How massage can improve your immunity this season

Massage therapist, judo champion, life coach, and tarot reader Tetyana Probyy-Holova shares her expansive insight for improving your wellbeing this year

Man in striped sweater massaging a topless lady
Image originally featured in the December 2000 issue of Wallpaper*. Photographer: Sesse Lind. Fashion editor: Philip Scurrah. Fashion assistants: Jen Ford and Karin Hedvall. Interiors editor: Thomas Lykke. Make-up: Linda Sundquist at Link Details. Hair: Helen Borg at Link Details. 
(Image credit: Sesse Lind)

Tetyana Probyy-Holova is one of London’s most in-demand massage therapists. She is also a former National Ukrainian Black Belt Judo Champion, and has a degree in physio rehabilitation, human health and sport, as well as certificates in yoga, life coaching, feng shui and tarot.  

As we settle into the new year, we ask Probyy-Holova to share her insight into the many forms of wellness that make up her practice: from massages you can do at home to boost immunity, to her tips for maintaining a healthy mindset. 

Probyy-Holova is currently finishing a residency at Browns Brook Street, where those clients lucky enough to get a slot can experience her signature lymphatic drainage massages first hand. (To discover the insights of Browns’ previous resident experts, in different fields, read our interviews with Haeckels’ founder Dom Bridges and visionary hairstylist Issac Poleon.) Meanwhile, here are Probyy-Holova’s massage and wellness tips…

Portrait of massage therapist Tetyana Probyy-Holova

(Image credit: TBC)

Wallpaper*: How does massage improve immunity?

Tetyana Probyy-Holova: We always suggest booking in regular massages as this helps flush out toxins, reduce inflammation and increase blood flow throughout the body. In doing so, this increases our white blood cell count, helping our body fight diseases and viruses. What is so special about my residency at Browns Brook Street is that it offers three different and bespoke massages [a Detox Massage, Full Body Immunity Boosting Massage, and an Abdominal Healing Massage] that the body can benefit from, leaving you completely rejuvenated as you start the new year.

W*: Is there a simple massage technique people use each day to help improve their immunity?

TPH: There are two simple ways that we can help boost our immune system through massage and both can easily be done at home:

Dry Brushing
Before showering in the morning, use a dry brush in movements towards the heart. For arms, use brushing movements towards the armpits. For legs, start at the ankles and move up, working in swift strokes, so you can help rinse away any loosened, dead skin cells.

Self-drainage massage
Use long repetitive strokes, always towards the heart, and circular strokes on joints, abdomen, chest and face. Alternatively, place a tennis ball in your armpit, and gently pump your arm into your body.

W*: Beyond message, what tips do you have for people looking to naturally improve their immunity?

TPH: Besides looking after ourselves through regular detox/lymphatic drainage body treatments, our immunity can be organically improved by moderate exercise, a mindful diet and a self-care routine. 

Regular activity
No matter what type of exercise you prefer to do, whether it be cardio, weights, or low impact, I always encourage my clients to stick to their wellness goals. Always ensure you’re setting realistic targets for yourself. It is never too late to start!

Limit your sugar/sodium consumption, alongside balancing your diet with more healthy fats and whole plant food, which is high in fibre. We really are what we eat! 

Self-care habits
Getting enough sleep, keeping hydrated, and supplementing wisely are all important. Keep yourself accountable for your health. 

Although none of these suggestions can prevent diseases and viruses fundamentally, they may reinforce your body’s defences against harmful pathogens. How hard you get hit by a cold or flu completely depends on how strong your immune system is.

W*: Your career experience extends far beyond massage. How did judo give you new insight into the body and mind?

TPH: My background in judo and in professional sport has really given me the power to be a massage therapist; you need to have good energy and be physically strong to carry out seven massages a day. I essentially see massage as a discipline, much like sport, and through my sporting background, I also have the ability to better advise my clients, as I know the body and understand its mechanics. Besides this, I am also well versed in the nutritional value of food and where we get our energy and strength from and so look at the body holistically through several different factors.

W*: As a life coach, is there any advice you consistently find yourself giving to clients?

TPH: A lot of women project a lack of self-worth in regards to their bodies. I truly wish to promote the fundamentals of self-love and self-respect. I have an hour with my clients during my massage appointments, and within this time slot I do my best to encourage them to empower themselves, in every shape and form. I want to help them find a solution and make changes, through reassurance and self-care. 

W*: Tell us more about your background in tarot and why you are interested in it. 

TPH: I’m into energies essentially, which ties into my background in yoga and tarot. Tarot is a book of symbols, and a language within itself. We have signs around us all the time, and learning tarot helps to recognise these signs and understand the energies around us, helping guide us.


Writer and Wallpaper* Contributing Editor

Mary Cleary is a writer based in London and New York. Previously beauty & grooming editor at Wallpaper*, she is now a contributing editor, alongside writing for various publications on all aspects of culture.