What is the Relaxation Exfoliation, and what makes it different?


Alternative title: What is a relaxation exfoliation, and what makes it awesome and ultimately way better than other exfoliations?

But I reeled it in. You’re welcome. 🙂

Most spas offer a scrub of some type: salt, sugar, sand, even walnut shells or oiled herbs. Here at Now and Zen I offer the Relaxation Exfoliation. It is available as a back scrub, or a full body scrub.

Over the years I have experimented with a variety of techniques and products for scrubs. Nothing feels better than getting up off of the massage table with soft, smooth, hydrated skin. Most scrubs involve an oil based product with exfoliating grains of some sort suspended in the product, which is massaged into the skin and then rinsed off in a shower or on a vichy shower table.

In the absence of a shower, massage therapists have to get creative in removing the grains of product. We use hot towels, brushes, and sponges, but we can never seem to get every last little grain; because of this, scrubs are often left until the end of the session, and (in my humble opinion) can break up the fluidity of your massage session or spa package. In addition to this, you risk getting the residue on your clothing or feeling gritty on your ride home from the spa.

That’s not really what that post massage afterglow is all about!

So I dreamed up the Relaxation Exfoliation, a treatment that will wrap into your massage fluidly that gives you the best of both worlds: it feels just like another relaxing and soothing part of your treatment, and your skin feels amazing afterward. In the Relaxation Exfoliation, warm whipped body butter (sometimes shea butter, sometimes mango seed, etc) is applied to your body and massaged in, then exfoliating mitts are used to smooth the skin and massage the butter in further – unlike grain based scrubs, the mitts are very easy to control and the experience is pleasant, relaxing, and meditative, as well as very effective at removing dry, dull skin. Finally, warm towels are massaged over the area to remove any excess product and leave you feeling soft and hydrated.

The Relaxation Exfoliation is available to be added to any sessiono. In fact, this week’s Zen Spot features a mango seed butter relaxation exfoliation for the back!

Please let me know if you have any questions, and when you are ready for your massage, you know who to call!

Ariana La Cour, LMT
Your Friendly Neighborhood Massage Therapist!
Now and Zen Massage Therapy
(702) 420-9230
7455 W Washington Ste 210
Las Vegas, NV 89128

What kind of spa would I design if I won the Powerball?

I’ll…admit it. I bought a Powerball ticket. Ok, ok…I bought 10.

Did I really think I could win? No. But I loved the ideas that came to mind and the way having those Schrodinger’s tickets in my purse felt. Almost everyone I spoke to said they would quit their job. That is totally understandable….I loved how the stupid Powerball made everyone really evaluate their lives, think about their wildest dreams…I don’t think most of us do that nearly often enough.
I’m sure it won’t come as a shock to you that I wouldn’t be quitting my job. No matter what else I do with my life…I’ll always be a massage therapist…but with Powerball money…how would things change?

20283_10153451305356425_447050385837273980_nLast year Tom and I traveled up the PCH in California, all the way to Astoria, OR, eventually landing in Seattle where we visited with his grandmother. To say I fell in love with the PCH would be a understatement. I felt like every day out there nourished my soul. Thinking about it almost brings tears to my eyes.

So here is Powerball Winnings Scenario Number One (of so many, many wildest dreams scenarios! haha).

After doing all the normal stuff – buying family members houses and cars, setting up trust funds for the nieces and nephews, etc, Tom and I would run away together…just for 6 months or so, and explore the planet. We’d settle somewhere along the coast right off of the PCH, and I would establish a cozy little bed and breakfast inn, say maybe 10-15 rooms with cozy wood burning fireplaces, with a tiny world class luxury spa attached, and a continuing education center for massage therapists. We would have a small plot of land nearby with several small cottages, say 500 square feet each, where we would live. The other cottages would be for friends and family to visit, as well as for travelling massage therapists and educators to stay in.

