Healing Charlotte Podcast: Jeffrey Shoaf, Yoga Therapist & Massage Bodywork

In this episode, we meet Jeffrey Shoaf; an Internationally Certified Yoga Therapist and a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist. His interest in the human form began at the young age of 8 years old when he would open up encyclopedias and learn about and practice drawing anatomy. As a young adult, he followed in his family’s footsteps and became a Carpenter, Builder, and eventually a General Contractor. Around 2003, he shifted his career focus to become a Massage Therapist and was a student of yoga. He recognized that Yoga teacher training did not provide enough depth of anatomy. In 2005 when he spent time in a cadaver lab his fascination continued to grow.

“Everyday I get up and I’m really happy that I do what I do and I find that there are so many areas that I’m still interested in and they all seem connected.”

In his practice today, he intuitively combines Yoga Therapy and Bodywork for each client he works with. Specifically with Bodywork he uses myofascial release techniques. He describes fascia as a biologic fabric that all over the body. It has a memory of its own and holds where the body puts it. He uses static pressure to release “trigger points” of fascia that are stuck or dry due to inactivity. Yoga therapy he describes as the science of using yoga principles to help in therapeutic applications with a combination of movement, meditation, and/or breath work. Jeffrey also teaches therapeutically based studio classes at Noda Yoga and the Cornwell Center. He also is part of a 300-hour Therapeutic Yoga teacher training(Integrative Yoga Studies) where he leads many of the modules.

“We are looking at yoga as a model of total wellness. It’s not just asana(movement), it’s not just the postures. It’s looking at the body as a holistic organism. And really offering that question to ourselves as teacher is “how can I get this person to function better in their body.”

He has recently partnered with Novant Cancer Center to lead a pranayama(breath work) program for patients with cancer. Jeffrey is excited about the partnership and providing support to those battling cancer. He also loves working with yoga teachers as they have a deep understanding of the body. He cannot wait to get back into the dissection lab as he has joined the local club “Experience Anatomy.”

Jeffrey is inspired by Dr. Gil Hedley who is an anatomist and researcher and one of the most well-known dissectors of fascia. He is also inspired by all of the yoga teachers at Noda Yoga and especially the co-owner, Jillian Longsworth, for her kindness and generosity. In Charlotte he is also inspired by Acupuncturist, Dr. Kevin Kim who did his first treatment on his grandfather at the age of 5.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Tesia Love, Ayurveda Practitioner & Massage Therapist

We have the pleasure of meeting Tesia Love to today’s podcast. She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist who specializes in Ayurvedic body therapies. She describes Ayurveda as Indian traditional medicine that is a cousin to traditional Chinese medicine. The main principle of Ayurveda is living in harmony with nature; your own constitution and outside. She recommends an Ayurveda consultation as a first step but some of her clients come to massage first. Ayurveda massage uses lots of warm oil which is very grounding. The focus of the work is with energy and the lymphatic system which is purifying and detoxifying. These massages can be customized to your own constitution. These massages differ from other massages in that they are deeply relaxing and grounding. So much so that Tesia recommends taking it easy for the rest of the day after. An Abhyanga massage will work on the subtle body and use lots of oil rubbed over the entire body. A Shirodhara massage will have a constant stream of oil poured over the forehead.

“That treatment {Shirodhara}, you are laying on the table, the oil is streaming down consistently. It’s almost like a mother gently rubbing her hand over a child’s head.”

Tesia’s journey to her current work started as a life-long passion and curiosity of all things health and wellness. She found out about Ayurveda in 2000 and was interested in it for it’s ability to getting to the root cause of ailments. In 2010, she completed her 200-hour Yoga teacher training and started studying with the California College of Ayurveda in 2011. A Charlotte native, Tesia moved back in 2014 and completed Massage Therapy School at TMTI. Currently, she is finishing up her 300-hour Yoga teacher training with Lisa Moore, focused on Ayurveda Therapeutic Yoga.

