Archive | February, 2013

Celestial Living Arts Monthly Forecast February Love 2013 © Liz Howell

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

Aries (Mar 21-Apr 19): The feminine side of your martian get-up-and-go will need a positive channel for expression and, fortunately for you, the world is full of unexplored channels in that department.
Taurus (Apr 20-May 20): Trust that cooperation can meet passion and pleasure to define one of the most unique experiences of love enjoyed by mankind in the year ahead.
Gemini (May 21-Jun 20): The cliff notes for 2013 suggest you should explore new love vibes by changing dance partners frequently and learning to love each and every one of them in their own special way.
Cancer (Jun 21-Jul 22): You can work quite creatively and travel far with your concepts of love in the year to come by aligning with your inner cosmic beloved.
Leo (Jul 23-Aug 22): Leos will elevate their love potential in 2013 by expanding their natural ability to exude heart-warming affection in a pay-it-forward scenario of a cosmic gifting circle.
Virgo (Aug 23-Sept 22): 2013 love stars suggest you stay open to the new and unknown, be reasonable about your expectations and allow yourself to fall in love with anyone and everyone from time to time.
Libra (Sept 23-Oct 22): Seeds sown in love throughout 2013 will come up for review a year from now offering the chance to make revisions for greater reward.
Scorpio (Oct 23-Nov 21): Contrary to what might appear to be the case, your personal power base will actually be enhanced with a softer, gentler approach to all matters in love.
Sagittarius (Nov 22-Dec 21): Dear Sag, please carry on with your research on the unwritten, unstudied, and yet-to be-experienced annals of love. We’ll be looking forward to the 2013 report.
Capricorn (Dec 22-Jan 19): Your most rewarding participation to be found and appreciated in the love realms this year will come through a sense of fortification via spontaneous release.
Aquarius (Jan 20-Feb 18): Your 2013 growth curve in love comes through the investigation of the individual and collective limitations that restrict our access to the experience of unconditional love.
Pisces (Feb 19-Mar 20): As you yearn for your cosmic connection in love, don’t forget the Pisces 101 requirement that you stay present and separately embodied on the road to union and bliss.

Liz Howell is available for personal astrological consultations and can be reached at Liz@CelestialLivingArts.com.
CelestialLivingArts.com

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Chiropractic & Acupressure for Full Body Alignment

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

As Plato wrote 2000 years ago, in The Republic: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Patients discover that with Dr. Richard Rogachevsky’s Full-Body Alignment approach to the treatment of injuries and chronic pain, their bodies heal better and quicker when therapy is directed towards the whole rather than the parts.
For over 30 years, Richard Rogachevsky, D.C., M.A.O.M., has helped patients discover new freedom from pain and improved mobility by gently releasing restrictions in the biomechanical linkage that runs through the body’s connective tissues, and normalizing nerve reflexes near and far from the points of distress.
As he explains, “…many people don’t realize that the source of their pain or restricted movement may be coming from somewhere else in the body. Chronic low back pain can be caused by tension arising from a poorly healed shoulder sprain, which perhaps never hurt that much, or became numb and stopped hurting long ago. Likewise, migraine headaches can be caused by restrictions in the mid-back, which may not cause pain in the back, but can disrupt healthy peripheral circulation and bring on throbbing headaches.”
Dr. Rogachevsky draws from his extensive training in Eastern and Western medical traditions, and uses both acupressure and spinal manipulations in his Full Body Alignment approach. Receive a free biomechanical analysis with a 60-minute session, now through March, 2013. Automobile and Health Insurance accepted.
Natural Choices Health Clinic, SE 30th & Belmont St., Portland. For an appointment, call 503-445-7115.

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Exploring Amma Therapy

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

Searching for a modality based in the traditions of Chinese medicine that is proven effective for both preventative as well as healing needs? Amma Therapy incorporates deep energetic bodywork with Chinese Medicine to create a truly unique modality.
A medicinal philosophy, Chinese medicine includes meditation, qigong, nutrition, feng shui, herbs, bodywork as well as needles (acupuncture). Amma Therapy, an ancient Asian healing art similar to acupuncture in terms of diagnostics and practice, but without the needles, is recognized by the AOBTA (American Organization of Bodywork Therapies of Asia) as a distinct lineage Asian Bodywork form brought to the U.S. in the 1970s.
Amma therapy can be used to assess energetic imbalances, help alleviate digestive issues, allergies, auto immune conditions, male and female reproductive concerns, depression, muscular/skeletal issues and so much more.
A trained Amma therapist completes a Chinese medicine assessment, including tongue and pulse diagnosis, and treats accordingly, using deep circular pressure to access the channels and specific acu-points. Typically, one feels deeply relaxed but alert and vital following a treatment. As part of their training, Amma therapy practitioners learn wholistic nutrition, qigong, tai chi, Chinese medicine assessment and treatment skills.
Portland is currently home to The Wellspring School for Healing Arts, which officially relocated to Portland last year after 18 years in Boise, Idaho. The school is the only school in the U.S. teaching Amma therapy as a standalone practice, offering a 1000-plus hour professional certification program.

For more information, call 503-688-1482 or visit thewellspring.org.

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So Many Emotions…So Little Time

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

When it comes to healing, many in the natural or complementary healthcare field understand the importance that emotions play in the overall health of an individual. This may never be truer than with those conditions that are longstanding or chronic, but where one begins to address emotions and their relationship to one’s health is at the beginning.
As daunting a task as this might sound, it can actually be quite wonderful and liberating, more likely, and using a technique called Self Created Health is a very good place to start. This technique was 29 years in its development and is the culmination, distillation and organization of a compendium of approaches, many of which take you only part of the way to a satisfying conclusion. Self Created Health does so much more than releasing unwanted emotions; it takes us through an elegantly simple process that brings us to resolution, and ultimately transformation, through seven concise and well-defined steps.
So if you have tried emotional technique after emotional technique and are still looking for that elusive transformation, why not learn Self Created Health and see what true emotional liberation can do for you.
Judie Maron-Friend is a certified Quantum-Touch Instructor conducting workshops in QT Level I, Level II and Self Created Health. She has been practicing Energy healing for more than a decade and teaching Quantum-Touch since 2004. For more information about Self Created Health and Maron-Friend’s other offerings, contact her at 503-288-8369 or judiemaronfriend@gmail.com.