The spa would include both indoor and semi-outdoor treatment rooms with open-air roofs. Each room would be large enough to accommodate a couples massage if wanted, with a large soaking tub and shower…but they would still stay cozy, layered, lush and comfortable – nothing too breezy, high end, or austere. I would want everyone to feel both at-home and gloriously pampered while within the walls.  There would also be several rooms large enough for groups, so that families could vacation together and enjoy amazing treatments side by side. Outside there would be communal spaces including a community kitchen (but of course, room service would be available),and tons of lounge space around fire pits. We would also have a library on site. I imagine it as a very warm, rich environment. Comfortable, but interesting to look at. Where you might see a silver platter adorned with luxury candles on a lace tablecloth, right under a tree with a wind chime made of old rusty spoons and tiny crystal prisms.

During the on-season, there would be a glorious garden. We would try to grow as much of our own food as possible, and serve our own produce to guests. We’d preserve what we could to send home with people, and send out to our friends who couldn’t visit that year. Fresh blueberry and blackberry preserves…yum. I would have a huge herb garden, and I’d spend part of the off season concocting amazing spa recipes and cold pressing my own essential oils for use in recipes and treatments. We would also have a small flock of sheep, and some chickens, for fresh milk and eggs. We would probably develop a program with local schools so that kids could come out and create their own little spa concoctions to take home with them, along with fresh eggs and handmade cheese. We would have so much fun being a field trip destination!

The Now and Zen Continuing Education Center would bring in educators from all over the world and host seminars and CE classes for massage therapists. Therapists would come in from all over to relax, connect, laugh, and learn in a supportive and loving environment. The therapists we employed would be committed to excellence in their crafts.

It would be a place where people stretched, grew, and honed. A place where hearts are open, hands are working, plates are full, and laughter is abundant. A calming retreat for our friends, families, and colleagues as well as our many guests.

During the coldest winter months, Tom and I, and the kids,  would travel around the world. Because we could.

And live happily ever after. The End 🙂

What would you do?

Ariana La Cour, LMT
Now and Zen Massage Therapy
(702) 420-9230
7455 W Washington Ste 210
Las Vegas, NV 89128

Your Beautiful Feet

“Oh! Sorry about my feet. I haven’t gotten a pedicure in forever!”index

I hear this about once a week. It’s so funny to me, every time! Even though I know that I am the exception here, not the rule. There are a lot of people who are freaked out by feet. They think they are weird, or even gross. All I can say is that a massage therapist who is averse to feet is probably a broke, hungry massage therapist! haha

Really though, we work on feet of every shape, size, degree of furry-ness, and most colors, (if your feet are green, blue, or purple…you probably don’t want us touching them). It really makes no difference to us whether or not you have had a pedicure (and ditto that for leg shaving, hair dyeing, etc. We simply don’t care.)

I find feet fascinating, fun, and really, truly, beautiful! The beauty is in the function. Our feet are wonderfully designed, complex, little workhorses!

In celebration of your beautiful feet, here are some fun foot facts:

  1. Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons & ligaments.
  2. The 52 bones in your feet make up one quarter of all the bones in your body.
  3. When you walk, each time your heel lifts off the ground it forces the forefoot to carry half of your body weight. Point of interest:  a 2½-inch high heel can increase this load by as much as 75%. Ouch.
  4. The soles of your feet contain more sensory nerve endings per square inch than any other part of the body. (no wonder a foot massage feels so good!)
  5. About 20-30% of people are afflicted by Morton’s Toe, a heartbreaking foot condition in which the second toe is longer than the big toe and peep toe shoes Just. Don’t. Work. (haha)
  6. The first boots were designed and made for Queen Victoria in 1840.
  7. Our feet get larger as we get older…that is, the tendons and ligaments that hold the bones in place begin to lose elasticity, and the foot begins to spread out as the arch lessens. Some people can gain as much as a full shoe size for each decade over the age of 40.
  8. The American Podiatry Medical Association says shoe shopping should be reserved for later afternoon. Everyone’s feet swell a bit during the day, so it is best to buy shoes when your feet are their larger, in charger selves. Also, one of your feet is likely larger than the other. Buy shoes that fit your larger foot best. Trust me.
  9. Female humans are much more likely to develop foot issues than male humans. Four times more likely. Mostly due to wearing shoes that are too small, and/or that have high heels.
  10. Yes, your gut is right. It is physically more tiring to stand in one spot than it is to walk around. This is because your body is demanding the same work from those small muscles in your feet, for an extended period of time, rather than in short bursts as you step.
  11. Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in America, including in your feet.
  12. Podiatrists are 4 times less likely to use costly services than other physicians, and the American Podiatry Medical Association recommends regular massage as a way to keep feet healthy and happy. (Yay, job security!)
  13. And, your daily d’awww: butterflies taste with their feet.

