Up in the Clouds
Ottsville center celebrates 10th anniversary
Jodi Spiegel Arthur
Martie Kyde hates to exercise, but the retiree with a Ph.D. in mycology has found a way to keep moving – individual yoga instruction at Cloud Hands in Ottsville.
She went to the yoga studio at Cloud Hands two years ago at the urging of a friend and it quickly became a weekly habit. “I never would have come on my own,” she said. Ironically, “it wasn’t her thing, but it turned out to be mine.”
Kyde is one of the loyal clients helping Cloud Hands celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. The relaxation and wellness center, which also offers treatments including massage, reflexology, Qi Gong and belly dancing, opened a decade ago in Pipersville and in 2006 moved to 8330 E1 Easton Road, Ottsville.
Its name comes from a Tai Chi posture, “wave hands like cloud.”
“What we were trying to create (when the center opened) was a holistic environment where our services supported each other,” said Diane Alex, director and owner of Cloud Hands. “It wasn’t what people were doing” locally at that time, she said, adding she believes Cloud Hands was among the first in the area to offer those complementary services.
A former portrait photographer, Alex became certified in reflexology at age 50, when she felt the need for a career change. She also became certified in Qi Gong, and she teaches a class at the center.
The idea for her business, which she calls a “cooperative effort,” came from conversations with other relaxation and wellness professionals.
“That’s how it evolved,” she said, “practitioners working together. We offered yoga pretty much from the beginning also.”
Looking back, Alex said, it seems as if 10 years have gone by quickly. Despite that, she said, “It didn’t go fast the first couple of years. It takes a while to get your name out there.”
Initially, the center was called Cloud Hands Healing Arts Center, but people didn’t know what that meant, Alex said. She changed the name to Cloud Hands Relaxation & Wellness Center, but mostly now, it goes by the shorter Cloud Hands name.
To celebrate its anniversary, Cloud Hands is having a crystal pendant give-away during the month of November.
Janine Nyce, one of two massage therapists at the center, said Cloud Hands is different from a spa. “We’re really working to re-establish health and wellness,” she said. “We know people’s health issues.”
Alex said the aim of Cloud Hands is to offer clients the best therapies for those issues, whether it’s massage, yoga or something else. “It’s complementary therapy, not alternative therapy,” she said.
“We get a lot of people who come in for massage that have injuries and pain, and Janine (has training in that area),” Alex said, referring to Nyce’s Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiological sciences and exercise physiology from the University of Maryland. She also is a graduate of the New Mexico School of Natural Therapies.
“Muscular imbalance can impact your posture and cause discomfort and pain,” Nyce said, adding a slight tilt of the pelvis can wreak havoc on knees, the back and more.
Nyce said she appreciates that at Cloud Hands she can refer massage clients to other therapies – like yoga, Qi Gong or reflexology – that might also help them.
Qi Gong is more than 5,000 years old and based in traditional Chinese medicine. “It’s done standing, you don’t need a lot of flexibility, and it’s wonderful for healing,” Alex said. It involves warm-up stretches and flowing movements and is easier to learn than Tai Chi.
Reflexology is offered in two forms: foot reflexology, which places pressure on areas of the feet that correspond to organs, glands or systems to bring the body into balance; and facial reflexology to regulate the blood, lymph, body functions and hormones.
For Kyde, who hasn’t tried any of the other offerings at Cloud Hands and doesn’t feel the need to do so, individual yoga instruction is one of the best things she’s ever done for herself.
“I love the motion. I feel stronger. I feel more flexible … It’s something I look forward to on Thursday mornings,” she said. “It’s time to be away from my responsibilities and just do something for myself.”
Kyde, who keeps a busy volunteer schedule and also practices yoga at home, said her instructor, Aniko Foldi, adapts the practice to meet her needs. “She’s not rigid. She works with me,” Kyde said.
In addition to providing individual instruction, Foldi, who has been with Cloud Hands for more than four years, offers group classes. She said she would like to expand her offerings for baby boomers and others with injuries or pain to improve their quality of life.
“It’s not about me. It’s not about teaching. It’s about them giving a gift to themselves,” she said. “Physically, emotionally, spiritually, it becomes a healing practice.”
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