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Mill-e-Moto Opens for Business in Downtown Beaverton

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

Mill-e-Moto: Center for Traditional East Asian Medicine provides a complete system of healthcare encompassing many traditional East Asian healing modalities including acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage and qigong (meditation and movement exercises).
Co-owners, Ryan Milley and Misako Yamamoto, a married couple, have masters degrees in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental medicine (OCOM), which was recently named the best acupuncture college in the country. Milley is also an associate faculty member in the research department at OCOM. Both have been in practice for approximately eight years in separate locations and have recently joined forces to open Mill-e-Moto. They are excited to be in the area and look forward to working with new patients.
Yamamoto and Milley have advanced training in Japanese styles of acupuncture and see a wide variety of conditions ranging from pain, headaches, digestive complaints and gynecological issues. Milley specializes in orthopedic and sports medicine while Yamamoto’s intuitive and esoteric approach suits emotion and spirit based disorders.
Mill-e-Moto accepts all major insurance as well as motor vehicle claims and workers’ compensation cases. Located at 4625 SW Washington Avenue, just a few blocks from the Beaverton library and farmers’ market, their hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information, visit Mill-e-Moto.com or call 503-372-6463.

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Natural Awakenings Bodywork Guide

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

In 2010, the nonprofit Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, published the results of research by its department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences that confirmed centuries of anecdotal evidence: People that undergo massage experience measureable changes in the responses of their immune and endocrine systems.

For millennia, therapeutic touch has been used to heal the body and reduce tension. Today, more than 100 types of bodywork techniques are available, with modalities ranging from massage and deep tissue manipulation to movement awareness and bio-energetic therapies. All are designed to improve the body’s structure and functioning. Bodywork may be used to help reduce pain, relieve stress, improve blood and lymphatic circulation and promote deep relaxation; some therapies simultaneously focus on emotional release.

The following list includes many of the better-known bodywork systems. Finding an approach that improves one’s mental and physical health is a highly individual process; with professional guidance, several modalities may be combined for the greatest personal benefit.

Acupressure: Based on the same system as acupuncture, acupressure stimulates body pressure points using fingers and hands instead of needles, in order to restore a balanced flow of life energy (qi or chi, pronounced “chee”). This force moves through the body along 12 energy pathways, or meridians, which practitioners “unblock and strengthen.” Common styles include jin shin, which gently holds at least two points at once for a minute or more; and shiatsu, which applies firm pressure to each point for three to five seconds. (Also see shiatsu.) Tui na and Thai massage stimulate qi through acupressure hand movements, full-body stretches and Chinese massage techniques. (Also see tui na.) Other forms of acupressure include jin shin do, jin shin jyutsu and acu-yoga. Learn more at Acupressure.com.

Alchemical Bodywork: Synthesizes bodywork techniques and hypnosis to address emotional sources of chronic tension and pain held in the body and facilitate their release. Practitioners are typically certified in massage, often in conjunction with hypnotherapy certification. Learn more at AlchemyInstitute.com.

Alexander Technique: This awareness practice helps identify and change unconscious, negative physical habits related to posture and movement, breathing and tension. While observing the way an individual walks, stands, sits or performs other basic movements, the practitioner keeps their hands in easy contact with the body and gently guides it to encourage a release of restrictive muscular tension. The technique is frequently used to treat repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome, backaches and stiff necks and shoulders. Learn more at AlexanderTechnique.com.

Amma Therapy: A specialized form of bodywork therapy, amma (which means “push-pull” in Chinese) combines energetic, rhythmic massage techniques on specific acupressure points to facilitate blood circulation, lymphatic drainage and muscular relaxation. Suitable for individuals in varying degrees of physical condition, amma addresses challenges related to stress and anxiety; neck, shoulder and low back pain; and digestive health.

Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy: Developed by American Ruthie Hardee, it combines elements of traditional Thai massage, barefoot shiatsu and Keralite foot massage (chavutti thirummal) for the treatment of chronic low-back and hip pain. Using overhead wooden bar supports, the therapist employs body weight and gliding foot strokes to apply compression massage along strategic points in the back muscles to relieve irritations on the spinal nerve caused by inflammation and swelling. Learn more at Deepfeet.com.

Aston Kinetics (or Aston Patterning): Created by bodywork visionary Judith Aston in 1977, this integrated system of movement education recognizes the influence of the body-mind relationship on well-being. It incorporates bodywork, massage, ergonomic adjustments and fitness training in order to ease acute or chronic pain. Learn more at AstonKinetics.com.

Ayurvedic Massage: One part of panchakarma, a traditional East Indian detoxification and rejuvenation program, in which the entire body is vigorously massaged with large amounts of warm oil and herbs to remove toxins. With the client’s permission, oil is also poured into the ears, between the eyebrows and applied to specific chakras, or body energy centers, in techniques known respectively as karna purana, shirodhara and marma chikitsa. These treatments, modified to meet the needs of the West, powerfully affect the mind and nervous system—calming, balancing and bringing a heightened sense of awareness and deep inner peace.

Ayurvedic massage techniques are grounded in an understanding of the primordial energies of the five elements—ether, air, fire, water and earth—and of the three basic types of energies, or constitutions, that are present in everyone and everything—vata, pitta and kapha. A knowledgeable therapist selects and customizes various ayurvedic massage techniques by selecting the rate and pressure of massage strokes and the proper oils and herbs. Learn more at AyurvedicMassage.com.

Bioenergetics plus Core Energetics: A combination of physical and psychological techniques that identifies and frees areas of repressed physical and emotional trauma in the body. Deep breathing, various forms of massage and physical exercises release layers of chronic muscular tension and defensiveness, termed “body armor”. The unlocking of feelings creates the opportunity to better understand and integrate them with other aspects of oneself. Core Energetics is based on the principles of bioenergetics, but acknowledges spirituality as a key dimension of healing. Learn more at usabp.org.

Bowen Technique (also called Bowtech and Bowenwork): This muscle and connective tissue therapy employs gentle, purposeful moves, through light clothing, to help rebalance the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The practitioner’s subtle inputs deliver signals to the ANS at specific locations—muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves—and the body responds in its own time, within its vital capacity. The technique is named after its originator, Australian Tom Bowen, who also introduced the concept of inserting periods of rest between a series of movements within a treatment session. Sometimes called the homeopathy of bodywork, Bowtech addresses imbalances and both acute and chronic pain. Learn more at Bowtech.com.

BodyTalk: Developed by chiropractor and acupuncturist Dr. John Veltheim, BodyTalk is based upon bio-energetic psychology, dynamic systems theory, Chinese medicine and applied kinesiology. By integrating tapping, breathing and focusing techniques, BodyTalk helps the body synchronize and balance its systems and strengthens its capability of self-repair. BodyTalk is used to address a range of health challenges, ranging from chronic fatigue and allergies to addictions and cellular damage. Practitioners are usually licensed massage therapists (LMT) or bodyworkers. Learn more at BodyTalkSystem.com.

Breema Bodywork: Often described as a cross between partner yoga and Thai massage, Breema is a movement technique designed to restore vitality at an energetic level. It employs standardized sets of movements, based upon more than 300 sequences, none of which require strong exertions or muscular contortions. Breema techniques, which identify and emphasize nine principles of harmony, can be administered by a practitioner or by the individual as Self-Breema. The therapy originated in the Kurdish village of Breemava, in Western Asia. Learn more at Breema.com.