Remember: foot issues can be your first sign of more serious medical problems. Conditions such as diabetes, nerve, and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in your feet.

Please: get to know your feet. Learn to love them. Really take a good look at them and think about everything this brilliantly evolved part of your body allows you to do. They are beautiful!

Take care of them, and they will take care of you.

Ariana La Cour, LMT
Now and Zen Massage Therapy
(702) 420-9230
7455 W Washington Ste 210
Las Vegas, NV 89128

How often should I get a massage? (Keep the joy!)

This is probably the number one question Las Vegas Massage Therapy - Summerlin Massage TherapistI get asked by new clients. The answer is simple, as often as you can! Mostly.

There’s no magic formula to decide how many times a person should come in and get a massage. There are so many variables to consider. Here’s what you can know for sure: the more often you come in, the better you will feel. When you feel better, and can do the things you love to do with less pain or discomfort, that’s the win.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world with unlimited resources to allow us to get a massage every day. Mostly. Bob Hope, in massage circles, is famous for being The Client Who Got A Massage Every Day. His legend abounds.

We can’t all be Bob Hope. 😉

So, I (breaking the cardinal rule) usually answer a question with a question:

How do you feel?

And then, if we have a decent rapport, a series of questions, such as:

  • How soon, after you leave, do you feel that pain in your knee again?
  • When do your shoulders start to feel tight and uncomfortable?
  • When does your body start to feel heavy or sluggish?
  • If you deal with anxiety, how soon after your massage do you start to feel those pangs, the     ones that tell you you aren’t doing enough, aren’t being enough, aren’t Getting Things Done because you just don’t feel good?

These are the cues you need to listen to. Check in with your body.

If you come out of your massage, and start to feel this 2-3 days after…try to schedule in a session once a week. If you go a week or more, try scheduling every two weeks. Eventually you will learn the rhythm of your body and you can schedule in regular sessions based on your needs – or, you’ll learn to listen to your body and the warning signs, and you can call to schedule an appt on an as-needed basis. I have clients who do both.

The thing they have in common? Getting in touch with their bodies.
The thing I want for all of them? Joy.

Your massage shouldn’t be another thing you have to check off of your to-do list, or feel guilty about because you don’t do it enough, or feel pressured to do The Right Way.  I want you to enjoy your session. It is entirely and uniquely yours. It is your space and your place to just be. There is no “should” there is only “be”.

So, how do you feel? What feels good to your body and soul? This is what determines how often you should come back in, more than anything else.

The answer to the questions is: there is no answer to the question, just a process, which I hope will bring you comfort, relaxation, and joy. There are no right or wrong answers, just some peaceful relaxation and muscle melting therapy, waiting for you, whenever you are ready.

But in person, that sounds incredibly cheesy.

So I’ll blog. 😉

Not feeling your best? That’s ok! Let me know if I can help.

Ariana La Cour, LMT
Now and Zen Massage Therapy
(702) 420-9230
7455 W Washington Ste 210
Las Vegas, NV 89128

10 Vegas Budgety Foodie Goals for 2016

I love food. Who doesn’t love food? One of the most common conversations with clients is what kind of good food we have eaten since we last saw each other. Las Vegas has so many incredible restaurants! It can be challenging if you are on a budget. I try to budget in a certain amount of Foodsploring (Chowsploring? Munchsploring?) to tame my curiosity. I grew up in a small town with casino diners, two or three fast food places, and the food court at the mall. My family did a great job of exposing me to different things at home…but I still went a little nuts when I moved to Vegas. I could get anything I wanted, almost anytime! The textures and flavors! The ingredients I had never even heard of before! And what do you mean there is more than one type of eggplant?! Lol!

