PALMETTO -- Nicole Deitrick is standing on her client's back.
Grabbing the wooden hand rails above her, she slowly slides one manicured foot down the girl's lotion-slicked frame.
The process is called ashiatsu, a deep-tissue massage using the feet and not the hands. Pop into any spa in Manatee and the chances of finding ashiatsu are slim.
"I think (massage) therapists are intimidated by it because we're trained to use our hands, and it's difficult to learn how to use your feet," Deitrick said. "Our fingers are our eyes. That's how we feel dysfunction in the muscle. To train your feet to do that is strange."
This is just one way Deitrick, owner of North River Body Therapies, tries to be different from the slew of other area spas. North River Body Therapies, which moved to a new location at 1415 10th St. E., Palmet
to, in March, added yoga classes to its list of services this month. The spa offers several types of massage, facials, body treatments and waxing.
"It's really great for people who don't have the budget for massage but they still want to feel better, and there's that touch of pampering to it," said Deitrick, who has been practicing massage for 15 years.
The $10 classes, all led by registered yoga teachers, aim to be gentle and therapeutic. The 370-square-foot studio, an expansion of the existing 2,000-square-foot spa, can accommodate about 10 students per class.
"These classes are so perfect for anyone who has wanted to try yoga, but maybe they were too intimidated or felt like they couldn't do it," said Deitrick, 39.
Instructor Allison Blaustein treats her students to aromatherapy and a light massage during class.
"It's such a nice touch being able to have the aromatherapy," she said.
Blaustein is hoping to roll out a more vigorous vinyasa flow yoga class in the spa's expansive back yard, which is lush with emerald green grass and a giant shade tree.
The building, formerly GreatFlorida Insurance, had been the apple of Deitrick's eye for 10 years. She would admire the front porch, the old windows, its charming, worn-in look every time she drove by.
Prior to moving, North River Body Therapies had been in an Ellenton plaza across from the Pittsburgh Mattress Factory since 2001.
Yoga classes are offered from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Thursday and Saturday.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.