Chi Nei Tsang (CNT): Principles of kung fu and tai chi chuan, known as chi-kung (or qigong) support this holistic approach to massage therapy. CNT literally means, “energy transformation of the internal organs,” and practitioners focus mainly on the abdomen, with deep, soft and gentle touches, to train the organs to work more efficiently. It addresses the acupuncture meridian system (chi) and all other bodily systems—digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, endocrine, urinary, reproductive and muscular-skeletal—along with unprocessed emotional charges. Learn more at ChiNeiTsang.com.

Craniosacral Therapy (CST): The practitioner applies manual therapeutic procedures to remedy distortions in the structure and function of the craniosacral mechanism—the brain and spinal cord, the bones of the skull, the sacrum and interconnected membranes. Craniosacral work is based upon two major premises: the bones of the skull can be manipulated because they never completely fuse; and the pulse of the cerebrospinal fluid can be balanced by a practitioner trained to detect pulse variations. CST, also referred to as cranial osteopathy, is used to treat chronic pain, migraine headaches, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), ear and eye problems, balance problems, learning difficulties, dyslexia and hyperactivity.

Deep Tissue Bodywork: In this method, stretching and moving the connective tissue that envelops the muscles (fascia) works to lengthen and balance the body along its natural, vertical axis. Distortions of the connective tissue may be caused by internal reactions and complications due to accidents, emotional tensions or past unreleased traumas. The practitioner uses slow strokes, direct pressure or friction across the muscles via fingers, thumbs or elbows. Deep tissue massage works to detoxify tissue by helping to remove accumulated lactic acid and other waste products from the muscles. The therapy is used to ease or eliminate chronic muscular pain or inflammatory pain from arthritis, tendonitis and other ailments, and help with injury rehabilitation. Learn more at DeepBodywork.com.

Feldenkrais Method: This distinctive approach combines movement training, gentle touch and verbal dialogue to help students straighten out what founder Moshé Pinhas Feldenkrais calls, “kinks in the brain.” Kinks are learned movement patterns that no longer serve a constructive purpose. They may have been adopted to compensate for a physical injury or to accommodate individuality in the social world. Students of the Feldenkrais Method unlearn unworkable movements and discover better, personalized ways to move, using mind-body principles of slowed action, conscious breathing, body awareness and thinking about their feelings.

Feldenkrais takes two forms: In individual hands-on sessions (Functional Integration), the practitioner’s touch is used to address the student’s breathing and body alignment. In a series of classes of slow, non-aerobic motion (Awareness Through Movement), students “relearn” improved ways their bodies can move. Feldenkrais therapy is useful in the treatment of muscle injuries, back pain, arthritis, stress and tension. Learn more at Feldenkrais.com.

Hakomi: A Hopi Indian word that translates as, “Who are you?” Hakomi is a body-centered psychotherapy that relies upon touch, massage, movement and structural and energy work to help enable individuals to change their “core” material—memories, images, beliefs, neural patterns and deeply held emotional dispositions. Originally created by Ron Kurtz in the mid-1970s and later refined, the technique views the body as an interactive source of information about the unconscious mind. Learn more at HakomiInstitute.com.

Hellerwork: Expanding upon the principals of Rolfing, Hellerwork combines deep tissue bodywork with movement education and the dialogue of the mind-body connection. Joseph Heller, the first president of the Rolf Institute, believed that specific movement exercises could help individuals move more efficiently, maintain alignment and mobility and enjoy fuller and easier breathing, as well as increased energy. Although primarily a preventive therapy, Hellerwork also helps alleviate stress-related disorders and musculoskeletal aches and pains. Learn more at Hellerwork.com.

HEMME Approach: Derived from elements of physical medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy and physical therapy, HEMME (history, evaluation, modalities, manipulation and exercise) was developed in 1986 by Licensed Massage Therapist Dave Leflet to treat soft tissue injuries and impairments. Pain relief results from restoring alignment and improving myofascial dysfunction. Learn more at HemmeApproach.com.

Hoshino Therapy: Professor Tomezo Hoshino’s technique integrates the principles of acupuncture with the art of hand therapy. Accredited as a doctor of acupuncture, he found that in cases of arthrosis (osteoarthritis) and other painful ailments associated with soft tissue aging, acupuncture afforded only temporary relief. Hoshino Therapy is often used to ease soft tissue disorders such as bursitis, tendonitis, muscular tension and back pain.

Hot Stone Therapy: (See LaStone Therapy Stone Massage)

Integrative Therapeutic Massage: (See Neuromuscular Therapy)

Jin Shin Jyutsu: A form of acupressure refined from ancient Japanese traditions, jin shin jyutsu acts to harmonize the life force within. Practitioners evaluate pulses, body conformation and symptoms to customize sessions designed to alleviate discomfort while addressing its cause(s).
Utilizing the hands as jumper cables to reawaken bodily energy, sequences of vital energy points are held to guide, redirect and reestablish harmony in spirit, mind and body. Learn more at jsjinc.net.

LaStone Therapy Stone Massage: This soothing form of massage employs smooth, heated or cooled stones to elicit physical healing, mental relaxation and a spiritual connection with Earth’s energy. Stones are placed at different spots on the body for energy balancing or may be used by the therapist on specific trigger points. Warm stones encourage the exchange of blood and lymph and provide relaxing heat for deep-tissue work. Cold stones aid with inflammation, moving blood out of the affected area and balancing male/female energies. The alternating heat and cold of thermotherapy helps activate all of the body’s healing processes with a rapid exchange of blood and oxygen and an alternating rise and fall of respiration rate as the body seeks homeostasis. Learn more at LaStoneTherapy.com.

LooyenWork: This painless, deep-tissue approach works with the connective tissue and fascial components by combining the techniques of Rolfing, postural integration and Aston patterning to free tension, remove adhesions and improve freedom of movement. It was introduced in 1985 by Dutch-born bodyworker and counselor Ted Looyen after he received treatment for a serious back injury and decided to develop a massage therapy that would promote recovery from injuries without aggravating the initial trauma. LooyenWork can also address the release and processing of intense emotions.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage: This gentle, non-invasive, rhythmical, whole-body massage aims to stimulate the lymphatic system to release excess fluid from loose connective tissues, thus helping to remove toxins. Lymph glands are part of the body’s defense against infection; blockage or damage within the system may lead to conditions such as edema, acne, inflammation, arthritis and sinusitis. By stimulating one of the body’s natural cleansing systems, it supports tissue health. It’s also been effective in assuaging lymphedema following mastectomy surgery. Learn more at VodderSchool.com and LymphNet.org.

Massage: At its most basic, this ancient hands-on therapy involves rubbing or kneading the body to encourage relaxation, healing and well-being. Today, more than 100 different methods of massage are available, most of them in five categories: traditional; Oriental or energetic; European; contemporary Western; and integrative, encompassing structure, function and movement. Massage offers proven benefits to meet a variety of physical challenges and may also be a useful preventive therapy. Learn more at amtaMassage.org.

