Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
I was trained to do Swedish massage in the 1980s; this is the basic training that most practitioners receive when they go to massage school. Practicing Swedish massage is great, but I learned that there are situations that call for more, so I began searching for teachers and exploring different styles of bodywork. By now, my style has become so infused with many trainings and experiences that it has become my very own “Swedish gumbo” style &mdash a mix of modalities along with my observations, my intuitions and my tendency to use time as a modality.
I observe that one way my style differs from other practitioners is that I take a lot of time with the tissue. I have learned that bodies need a minute or two to figure out a new muscle length. When I take my self out of the session by just holding a particular area and allowing your brain just to receive nothing but very specific sensation from a very specific point, amazing releases happen and the key is time. There are situations in which I tend to throw the books out the window and just use my hands: they are well practiced and sensitive and I trust them a lot.
For treatment work, I mostly use the techniques described below, mashed together from minute to minute and session to session.
Swedish Massage is the popular and basic form of bodywork. It is performed with oil directly on skin. It increases circulation, decreases edema, increases muscle length and gently stretches fascia and scar tissue.
Craniosacral Therapy uses the pulse of the cerebrospinal fluid to identify where restrictions are in the membranes and bones of your body and to restore balance back to them. I study embryology and the unfoldment of the midline to learn how to use the developmental pathways that still exist in tissue and movement patterns to help a body reorganize and heal after physical or emotional trauma.
Myoskeletal Alignment Technique focuses on facet joints of the spine and is wonderful for assessing and treating postural imbalances and supporting chiropractic work.
Reiki is energy work, and it is the main reason many people like my massage but they don’t know why. I mostly use reiki with my Swedish gumbo for relaxation massage.
Trigger Point Therapy helps release pain by focusing on the points where muscles meet tendons. These points refer pain in predictable patterns, and I use these patterns to identify which muscles need to be treated.
Neuromuscular Therapy and its cousin, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, take advantage of the laws by which muscles contract and relax in order to obtain a release or to bring weak muscles more tone.
Thai Massage, Level II is useful to me when I suspect that my client’s body needs some passive movements and deep stretching. Think of Thai massage as deep stretching that you can’t do yourself; it lengthens and opens hips, ribcages and shoulders. High-end athletes and people who sit at desks often benefit from this modality.
Pregnancy Massage sessions are the sweetest hours of my workweek. I trained with Carole Osborne-Sheets, who literally wrote the book on pregnancy massage, because I felt that it is important that pregnant bodies receive touch from a trained practitioner. Pregnancy massage differs from a regular massage session in that the “mom” is positioned differently on the table, different areas of her body require more attention, and other areas of her body require a lighter depth of work. Usually the session is focused on bringing circulation to areas that are overburdened while relaxing mom. I believe that a serene mother is better able to provide the ideal environment that a developing baby needs for proper development.
Hot Rocks and Spa Modalities (body wraps; herbal and detox hydrotherapy) promote health through relaxation and sedation of the central nervous system. Pure relaxation techniques are powerful tools that I use to prepare my client’s nervous system for the changes we want to make. Healing that happens in an environment of calm lasts longer because the changes can penetrate into the nervous system.
Trager is a system of moving the body with the intent to use movement patterns and feedback from muscles and joints to reset an area of the body. Trager gives your brain another option for the area and helps your brain reconnect to an area. This is particularly useful with injuries or chronic stress holding patterns. I have not received certification for this modality, but I have taken the class that introduced me to the concepts and I have been influenced by that exposure.