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Bodywork Therapies:
A Glossary

By Janice Hughes, Share Guide Editor

Here is a list of some of the most popular Hands-on Healing Modalities, so you can choose the therapy that is right for you.

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There is no one right path to health or healing. Often alternative healing techniques will work when the conventional methods of drugs or surgery do not. However, these alternative practices may work for some individuals and not others, and the level of training and expertise of health practitioners can vary greatly. That is why it is important, no matter what bodywork method you choose, to learn as much about the therapy and your practitioner as possible. Some of the bodywork therapies listed here are traditional healing practices that have been used for centuries, some are more contemporary, and a few have only recently been developed. The list provided here is strictly informational. The Share Guide does not endorse any specific modalities.

Alexander Technique®
The Alexander Technique is a powerful method of psycho-physical re-education, developed at the beginning of this century by Australian actor F. Matthias Alexander. Alexander Technique is not a system of exercises or physical conditioning, but a learning process in which the student becomes able to identify faulty habit patterns, consciously inhibit them and then initiate action by engaging the correct head/neck/back relationship. Treatments are recommended in a series of 20-25.

Founded by Christine Day, Amanae is hands-on, emotional release bodywork that focuses on removing barriers from our cellular body and receiving our light and remembering who we really are. Sessions take place on a massage table with the recipient fully clothed.

Aston-Patterning is a form of "movement reeducation" developed by Judith Aston in the 1970's. It's designed to teach people how to live optimally in their bodies. One of its postulates is that the body wants to move in an asymmetrical spiral. This therapy offers a systematic method of assessing and analyzing each body as a whole and unique ecological system.

Bowen Therapy
Bowen Therapy, originally developed by Australian Thomas Ambrose Bowen (1903-1982), utilizes cross-fiber muscle movement in specific areas of the body. The "moves" are performed in categorical sucession with waiting periods incorporated during the session. This resting time is very important because it appears to have the action of allowing the brain to assimilate, correlate and create a positive response in the area being treated. When these moves are placed precisely across muscle and connective tissue, they alleviate a multitude of physical ailments.

Effectively practiced for centuries in India, Breema treatments use gentle yet firm movements and postures which support recipients of any level of flexibility to experience health benefits. Breema activates the body's self-healing forces, thereby increasing physical vitality, mental clarity, and emotional balance. Treatments are done on carpets with the recipient fully and comfortably dressed.

Craniosacral Therapy
Pioneered in the 1970's by Dr. John E. Upledger, Craniosacral therapy involves gently guiding and releasing tensions through very mild pressure on the different cranial bones near the sutures of the skull, where one bone lies next to another. Using a light touch generally no greater than the weight of a nickel, the practitioner uses this therapy to improve the functioning of the central nervous system, eliminate the negative effects of stress, strengthen resistance to disease and enhance overall health. Craniosacral Therapy is reported effective in treating headaches, chronic ear infection, deafness, sinusitis, facial pain, lower back pain, and more.

Deep Tissue
This type of massage focuses on reaching the deeper muscles and soft tissues in order to release chronic pain and tension. Deep work requires more time to release the tension in specialized areas, and is often slower than regular massage.

Feldenkrais Method®
Russian-born Israeli educator Moshe Feldenkrais based the Feldenkrais Method on the importance of awareness in human functioning. Feldenkrais consists of two branches, Awareness Through Movement® and Functional Integration. Feldenkrais believed awareness had to be experienced, not taught verbally. To that end, participants accomplish movements and postures they thought unattainable, producing greater vitality. Functional integration involves treating the nervous system primarily through the skeletal structure, by using hands-on, painless manipulation.

Founded in the 1970's by Joseph Heller, the major components comprising Hellerwork include: deep-tissue bodywork affecting the nervous and muscular systems; movement re-education training to learn how to experience the full manifestation of spirit; and video feedback to view how we accomplish simple acts of daily life. Treatments are offered in an 11-session series, with each treatment consisting of one hour bodywork and 30 minutes movement.