Metamorphic Technique: This non-invasive practice can help individuals overcome limiting beliefs that may keep them stuck in particular patterns manifested in physical, mental or emotional problems. During a “Meta” session, the practitioner uses a light touch along spinal reflex points on the feet, head and hands of the individual. Some people prefer to lie down and may fall asleep during a session, while others prefer to sit up and chat. The practitioner does not attempt to direct energy or outcomes, and sessions do not address specific symptoms or problems. Rather, they help individuals connect with their own life force. Learn more at MetamorphicTechnique.org.

Myofascial Release: This whole-body, hands-on technique seeks to free the body from the grip of tight fascia, or connective tissue, thus restoring normal alignment and function and reducing pain. Therapists use their hands to apply mild, sustained pressure in order to gently stretch and soften fascia. Developed in the late 1960s by Physical Therapist John Barnes, myofascial release is used to treat neck and back pain, headaches, recurring sports injuries and scoliosis. Learn more at MyofascialRelease.com.

Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET): This mind-body therapy seeks to restore well-being by removing certain biochemical and bioelectrical charges stored in the brain and manifested as illness or imbalances in the body. NET combines techniques and principles from traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic and applied kinesiology to remove blocks to the body’s natural vitality, allowing it to repair itself naturally. Chiropractor Scott Walker formulated NET in the late 1980s. Learn more at NetMindBody.com.

NeuroMuscular Therapy (NMT): Specific massage therapy and flexibility stretching help balance the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, emphasizing the interwoven roles of the brain, spine and nerves in causing muscular pain. Its goal is to relieve tender, congested spots in muscle tissue and compressed nerves that may radiate pain to other areas of the body. (Also see trigger point/myotherapy.) Learn more at MyofascialTherapy.org.

Ortho-Bionomy: A gentle, non-invasive system of healing, ortho-bionomy reminds the body of its natural ability to restore balance. British Osteopath Arthur Lincoln Pauls developed the technique to stimulate the body by using gentle movement, comfortable positioning, brief compression and subtle contact to relieve joint and muscle pain and reduce stress. Lean more at Ortho-Bionomy.org.

Osho Rebalancing (or Rebalancing): This offshoot of Rolfing focuses on compassionate, gentle touch, combining deep tissue massage, joint tension release, energy balancing and verbal dialogue to relieve tension and physical pain, enhance relaxation and facilitate emotional healing. Rebalancing is usually done in a series of 10 to 12 sessions that work synergistically, although each session is complete in itself. Learn more at Osho.com.

Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy: A highly refined system of corrective treatment, Pfrimmer is designed to aid restoration of damaged muscles and soft tissues throughout the body. Fully trained practitioners use specified movements to stimulate circulation and help regenerate lymphatic flow, promoting detoxification and oxygenation of stagnant tissues. Registered Massage Therapist Therese C. Pfrimmer developed this therapy in the mid-20th century and applied it to recover from her own partial paralysis. Learn more at Pfrimmer.org.

Physical Therapy: Traditional physical therapy evaluates difficulties with mobility or function to focus on rehabilitation that entails restorative treatment and instruction on how to make efficient use of the body in daily activities. Physical therapists use massage, exercise, electrical stimulation, ultrasound and other means to help the patient regain functional movement. Learn more at apta.org.

Point Holding (Body Electronics): This variation of acupressure requires multiple practitioners to hold acupressure points, sometimes up to two hours, to remove energy blockages, balance the flow of energy within the body’s meridians and help the client achieve associated emotional release.

Polarity Therapy: Combinations of therapeutic bodywork, nutritional guidance, yoga-style exercises and counseling aim at heightening body awareness. Polarity therapy asserts that energy fields exist everywhere in nature and their free flow and balance in the human body is the underlying foundation of good health. Practitioners use gentle touch and guidance to help clients balance their energy flow, thus supporting a return to health. The practitioner’s hands do not impart energy, but redirect the flow of the receiver’s own energy. The receiver then recharges himself with his own freed energy. Learn more at PolarityTherapy.org.

Postural Integration (PI): This psychotherapy method simultaneously integrates deep tissue and breath work, body movement and awareness with emotional expression. Practitioners use gentle manipulation, bioenergetics, acupressure and Gestalt dialogue to help individuals increase their sense of emotional and physical well-being. Learn more at icpit.info.

Raindrop Therapy: Based on a healing ritual of Lakota Native Americans, in which warm fluid substances are dropped onto the spine, the intention is to relax and open the body’s energy centers. Modern raindrop therapy also blends aromatherapy, soothing heat and gentle massage. Essential aromatic oils are allowed to methodically drip onto the spine from a height of five or six inches. The oils are then gently brushed up the spine and lightly massaged over the rest of the back, followed by application of a hot compress to facilitate oil absorption and muscle relaxation.

Reflexology (Zone Therapy): Reflexology is based on the idea that specific reflex points on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands correspond with every major organ, gland and area (zone) of the body. Using fingers and thumbs, the practitioner applies pressure to these points to treat a wide range of health problems. Zone therapy, an earlier name for this natural healing art, sometimes refers to a specific form of reflexology. Learn more at Reflexology-USA.net.

Reiki: A healing practice originated in Japan as a way of activating and balancing the life-force present in all living things, Reiki literally means “universal life-force energy”. Light hand placements channel healing energies to organs and glands and work to align the body’s energy centers, or chakras. Various techniques address emotional and mental distress, chronic and acute physical problems or pursuit of spiritual focus and clarity. Today Reiki is a valuable addition to the work of chiropractors, massage therapists, nurses and others in the West. Learn more at Reiki.org.

Rolfing Structural Integration (Rolfing): Deep tissue manipulation of the myofascial system, which is composed of the muscles and the connective tissue, or fascia, by the practitioners’ hands helps restore the body’s natural alignment and sense of integration. As the body is released from old patterns and postures, its range and freedom of physical and emotional expression increases. Rolfing can help ease pain and chronic stress, enhance neurological functioning, improve posture and restore flexibility. Learn more at Rolfing.org.

Rosen Method: Named for Marion Rosen, a physiotherapist who discovered that when clients verbalized their emotions and sensations during treatment sessions, their conditions would more quickly improve. The non-invasive method uses gentle, direct touch; practitioners, taught to use hands that “listen”, rather than manipulate, focus on chronic muscle tension and call attention to shifts in the breath to help individuals achieve greater self-awareness and relaxation. The technique is often effectively used to treat chronic health conditions. Learn more at RosenMethod.com.

Rubenfeld Synergy Method: This dynamic system for integrating the body, mind, emotions and spirit combines touch, talk and compassionate listening. Practitioners, called synergists, use gentle touch and verbal sharing to access each of these four levels simultaneously, releasing pain and fears held in the body/mind. The modality, created by Ilana Rubenfeld, who received a lifetime achievement award from the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy in 2002, facilitates pain management, ease of movement, positive body image and self-esteem, as well as recovery from physical and emotional trauma. Learn more at RubenfeldSynergy.com.

