Working -- Uscimaya Apsaras

SHE IS:

A teacher of the healing arts.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Uscimaya (Maya) Apsaras, 33, teaches massage at California College of

Physical Arts in Huntington Beach. Born in Malaysia, Apsaras recalls

being introduced to the healing arts early on.

"My godmother was known for her healing abilities and from the age of

5 until the age of 10, she was very responsible for teaching me about

healing," Apsaras said. "I learned everything from cooking and herbal

preparations to massage using homemade oils with special herbs and spices

added. I used to follow my godmother around town and watch her do the

work and I would learn because the only one she would allow to massage

her was me."

THE LEARNING YEARS

Apsaras has been fortunate enough to have many mentors throughout her

life. Her mother, also a healer, focused on teaching her about the

benefits of food as a healing tool. Several years later, Apsaras learned

about Chinese medicine from another teacher in Singapore.

In 1992 she came to the United States and had the opportunity to study

a vast array of subjects including anthropology and art history. It was

during this time that Apsaras realized her calling.

"It was through my speech teacher at Orange Coast [College], Kat

Carroll, that I realized that I could do what I had been learning since

the age of 5 [as a profession]," Apsaras said. "For us [Malaysian

people], it's more of a way of life than an occupation. I didn't think it

would ever become a career."

TEACHING HER ART

In 1994, after a lot of support from friends, Apsaras began working

with Chiropractor Gary Leveck. Leveck, another mentor to Apsaras, saw her

inherent abilities and encouraged the young lady to use her skills.

The following year, 1995, Apsaras completed the mandatory 1,000 hours

of work that is required by California College of Physical Arts to be a

holistic health practitioner. By the end of 1997, she was teaching her

unique brand of wellness to students throughout the county.

She now teaches massage class five days a week and says it is

essential to practice this art form on a daily basis. She added that

seeing her students go through the different stages of learning is one of

her biggest thrills.

"The best thing about my job is when I see the students go beyond what

is asked of them."

SI-Story by Torus Tammer;

Phots by XXX

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