Hot Stone Massage
This is a form of bodywork that involves the application of heated stones (thermotherapy) to the body during massage. The use of materials of different temperatures on the body to bring about healing is an ancient technique.

Jin Shin Jyutsu
A gentle, hands-on ancient healing art, Jin Shin Jyutsu allows the flow of energy to be restored by releasing blockages through touch. Jin Shin Jyutsu's origins are in Japanese Kojiki documents of the 7th century. Master Joro Maurai popularized this technique in the early 1920's. In a typical session, lasting about one hour, the client remains fully clothed, lying on the back. The practitioner identifies energy blocks by listening to the pulse and then holding two points in combination to release blockages.

Lomi Work
The Lomi School was created in 1971 by Richard Strozzi Heckler, Ph.D., Alyssa Hall, M.A., Catherine Heckler, M.A. & Robert Hall, M.D. Lomi Work has been influenced by Polarity Therapy, Reichian Breathwork, Structural Integration, Deep Tissue, Principles of Aikido and Vipassana meditation. This modality teaches the practitioner to contact the deeper areas of the client's body, instead of just "the tension." In the actual practice of the work, concentration is the most important tool that the practitioner employs.

Lymphatic Massage
While the venous system is responsible for delivering oxygen and some hormones throughout the body, it is the lymph system that plays a far more active role in the removal of wastes and the health of our auto-immune system. Lymphatic Massage increases lymphatic circulation through the body's natural filtration systems, thereby detoxifying the body and supporting our health and immune system. Normal massage pressure affects venous circulation but not lymphatic circulation. Lymphatic massage also relieves pain due to nerve inflammation, adhesions and poor circulation.

Marma Therapy
Marma Therapy is a form of Ayurvedic massage developed in ancient India. It stimulates what are called "marmas," which are107 vital, epidermal, invisible junction points between mind and matter.

Myofascial Release
Myofascial Release, developed by the physical therapist John F. Barnes, is a therapeutic treatment utilizing a gentle form of stretching the fascia, producing a profound healing effect upon the body tissues, eliminating pain and restoring motion.

Neuromuscular Reprogramming®
NeuroMuscular Reprogramming, developed by Jocelyn Olivier, utilizes a form of kinesthetic conversation with the body to imprint new learnings in the motor control center of the brain, replacing damaged imprints created through trauma, injury, operations, or repetitive strain from ergonomically inefficient use patterns. The results achieved by challenging and re-educating the motor control center through NeuroMuscular Reprogramming are longer lasting than traditional rehab and truly re-educational for the client.

This system of bodywork, homeopathic in principle, was developed in the 1970's by Arthur Lincoln Pauls, a British osteopath. Ortho-Bionomy loosely translates from the Greek as the "correct application of the laws of life." Gentle, relaxing movements and comfortable postures are used to ease the body into positions that unblock tensions and release stressful muscular patterns. This technique is non-intrusive, non-forceful, and encourages natural structural realignment and balance.

Polarity Therapy
Founded by Dr. Randolph Stone in the mid 1920's, Polarity is based on the belief that positive and negative poles exist in every cell. The body is gently manipulated to balance the positive and negative energies. Emphasizing "energy flow" in the body, emotional tension and/or pain is released when the flow of energy is restored. In addition to physical manipulation, blockages and toxins are eliminated by following a cleansing and building diet and simple exercises. Treatments are suggested in a series of four.

Pranic Healing®
This is a form of energy healing originally developed by GrandMaster Choa Kok Sui from China and now being taught in the USA by Master Stephen Co. It is based on the fundamental principle that the body is a "self-repairing" living entity that possesses the innate ability to heal itself. This highly developed and tested system of energy medicine utilizes prana to balance, harmonize, and transform the body's energy processes.

