Swedish Classic Massage celebrates 200 years!

The Swedish gymnast Per Henrik Ling is called the “father of Swedish Classic Massage”  from when he opened the Royal Gymnasium Institute in Stockholm – 1813, 200 years ago. He developed his own comprehensive system of athleticism and treatments – Swedish gymnastics and massage, to stimulate blood circulation, strengthen the muscles and create a better balance between bones and muscle tissue.

massage 1Ling’s system was fast spread over Europe and the popular treatment method was one of the greatest exports from Sweden under the nineteenth century. Students arrived to Sweden from different parts of the world to learn and then started their own practice in their home countries and both the methods and literature was spread early and translated into several languages. Many of the international expressions within manual therapy and massage came from Ling’s followers, such as “medicina gymnastica”, “therapeutic manipulation” and “kinesitherapie”.  Note that these were published in the beginning of the nineteenth century, long before the establishment of other western manual therapies (such as osteopathy, chiropractic and orthopedic manual therapy.)

At our LivNordic Spa in Stockholm, this treatment is of course the most popular one and our Swedish Training Director, Isabella dos Santos, has developed the basic techniques further, to create an exceptional massage – unique for Raison d’Etre and LivNordic.

Wall inscriptionlabout Swedish Classic Massage at LivNoric Spa in Stockholm.

Wall inscription about Swedish Classic Massage at our LivNordic Spa in Stockholm.

Swedish Classic Massage (or actually just ‘Classic Massage’ as we say in Sweden) has definitely been a source of inspiration for most of the western massage techniques and is still one of the most popular treatments booked in the world. So, why do not do as we do, go ahead and find a place near to enjoy a Swedish Classic Massage and celebrate the 200 years anniversary with us!


The secrets of a face

“Until 50 you create your own face, after 50 you get the face you deserve”. I read this sentence in an article written by Ann-Charlott Snickars, a well-known therapist who is very experienced in Chinese face diagnostics.

This sentence made me rush to book an appointment with her….according to this sentence I still have some time to do something about my skin and face…but I better do something NOW….

Ann-Charlott Snickars, is a therapist based in Stockholm, Sweden. She holds a diploma in ALT face lifting technique, Tibetan face massage, face acupressure and aromatherapy. Ann- Charlott has studied Chinese face diagnostics for several years, and she has studied for a famous professor in Traditional Chinese Medicine; Lillian Bridges.

Ann-Charlott works with Chinese face diagnostics, and this was the main reason I went to see her. Chinese face diagnostics is done by studying the features of the face. The lines and wrinkles can tell a lot about a person’s life and health. The face is considered to be the mirror of our body and soul. It is believed that the face shows how you are feeling right now, the face is like a window to your past and to the future…

The aim with the diagnostic technique is to receive increased knowledge about one self; the therapist can help you to gain a better understanding about their your overall health, body and personality.


I sat down with Ann-Charlott to learn more about face diagnostics:

MN: Why should I go for a face diagnostic session?

AS: Except that it’s interesting and fun, a face diagnostic is also good to do when you feel a bit “down” or overall have a low energy. Through the face diagnostic you can get information about what’s going in on in your body and you can get help to improve your lifestyle.

MN: What are the most common “issues” you tend to find in a face? How can you tell a person is stressed just by studying the features of the face?

AS: In Chinese face diagnostics you don’t just analyze “one spot” in the face, you study the whole face including ears and eyes, to get a complete picture. Stress can be found in several areas of the face. Overall I tend to notice that urban people, living in big cities tend to have more dark circles under the eyes compared to others. I can also see that many stressed, urban people have 2 wrinkles between the eyes which is related to anger and irritation. Many women also tend to develop vertical wrinkles above the lips or lines from the corner of the mouth. These lines usually appear when you are not satisfied with life or you give too much energy to others.

MN: What do you mainly look for when you diagnose a face?

AS: I study the whole face; including the features of the face, the color of the face, areas where wrinkles appear, I check the shape of the hairline, eyes, ears… I look at the complete picture which is just as important as studying different parts of the face. Another important aspect is a person’s charisma and how it reflects in the face.

MN: What is your best advice to keep the skin young and healthy? How can we prevent premature ageing?