Tesia describes Ayurveda as comprehensive. It takes in account what you eat, your lifestyle, how you eat, what time you go to bed and wake up, herbs, bodywork, and yogic practices. Ayurveda comes from nature and considers the 5 elements(ether, air, fire, water, and earth) the building blocks of life. Each Dosha(vata, pitta, kapha) are made up of 2 elements. Vata is the quality of movement; dryness, coldness, circulation, elimination, thoughts. Pitta is the quality of transformation; metabolism, digestion. Kapha is the quality of heaviness; cohesion, growth, building. She describes the process of Doshas getting into excess and that is where imbalances are formed and using opposites to heal. For example, warm oil and slow strokes with a massage can counteract a Vata imbalance.

“That’s a huge motivation behind my work is helping to empower people to be well so they can do what it is they are here to do.”

Tesia is one of the few people in Charlotte who do this work. She is passionate about working with women and their health; fertility, postpartum, perimenopause). She has specialized training in Pregnancy and Postpartum massage. Many practitioners have been influential in her work over the years including: Dr. Andrew Weil, an Integrative Medical Doctor, Dr. Lad, an Ayurveda Doctor in New Mexico, Deepak Chopra, Maya Tiwari, focused on women’s health, and KP Khalsa, an herbalist. In the Charlotte community, Tesia is inspired by Gracienne Jean Pierre who is a Nurse Practioner and Integrative Health Consultant, Lisa Moore who is a therapeutic Yoga teacher and Ayurveda Practioner, and The Sanctuary in the City organization who make wellness resources available to the Black and Indigenous populations.

Connect with Tesia on her website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Insight Timer.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Reia Chapman, Mental Health & Social Justice Advocate

Today, we have the pleasure of meeting Reia Chapman, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is the founder and an outpatient therapist at The Center for Family and Maternal Wellness, founder of the Social Justice Emotional Response Collective, and an inspiring writer and content creator for Decolonize Psychotherapy. She has a strong background in reproductive health rights and justice and regularly engages in public speaking and keynote engagements as well as facilitates trainings and workshops. She received her Master’s degree from Savannah State University and moved back to Charlotte to work in crisis intervention community services. She found the work to be challenging due to the bureaucracy. She discovered that her clients and families were not responding well to the service because it did not center their needs. She recognized the disconnect between the policies, laws, and rules to culture, poverty, and intersections. At this point, she realized that graduate school did not prepare her to work in marginalized communities. Since then, she has found that many in the mental health profession are unaware of the background of racism that makes us complicit in the suffering of people. This awareness informs her work with Decolonize Psychotherapy. With this series, she helps address the academic and education sector as well as corporate sector with workshops based on what the need is now to retain staff of color, how to create spaces that are safe, and protocols that could help clients feel seen.

“It is the work that I love to do. I love direct practice work and I think as I’ve evolved as a clinician, I’ve seen a greater need for me to contribute to the discourse and to the profession in ways that inspire and mold the next generation of Social Workers.”

Reia’s private practice, The Center for Family and Maternal Wellness, opened in 2016 and has great racial and gender diversity, helping those with mood and anxiety disorders, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, couples therapy, and support for Queer and Transgender populations. Her work with the Social Justice Emotional Response Collective officially solidified in 2016 after the murder of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, but had it’s beginnings when she was organizing emotional support efforts in Ferguson, MO after the death of Mike Brown. Reia was in Alaska during the uprising in Charlotte and kept wondering who was responding to the emotional needs of the community.

“I remember looking at the news and imagining the trauma that these folx must be experiencing when they were facing huge militarized police force. I thought about what it was like to be gassed or dogs to be used on people. I thought about seeing tanks and being hosed and I thought ‘what would that do to a person’s psyche?”

The works she does with SJERC is an act of resistance for her and an act of love and deep respect for the community. SJERC is a mental health mutual aid program which reconvened after the death of George Floyd. During this response, the Collective has added a 24/7 hotline staffed by mental health clinicians, created a website to submit appointment requests and donations, and increased visibility with lime green t-shirts. They have connected with other organizers such as Jail Support. The Collective has continued to offer professionals in the wellness space a place to donate their time to help those who are protesting as well as pro-bono services to those who need emergency emotional support.

