Massage therapist and business owner Maya Nicholls embraced the healing benefits of massage therapy at a young age. One of her first experiences with the practice was during visits made with her parents to Harbin Hot Springs, a healing retreat and workshop center in Lake County.

“I loved receiving massage and its benefits,” Nicholls said. “I wanted to have the ability to help others in the same way.”

Nicholls, is the owner of Maya’s Massage Therapy located in downtown Petaluma.

Nicholls draws inspiration from her father, who she says, “devoted his life to raising me,” following her mother’s death when Nicholls was just 11-years-old.

“He cared deeply for me, but at the same time, trusted me to make good choices,” Nicholls said. “I decided to travel to India by myself when I was 21, following a personal life crisis, and he supported my decision. I went to heal, stayed longer than I planned and it was the best thing I ever did.”

The most important thing she learned in India was that, “Happiness does not come from materialistic things. Relationships, with yourself and others are the way to happiness,” she said.

Nicholls said that growing up without a mom, who was a pediatric nurse, helped shape who she is today.

“I had thought to follow in her footsteps, but I found my own path to help others,” she said.

Nicholls obtained a bachelor’s degree in arts and humanities with a concentration in healing and ecology, and after opening her business, quickly began attracting clients to her brand of healing massage therapy. As a dedicated massage therapist, Nicholls also made a commitment to stay sober, saying alcoholism runs in her family and that as a mom, parenting her son comes first.

Nicholls said healing others can sometimes be detrimental to the health of the healer. After performing countless massages, Nicholls found herself with repetitive stress injuries in her wrists and thumbs. Not to be deterred from the work she loves, Nicholls took up the study of Ashiatsu, a deep tissue massage performed with the feet. Nicholls’ clients love Ashiatsu so much that she has had all of her staff become certified in it as well.

Her goal, as she says, is to “move toward excellence in life.”

She also feels it is important to intuit her clients’ needs and tailor her massages to fit each person’s requirements.

Another specialty of Nicholls, is the use of essential oils, which she has been studying for years. Calling herself “brave, grounded, yet sensitive,” Nicholls said, “I get energy back every time I do a (massage) session.”

Her business motto is “be truly cared for” something she believes massage gives to her clients.

“Massage, in my opinion, is one of the most healing things you can do for yourself, especially in this day and age. Here we are providing the space to come and relax for an hour or two and feel really good,” Nicholls said.

Maya’s Massage Therapy is located at 860 Petaluma Blvd. N., Suite E. For more information or to book an appointment, call 415-342-1345, or visit

(Contact Lynn Schnitzer at