Jeda Boughton (JB): What conditions are you most excited about treating at BodaHealth?
Yuan Li (YL): I always feel happy to see how massage helps relieve my patients’ stress and pain. In general, I love working with different conditions and different patients, because it’s always a learning experience. I learn a lot from each of my patients.
JB: What sparked your interest in healthcare and specifically, how did you become interested in Massage Therapy? Can you tell me a bit about the first time you were exposed to Massage Therapy?
YL: Growing up, sometimes I would massage my parents if they had a sore back or neck, and my grandma used to massage my abdomen. It’s common in China for grandmas to massage their grandchildren’s tummies when they have an upset stomach. I started to get regular massages when I was about 25, and after each session, I felt so peaceful. This made me think about changing my career to massage therapy.
Many of my friends tell me that I am a caring person, and I have always been very interested in human anatomy. After I did some research about massage therapy, I got a sense that it was the career for me. I attended the Swedish massage workshop at the Vancouver College of Massage Therapy (VCMT). I enjoyed every single minute of it, and I loved the energy of the other people who attended the workshop. This convinced me to study and train as a massage therapist.
JB: Did anyone in your family encourage you to go into healthcare?
YL: My sister was the only person that knew that I was training in massage therapy, and she encouraged me a lot. I didn’t tell my parents that I was in massage therapy school until I graduated. My parents worried about me being a massage therapist because some people still think massage therapy is not a well-respected job and is not well-regulated. But it’s different in Canada and BC because it is very well-regulated. Here, every RMT is well-trained and we are professional healthcare providers. I gave my mom a massage after I graduated from massage school, and once I started working, I told her what my work environment was like and she was happy for me.
JB: In addition to being a Registered Massage Therapist, what other training and skills or certifications do you have? How do they fit in with your practice, what conditions are best treated by them, and your philosophy on any of the techniques you use?
YL: I am a hot and cool stone massage and Graston technique provider. Graston technique uses stainless steel tools for muscle and scar tissue repair. Both hot stones and Graston technique are excellent tools to help tight or damaged tissue recover.
I use hot stones in almost every treatment I provide. I find people become more relaxed with the hot stones. The heat from the stones also helps soften the tissue which allows me to do deep tissue massage better. Once in a while, I use the Graston tools to target specific tissues more precisely than I can with my fingers.
JB: When would you decide to use the Graston Tools?
YL: Usually when the muscles are really tight, for example, pectoral muscles and legs. Certain types of tissues respond really well to Graston Technique. This is particularly true for people with sports injuries.
JB: Can you speak a bit more about the tools you use, i.e. heat, stones, and style of massage. Also, how do you help people with their health and recovery goals?
YL: If I were to describe my style of massage, I would say I combine hot stone massage with deep tissue massage. The heat from the stones softens the tissue, and I can use a different angle/shape of the stone for deep tissue massage.
The hot stones help people reach a deep relaxation stage, and that deeper relaxation state helps people recover better. The heat from the stones also increases circulation, which promotes better recovery. While I learn from every patient I see, there’s so much more that I want to learn!
JB: Are there any specific injuries or pain that you tend to treat a lot, or that your style of treatment works really well for, such as Low back pain, arthritis, rotator cuff problems, etc?
YL: I find my treatments are quite helpful for neck and shoulder pain. I also treat a lot of low back pain and carpel tunnel syndrome.
JB: Do you work with pregnant women?
YL: Yes, I work with pregnant women. I’ve noticed that during pregnancy, women often have a sore neck, low back, and hip pain. I still use hot stones but I turn down the temperature a bit, and their bodies respond really well. I normally have them side-lying and semi-fowler (on their back), I use a lot of pillows to make sure they’re very comfortable.
JB: Do you do Abdominal or visceral Massage?
YL: Yes, I do abdominal massage, but there are many different styles. I’m interested in taking more courses to learn about different types of abdominal massage so I can incorporate them into my sessions.
JB: What kinds of things do you do for yourself to stay fit and healthy?
YL: I give myself a lot of self-care and self-love! I take a hot bath daily and walk at least 1 hour a day. I make sure I get enough sleep and eat lots of vegetables and fruits. I get a massage weekly and sometimes have Chiropractic and acupuncture treatments.
JB: You already have so many skill sets and roles, and you are constantly adding more skills. Just wondering what’s next for you professionally? You mentioned wanting to learn more about abdominal massage. Are you planning on doing additional studies or courses or do you want to evolve in a particular area with your practice? How do you see the next few years rolling out?
YL: My general goal is to find effective ways to help people deal with posture imbalances. I would also love to take the Female Pelvis course at Bodhitreeteaching with Heather Grittens, RMT. It’s all about understanding the uterus, bladder, and female issues. I’d also like to take Chi Nei Tsang Thai and Mayan abdominal massage.
JB: On a closing note, is there anything else you would like to tell people: if they’re looking for a massage therapist or if they are dealing with an injury or if they are just curious about hot stones or anything else we talked about?
YL: Just give it a try!
About Yuan Li:
Yuan is a graduate of the Vancouver College of Massage Therapy. She is experienced in treating a wide variety of conditions, including low back pain, rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel, syndrome, tension headaches, repetitive strain injuries, and pregnancy-related pain. She also works with patients to correct postural imbalances and treat sports injuries. Yuan incorporates a number of techniques into her sessions and is committed to adapting each treatment to the specific needs of her patients.
To learn more about Yuan please visit her full bio here (https://bodahealth.ca/portfolio/yuan-li-rmt/) and stay tuned for more Practitioner Spotlight interviews from the BodaHealth team.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.