Local registered massage therapist and yoga instructor provides services to returning residents
By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly
As residents head home to Fort McMurray, many will feel mixed emotions. Some will have a sense of relief, while others will still be unsettled with what the future holds.
Fort McMurray resident Heather Thomas, a registered massage therapist and yoga instructor, is aware of the multiple states of mental health people will go through during this time. She said having the “awareness of an uncomfortable physical sensation” or knowing something does not feel right is the first step to healing the body and mind.
“The healing begins with the desire to feel better,” Thomas said. “While everybody’s path is slightly different, the resources are there for you to draw from. When you are feeling supported, strong, grounded and energized; it is easier to see situations more clear and make decisions that are healthy and in accordance with your own individual needs.”
During the evacuation, Thomas felt stuck and disrupted. She shared how she was ungrounded for most of the past month and went back and forth through her emotional state. A few of her regular healing practices helped her through it. She arrived back to Fort McMurray on June 1 with her husband, Russell. They brought their sons Ben, 9, and Dylan, 15, home five days after.
“It feels amazing to be home. A sense of relief, deep appreciation and gratitude rise up when I think of our arrival,” she shared. “I had to leave to go to Edmonton for some appointments only five days after we had arrived home and I really didn’t want to go. This is my home, my community. This is where my boys were born, where they have been raised. Fort McMurray is my home and home is where the heart is. It feels so good to be back here – where I belong.”
Thomas explained how reopening her home studio to host yoga classes are helping her bring back a sense of normalcy. She held her first class with residents on June 5.
“Hosting that first yoga class after we got home was exactly what I needed to help me. My body ached for the stretching and strengthening, before and during the class, and then it ached physically afterwards because I was so out of shape,” she said.
“My heart felt full and happy to be able to serve the people of my community with one of the best ways I know how. The students that came to that first class shared with me that they felt much better afterwards, relaxed, healthy and normal again.”
On a regular day, Thomas performs classes at the Higher Health Yoga Studio, but will be keeping her home studio opened until further notice. Thomas will be also offering Craniosacral Massage Therapy & Energy Healing (including somatoemotional release), Community Healing Circle (using Full Body Presence techniques) and Yoga & Meditation Classes.
“I look forward to offering Karma Yoga Classes (by donation) here at the house throughout the summer,” Thomas explained.
Thomas’ shares two easy ways to practice yoga at home. Check out this article online at www.fortmacconnect.ca to learn how. For classes and workshops with Thomas, learn more at www.heatherthomas.ca/classes-workshops/