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Soulful Kneads: A Lesson in Strength and Nurturing

 As we move daily, whether it be to our desk jobs or to the stage, too often we are trained to think of our bodily pain as its local source: "My lower back aches," or "My knees hurt when I climb stairs." It requires education to view the body as an integrated system, and the average person can neglect to take care of their body as such. Harnessing this global perspective not only can help people eliminate the pain they feel from living robust lives, but also improve the quality of this connective and generous system we know as our body. For those whom movement is a career, be it dancers, Pilates instructors, massage therapists or others, their training and experience has instinctually taught them just how integral a holistic view of the body is, and how important it is to find the practices that nurture this connectivity. On today's blog we feature Kira Lamb of Soulful Kneads who has developed a unique fusion practice of massage therapy and Pilates to "facilitate greater mobility and pain relief through progressively deep and specific work," with approaches designed specifically for each of her clients. With years of experience as a dancer and aerialist, she has had her share of injuries, but further shares with us a deep commitment to giving back to her body,  the source of her creative expression, career, and passion. She developed Soulful Kneads as a way to share her knowledge and practice, helping others to also understand the body's amazing capabilities and cultivate a love for self-care. Kira offers therapeutic massage at Studio 26.

Tell us about your background and experience as a practitioner, mover, etc.

I'm a NYS Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Pilates Instructor, having earned my AOS in Massage Therapy from The Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences and comprehensive Pilates certifications through Power Pilates and PhysicalMind Institute. I'm proud to have worked in some of the top fitness clubs, spas and Pilates studios in NYC and Los Angeles including Allen Edwards Day Spa, Equinox Fitness, Power Pilates, Bodyline Fitness Studio, and Alycea Ungaro's Real Pilates. It's been a privilege to work with, be challenged by and learn from such a strong network of inspiring industry leaders.

Since 2002, I've also had the pleasure of operating my own private practice, Soulful Kneads, with clients ranging from business and entertainment executives to professional dancers, athletes, weekend warriors, body-workers and stay-at-home moms of all ages and fitness levels. Plus, I've had the exciting opportunity of working as a massage therapist to the dancers, musicians & singers on the following tours: Madonna's Reinvention Tour, Confessions Tour, and Sticky Sweet Tour, as well as the Spice Girl Reunion Tour.

What do you call the fusion of practices and can you describe what are its important elements?

The Soulful Kneads massage experience is a fusion of slow, deep and methodical Swedish massage strokes combined with myofascial release, trigger point and neuromuscular therapy techniques, plus passive and active stretching. Each massage is a muscle-specific treatment customized to the individual and designed to address tight muscles and adhesions (knots) implicated in postural imbalances, pain, joint dysfunction and inhibited movement patterns.

As much as it's a priority for me to facilitate greater mobility and pain relief through progressively deep and specific work, my intention is also to create an experience in which my clients ultimately feel relaxed and nurtured. I believe everyone deserves a calming respite from this fast-paced, aggressive and demanding city of New York.

Additionally, I teach Pilates at Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates which complements the work I do as a massage therapist. Not only does classical Pilates provide clients with a vigorous and challenging workout, but it’s also rehabilitative in nature by training the often-neglected deep, postural muscles that provide true strength and stability.

When did your first become interested in fusing these different practices together?  What's an 'aha' moment you had while developing this practice?

The idea for Soulful Kneads developed out of my own personal dependency upon massage therapy and Pilates. It was the combination of these two modalities that helped sustain my 20 year career as a professional dancer and aerialist while I performed on world tours with multi-platinum recording artists, on awards shows, and in music videos, commercials and TV shows, plus two highly physical Off-Broadway shows, "De La Guarda: Villa- Villa" and "Fuerza Bruta: Look Up." Repeated injury and chronic pain were the "AHA!" moments that forced me to see the importance of taking care of the body that I demanded so much from. I couldn't afford to surrender my well-being (or my career) to chance.

Pilates and massage therapy addressed my body as an integrated system that needed a balance of strength, stability, flexibility, and stamina. The postural balance and muscular symmetry that resulted eliminated pain in my body and empowered me to continue my dance/aerial arts career into my forties. I simply couldn’t keep this to myself. I felt compelled to help other people live more fully in their own bodies too.

Thinking about what Kira has to say? Here's what her people say...

"Kira's skillful touch makes her massages a must-have. She is a professional & seasoned therapist. She has the finesse to find the critical sore spots & the confidence to work them out as deeply as necessary while at the same time applying her knowledge of the body to deliver the utmost relaxing experience." -Laurie Younger, Entertainment Executive

"When my body needs special care (which it does quite often), there is no one I trust more than Kira. She warms up my muscles gradually allowing for the deepest possible work. Her hands intuitively find my trouble spots and somehow relentlessly convince each knot to move on, leaving me utterly restored for days. She may actually be "the muscle whisperer." -Alycea Ungaro, PT/Owner, Real Pilates NYC

Kira's words to live by: Self-care is the best investment one can make. When your body feels healthy, energized & pain-free you have the freedom to live fully. Soulful Kneads is designed to support you in achieving a positive, productive, active & successful life by giving your body exactly what it needs: nurturing.

See Kira today! Visit SOULFUL KNEADS and show your body some love.

Interview by Ana Chavez