My best advice to keep the skin vital and avoid premature ageing is to always try to be honest to yourself and to others. Don’t hold back your feelings, dare to show what you enjoy and love. Remember that every time you hold back a feeling it will leave a trace somewhere in your body, very often in the face. And if you continue to do it over and over again, the thin line will eventually be deeper and deeper and develop into a permanent wrinkle.

Another advice that is to actually like what you see! Look in the mirror and accept and like the wrinkles and lines you have, or dare to reflect why they have appeared. Those who work with Chinese face diagnostics have a different way of looking at wrinkles, for example wrinkles from laughing (mimic lines) is something you should treasure, because they show that there is a meaning in life.

Remember that the face changes and your thoughts too, sometimes you like what you see, sometimes you don’t. The keywords are Acceptance and Gratitude!

I would also like to highlight to use pure, organic oils in the face. All these advices combined with a good, organic and well-balanced diet will keep your skin vital and glowing.


For more information; visit: http://www.omansiktet.se

A Spa at a Formula 1 course?

relaxThe Spa Meeting in Abu Dhabi took place in a very cool venue; The Yas Viceroy. The hotel is placed in the middle of a Formula 1 course and just a few weeks ago the yearly race took place here. I could almost feel the energy from the event still swirl in the air…

Arriving to the Yas Viceroy in night time is quite spectacular and it really looks like something that has landed from the outer space. The hotel consists of two buildings and parts of the course (Formula 1 circuit) and they are all  connected and covered by something that looks like a mesh (a LED canopy) and it emits a concert of colors at night time, so the arrival is impressing.

The view from my room was over parts of the Formula 1 course, maybe not so breathtaking and maybe not the most serene place to be in, as there were motorbikes driving in the evenings on the course. However the vibe in the hotel is still cool and kind of funky.

But, what about the spa? The spa was not disturbed by the activities on the course on my visit, however I’m sure you are not able to close out the noise during the actual F1 race, but on the other hand – during the races I’m sure most people are on the grandstand, rather than in the spa…

The spa at Yas Viceroy is operated by ESPA, it is a modern interpretation of the Middle Eastern traditions, it is a chic and urban sanctuary and if you have been to ESPA before you will recognize the design and ambiance. The spa is rather large and consists of has two floors and you have to take the elevator to reach the treatment rooms. The changing and waiting rooms are spacious, it is cosy and quite dark, in some spaces I would say that the lights are almost too dimmed (vanity).

I took the opportunity to book a Hammam treatment as they have a special female-only hammam. The treatment was overall good, some parts were of course tweaked from the traditional Hammam treatments. The results were expected; skin is soft as velvet, and I felt it was a good detoxification after a long flight, I literally rinsed off all stress and worries. My only issue was that the steam generator was quite loud and I would have liked the room and the Hammam table to be somewhat warmer.

After the treatment I emerged into the relaxation room, were one part of the room is facing the Marina with a view on all the luxury yachts. The other part of the realxation room, is a “room in a room”, which is kind of cone shaped. It feels like entering a pyramid and inside it is all white with a large, white round shaped daybed. Lying down you see hundreds of thin cords with a LED light in the end of each cord, displaying different colors. (see picture) The color of the lights changes and you easily drift away as you close the door to the outer world… This relaxation room was a great and unexpected experience…

I also had an aromatherapy massage and I must say the therapist did all those small details, asking me for pressure preference, room temperature, I could also choose the oil I wanted and the therapist also did a small thing that made a big difference for me. She placed a bowl with hot water and some drops of eucalyptus oil in the water, under the headrest. I always tend to get stuffed in my nose while lying on the massage table (even without having a cold) and this way the essential oil actually helped me and (my nose) and I could breathe properly and felt so much more comfortable during the treatment.

So all in all, a good spa experience, even on a Formula 1 course…


Some great spa escapes in Southern Europe

This week started with a lovely trip to Monaco, we had the opportunity to look closer at the spa market in this special environment. There are 4 major spas in Monaco; Willow Stream at Fairmont, ESPA at Hotel Metropole, Therme Marine, which is the largest Thalassotherapy center in Monaco, and finally the Cinq Monde Spa at the Monte Carlo Bay. In addition to these 4 spas, there are of course many smaller institutes and beauty centres. I experienced a very good Kerstin Florian 90 minute Ultimate Facial in the Willow stream spa at the Fairmont, and the results were immediate. Why? The therapist was excellent, the treatment had a really good flow, and some luxurious caviar products made the whole difference. Add some sunshine and some interesting work to this and the days in Monaco were a success…

On my way back I bought the latest issue of Tatler (UK edition) at the airport and the November edition contained a special spa issue; The Tatler´s spa guide for 2013 (a very nice and inspiring appendix I must say).

