Alternative Wellness: Time to fly with acrosage |

Alternative Wellness: Time to fly with acrosage

Take the weight off your spine by going inverted

Sunshine Gray of Sunshine Massage Studio flies Nathan Tucker during an acrosage session.
Sunshine Massage Studio/Courtesy photo

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson searched the valley for alterative wellness modalities that are lesser-known and have proven benefits. Follow along each Sunday in January and discovery other ways to work wellness into your life into your life in 2023.

Are you ready to fly? Sunshine Massage Studio in Lionshead is ready to take you on an anti-gravity, multi-dimensional and multi-sensory massage journey.  

“Flying” is a term used when one person is what’s called the “base” and they “fly” the other person and position them in all types of poses that help stretch and lengthen muscles and decompress the spine. Think of when you were a kid and you’d play “airplane” and someone was the base and you’d hop onto their feet and put your arms out like an airplane – it’s kind of like that. But to tell us more, let’s get the more scientific details from the expert, Sunshine Gray, owner of Sunshine Massage Studio.

Sunshine is a ray of sunshine, the petite blonde exudes positive energy and light and is passionate about acrosage, the term used to describe this type of modality that incorporates acrobatics into massage. Gray had a successful massage practice on the Big Island in Hawaii and met Benjamin Marantz, and ex-acrobat who incorporated massage into acrobatics.

“I’ve never met anyone who combined so much healing into 15 minutes. It was mind boggling, my jaw dropped watching the first acro session and after I experienced it, I’ve never felt healthier in my body than after the 15-minute acrosage. So, I just want to spread that awareness that you don’t need a 60 minute massage to transform your life,” Gray said.

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Gray had grown up in Vail and decided to leave Hawaii and open a practice here that would incorporate acrosage.

“I felt passionate about bringing this niche to Vail because I know that it is not common, I know that this is something new to Vail. It takes the weight of the world off your body,” Gray said.

Getting inverted and reducing the weight on your spine can be achieved through acrosage with Sunshine Massage Studio.
Sunshine Massage Studio/Courtesy photo

Sunshine Massage Studio combines acrosage into other massage treatments for maximum benefit.

“We like to do the acrosage first because it builds trust between the massage therapist and the client,” Gray said. “The whole goal of this session is to allow the person to fully let go. It’s a complete mental rejuvenation. In terms of the deeper intention of acrosage, it’s rebirth.”

The time came for me to get inverted. I had seen the website and knew that Sunshine Massage Studio did this practice, and I had always been curious about what it would feel like. I’ve had back problems earlier in life and even had back surgery, so any kind of weightlessness or inversions are good for my spine.

The massage artists at Sunshine Massage Studio from left to right: Sunshine Gray, Amy Pizarro-Griffiths, Rollie Synder, Brigitte Brown, Nicole Luczkow, Ally Hallahan.
Sunshine Massage Studio/Courtesy photo

First off, some aromatherapy. Gray had me pick a few scents that spoke to me. I had peppermint, eucalyptus and a serenity relaxation blend.

“We want to get you to breathe, the foundation of massage is breath work,” Gray said.

The room is dark and I basically let Sunshine be my guide. At first, I was stiff and trying to maintain control. As a former high school and college cheerleader who did partner stunts, I was always taught to “stay tight” in order to help our partners hold the pose or stunt we were doing. Once I finally let go and trusted Sunshine to fly me, I relaxed and remembered to breathe.

It was so cool…I remember thinking ‘What day is it? Where do I live again?’ I was floating. I was upside down, I was sideways, I was weightless. And it felt great!

“People love this, they love being able to close their eyes and it feels like they are floating in water or outer space,” Gray said.

Yep, I had thoughts of those weightless astronauts and wondered if this is what it would feel like to be up near the stars.

“In this state, you lose complete control and knowledge of where your body is in time and space and what is up and what is down, what year is it. It can be a really mentally cleansing experience,” Gray said.

While I was flying, Sunshine was also saying positive affirmations and the energy in the room was palpable. When my session was done, I was all smiles, and I did remember what day it was and where I lived. Sunshine and I shared a smile and some laughter about my first “flight.”

“Let’s just celebrate the fact that you carved time out for this because there can be this pressure to give all of your energy to everything outside of your precious body vessel, but we can celebrate that the body is here, at the studio, you took the time to do this,” Gray said.

I was so curious as to how Gray and her staff have the strength to do this.

“I get asked all the time how much weight can I fly. I can fly someone up to 175 pounds,” Gray said. They have other staff members, Gray calls them massage artists, who can fly more weight. “All body types are welcome and we also have a spring-loaded padded yoga swing that can hold up to 300 pounds.”

No prior experience is necessary, just a willingness to be open to the experience.

“Some of the postures look intense and I love to tell my clients that, no, you don’t have to have any experience with yoga or dance or be a Cirque du Soleil acrobat, everyone can learn how to surrender their spines.” Gray said.

The reason Gray and her staff are able to fly people in what seems like an effortless way is because of bone stacking.

Jasmine Aas acts as the base to fly Sunshine Gray at Sunshine Massage Studio in Lionshead.
Sunshine Massage Studio/Courtesy photo

“Acrobats work on bone stacking, not strength alone. Think about human pyramids and you may look at the person at the base and wonder how they can hold this position and it is because the bones are actually designed to take on strength and they actually love it, it builds bone density and the bones like the challenge. So, when I teach people how to do this, I tell them that as the base they stack the femur and stack all the bones so that the weight of the client just goes right through and it feels extremely stable,” Gray said.

Acrosage is a great treatment to get before you get one of the many styles of massage on the menu at Sunshine Massage Studio. You are relaxed, stretched out and ready to receive the benefits of a massage treatment, and the weightless feeling is addicting, so you may find yourself working this into your wellness routine more and more. To learn more, go to

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