Meet Gisela Mendoza Sanchez, the owner of Ya’axché Massage Therapy in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
Ya’axché offers treatment massages designed to increase relaxation and reduce pain. Gisela founded the studio in 2023, aiming to provide balanced healing for each client.
Gisela believes in tailoring treatment plans for individual needs, creating a safe space for clients to heal. Techniques like fascia, cupping, and sports massage are used to reduce pain, increase relaxation, and release harmful muscular patterns. Ya’axché (YASH-cheh) comes from the Mayan word for the Ceiba tree, a sacred tree of life that interconnects all living things, a reflection of Gisela’s commitment to creating relational respect between her and her clients.
Learn more about Ya’axché Massage Therapy in this week’s business spotlight Q&A!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite part about the community your business is in & why?
Ya’axché Massage Therapy in Ballard opens the door to people from all walks of life who would like to experience the safe space for healing I am creating here. Ballard neighborhood was made by immigrant fishermen and has maintained an openness that shapes the culture of Ballard in tolerating and accepting newcomers like me. This is Duwamish land and water that the Xacho-absh “Lake People” stewarded. For me as an immigrant indigenous woman, I feel a responsibility in coming here to spark and connect my Mayan ancestry through Ya’axché Massage to honor the abundance of this land with my own gifts to the community.
Additionally, Ballard neighborhood is home to an intergenerational stew of local artists, musicians, fishermen, hipsters, and techies that makes the neighborhood vibrant. All of these make me feel alive being in this neighborhood bringing Ya’axché Massage Therapy into this diverse matrix.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
I am an immigrant indigenous woman who believes that creating reciprocal relationships with people from all walks of life is essential to bringing awareness about diversity. I believe that small businesses empower and provide a sense of togetherness and belonging to people like me. My hope is to create curiosity in those who are not exposed to people from other ethnic groups. To me, supporting small businesses fosters familiarity that uniquely enriches the social makeup of community and builds an economy where we all secure our collective well-being. It creates a sense of home.
As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?
My first dream of opening my own practice was while I lived on a boat in South Lake Union. I thought about opening my massage practice on board to give clients the experience of soothing rocking plus a massage to increase relaxation. Covid-19 hit and this idea did not materialize but I hope that in the future I can do it.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
Most of my clients do not know that I can empathize with their body challenges. I have a Masters in Public Health and used to do health research. Having a desk job, and the injuries from my weekend hobbies of strenuous trekking and road biking, lead me to look into other options for how to take care of my body and eventually to a specific kind of massage therapy.
I now specialize in fascia therapy. I believe that fascia is revolutionizing the way we have been conditioned to believe about the need to engage deep tissue during massage therapy. Fascia work is gentle, profound, increases relaxation, and eases movement by eliminating restriction in the muscles. It allows us to notice, learn and connect with our own bodies in a way that we did not realize was possible. I customize treatment plans that meet the needs of my clients and people get fascia-nated. I have witnessed how fascia treatment can relieve excruciating pain and support healing from injuries and body trauma. I am passionate about fascia because it is based in science, is a rapidly evolving field, and most importantly because it works!
What are some of your favorite local businesses and why?
My favorite tacos are from El Camión, Twisted Cuban Café & Bar has authentic Cuban food
Anything else you’d like us to know about you and your business?
I am a very curious person. In addition to my passion for fascia, I am also trained and work with hot stones, cupping, and bamboo massage. I am certified and teach infant massage to parents in order for them to support their children to have a better time adjusting to their bodies and the physical world.
On a personal level, I am an advocate for regular movement and love to dance. I am currently learning to dance tango with my loving partner. I enjoy cooking and gardening and we are organizing an apple pressing in the coming weeks to gather with our neighbors and make cider.