Shiatsu: The most widely known form of acupressure, shiatsu is Japanese for “finger pressure”. The technique applies varying degrees of pressure to balance the life energy that flows through specific pathways, or meridians, in the body. Shiatsu is used to release tension and strengthen weak areas in order to facilitate even circulation, cleanse cells and improve the function of vital organs; it also may help to diagnose, prevent and relieve many chronic and acute conditions that manifest on both physical and emotional levels. A branch of shiatsu that originated in the United States, called ohashiatsu, includes meditation and exercise. Learn more at ShiatsuSociety.org and Ohashiatsu.org.

Soma Neuromuscular Integration (also called Soma): Rooted in structural integration, soma was developed by Bill M. Williams, Ph.D., an early student of Ida Rolf. Through a 10-session format, the modality manipulates the fascia and muscles to release chronic, stored structural aberrations, realign the body and integrate the nervous system. This allows the individual to process experiences more effectively and with greater awareness, which can lead to enhanced learning and perceptual abilities. Learn more at Soma-Institute.org.

Sports Massage: The specialized field of sports massage employs a variety of massage techniques and stretching exercises designed to minimize the risk of injury, tend to sports injuries and support optimum performance.

Structural Integration: (see Rolfing Structural Integration)

Swedish Massage: The most commonly practiced form of massage in Western countries. Swedish massage integrates ancient Oriental techniques with contemporary principles of anatomy and physiology. Practitioners rub, knead, pummel, brush and tap the client’s muscles, topped with long, gliding strokes. Swedish massage is especially effective for improving circulation; relieving muscle tension and back and neck pain; promoting relaxation; and decreasing stress. Practitioners vary in training, techniques and session lengths.

Tantsu: This land-based version of watsu was developed by Harold Dull as an alternative way to experience watsu’s free-flow and interplay of breath, movement and stillness. Practitioner and client experience breathing, listening and moving as part of a partnered “dance”, without any specific intent to heal or fix something. Learn more at Watsu.com.

Thai Massage: A form of body therapy, also called nuad bo-ram, Thai massage incorporates gentle rocking motions, rhythmic compression along the body’s energy lines and passive stretching to stimulate the free flow of energy, break up blockages and help restore general well-being. One of the branches of Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM), it is performed on a floor mat, with the client dressed in lightweight, comfortable clothing. No oils are used. Thai massage aids flexibility, inner organ massage, oxygenation of the blood and quieting of the mind. Learn more at Thai-Institute.com.

Therapeutic Touch (TT): This contemporary healing modality was developed by natural healer Dora Kunz and nursing professor Dolores Krieger, Ph.D., in the 1970s. Therapeutic Touch is drawn from ancient practices and used to balance and promote energy flow. The practitioner “accesses” the area where the body’s energy field is weak or congested, and then uses his or her hands to direct energy into the field to balance it. Nurses and other healthcare practitioners apply TT to relieve pain, stress and anxiety, and to promote wound healing. Learn more at TherapeuticTouch.org.

Touch for Health (TFH): Created by Chiropractor John F. Thie in the 1970s, Touch for Health is a widely used kinesiology system aimed at restoring the body’s natural energies through acupressure, touch and massage. Muscle-testing biofeedback first identifies imbalances in the body’s energy flow to organs and glands; it is designed to then help rebalance that energy to improve overall health, while strengthening a person’s resistance to common ailments and physical complaints. Many TFH techniques can be successfully practiced by clients at home. Learn more at TouchForHealth.us.

Trager Approach (also known as Psychophysical Integration): This system of movement reeducation addresses the mental roots of muscle tension. By gently rocking, cradling and moving the client’s fully clothed body, the practitioner encourages him or her to believe that physically restrictive patterns can be changed. The Trager Approach includes “mentastics”, simple, active, self-induced movements a client can incorporate into regular daily activities. Trager work has been successfully applied to a variety of neuromuscular disorders and mobility problems, as well as everyday stresses and discomforts. Learn more at Trager.com.

Trauma Touch Therapy (TTT): An innovative, somatic approach, TTT addresses the needs of those that have suffered trauma and abuse, including sexual or emotional, witnessing or being victimized by violent crime, battery and war and surgical traumas. The intent is to create a safe, nurturing environment in which the individual can slowly explore healthy touch and investigate sensation and feeling in their body. Certified therapists encourage empowerment and choice; individualized sessions support the psychotherapeutic process.

Trigger Point Therapy (Myotherapy): This massage technique is used to relieve pain, similar to NeuroMuscular Therapy (NMT). Practitioners apply pressure to specific “trigger points” on the body—tender, congested spots of muscle tissue that may radiate pain to other areas—in order to release tension and spasms. Treatment decreases the swelling and stiffness associated with muscular pain and increases range of motion. Learn more at MyofascialTherapy.org.

Tui Na: A manipulative therapy integral to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), tui na (“tui” means to push and “na” is a squeezing, lifting technique) that employs Taoist and martial arts principles to re-balance the body. Practitioners possess more than 365 hand techniques; most are variations of pressing, rubbing, waving, shaking, percussing or manipulating movements. Tui na is used to relieve arthritic joint pain, sciatica, muscle spasms and other pains in the back, neck and shoulders. It may also help ease chronic conditions such as insomnia, constipation, headaches and stress associated with tension. Learn more at Tui-Na.com.

Watsu (Water Shiatsu): This uniquely nurturing therapy combines the acupressure and meridian stretches of Zen Shiatsu with yoga-like postures, all performed in water; this takes weight off the vertebrae and allows for movements not possible on land. In the most basic move, the Water Breath Dance, the practitioner gently floats an individual in their arms, letting the person sink a little as they both breathe out, then allowing the water to lift them as they both breathe in. This connection is maintained in all the stretches and moves and returned to throughout the session. Pioneered by multilingual author Harold Dull in 1980, watsu’s goal is to free the spine and increase the flow of energy along the body’s meridians; he also developed tantsu, which replicates watsu’s nurturing stretches on land. Learn more at Watsu.com.

Zen Shiatsu: Founded by writer Shizuto Masunaga, this method of acupressure includes the practice of Buddhist meditation and integrates elements of shiatsu with the goal of rebalancing and revitalizing qi, or life-force energy. A client lies on a mat or sits in a chair, fully clothed, while the practitioner uses one hand to “listen” and the other to provide the appropriate pressure. Full-body stretches and pressures may be used to release areas of chronic stagnation and blockage; clients are encouraged to breathe deeply into their lines of tension. Zen Shiatsu can be effective in conditions where emotional disturbance or stress is an underlying factor.