Reflexology focuses on the reflex points of the feet. It was developed by William Fitzgerald in the 1900's in the U.S., but has been known in China as a healing therapy for thousands of years. By applying firm pressure with the thumb to specific nerve endings in the foot and/or ear, an impulse is conveyed causing a reflex response. This stimulates body organs such as the pituitary glands, lungs, bladder, kidneys, stomach and spleen to return to optimal functioning. Treatments vary with each individual.

Reiki is a very ancient science hidden for thousands of years, until Dr. Usui rediscovered it in the Tibetan Sutras. Reiki energy enters the healer through the top of the head (or crown chakra) and exits through the hands. The amount of energy emanating from the hands increases during treatment. Reiki not only can affect change in the chemical structure of the body, it also helps create balance on the mental level. Reiki is not a belief system, therefore no mental preparation or direction is needed to receive a treatment, only a desire to receive and accept the energy.

A technique to re-order the major body segments, Rolfing was originally founded by Swiss-born Biochemist Dr. Ida Rolf in the 1940's. Rolfing utilizes a deep-tissue massage technique to bring head, shoulders, thorax, pelvis and legs into vertical alignment. It allows more efficient use of the muscles with less expended energy by lifting the head and chest and lengthening the body's trunk. A sense of lightness and greater mobility often result. Rolfing treatments are offered in a 10-session series, as well as optional additional advanced sessions thereafter.

Rosen Method
This technique was created by Marion Rosen, who began her career in the 1930's studying relaxation and breath, and then worked as a physical therapist and health educator for over 50 years. The theory of Rosen Method starts with seeing the body's tensions as symptoms of holding our true selves at bay. This stopping of our natural expression most often results in an inner holding that can be felt as muscle tightness and tension. Rosen Method, through light touch and talking, can provide the connection between muscle and joint tensions and our emotional and unconscious life. A typical session lasts 50 minutes, with the client lying on a table, either clothed or unclothed.

Shiatsu/ Acupressure
Utilizing traditional Chinese acupuncture points, this ancient Japanese technique uses thumb, finger and palm pressure rather than needles. Also known as Acupressure, Shiatsu massage is applied at the acupuncture points, reinforcing joints and muscles. Shiatsu focuses on the efficient flow of energy throughout the meridians and autonomic nervous system, and also incorporates stretching & movement. Treatments vary with the individual. Training in Shiatsu is generally part of certification in massage therapy.

Swedish Massage
Named for Swedish massage pioneer Peter Ling (1776&endash;1839), Swedish Massage emphasizes that all strokes go toward the heart. This is the most popular form of massage, and incorporated by most massage therapists. The technique uses five main strokes to stimulate the circulation of blood through the soft tissues of the body. Through stroking and kneading the body with warm oil, the body's metabolic processes and blood circulation are stimulated, enhancing one's sense of vitality.

Thai Massage
This method of massage can be traced back thousands of years from Thailand, and has recently gained popularity in the United States. It is performed on a mat in a choreographed series of techniques, much like a martial arts, with the participants wearing loose, comfortable clothing.

Trager Work®
A bodywork therapy developed by American medical practitioner Dr. Milton Trager in the 1920's, Trager Work makes extensive use of touch-contact, and encourages the patient to experience the "freeing up" of different parts of the body. The technique consists of simple exercises called Mentastics and deep non-intrusive hands-on work. The idea is to use motion in the muscles and joints to produce positive sensory feelings which are then fed back into the central nervous system. The result is a feeling of lightness, freedom and flexibility. Treatments vary with the individual.

Trigger Point Therapy
This is a therapeutic technique used for the relief of soft-tissue and myofascial pain and muscle dysfunction. The application of pressure on tender trigger points in the muscles relieves pain and tension and helps people to overcome chronic body/muscle pain.

Watsu is a bodywork technique developed by Harold Dull that incorporates the moves and stretches of Shiatsu while the client is in water. This is a powerful and relaxing form of bodywork which can alleviate a wide range of physical and emotional conditions.


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