Meridian Massage Institute Graduate Kari E. Hoyt has always been drawn to rubbing backs and hands, particularly at family gatherings.
“I can often be seen offering a family member a little TLC, whether it’s going around the table or having them sit on the floor in front of a couch,” Kari says. “I can’t keep my hands to myself! It was something that I had always just done.”
It wasn’t until years later when her high school sweetheart sent her a link to Finger Lakes School of Massage, that she seriously considered massage therapy as a career, which is clearly her calling.
“Ever since I went to school, I haven’t really worked a day,” Kari says. “It’s not that I don’t have a thriving practice—it’s just that what I do is so perfectly aligned with who I am that I am living the cliché of, ‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.'”
Read on to hear more about Kari’s massage therapy career, her views on massage therapy in the healthcare system, and why she sees herself as a mechanic.
How long have you been practicing?
Nine wonderful years!
What modalities do you integrate into your work?
Whatever feels right in the moment. I call it “Kariage” when pressed to give a name for what I do. I incorporate all that I learned in school, plus the innate knowledge that I had before and whose growth I strive to support. Most recently, I have studied Meridian Massage, and it really breathed fresh air into my approach to bodywork. I am still working to integrate what I learned and to recall what I seem to have misplaced, but I know it’s there. When I tap into it, the WuQi is an amazing guide showing me things that often seem obscure and unrelated, but usually there is a thread somewhere that sheds light on the connection. That being said, I try not to despair if it chooses not to present itself, because I believe it doesn’t mean that it isn’t in there somewhere, just that the time isn’t right to know. And, if it isn’t related, the healing intention takes over anyway, which reminds me that I always throw in at least a little energy work. It’s often amazed me how powerful the stillness can be.
What do you do to maintain your own health and well being?
Skiing is my primary soul-quencher. Unfortunately, there are only a few months in a year that I can do that. In the warmer months, I love to attack our local single track on my mountain bike, I love to hike and swim, and I love to take BodyCombat at the local gym. Eating healthy is also a particularly important goal for me—according to my own definition, of course. Lately though, I have really been trying to focus on being in the moment, and not planning too far ahead or getting stressed about what needs to be done in the future. This includes trying to be more realistic about what I can accomplish in any given time period and allowing myself to be okay with not finishing the entire list, but leaving things for later. Interestingly, I feel much more productive AND relaxed. I’m bringing some yin in to meet my yang! And I’ve even got a couple of clients who are working on the same, so it’s like we have a little support group going on. It’s cool!
How has meridian massage impacted the way you practice massage?
Probably the most profound changes aren’t even obvious to me. I like it that way. I like just moving through my work trusting that it will be moved by the WuQi and my client, which are really one and the same. Maybe the biggest palpable impact that it has had on my practice is that my scientific self feels more comfortable with being led and not necessarily knowing. I always did that to a certain extent, but not as surely as I do it now. Now, I have thousands of years of healing to back me up, and it wouldn’t have lasted that long if there weren’t something to it! So, I guess that’s it: it has bolstered my confidence in trusting the not-necessarily-known, and my ability to think more outside of the western box and with a perspective that is more holistic.
What inspires you about your work?
My clients—their dedication to healing and their appreciation for my work. I appreciate them right back!
What kind of issues, symptoms or conditions do you specialize in?
I see a lot of issues related to the spine, as I imagine most therapists do. I am drawn to doing the deep work that is so often helpful to this, particularly the cervical and gluteal aspects.
In terms of the overall health care system, what role do you see massage therapy playing?
An integral one. But that is in a “health care” system, which from my standpoint does not describe what it is that we have. What I see (and I work with some health insurance and limited no fault), is a “sick care” system where we wait for the disease to manifest and then react, sometimes in a knee-jerking fashion to quick-fix it, rather than encouraging and enabling folks to think about their health on a daily basis—not in terms of preventing illness but in terms of promoting wellness. I try to make the effort to promote wellness and see myself as the mechanic who changes your oil and rotates your tires. Ideally, all I would be needed for is routine maintenance with the occasional chronic or acute injury to address.
What do you wish everyone knew about massage therapy?
That it’s not a luxury, but a highway to health and well-being.
What was your favorite part about studying at Meridian Massage Institute?
Cindy is an amazing human being, and I would even venture to call her a Boddhi Satva. I consider myself very blessed and honored to have studied at the massage school that she and Andrea Butje co-founded, and later with them both personally in their amazing space in Ithaca. Oh, and the space is a veritable ShangriLa! I really think you should have a little sign that says that, sort of like the houses in the Hamptons have names.
What recommendations do you have for anyone interested who hasn’t started earning his or her certification in meridian massage?
Do it! Do it now! If the WuQi brought you to read this about Meridian Massage, you should bring yourself to study Meridian Massage. Simple.