Zen-Touch Shiatsu: This hybrid of shiatsu, acupressure and Asian/Eastern bodywork was created by American Seymour Koblin in 1984. It differs from other forms of shiatsu, including Zen Shiatsu, by its combine use of light, or “hands off the body,” energy work and extensive, passive stretching methods. Practitioners apply gentle pressure while stretching the client’s limbs gradually, maintaining an attitude of compassion, respect and energetic empathy that serves to stimulate the flow of chi, aiding circulation and vitality. Learn more at SeymourKoblin.com.

Zero Balancing: Developed by Fritz Smith, a doctor, osteopath and acupuncturist, zero balancing addresses the relationship between energy and structures of the body. Practitioners use moderate finger pressure and gentle traction on areas of tension in the bones, joints and soft tissue to create fulcrums, or points of balance, around which the body can relax and reorganize. The goal is to clear blocks in the body’s energy flow, amplify vitality and contribute to better postural alignment. Learn more at ZeroBalancing.com.

Please note: The contents of this Bodywork Guide are for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be used in place of a visit or consultation with a healthcare professional. Always seek out a practitioner that is licensed, certified or otherwise professionally qualified to conduct a selected treatment, as appropriate.

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Bodywork Goes Mainstream Helpful Access Points to Health by Linda Sechrist

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

The seed holds within itself hints of its magnificent maturity. So it is with the practice of whole- person health care, which has matured in language, sophistication, credibility and acceptance. In a single generation, we’ve seen its presence grow from the outer edges of holistic and alternative wellness to complementary and integrative health care. Its latest evolution into America’s mainstream is known as functional medicine. The branch of massage therapy, the germination point for myriad therapies collectively known as bodywork, patterns the movement’s development.

Once considered a luxury for the pampered few, massage was among the first therapies to be widely recognized by physicians as a respected aspect of integrative and functional medicine. Bodywork increasingly shares this status, as it is included in conventional medicine’s more innovative healthcare models that embrace a body, mind and spirit approach. One of many examples is Duke Integrative Medicine, in Durham, North Carolina, where patient services include a form of integrative massage that blends Swedish massage, myofascial therapy, reflexology, energy work and somatic therapy techniques.

In the public’s view, bodywork is still largely associated with massage, although distinct forms stand on their own, including Rolfing, structural integration, shiatsu and myofascial and craniosacral therapies. Bodywork professionals generally belong to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), whatever their specialized modality. They may also participate in other professional organizations, such as the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, which has some 80,000 members, and the International Association for Structural Integrators, [NUMBER]-members strong. These nonprofits’ websites help individuals locate practitioners in their area.

According to Maureen Moon, past president of AMTA, many massage therapists (which don’t refer to themselves as bodyworkers) are trained in various bodywork therapies and intuitively integrate them into their sessions, depending upon each client’s needs.

She notes that, “Many AMTA members are so passionate about their profession and meeting the continuing education (CEU) requirements that they go far beyond the units required to maintain their license, which can vary from state to state.” For example, Moon has trained in spinal reflex analysis, developed by Dr. Frank Jarrell, neuromuscular and craniosacral therapies, shiatsu and seven massage therapies. “Most AMTA members are CEU junkies,” quips Moon, who points out that national conventions provide continuing education and chapter meetings frequently introduce attendees to new techniques. Some practitioners discover specialties while in search of pain relief for personal injuries or other conditions.

Myofascial Therapy

Olympia Hostler, a myofascial therapist in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, had two serious horse riding accidents during adolescence and three automobile accidents by age 40, which combined left her so incapacitated that she could barely walk. “I couldn’t work for three years because I was so debilitated,” relates Hostler. She found her doctor’s diagnosis of severe permanent damage to the body’s soft connective tissue, or fascia, and the prognosis of a lifetime of living with pain, unacceptable. So she began searching for something that would help restore health. Her investigation of various therapies ended with myofascial release, an effective whole-body approach to the treatment of pain and dysfunction developed by Physical Therapist John F. Barnes.

“I had several sessions and found lasting pain relief unlike anything I’d ever experienced,” advises Hostler. Unlike massage therapies focused on improving circulation, inducing relaxation or draining lymph fluid, the myofascial treatment reached Hostler’s deepest layer of fascia to free the restrictions causing her pain. “It was amazing that a hands-on application of gentle, sustained pressure into areas of restriction in the myofascial connective tissue could begin to relieve many years of ongoing, intense pain,” says Hostler.

Rolfing

As a certified (advanced) Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner, Robert McWilliams has been able to pursue his lifelong passion in the fields of movement and physical fitness, which included 25 years as a professional dancer and 14 as a professor of modern dance. He taught at both the University of Oklahoma and the University of Florida, in Gainesville.

“In the 1980s, while I was still dancing, I had an experience with Rolfing, developed by Ida P. Rolf [Ph.D.], that transformed my dancing, increased my athletic performance alignment, coordination, flexibility, balance, muscle tone, expressive power and overall sense of relaxation onstage, as well as in daily life,” relates McWilliams. He currently serves as an assistant teacher at the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, in Boulder, Colorado, where he trained.

Although McWilliams’ clients generally see him to treat the pain and discomfort of injuries, he says that they frequently change their focus to how their body is working better overall. “This is because injuries tend to resolve themselves after a few sessions of deep tissue manipulation of the myofascial system,” says McWilliams.

A specialized series of 10 sessions works to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body. Each session focuses on freeing up a particular region of the body. The effect releases old limiting patterns and postures and restore the body’s natural alignment and sense of integration. “Often, as physical freedom of physical expression increases, so does emotional expression,” comments McWilliams.
Structural Integration

“While Rolfers graduate from The Rolf Institute and attend certified training programs in order to maintain their trademark, and Structural Integrators can attend any of 14 certified U.S. schools, we are all structural integrators; our training is based on the work of Ida Rolf,” says Diane Roth, a board certified structural integrator who has specialized in massage and bodywork for 25 years in the Chicago area. Roth explains that all practitioners in this field of study combine hands-on freeing and realigning of fascial tissue with awareness and movement education, in order to structurally integrate the whole body. Restoration of postural balance and functional ease greatly helps the body, which, she says, “constantly labors against the powerful force of gravity.”

Like Moon, Roth has studied and incorporated other adjunct therapies and modalities, such as craniosacral therapy and myofascial release. From her perspective, bodywork differs from massage in that it requires more involvement from the client.

“I tell my clients that with a veritable village of treatments available, there is always help for anyone that suffers with aches and pains, regardless of age,” says Roth.

Shiatsu

Shirley Scranta, owner and director of the International School of Shiatsu, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, discovered The Book of Shiatsu: The Healing Art of Finger Pressure, by Saul Goodman in a health food store. She subsequently researched the school that Goodman founded in 1978, based on the theories of masunaga zen shiatsu, kushi macrobiotic and his own shiatsu shin tai.

In 1996, Scranta became one of Goodman’s clients. “I drove a round trip of 240 miles for weekly treatments because each session made me feel better and stronger. After five sessions, I enrolled in classes and graduated later that year,” says Scranta. She believes the widely known form of acupressure helped her body re-establish its own intelligence system, which had been distorted by childhood trauma.

