To Aimee McDonald, humans aren't the only beings that need healing.
The 37-year-old holistic practitioner opened Mystic Hands Massage and Bodywork at 21709 Redwood Road in Castro Valley on Dec. 15. She hopes this practice will bring both local animals and people more relaxed, pain-free lifestyles.
"I was raised here and I just wanted to bring healing to the community," she said. "I always wanted to get into massage, but life just got in the way."
After spending the past 11 years working at a local animal shelter, McDonald was injured after trying to relocate a 105-pound Mastiff. She suffered a torn rotator cuff and severe tendonitis. Her health was hit with another blow when doctors discovered synovial cyst in her sacrum.
"The doctors told me I'd basically have to live with the pain the rest of my life," she said.
That's when McDonald decided to look toward alternative methods of healing. She enrolled in the World School of Massage and Holistic Healing Arts in Pleasanton and learned how to use massage, medicinal oils and energy to lessen or completely eliminate physical pain.
McDonald calls herself an intuitive healer and specializes in cranial sacral massage as a way to balance the fluid between the one's head, spine and pelvis. She often performs such treatment on clients with cancer, autism or Fibromyalgia. She also specializes in working with one's joints during vibrational healing massage.
"It really puts you in a state of deep relaxation," she said. "I'm a heart-based business and I really believe in the mind-body-soul connection."
For those who are into more common massages, McDonald also offers Swedish, hot stone massages.
From the 100 percent cotton sheets to essential oils, McDonald said she only uses organic, vegan products on her clients.
Animals and People Are A Lot Alike
McDonald began implementing holistic healing to animals not long ago when she participated in an event in Dublin helping guide dogs for the blind. She said from that moment on, she felt the emptiness she had after leaving her job at the animal shelter began to be filled.
"It made me realize that I can still work with animals," she said. "I love working with people, but I've always been an animal person. It's very healing for myself."
She said there's not much of a difference between tending to animals and tending to people. When comparing the two, she said the time spent on the massages is the biggest difference.
"Animals don't sit still as long," she said. "But they get stressed out just like people do."
From horses to dogs, McDonald has worked with numerous animals. Though she is open to helping all species, she's a bit hesitant towards snakes. However, she said she's willing.
McDonald recently donated four 30-minute animal massage sessions for the raffle drawing at .
For the rest of January, McDonald is offering new human clients a flat rate of $60 for massages. Starting February, prices range from $60 to $80.
For animals, sessions last between 15 to 30 minutes and cost between $20 to $40.