Ten years later…I still don’t think you could call me a foodie. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. Also…I don’t think anyone who willingly ingests Velveeta (on rare occasion) has any right to call themselves a foodie. So I guess you could just call me spoiled. And plump. 😉

Last year, I really wanted to try Ethiopian food (check!) Oysters (Check minus minus…not a fan!), Pizza Rock (Delicious! But very loud.) and on my engagement vacation we went on a bit of a Seafood Walkabout as we traveled up the PCH in California, eventually landing in Seattle square in front of a bowl of chowder at Pike Place Market. (Delightful.) We tried as many different types of seafood as we could find.  Even Geoduck. (It really IS just like a clam. Huh.) But nothing beat that chowder.

1197_9261This year, we are keeping it local. I have decided to make a Vegas Foodie Goals list for 2016 and schedule date nights each month! Might as well share the deliciousness with the world. Updates and notes will be added to each one as the year goes on. These restaurants fit well within most budgets, and are off the strip, for the most part. I’m not adulting well enough yet to develop an expensive 5 star dining habit 🙂 #LifeGoals

 2016 Vegas Foodie Goals

  1. Hot and Juicy Crawfish – I have been hearing about how good this place is for years! Crawfish (Crawdads, to us Cajuns) always terrified me as a kid, with the exception of Herbert, my pet crawdad, caught by accident one day down on the riverbank when I was catching bluegill with my butterfly net (he lived briefly in my Little Mermaid fish tank before tragically taking his own life.)  Anyway, my very Louisiana grandmother loved to make big piles of crawdads with spicy seasonings, and I never had the guts to try them. Or to watch her eat them. I always closed my eyes! I have heard over and over, that if I want to finally put on my big girl panties and try them, that this is the best place to go. Will she? Won’t she? Stay tuned!
  2. Texas De Brazil – I am a “little plates and meals made out of appetizers” kind of girl. My friends keep telling me to try this, and a tappas place, promising that I will have a great time at both.
  3. Firefly – See above.
  4. Lobster Me – Apparently this place has the most authentic Lobster Roll you can find, right down to the perfect bread. Told to me by a true New Englander. I can’t wait!
  5. Le Pamplemousse – I still haven’t had authentic French food. This place has a prix fixe menu, which means we can try a few different things at once (noticing a pattern here?). Apparently it is in a former house which has been converted into a darling, romantic little restaurant. I’m really excited about this one.
  6. Jaleo – My fiance used to be a purveyor for some of the ingredients they use at Jaleo…so I know firsthand that they definitely don’t skip on quality. I can’t wait to try their authentic paella.
  7. Lola’s Louisiana Kitchen – Supposedly the best gumbo in town. We’ll see…we’ll see. 🙂
  8. Lotus of Siam – I tried to go here twice already, but the line was so long we ended up going elsewhere. 2016 is my year! I’m getting in even if I have to bring my kindle and a folding chair. Or…maybe they take reservations…  (Done! It was very good, I had the green curry and pas thai.)
  9. Sushi Twister – The sister restaurant to Ramen Sora, one of my favorite places to eat. I have heard nothing but great things, and the all you can eat menu ensures that we can sample a variety of their offerings, huzzah! If their service is anything like Ramen Sora, I’m sure it will be a delightful experience.
  10. Rincon De Buenos Aires – I am in love with the Venezuelan food I get over at Viva Las Arepas…which I mistakenly called Argentinian food for probably the first two years I was a patron (I’ll blame the cachapa deliciousness haze and not my terrible knowledge of geography) Since learning that it was, in fact, Venezualan…I have wondered what Argentinian is like. Time to give it a go. This place has great reviews so that’s where we will start.


Have you tried any of these places? Have any suggestions? Please let me know 🙂

Understanding Pain in Less than 5 minutes (video and transcript)


“Understanding Pain & what to do about it in less than 5 minutes

Everyone agrees that pain is a universal human experience.

