By Janice Llanes Fabry
Linda May Thomas lives next door in Rye Brook, but she spends her days in the red-shingled house with the flowery front yard and small front porch at 43 Locust Avenue in downtown Rye. On the second floor, above Judith’s Skin Care, is where she runs Bon Accord Massage.
The sign on the front door to “relax, rebalance, repair, and restore” is a sign of what awaits. The waiting room and massage area, decorated with a neutral palate and muted floral and Buddhist-inspired paintings, are inviting and peaceful. Moreover, her loyal clientele will confirm that Thomas is no less serene, warm, and welcoming.
Bon Accord is named for the harmonious motto of her hometown, Aberdeen, Scotland. Born and bred in the port city with rolling hills and open farmland, Thomas moved here in 2004 when her husband’s job brought them and their three children here for what was supposed to be a three-year temporary post.
“Like so many of the expats who’ve settled here, we’re so happy we stayed,” said Thomas. “When I’m in my studio, I feel that home connection and the sentiment of the motto went along with what I’m doing here.”
It wasn’t until they relocated that Thomas began pursuing a career in healing and well-being. Having tried reflexology in the United Kingdom, Thomas was struck by its benefits and filed away being a practitioner when her kids got older. Once her family put down roots here, she took courses and started practicing. In 2011, she decided to take it further and completed New York State’s 1,000-hour education requirement, the most stringent in the country, to become a licensed practitioner.
“I loved the courses, from the anatomy to the muscle work, because everything was relevant to what I wanted to do,” explained the licensed massage therapist. “Even my initials are the same as my qualification (LMT), so it was meant to be. It has taken me a windy path to get here, but I am finally doing the thing I love.”
In addition to her private practice, she teaches classes at RITE Method Barre Studio in Rye Brook and is involved with Soul Ryeders, the charitable organization that develops and implements support programs and provides individualized resources for those affected by all types of cancer in our community.
For her part, Thomas offers massage and reflexology for women going through cancer treatments in the Mondays with a Soul Ryeders program at the Beauty Bar and Salon in Port Chester. She also offers therapeutic sessions in her Bon Accord studio through the Soul Healing program, an extension of the Monday program that accommodates both men and women.
“Soul Healing recognized a need for people to have private sessions more regularly without being a financial burden, so they pay what they can,” she remarked. Although Thomas doesn’t accept gratuities in her regular practice, she gives her clients the opportunity to pay it forward with a donation to help someone going through cancer treatment.
This population who is typically poked and prodded by medical professionals, she noted, truly needs the human touch with a relaxation element. “Massage therapy eases muscle pain and the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and neuropathy,” explained Thomas. “Removing the stress for even an hour helps one feel at peace and sleep better.”
Initially practicing out of her home, Thomas built a large enough clientele through word of mouth that she opened her Locust Avenue studio two years ago. Trained to have a broad range of techniques at her fingertips, she offers Swedish, deep tissue, myofascial release, aromatherapy, reflexology, pre- and post-natal, infant, and pediatric massage.
Because she has all those modalities up her sleeve, Thomas employs an integrative and customized approach that is driven by her clients’ needs. She determines how they want to feel when they walk out the door — relaxed, energized, pain-free, or with more range of motion.