger)
Denise Stanga and I met in a Las Vegas Trauma Recovery Yoga teacher training workshop. Neither of us are yoga teachers, but both of us were compelled to explore the magic that is Trauma Recovery Yoga. A medical assistant by profession, Denise has 20 years of experience as a licensed massage therapist with a focus on integrative bodywork. She employs Swedish, myofascial release, connective tissue, comfort touch and energy therapy as a way to help heal mind and body through massage therapy. Previously located in Flagstaff, Arizona, Denise was employed as a massage therapist for the Flagstaff Medical Center where she provided therapeutic and comfort massage for oncology, post-surgical, trauma and end-of-life patients. Her patients were those having babies, those who were dying, people ill with cancer… it was a forward thinking institution as the medical establishment is often not totally on board with holistic and natural healing. Her experiences with behavioral health, hospice care, and palliative care have lead her to this point. Describing her work with hospice patients, she said, “It is an honor to be there for them at the end of life.” She said that sometimes hospice patients may not have had any lotion or touch on their skin for a long time. Her approach to massage therapy is by connecting to the client on a deep personal level; it allows them to feel comfortable, calm and more able to receive the healing benefits of the massage she is providing.
Every person deserves kindness.”
She told me she is in the process of transitioning her business from Compassion Massage to Trauma Release Massage. Both are equally adequately descriptive of her and her practice – over the 90 minutes I spent with her, she was all about compassion. One of the community-focused activities for Denise is volunteering as a resource for the Cupcake Girls’ outreach team. The Cupcake Girls, a 501c3 nonreligious non-profit organization, provide confidential, non-judgmental support to sex industry workers and those affected by domestic sex trafficking with holistic resources, case management, and after care. She shared with me she has received negative reactions about providing care for “strippers and prostitutes.” Her reply was everything: “Every person deserves kindness.” What a world we would live in if only this way of thinking was universal.
Denise is a preferred provider for the Society for Oncology Massage, an organization with the vision of easing the journey through cancer by providing safe massage. A safe massage plan takes into account the side effects (both short- and long-term) of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
In addition, Denise serves as a volunteer advocate for the Rape Crisis Center which has operated for 45 years in Las Vegas. They provide assistance to rape victims via a 24/7 telephone hotline and by responding to victims at the hospital; other tasks might be representing the Rape Crisis Center at outreach and community events. Due to the sensitive nature of the work involved, volunteers are required to be at least 21 years old, undergo 50 hours of special training, pass a criminal background check and drug test and be up to date on their immunizations.
While she doesn’t get paid for all of the activities in which she invests her time and energy, Denise’s comment to me was, “It will come back to me in other ways.” And indeed, the satisfaction on her face as she told me of her different contributions was quite evident.
Denise provides massage therapy services at the recently opened Downtown Yoga and Wellness Co-op located at 701 E. Bridger Avenue Suite 150, Las Vegas, inside the Driven NeuroRecovery Center. The Co-op is a holistic health space focused on recovery of physical, emotional or psychological trauma. Each provider is a member of the Co-op, and as such, sets their own rates and controls their own schedule. The members of Downtown Yoga and Wellness Co-Op believe in the power of collaboration over competition and inclusion over exclusion.
Massage is a very personal experience; each person has different limitations, requires a different type of touch, amount of pressure, and may have some “off limits” areas of their body. As I prepared for my own massage with Denise, she had me complete a very brief questionnaire about myself and any medical-type issues, and asked me if there were any “off limits” areas she should avoid on my body. This is an important part of massage as individuals may have an injury or other situation going on, and you don’t want to be already into the massage and then the therapist is in that area. Personally I have an issue on my lower back that needs to be avoided, and I certainly appreciated her asking the question. She explained that in her practice, every body is treated differently, as needs and limitations vary from one person to another. As she is performing “trauma release massage”, people may relive then release the memory of negative events and past traumas. As the client becomes acquainted with and more comfortable with Denise, the individual might not need to be as limited in their subsequent massages sessions with her.
The massage I received from Denise was extremely satisfying. She applied the continuous deep pressure I need on my problem area (left shoulder) for an extended period of time to release all the knots and did not shy away from the hard work that it requires. I left the massage room feeling relaxed , refreshed and most appreciative of the care and intent with which she worked on me. DOWNTOWN YOGA AND WELLNESS CO-OP, FEATURED, HOLISTIC HEALING, MASSAGE THERAPY, TRAUMA RECOVERY YOGA, TRAUMA RELEASE MASSAGE, WELLNESS, YOGA HEALING, YOGA.