We now know that pain is 100% of the time produced by the brain. This includes all pain– no matter how it feels –sharp, dull, strong or mild and no matter how long you’ve had it.

You might’ve had it for a few weeks or months- this is called acute pain and it’s common with tissue damage –say from a back injury or ankle sprain – and generally you’ll be encouraged to stay active and gradually get back to doing all your normal things-including work.

or you might’ve had it for three months or more and this pain is generally called persistent or chronic because in this type of pain- tissue damage is not the main issue.

What’s less clear though is when you’re told you have chronic pain”-is knowing what’s best to do about it? Well, in Australia chronic pain is a really big problem- in fact 1in 5 people have it.

Having a brain that keeps on producing pain even after the body tissues are restored and out of danger is no fun. Some people say it still feels like they must have something wrong .

But that’s just it- once anything dangerous is ruled out- health professionals can explain that most things in the body are healed-as well as they can be-by 3-6months –so, ongoing pain being produced by the brain is less about structural changes in the body and more about the sensitivity of the nervous system- in other words, it’s more complex.

So, to try and figure out what’s going on-you need to retrain the brain and nervous system. To do this –it’s helpful to look at ALL THE THINGS that affect the nervous system and may be contributing to your individual pain experience.

What can help is to look at persistent pain from a broad perspective and by using a structured approach and a plan it’s less likely that anything important will be missed.

Let’s start with the medical side. Firstly- taking medication can help but only to a limited extent. It is the more active approaches that are necessary to retrain the brain. So using medications to get going is OK -and then mostly they can be tapered and ceased. Some people also think surgery might be the answer- but when it comes to a complex problem like chronic pain, surgery may not be helpful. So, if you’re thinking of surgeryit’s best to get a second opinion and remember to consider ALL the things.

Next, it is helpful to consider how your thoughts and emotions are affecting your nervous system. Pain really impacts on people’s lives and this can have a big affect on your mood and stress levels. All those thoughts and beliefs are brain impulses too- but you can learn ways to reduce stress and wind down the nervous system. This helps with emotional well being and can reduce pain as well.

The third area to consider is the role of diet and lifestyle. Now it turns out that our modern lifestyle might not be so good for us- in fact what we eat and how we live may really be contributing to a sensitized nervous system. Looking at all the things like smoking, nutrition, alcohol &, activity levels – and seeing if there are any” issues “is a good beginning- and these things can go on your plan.

Then there’s often enormous value in exploring the deeper meaning of pain and the surrounding personal story. By stepping back and looking at all the things that were happening around the time the pain developed many people with pain can make useful links between a worrying period of life and a worsening pain picture. For many, recognising deeper emotions can be part of the healing process. [Illustrator- social situation/family dynamics/loss of job etc]

Last, but by no means least is physical activity and function. From the brain’s perspective getting moving at comfortable levels, without fear, and where the brain does not “protect by pain” is best- and you’ll gradually restore your bodies tissues.

So- to sum up pain:

It comes from the brain and it can be retrained and when looked at from a “whole person” or broad perspective gives you lots of opportunities to begin.

So, get a helping hand if you need it

Set a goal

and begin.”

Ariana La Cour, LMT
Now and Zen Massage Therapy
(702) 420-9230
7455 W Washington Ste 210
Las Vegas, NV 89128

Credit for the video and transcript: http://www.hnehealth.nsw.gov.au/pain

End of Year Letter 2015

Dear Zennies,

As another year ends – I’m find myself sitting here at my desk…aka my massage table with an extra sheet on top 🙂 … and held in a silent, grateful, awe. So much has changed this year. From running an exclusively mobile business, mostly by myself, to adding a fantastic team of dedicated therapists, to running the online crowdfunding campaign for The Little Green Spa (woops!) and finally, to settling down in this beautiful little space in Summerlin which I share will an entirely new set of people that it is my pleasure to get to know.

Oh yeah, also traveling nearly 4,000 miles, getting engaged to the love of my life, turning 30 (where did the time go?!), getting the gift of two new little nephews (with another on the way!), and launching a small side business selling art (massage art, of course!)

