Sarva, a Unique Queer-Owned Denver Massage Studio

Sarva LogoIn the crazy world that is 2023, we all are looking for ways to rejuvenate and feel better. What better way than a personalized approach to healing offered by Sarva Massage and Energy Healing? Below we speak to James, owner and founder of Sarva about what makes his approach and company stand out in the Denver massage scene. As a gay man, James always felt interested in healing arts but didn’t start finding traction util he started teaching yoga. The inspiration he got from teaching helped spur him on to found Sarva.

Owner James

GayDenver: Tell us about yourself! Where ya from, how long you’ve been in Denver?

Sarva: I grew up in rural Illinois. So flyover country, but best place you’ve never been. Went to school in Chicago moved to Boston and from Boston. I moved to Denver in 2014.

GayDenver: What brought you to Denver?

Sarva: When I was working in human resources, the company I worked for had a satellite office. I didn’t care much for the place or the work. I am not an East Coast person, so I was eager to leave Boston. I just took a leap of faith to Denver and here I am nine years later.

Massage bed in Sarva Studio

GayDenver: How long have you been practicing massage and healing?

Sarva: I graduated from massage school in June of 2020 and got a job immediately. I started Sarva shortly after graduation in June of 21. The Colorado State minimum for a massage license is 500 hours. I graduated with 750 hours. With that additional time, I was able to fast-track building my skill set. I was able to learn the different forms of energy work, yoga, Thai massage, cranial, sacral, and many other modalities that I’m able to incorporate but aren’t necessarily taught in other massage schools.

GayDenver: So which came first, yoga or massage?

Sarva: Yoga definitely came first. I got my first teacher training in yoga in 2017. I fell in love with the practice and the philosophy. I continued my education to get an Advanced Certificate. I do not enjoy teaching public classes but I love working one on one with students. That led me to have many clients and students in the massage field.

GayDenver: How would you say that your yogic practice helps your massage practice?

Sarva: As a yoga teacher, I am a big believer that the best work you can do or that can be done, is when you are doing the work yourself. I like to show people the stretches and the strengthening they can do to counterbalance tension in their bodies. If one muscle is too strong, most of the time another muscle is going to be too weak. By doing yoga postures we can truly balance that tension out.

GayDenver: What inspired you to start a massage studio, and what makes your approach to massage unique?

Sarva: What makes my approach unique, is the fact that I am a very intuitive body worker. I listen very closely to my clients. I am able to suss out where the tension is, not only where you feel it, but where it stems from. I look at the body from both a yogic and anatomical perspective. Being versed in several forms of energy work, I’m able to combine them based on what’s being presented in the body and in the energetic field. I love doing Reiki massage. It’s a combination of both, obviously Reiki and physical massage. It really just solidifies that aspect of the whole being addressed.

Pressure cups for cupping massage

GayDenver: How do you integrate other wellness practices, such as hot stones or Reiki, into your massages?

Sarva: With a Reiki massage, I take time throughout the massage to check in with the chakra system and the five energetic layers of the body. I will intentionally take time to address those concerns. Whereas with the traditional therapeutic massage, the energy work is still happening because we are a form of energy. The body is a form of energy in and of itself. So energy work is still being completed and the energetic cycle and system are still being addressed. It’s just more Reiki massage is more intentional and the therapeutic massage is more general energy work.

GayDenver: Can you talk about any notable success stories or memorable moments you’ve experienced with clients?

Sarva: I would say I have had several clients really experience breakthroughs specifically through Reiki massage. I encourage people to get a massage every two to three months if not monthly for strong maintenance. I see a lot of physical improvement as I’m able to address issues, find their root causes, and help clients address them. So a lot less shoulder and back pain from all of us working on the computer, better posture for better breath which oxygenates the body and improves general well-being. With Reiki, I find many people who will address trauma on the table, whether directly or indirectly. I see both laughter and tears. I see relaxation. So I’ve had a lot of client breakthroughs but I would say I’m facilitating and they’re the ones bringing the word to the table..Pink stones used for Hot Stone Massage

GayDenver: How do you ensure a safe and comfortable environment for clients during a massage?

Sarva: The big part of my approach is setting the expectation of knowing what can be expected from me so that they have that freedom to direct me. I also clearly communicate where I am in the room and what I’ll be working on. So a big part of how I make them feel comfortable is just saying hey, I’m going to start here. We’re going to address this area next. Throughout the massage, I’ll check in with pressure and I really want people to feel like they’re in control of the massage because ultimately the experience is all about being comfortable and relaxed.

GayDenver: How do you customize massages to meet the unique needs of each client?

Sarva: I think of myself as a reasonably intuitive therapist. Each body has its own rhythm. Each body has its own pressure level. The timing of the muscular release is going to be different for every person. A lot of us are going to have the same general issues but they come from different areas. So when I hear neck and shoulder tension, I’m gonna ask each client Hey, do you grind your teeth? What’s your sleeping position? Do you work in an office? Do you carry heavy things are you on your feet all day? And that way I know how I can address each client physically as well as their mental and emotional stress levels.

GayDenver: If you could put anything on a billboard what would it be?

Sarva: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” No one can do everything. We’re expected to work full time, run a household, drink lots of water, go to the gym, eat healthily, take care of the pets, take care of the kids, maintain the car, and maintain insurance, deal with the doctors. When it comes to things like scheduling, massage, or self-care that often gets put on the back burner. But if we can make an hour a month to get a massage, that’s really going to make up for and take a lot of the stress away. So you’re not going to be able to get a massage every week. You’re not going to be able to indulge in the necessity of self-care daily. But an hour a month is great, even if it doesn’t feel perfect, which is not a real thing anyway.

Massage bed in Sarva Studio with candles

GayDenver: Anything you’d like to say to the readers?

Sarva: That self-care is not a luxury, self-care is a necessity. And that looks different for everyone. Massage is a tool that we can individualize to you and make sure your self-care needs to get a dress whether that’s addressing physical pain, or just coming in to zone out for an hour.

Jeff Wilson
Author: Jeff Wilson

Jeff is one of the owner of GayDenver and one of its writers. He is a Denver transplant who loves the city and the proximity of the mountains. He is happily married to his partner.

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