“This gentle technique applies varying degrees of pressure to release tension, strengthen weak areas, facilitate circulation and balance the life energy that flows through the meridians in the body,” she explains. “In my case, it helped me connect with my body so that I could honor it and do what it needed to rejuvenate itself.”

Craniosacral Therapy

Chiropractor Lisa Upledger is vice president of The Upledger Institute, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. A craniosacral therapy (CST) practitioner, educator and wife of CST developer Dr. John Upledger, she advises that tension-related problems are a growing complaint in our modern world. Fortunately, such issues are among the myriad conditions that respond quickly to the gentle touch of this modality.

In a 2007 Massage magazine article, she advised that the positive effects of the therapy rely to a large extent on the performance of the body’s inherent self-corrective mechanisms. “CST works through the craniosacral system to facilitate this function and thereby normalize the environment in which the central nervous system functions,” she noted. “As this is accomplished, a wide range of sensory, motor and neurological problems are improved.”

CST practitioners listen with their hands to the slow pulsations of the craniosacral system. With a soft touch, equivalent to the weight of a nickel, they explore any fascia restrictions throughout the client’s body, which rests fully clothed in a supine position. Effects of the treatment can be wide-ranging, affecting the musculoskeletal, nervous, cardiovascular and immune systems as well as organs, connective tissues and energy systems. It works to release deeply held physical and psychological patterns held within the body.

A coin with different impressions on each side is still only one coin, a blend of precious metals. When the coin is tossed to reveal either heads or tails, the visible symbol is one interpretation of the whole imprint―an analogy that may best define the difference between massage and bodywork. All variations on the theme share the same goal—restoring health to the whole person.

Linda Sechrist is a senior staff writer for Natural Awakenings. Find other natural living articles at her website, ItsAllAboutWe.com.

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CrossFit Workouts Expect Whole-Body Functional Fitness by Michael R. Esco

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program used by the military over the past decade, is growing in popularity with recreational athletes.

While most traditional exercise plans target a specific area of fitness—like jogging for cardiovascular health or weightlifting for strength—CrossFit focuses on all of them by combining many types of exercise. A typical mixture might include weightlifting, gymnastics, aerobics and explosive plyometrics, energetic and fast-acting movements that improve strength and speed. The goal is to enable the body to respond to many different and sometimes competing stimuli. “CrossFit training prepares the body not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable, as well,” explains Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit.

Due to its non-specific nature, this approach may not be best for an athlete focusing exclusively on one sport. “While it may not help you become an elite marathoner, this can be an effective training regimen for those interested in broad-based, functional fitness,” advises Bob LeFavi, Ph.D., a certified strength and conditioning specialist, senior coach for USA Weightlifting and professor of sports medicine at Armstrong Atlantic State University, in Savannah, Georgia.

The program requires disciplined workouts three to five days a week in an intense circuit format with little rest. This allows the practitioner to finish in five to 30 minutes, depending upon his or her current fitness level and the day’s plan.

Nuts and Bolts

A free Workout of the Day (WOD) is posted daily on CrossFit.com. WODs generally involve exercises using combinations of Olympic weights, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, gymnastic rings, climbing ropes, jump ropes and rowing machines. Bodyweight-only exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups are commonly included.

Most WODs are named for women or fallen military heroes. Following are a few examples:

Cindy – As many rounds as possible of five pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 bodyweight squats within 20 minutes.

Angie – One hundred pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups and 100 bodyweight-only squats with in-between breaks.

Murph –A one-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 bodyweight squats and another one-mile run. Advanced athletes do it all while wearing a 20-pound vest. The objective is to beat one’s own overall best time with each workout.

“CrossFit training is unique in that it rarely schedules rest periods unless specified as part of the WOD,” says Brian Kliszczewicz, a CrossFit researcher and Ph.D. student of exercise physiology at Auburn University, in Alabama. “Your fitness level will determine the length, intensity and duration of each WOD.” Kliszczewicz’ recent research found that CrossFit subjects expended more than 250 calories on average during 20 minutes of the Cindy workout.

Any WOD can be done at home with the proper equipment, a base level of physical fitness and knowing how to properly execute each exercise. Consulting with a coach can help; be sure to ask for credentials and references, including education and experience in sports science and conditioning.

Glassman also suggests visiting one of 5,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide, warehouse-like facilities that are unlike traditional fitness centers in that they don’t have lots of machines. Instead, the only equipment available is what’s necessary for conducting WODs. Workouts are completed in groups, with participants usually performing the same exercises, directed by a CrossFit coach trained to observe individual technique.

Because athletes like to compete with themselves and others, they can post their personal bests for each WOD on the CrossFit website.

Injury Risk

Professor Henry N. Williford, EdD, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and department head of Physical Education and Exercise Science at Auburn University at Montgomery, cautions, “Make sure the staff at a CrossFit affiliate is appropriately trained to deal with emergencies; at a minimum, they should be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first-aid.” Let the coach know of any discomfort or pain during a workout.

As an intense workout progresses, many CrossFit exercises can be performed as one is becoming increasingly tired, increasing the risk of injury to a joint or muscle. Beginners, seniors and anyone out of shape or with a previous injury or health condition needs to take additional precautions; basic guidelines for physical activity are published by the American College of Sports Medicine at Tinyurl.com/BasicExerciseGuidelines

It’s important to start slow and gradually increase the intensity of workouts. “Personal safety is always a major factor that must to be considered when selecting any exercise regimen,” remarks Williford.

Requirements for starting to practice CrossFit exercises include a base level of sufficient physical strength to handle the demands, which may be achieved by first following a less-intense plan. Always check with a physician before starting any exercise program.

Michael R. Esco, Ph.D., is an associate professor of exercise science versed in sports medicine and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Auburn University at Montgomery, AL.

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Feel-Good Massage People’s Hands-Down Favorites by Rachel Mork

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, 53 percent of those that seek out professional massages do it to manage and relieve stress. Healthcare professionals recommend it as a way to support overall well-being, and its popularity continues to grow with some 38 million current U.S. massage enthusiasts, according to the American Massage Therapy Association.

But which form of massage is best? It depends on our needs and personal preferences, as well as which benefits we need, which may change from time to time. Natural Awakenings asked several expert licensed massage therapists to distinguish among the most widely used massage therapies to help us make the right choice.

Swedish Massage

“I’ve always wanted to create a bumper sticker that says, ‘Massage Prevents Road Rage,’” quips Kris Richardson, of Kristine Richardson Massage Therapy, in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. She’s witnessed firsthand how, “Anyone that feels stressed can benefit from a Swedish massage.” During 12 years in the business, she’s helped clients ranging from Navy Seals to athletes from the Admirals professional hockey team, of Norfolk, Virginia, and Brown University’s swim team, of Providence, Rhode Island.