2015 has been a wild ride. I feel unabashedly blessed. I feel grateful. I feel fearless.

Thank you, for allowing me to be of service.

No matter what you do or don’t celebrate, I wish you the absolute best this Holiday Season. I wish you comfort, and fun, and love. I wish that you feel just as content and joyful as I do right at this very moment.

Thanks for helping me get here. See you next year.

Much Love,
Your Friendly Neighborhood Massage Therapist

What is a “Signature” Massage?

If you have been to a lot of spas, or are just doing your research online, you will notice that many places have two basic massages: their Swedish and their Deep Tissue. So what exactly is the difference besides $10-$20…and what the heck is Now and Zen’s Signature Massage? Let’s start with the difference between a Swedish and Deep Tissue massage. For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to go with the most common definitions and differences that are found in spas.

A Swedish massage is characterized by interconnected strokes, specifically, long, flowing, nurturing strokes known as effleurage. The main goals during a traditional Swedish are relaxation and stress relief. It is the most popular and well known modality of massage and almost every time you see someone in the movies getting a massage, it is a Swedish style (but don’t judge based on that…because actors give notoriously awkward and awful looking massages, haha).

The difference between the two most common options in spas today (a Swedish or a Swedish style Deep Tissue) is not simply the amount of pressure used, but the techniques used and muscles addressed during the session.

During a Swedish style Deep Tissue, superficial layers of tissue are specifically manipulated in order to access deeper layers. For instance, we might apply pressure horizontally to some of the erector muscles along the sides of your spine, in order to reach the deeper multifidus muscle which lies beneath them. More pressure is generally applied, but the techniques used are also unique. For instance when accessing that multifidus muscle, we may have some muscular traction going on horizontally, while pressing down into the table towards the floor and all while gliding slowly towards your feet. Although there may occasionally be some discomfort, there should not be any pain. We buffer any discomfort with soothing techniques to keep the pleasurable and relaxing flow of the treatment going even over tense muscles and attachments.

Those of us that are adept at a truly great Deep Tissue, with the right techniques, are able to both move these more superficial muscles out of our way and access/manipulate those deeper muscles, all within the comforting and flowing framework of the massage. We can and do relieve deeper muscular tension without pain and with very little discomfort. (That is right, I said “we”…I think you will be glad to know as your massage therapist, that I count myself in among that crowd). 🙂

The differences between a Swedish massage and a Deep Tissue massage are subtle, but noticeable, both in application and result. They have a lot on common, and both should feel fantastic. In spite of whatever you may have going on – your massage session should be enjoyable. It should be something you look forward to. I do not subscribe to the idea of “grin and bear it”, and that is not something you should settle for. Even if for any reason your perfect therapist isn’t me – they are out there! You will find them, and just like many other great things in life, you’ll know when it’s just right.

When you call Now and Zen and book an appointment with me, one of the questions I will ask you at your first session is “how do you usually like your pressure?’. There is no right or wrong answer, or exact gauge for this. Your “Swedish” pressure can be someone else’s “Deep Tissue” pressure. I ask you mostly to get an impression of your overall expectations for the treatment and find a baseline for your preferences, as well as to find out a little about your massage history. I listen to both your words and your muscles to create that “just right” massage session that is the perfect amount of pressure for you.

This is why, on my menu, you will not see a “Swedish” or “Deep Tissue” listed, but you will see one massage session at one price: the Now and Zen Signature Massage. The Now and Zen Signature Massage is the culmination of the best of what I have learned over the years through live classes, self education, learning from other seasoned massage therapists, and getting MANY massages myself! My goal is combining the best of many different types of massage that flow beautifully into one seamless, relaxing and pain relieving session that is customizeable based on your preferences for pressure and technique.

I hope that answers your question! Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any further questions. If you are having a particularly stressed out week, or that lower back pain is getting to you, or those tight shoulders just won’t quit…you know who to call!

(Not Ghostbusters.)

Thanks for stopping by my little blog, and have a wonderful day.
Ariana La Cour, LMT