Alisa Roth’s book, “Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness” has been influential in her work with SJERC. Reia wants to heal Charlotte because she recognizes she does not have a choice in the matter. Since childhood, she was the one who people came to for support, guidance, comfort, and love as well as her fight for others her entire life. She cannot separate herself from healing. In the Charlotte community, she is inspired by many including Kass Ottley and Kristie Puckett Williams at Jail Support as well as the content creators and writers who are documenting the story. She continues to be inspired by those who have found ways to forgive and have difficult conversations to push past their pain to educate.

Find the Social Justice Emotional Response Collective on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or call the hotline at 704-659-4997.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Carrie Wren, Life Coach

On this episode with Carrie Wren, we learn about her passion for helping others as a Life Coach. She says that life coaching is better experienced than explained and can aid in creating deeper and better relationships, gaining clarity around purpose, determining what you want, and moving beyond the “inner mean girl” judgments. She dives into the similarities and differences with life coaching and mental health therapy. Her passion is helping her clients move past the “stuck-ness” that they are experiencing so that they can thrive in their life. Carrie is also a yoga teacher and trainer as well as curator of “bucket-list” retreats.

Carrie found coaching for herself during a challenging time and through the process recognized that she wanted to be able to give that support to others. She mentions that coaching has cracked something open in her around vulnerability and she loves to help her clients recognize and remove those masks that we have.

“With coaching, there’s a rich experience of getting connected to ourselves.”

Carrie has been inspired by Brene Brown and her work, mentioning that she uses bits and pieces of her information daily. She loves her messages of vulnerability and connection.

It’s evident that Carrie loves the people she works with. She’s excited to work with those who are ready to see themselves and be seen, open to dismantling the stories that are holding them back, and those that carry that judgment of not being enough.

“We all have untapped resources, we all have potential and possibility, we all are creative and resourceful and capable and we can create a really amazing and fulfilling life.”

In the Charlotte community, she’s inspired by her Explore and Expand partner, Kelly Howard as well as her Bella Vita partner, Jillian Longsworth. She discusses how special both of these women are as healers in their respective spaces as a Massage Therapist and Grief Coach and Yoga Studio Owner.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Gianna Spriggs, Curandera

In this episode, we meet Gianna Spriggs who is a Curandera which translates to healer. She describes a Curandera as a traditional folk healer who combines herbs and sounds as well as discussion to help people. Her journey into this work began when she was a chef. She noticed the energy that was put into food and knew that negative energy was been transferred to the people eating it. She started paying more attention to energies as she left the restaurant world and because of her mom’s work in the metaphysical world, this was a natural place for her to land. She spent her time training with her mom and Coursera as well as reading many books which seemed to be an intuitive download for her. It all came together for her as she facilitates healing sessions called “Limpiezas.” The sessions start with the client thinking about what has been coming up for them and saying it aloud to release it. During her work, she will discover the chakra center that has been compromised by using chumpi stones as well as various sounds to loosen up the energy. She will then burn sage or palo santo and use other herbs to replace the energy in the body. The sessions can be done in a group of people, with families, or individually. Someone may come for these healing sessions when dealing with stress, a trauma, a history of trauma, or generational trauma. Limpiezas are good for someone who may not be comfortable with traditional therapy.

Gianna also owns Curio, Craft & Conjure with her mother and wife. It’s a metaphysical store that honors magickal traditions from around the world in the heart of NoDa. They hold classes and events there as well as Gianna’s limpiezas.

She enjoys working with people who really want to help themself and are ready to do the work. A Curandera is a healer under the umbrella of Shamanism which Gianna describes as using earth based traditions and connection with the spiritual world for healing. There are Shaman based practices all over the world that all use sound and plants for healing. Gianna goes into depth on the Chakra system as well including what a compromised chakra may look like.

“Really just allowing yourself to be patient and gentle with yourself and not be too hard on yourself when things might take multiple sessions because whatever happened, it happened over a period of time before you were ready to acknowledge it and it’s going to take a period of time for you to heal it.”

During her journey, she has been influenced by Alberto Villoldo the author of “Shaman, Healer, Sage” as well as Erika Buenaflor who is also a Curandera. In the Charlotte healing community, Gianna is inspired by Autumn Austin, a therapist and sound healer, and Angela Soto, an acupuncturist.