They had listed and categorized the best spas according to them, and I found at least 3 spas in their listings, in which Raison d’Etre have been involved in the conceptual work. Below you see some of the spas;

Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, Italy

Verdura Golf & Spa resort, Sicily, Italy


Entering a relationship with your therapist?

Looking at a Spa menu there are an array of different treatments – and the question arises, what to choose? What do I want, what do I need and what would be most beneficial in this moment?

Do I choose from my head, sensible choices or from the heart, what do I long for, or do I choose at all?  Do I just pick the dish that I tried before and that I know that I like? Maybe I don’t want any surprises or take any risks?

It’s no news that the most common treatment booked at spas globally is a massage. Not unusual that massages covers 60-70 % of all treatments taken during a month. It’s a human primal need, to get one’s body kneaded, touched and treated. Muscles worked on and a silence mind, yes, that’s what I want – instant relaxation and liberation! But, is a massage always the best remedy?

When creating Grand Hotel Nordic Spa´s latest treatment menu, we got familiar with the latest trends, we looked at different techniques and also on statistics telling us what people ask for in spas. All this information helped us to renew and to make the menu inviting and luxurious and at the same time therapeutic in an attempt to satisfy our guests’ different needs.

When creating our signature massages, we choose to make them long; Giving 2 hours to allow the receiver to really sink into and surrender to the treatment. It’s not only the actual treatment time that is the beneficial ingredient; it’s actually the relaxation in itself that is the healer. The different systems start to adjust after being manipulated. So that’s the reason the therapists asks the guest to rest after the treatment, giving the space and time to allow the body to adjust.

The bottom line – all massages aim is to bring relaxation and balance, but we need different techniques to reach a state of equilibrium. I usually look at different massage techniques/treatments, as music pieces, either they excite us, bring us to a state of deep surrender or just make us calm. The register is endless.

The thought behind our signature massage; Deep Sleep was to induce total relaxation by using slow and meditative movements. Holding limbs and gently rock them to soothe the nervous system, allowing the muscles to let go and become soft and reliant.

When I left massage school I favored tough massages, the harder the better was my motto, but that changed, I no longer want a pain filled deep tissue/trigger point/connective tissue torture power hour and …I don’t want to deliver them either, I don’t believe in them any longer.

So what do I mean by saying; Entering a Relationship with your therapist? Treatments are like relationships, they become deeper and more loving with time, and they deepen and unfold with communication. In my room of memories there are some of funny, loving and successful stories regarding massage and treatments. Some of my clients stayed for a short or a longer period, I got to know them and sometimes we got to know ourselves better through the work explored.

So, the thought floats in my mind…why do we expect that one visit with a massage therapist will be the final fix for our sore muscles? Wouldn’t it be better to regularly make an appointment and work on staying relaxed? As I said; The register is endless…


(Picture borrowed from Six Senses Spas)

Rolfing – Structural Integration

During the spring I started to take Rolfing sessions in Stockholm, the sessions with Runa Gustavsson (the Rolfer) started deep structural changes in my body and gave me insights and another perception of what a healthy and strong body feels and look like, it became more important for me to strive to use my body biomechanically correct giving freedom, grace and fluidity to movement.

The common workout is focused on building strength and cardiovascular capacity and sometimes when looking at people and myself working out it become very evident that we all need to adjust our alignment to be able to release the power and grace that is our birth right.

Runa spent a lot of time working on connective tissue in my neck and shoulder area on my right side resulting in a deep release of old tensions related to an accident some years ago.  My arms movements are more connected to back and chest muscles now and it is easier to keep stability in reaching, pulling and holding objects or when moving in life.

Rolfing is a physically applied practice, administered by a qualified practitioner, typically in a series of ten sessions with the objective of maximizing individual wellbeing of body and mind.

It was Dr. Rolf’s theory that the cause of human discomfort, both physical and emotional may lie in our internal connective tissue and the relationship it has with the earth’s gravitational field.

