Whether you call it thermal therapy, Hot DNM, or Pillossage, using warm flax pillows for massage is absolutely delicious!
Those who know me will know that I don't go for fads or gimmicks, but when I recently got to spend a week giving and receiving massage with warm flax pillows in a Hot DNM class, my reaction was, "Oh my goodness, this is amazing!" It feels really, really good and it is great for places where you feel tight and achy.
Pillossage is the brainchild of Karen Kowal, a registered nurse who became a massage therapist. A number of years ago she began to make flax seed filled eye pillows and larger flax seed pillows to be used for hot or cold packs. She called her pillow making business Mother Earth Pillows. Somewhere along the way, she got the idea of using the pillows for massage and Pillossage was born.
Karen experimented with different fabrics, weights of pillows, and shapes to come up with pillows that worked well for both massage and self-care. While others may make flax filled pillows, none of them have been made specifically for massage therapists to use for massage.
Why golden flax seed?
Golden flax seeds are ideal for warm flax pillows. The seeds are small, about the size of sesame seeds, and hard and slick. They conform well to the body, much better than rice or corn, which is larger and therefore more lumpy. The golden flax, when warmed, has a faint, pleasant smell of warm grain and, unlike rice or corn, will not get an unpleasant odor over time. The flax seeds hold the heat for quite some time. Depending on the size and shape of the pillow, it can hold heat for up to 40 or 45 minutes. Pillows can be warmed (carefully!) in a microwave or, in a professional setting, kept warm in a hot towel cabinet. (They should not be kept with moist towels since they need to stay dry!) The weight of the flax is pleasant and comforting, and when used for massage, the flax kneads well. The quality of the heat is wonderful. It's much more soothing than an electric heating pad.
Using Mother Earth Pillows for Massage
When using the pillows for massage, one does not rub the pillow over the skin but, instead, massages through the pillow itself. There are various ways of doing this, but think of kneading the pillow instead of rubbing it over the skin. One can also use it to put a sustained stretch on the skin as in DNM or MFR. The heat from the pillow has the effect of amplifying what you are doing, so you don't want to push into the body, which is not comfortable, but rather knead or stretch. The combination of warmth and massage is absolutely amazing and I've completely fallen in love with it. I've been incorporating it into massage with my clients and the response has been very positive. Those who have enjoyed hot stone massage in the past have said they like this even better. For the therapist, one does not have to bother with hot water baths and time-consuming cleanup afterwards.
Until recently, Karen Kowal traveled the country teaching massage therapists and other healthcare professionals how to use the pillows for massage and for self-care. However, after such a long and busy career, she decided it was time to slow down. Two years ago, after looking carefully for someone who would carry on the business with the same attention to quality that Mother Earth Pillows had become known for, she sold the business to the current owner, Jeff Evenson. Mother Earth Pillows are still made to order in their shop in Arnold, MO. In October of this year, Karen taught her final class, teaching eight massage therapists to be Pillossage instructors so that Pillossage could live on. I was privileged to be in that class and when I got to experience how lovely it felt, I became convinced that this is definitely something I want to share with my clients and with other therapists!
Therapists who would like to learn this modality have a couple of options. If you would like to organize a class in your area, get in touch and we'll help you make those arrangements with a Pillossage instructor. Mother Earth Pillows also has an instructional DVD available on their website. While hands-on instruction with someone who understands how to make the best use of the pillows is preferable, the DVD can help you get started if a class is not available.
There are many advantages to using the pillows for massage. It can be incorporated into other massage or as a stand alone treatment. It can be done over clothing, which allows it to be used in situations where undressing is impractical or with populations who may not want to or be able to undress. The pillows can be used as a hot pack to warm up an area and then use the pillow for massage, too. For therapists who have clients that are big and muscular, the warmth of the pillows can make your work a lot easier!
Using Mother Earth Pillows for Self-Care
Mother Earth Pillows are great for self-care. There are a variety of shapes and sizes that can be used in a variety of ways. I've found that if, for instance, my back is getting a little tight or achy, lying on or leaning against a warm flax pillow is very soothing and makes me feel a lot better pretty quickly. In fact, as I've experimented with them, I've found them to be one of the best self-care tools I've ever encounterd. They are adaptable to a variety of situations. Now that the cold weather is upon us, I'm really enjoying the spa boots for warming my cold feet at night.
While I've focused on using them warm, they can also be used as cold packs. It's important to keep the pillows from getting wet, so if they are put into the freezer, they should be placed in a well-sealed plastic bag first. I've not yet used them as a cold pack but someone who did said they really like it, that it was cold but did not sting the skin like an ice pack.
Taking Care of Your Pillows
Mother Earth Pillows are well made and, if cared for properly, should last for many years. There are two very important things to know about taking care of your pillows: flax seed pillows must be kept dry and take care not to scorch pillows warmed in the microwave! Many of the pillows come with removable covers that can be laundered. For massage therapists or others who may need covers that slip on and off easily for using with multiple people, easy-off outer covers are also available.
We Have Pillows Available for Purchase in Our Office
I like Mother Earth Pillows so much that I've decided to keep a few of them in my office for clients who may wish to use them at home. We even have a little "Freddy the Fish" pillow for kids! If we don't have what you want, we can order them, but since all Mother Earth Pillows are made by hand to order, any pillows wanted before Christmas should be ordered at least three weeks before.
If you can't come to the office or if you live out of town, you can order Mother Earth Pillows yourself online. Click the links provided here or on the graphic above and it will take you to their site. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. You can contact me by email or call Mother Earth Pillows at 800-344-2072. If you call them to place an order, please tell them I sent you! In the interest of full disclosure, if you order through the links on my website, I'll get a small commission for which I will thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I truly am enjoying using Pillossage on both my clients and myself and I'll be writing more about it in the future. Once you experience it for yourself, I think you'll agree that it feels very, very good.
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