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On The Therapeutic Benefits Of Restorative Bodywork

An interview with Anna Zahn, the founder of Ricari Studios, a restorative bodywork studio that supports the body’s natural cellular rejuvenation process. Here she discusses how this type of wellness can nourish the human experience.



What does Ricari mean and why did you start the studio?


Ricari comes from the Italian word that translates directly to “bring energy back to something,” like recharging a battery. I started the studio to fill what I felt was a gap in spa culture, not just in the services we provide but also the environment itself. I also wanted to encourage a movement in beauty culture to liberate it from the outdated, negative connotations like vanity and narcissism. Our aim is to offer a refined vehicle to explore self-expression, conversation, self-care, and to do so with pleasure.


How do you define bodywork?


Bodywork is an incredibly vast term that can draw upon a variety of modalities and interpretations depending on the client and the practitioner. It can incorporate massage therapy, integrative medicine, specialized treatment protocols, movement practices, physical therapy, energy work and beyond. In my personal experience, bodywork is often related to one's overall alignment, and is not limited to muscles, tissue, but inclusive of every facet of one’s physical vitality. It is an integrative approach to optimizing wellbeing.


How did you become interested in bodywork, specifically the form of cellular stimulation you offer at Ricari?


My background in performance, photo, aesthetics, and storytelling deeply instilled the importance of physical, emotional, and psychological connection. In order to fully consign your body and mind to the flow and presence needed in executing creative pursuits, I find liberating the burdens of emotional stress, psychological distress, and physical strain is vital. 

I never imagined I would find a place in the spa/beauty/wellness landscape, and perhaps because of that I could view the industry from a different lens. When I was welcomed into this realm of restorative bodywork, I knew that its value would become widespread (as we’ve clearly seen with lymphatic/remodeling massage in the past years), but I aim to continually develop a space that considers one’s overall experience just as much as the positive impacts of the treatments. 

In all of my projects, my fundamental desire is to nourish human experience by helping others rediscover pleasure, comfort, ease, joy and connection. I encourage taking a cinematic approach to living, and that drive to magic is something I’ve infused into the foundation of Ricari. There is a definitive atmosphere and storytelling element to what we do and everything I create. The wellness market is quite saturated with infinite products and routines— I’m more interested in adding value, experience, and sustainable lifestyle shifts. What we all truly desire, I believe, is deeper connection. Now more than ever, we are hungry to be understood and for venues to connect and craft meaning. Why not do so within the pursuit of well-being?

My hope is Ricari exists as much more than the technology we utilize. We offer a truly unique, immersive experience that aims to surprise and delight. Our vision of wellbeing includes spaces for humor and well-sauced bowls of pasta, alongside silent retreats and juice cleanses. Ricari is a call to pleasure, because we believe that living well should look, feel, sound, and taste delicious-- and everyone is invited. 

The wellness market is quite saturated with infinite products and routines— I’m more interested in adding value, experience, and sustainable lifestyle shifts.


What is the Lymphatic System and why is it important to care for it?


The lymphatic system is a set of interconnected nodes, ducts and vessels, much like pearls on a knotted string. Another (less chic) way to think of it is like a highway, and the nodes are toll booths. Whichever metaphor you fancy, this subdermal system, is responsible for eliminating cellular waste, storing and distributing fat and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system, transporting white blood cells to assist in immune functioning, and removing interstitial fluid from tissues to minimize swelling.

In an ideal world,  we are able to stimulate our lymphatic system in our everyday movements. Of course, the world we actually live in is far from ideal, and modern life stressors combined with a lack of physical activity means that we may require extra assistance in the form of focused exercise, massage, and hydration. Furthermore, the lymphatic system differs from the circulatory system in that it doesn’t have a pump (like your heart), so giving it some extra love can make a huge impact on your overall well-being.


What are the overall head-to-toe benefits of this type of wellness?


Every client’s experience is unique, but the core benefits I mentioned previously are relatively universal. There are cosmetic benefits: decreased water retention, a more sculpted and lifted silhouette, less visible cellulite. However, it is important to understand that these results are linked to what goes on internally. 

When performed regularly, our restorative approach helps ground clients in their physical self and nourishes the body’s natural restorative processes. In more concrete terms, our methods assist essential functions like sleep, digestion, detoxification, collagen production, anxiety relief, and optimized mobility.


How does your work unite traditions of the past with advents of the future [as described in your ethos]?


The fundamentals of the techniques we use have been around for centuries, but in some ways have managed to get lost or forgotten in the evolution of wellness. The technology we have today is empowering a sort of renaissance of this ancient knowledge, augmenting its potential through technological innovation.


What do you know of the long history of bodywork throughout the ages? How has your tradition been rooted in the history of self care throughout the times? What is similar, what has changed?


Let’s put it this way, the ancient Egyptians and Greeks were keen on bodywork and deeply devoted to spa practices. This kind of self-care was well integrated into the culture—what one might call a “practice” today. Unfortunately, these habits are often viewed as indulgent or frivolous in today’s culture, as is the very concept of pleasure in general. We’re so focused on immediate and often superficial results, that we miss the more profound and sustainable changes that can happen over time—not just physically, but mentally as well.

Very little of what we see in wellness culture today is all that new, but I think we can agree that modern wellness is very prone to fads and trends. Unfortunately, I cannot teleport back in time to tell you if that were the case during Cleopatra’s reign, but suspect the more pernicious shift comes from our very modern desire for instant and astonishing results. The just-click-here culture of instant gratification has created a lot of toxicity (pun intended) in wellness culture… a lot of extremes toted by seemingly false prophets turning profits. While the treatments we provide offer some immediate effects, it’s definitely part of a greater and more consistent wellbeing practice we hope to inspire in our clients—whatever that means to them. I hope that we can return to a more sustainable approach to wellness that is rooted in the desire to celebrate and nourish our unique selves as opposed to fulfilling some sort of societal expectation of what wellness is supposed to look like.


Why is bodywork important to maintaining an overall sense of wellbeing for the modern human?


I think modern humanity, especially modern western humanity is driven by a “harder is better” mentality. Pain is often equated with efficacy, and we all suffer for it. Many feel like they have to be in a state of sacrifice or physical discomfort in order to achieve something, and that is simply not true. Bodywork can be deep and sometimes painful absolutely, but it can also help remind us of the beautiful subtleties of our own unique bodies. There can be strength in softness. The physical benefits of our methods are as important as the philosophy they come from. It’s an approach to wellness (and living in general) that is full of joy and accepting of variance.

I think modern humanity, especially modern western humanity is driven by a “harder is better” mentality. Pain is often equated with efficacy, and we all suffer for it. Many feel like they have to be in a state of sacrifice or physical discomfort in order to achieve something, and that is simply not true.

Ricari Studios services are available in New York, Los Angeles and soon to launch in London. natureofthings Superlative Body Balm is used in their signature services.

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