There is, she argued, an optimal, more natural alignment for each of us – an easier interaction between self and gravity. When through external factors this alignment is lost, it causes internal stress that can result in real discomfort. Prevent or correct the misalignment and you may eliminate or limit the stress. This is at the heart of Rolfing.Linking all internal structures within the human frame is the fascial web. This plastic connective tissue unites the structure of the inner form and divides its individual functioning units.

Fascia is constantly changing and adapting in response to demands placed on an individual’s body. It reacts to particular physical damage – to a joint for example – by producing extra material to enhance stability and support. However, it can produce  more than is necessary. In time, rather than stabilizing movement it can actually reduce mobility, leading to a changed postural position and altered patterns of movement

After completing ten sessions with a Certified Rolfer™ a client can expect to experience a greater sense of allover freedom. Better posture and improved movement can be expected. An enhanced understanding of how the body operates in harmony with gravity will be developed through the sessions. This new comprehension of the self can then be taken forward by the client and further experienced as a process of lifelong learning.


Enter the zone of silence – BARS

Brahma Kumaris has a course called self-management and leadership, the title have always inspired and intrigued me. It is so obvious that the way to become a great leader is to be able to lead oneself first and foremost.

So, how does one lead someone to lead themselves without interfering too much, setting fixed standards, opinions, judgments and or giving too much advice?

Self-inquiry, becoming more aware of the world, people and relations, how we and they affect one another, feed and grows independent and dependent of each other…

As a Body therapist you often get in touch with energy, in form of thoughts, emotions and or physical responses and reactions, your own or the clients. It is great if the therapist is able to offer their silent mind, meaning not having opinions on everything or expects a certain response, or even wants a certain response. Just being a witness and facilitator.

A treatment always offers new ways of looking at the specific matter, the reason why the client came for the treatment.

I got in touch with Bars / Access Consciousness in Stockholm through a course at the Nordic Spa & Fitness at Grand Hotel and I thought it was a brilliant tool for both therapists and the guest, a win-win situation. For the therapist – as a tool to work with one self in giving each other (therapist to therapist) the treatment and then again as a silent moment in giving the bars to the guest and at the same time, remind themselves while giving, about the importance to cleanse oneself from thoughts, judgments and set values, an opportunity to just be in the moment.

So, I wish the team at the Nordic Spa & Fitness Grand Hotel allow themselves to be in the zone of silence and non-judgment, to be able to be in the present moment and see what comes up while they give treatments and also to experience the silence for themselves, to receive while giving and believe in the force. And to continue the course of self-management to become great leaders, and if not leaders to others, leaders of their own life!

Explanation of Bars

To give someone access to consciousness is a simple exercise of holding certain points on the head. According to the method there are 32 points on your head which, when gently touched, effortlessly and easily release anything that doesn’t allow you to receive. These points contain all the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, emotions, and considerations you have stored in any lifetime. This is an opportunity for you to let go of everything!

Each Bars session can release 5-10 thousand years of limitations in the area of your life that corresponds with the specific Bar being touched. This is an incredibly nurturing and relaxing process, undoing limitation in all aspects of your life that you are willing to change!


For more information:


Feeling a bit dull in the skin?

After spending a few days, mostly inside, eating lots of yummy Christmas food and too many sweets, I must admit that I feel a bit dull in the skin and there is a major need for a “kick off” treatment to get my skin back in “shape”. If you feel the same, and have already starting to worry about how to gain that Cinderella effect for New Years Eve, I might just have the solution…

Look for your nearest spa or beauty spot where they offer The Organic Pharmacy (TOP) treatments. TOP has launched a new, high potency treatment to target age spots, pigmentation and uneven skin tone across the face, neck and décolleté. Glucosamine, Hibiscus and Liquorice act as high performing lightening agents to lift the skin and reduce pigmentation, whilst Vitamin C, Gingko and Ginseng brighten the skin and will give an immediate radiance boost. Papaya extract will powerfully exfoliate the skin, encouraging cell renewal, to enhance the skin condition and make it smooth and pure.

At our Nordic Spa & Fitness at Grand Hotel in Stockholm, we offer a short, but effective radiance boosting treatment with TOP’s enzyme peeling. A gentle, but very effective treatment, perfect to do the same day or the day before THE party of the year. (For a deeper effect and result on pigmentation we recommend to do the facial as a cure, with a minimum of 4-5 treatments).