Swedish massage consists of long, gliding, gentle strokes on upper muscle layers, often abetted by kneading, pummeling, brushing and tapping. Swedish massage is especially effective in improving circulation and relaxation; relieving muscle tension and back and neck pain; and decreasing stress. As the lymphatic system is stimulated, oxygen flow to muscles increases, resulting in a relaxed, almost dreamlike state.

Prenatal Swedish massage is also popular among pregnant women. Therapists apply minimal pressure to reduce back pain and to encourage drainage of the excess fluid that may collect in the legs and lower extremities due to edema. It’s important for expectant mothers to find a therapist trained in prenatal massage.

Hot Stone Massage

Hot stones enhance a Swedish or deep tissue massage through strategic placement of heated stones on the body to encourage the exchange of blood and lymph and provide ultimate relaxation of tense, tight muscles. Richardson particularly suggests it to counter “mouse syndrome”—her term for the nagging discomfort people can get from performing repetitive motions at a computer. Typically, the therapist first places a group of preheated stones on stubborn muscles, allowing the heat to penetrate knots, and then uses the stones to further massage muscles back to normal.

Deep Tissue Massage

Nicole Russo, of Evolve Body Therapy Center, in Charlotte, North Carolina, is among America’s corps of therapists whose specialties include deep tissue massage. Nine years in, she has performed massage on sore pro football players with the Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as Cirque du Soleil artists.

The primary goal of this style is to repair injured or overstressed muscles, which also leaves clients feeling better, sounder and more flexible. Russo advises, “Injuries are a result of uneven wear and tear, which results in postural imbalances.” So she applies slow strokes, proven kneading techniques and directed pressure via fingers, thumbs or elbows to work muscles from end-to-end, where they are attached to bones, addressing postural distortions, inflammatory pain and stored emotional tensions to restore muscle health.

Russo says deep tissue massage is usually targeted and intense, but, “It’s a massage that produces lasting results. My clients also often report that they don’t get headaches or backaches anymore.”

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage is designed to leave a client feeling “clear, sparkling and ready to do the next thing,” says Dawn Grey Lapierre, of Intuitive Massage Therapy, in Santa Cruz, California. She describes the experience as active, rather than passive. A licensed massage therapist for nearly 20 years, she also incorporates and applies principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine into each session.

For shiatsu massage, the fully clothed client lies on a mat. The therapist will apply pressure from the fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees and feet in a stimulating manner and also move the body into various positions in deep stretching. Shiatsu is used to release tension and strengthen weak areas in order to facilitate even circulation, cleanse cells and improve the function of vital organs.

Lapierre describes the experience as both invigorating and intimate. “I’m moving around on the floor with you, using my knees on the back of your thighs, or my feet on your back. I’m using any part of my body that will be useful in promoting better energy flow along the meridians in your body.”

Shiatsu delivers a vigorous massage; aficionados of more basic styles may graduate to using it.

Thai Massage

Lapierre describes Thai massage as “partner yoga, during which you’ll get stretched and pulled until I’ve worked every inch of your body.” She likes to focus on acupressure points and kneads sore muscles until energy blockages are cleared and energy flow fully restored.

Thai massage also incorporates gentle rocking motions, rhythmic compression along the body’s energy meridians and passive stretching. It promotes flexibility, inner organ massage, oxygenation of the blood, quieting of the mind and general well-being.

Traditional Thai yoga is performed on a mat using no oils, with the client fully clothed. Thai massage is a favorite among yoga students.

Reflexology

For those new to massage and interested in trying it out, reflexology is a good way to start. Reflexology is performed only on the hands and feet, via finger and thumb massage, with the client fully clothed. It is based on the belief that specific reflex points on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands correspond with every major organ, gland and area of the body.

Lapierre works reflexology into all of her massages, explaining, “A lot of healing can be accomplished simply through working the hands and feet, because every part the body is mapped out to related pressure points on the hands and feet. Thus, we can clear energy channels and release tension throughout the body just by working these specific points.” Lapierre describes reflexology as calming and soothing.

Reflexology is especially suited for anyone wary about being touched; it is often incorporated with other forms of massage, as well.

Practitioners encourage everyone to find the form of massage that suits them best. “You will surely find one that brings you renewed vitality,” concludes Lapierre. “Massage not only feels good, it’s a good way to increase physical, mental, and emotional health by reducing the effects of everyday stress. If you can’t take the day off to unwind, at least find an hour to get a massage.”

Rachel Mork is a freelance copywriter, editor and novelist in Charlotte, NC. Connect at RachelMork.com.

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The Gift of Empathy How to Be a Healing Presence by Margret Aldrich

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Jason

When someone is suffering, it can be agonizing just to listen—we feel compelled to jump in with advice or stories of our own trials, filling any awkward space or moments of silent air with word upon word. The first rule of empathy, however, is listening in silence.

Miki Kashtan, writing for the Tikkun Daily interfaith blog, points out that giving our full presence is the most important step in practicing true empathy, and it doesn’t require us to utter a thing: “There is a high correlation between one person’s listening presence and the other person’s sense of not being alone, and this is communicated without words. We can be present with someone whose language we don’t understand, who speaks about circumstances we have never experienced or whose reactions are baffling to us. It’s a soul orientation and intentionality to simply be with another.”

When we achieve full presence, empathic understanding follows, Kashtan continues. “Full empathic presence includes the breaking open of our heart to take in another’s humanity. We listen to their words and their story, and allow ourselves to be affected by the experience of what it would be like.

“Then we understand. Empathic understanding is different from empathic presence. We can have presence across any barrier, and it’s still a gift. If we also understand, even without saying anything, I believe the other person’s sense of being heard increases, and they are even less alone with the weight of their experience.”

There are signs that empathy might be on the decline, with narcissism elbowing it out of our modern lives. As reported in the Utne Reader, University of Michigan psychologist Sara Konrath, Ph.D., found that empathy levels among college students measured on the Interpersonal Reactivity Index plummeted between 1979 and 2009. The greatest drops were in empathic concern and perspective-taking—the ability to imagine another person’s point of view.

But don’t yet lament the death of human compassion. According to scientific studies, empathy is built into us. In recent research at the University of Southern California, Professor Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, Ph.D., pinpointed where and how the brain generates empathy, regarding it as a naturally occurring emotion. “It appears that both the intuitive and rationalizing parts of the brain work in tandem to create the sensation of empathy,” Aziz-Zadeh told The Times of India. “People do it automatically.”

However we get to that utterly tuned-in, selfless state of empathy, providing a listening ear, giving our full presence and being moved by another can be gifts not only to the others, but to ourselves, as well. Concludes Kashtan, “Allowing into our heart the other person’s suffering doesn’t mean we suffer with them, because that means shifting the focus of our attention to our own experience. Rather, it means that we recognize the experience as fully human, and behold the beauty of it in all its aspects, even when difficult.”

Margret Aldrich is a former associate editor of Utne Reader.

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