Abhyanga, or oil massage, is an ayurvedic external treatment where one, two, or more therapists use massage and aromatic herbal oils to bring balance to the body.
This combination of massage, yoga, and acrobatics was developed by Benjamin Marantz. The client is placed in an inverted pose atop the acrosager’s feet, with the head hanging freely. With no pressure on the neck or spine, the client’s upper body can be easily massaged.
Acu-Yoga is a system of exercises integrating the knowledge of two holistic methods of health maintenance—acupressure and yoga. Both relax muscular tension and balance the vital life forces of the body. Yoga does this through controlling the breath while holding the body in certain postures. Acupressure does this by directly manipulating body energy through a system of points and meridians. Each Acu-Yoga posture naturally presses and stretches certain nerves, muscles, and acupressure points, awakening the meridians and releasing the tension in the points so that energy (chi) can circulate freely. This energy is the source of all life, and its flow is the key to radiant health. The process balances the body and stimulates it to heal itself.
Acupressure is an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body’s life force (sometimes known as qi or chi) to aid healing. Acupuncture and acupressure use the same points, but acupuncture employs needles, while acupressure uses the gentle but firm pressure of hands and feet.
Acupressure continues to be the most effective method for self-treatment of tension-related ailments by using the power and sensitivity of the human hand. Acupressure can be effective in helping relieve headaches, eye strain, sinus problems, neck pain, backaches, arthritis, muscle aches, tension due to stress, ulcer pain, menstrual cramps, lower backaches, constipation, and indigestion. Self-acupressure can also be used to relieve anxiety and improve sleep. There are also great advantages to using acupressure as a way to balance the body and maintain good health. The healing touch of acupressure reduces tension, increases circulation, and enables the body to relax deeply. By relieving stress, acupressure strengthens resistance to disease and promotes wellness.
In acupressure, local symptoms are considered an expression of the condition of the body as a whole. A tension headache, for instance, may be rooted in the shoulder and neck area. Thus, acupressure focuses on relieving pain and discomfort, as well as responding to tension, before it develops into a disease—before the constrictions and imbalances can do further damage.
The origins of acupressure are as ancient as the instinctive impulse to hold your forehead or temples when you have a headache. Everyone at one time or another has used their hands spontaneously to hold tense or painful places on the body. More than 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered that pressing certain points on the body relieved pain where it occurred and also benefited other parts of the body more remote from the pain and the pressure point. Gradually, they found other locations that not only alleviated pain, but also influenced the functioning of certain internal organs.
(Definition, in part, from the book Acupressure’s Potent Points, by Michael Reed Gach, director of the Acupressure Institute, Bantam, 1990.) Click here to find an acupressure practitioner.
Acupuncture is an ancient Asian healing technique based on the Taoist philosophy of balancing energy meridians within the body, thus allowing the body to heal itself. Fine needles are painlessly inserted at key points corresponding to body organs to relieve pain and cure disease and dysfunction. Related techniques include the use of low-voltage electric current (electro acupuncture) or massage at key points (acupressure).
Ai Chi (Flowing Aquatic Energy)
Ai chi is a water exercise and relaxation program, created by Jun Konno, to help aquatic practitioners and students enjoy the water in a flowing, yet powerful progression. Ai chi, created by combining t’ai chi concepts with shiatsu and Watsu techniques, is performed standing in shoulder-depth water using a combination of deep breathing and slow, broad movements of the arms, legs, and torso. The ai chi progression moves from simple breathing to upper extremity movement, to movement of the trunk, and finally to lower extremity movement. Ai chi promotes relaxation, stability, and coordinated breathing. It improves flexibility, mobility, and strength, and it will animate the mind as well as the body.
This noncompetitive Japanese martial art aims to harmonize energy with that of a partner or opponent in order to achieve both physical and emotional mastery through peaceful resolution. Aikido literally means the path to the coordination of body, mind, and spirit. Aikido is a defensive system of continuous, circular motions, combining many of the fluid, dance-like movements of t’ai chi along with more subtle, stylized techniques. When practiced properly, successful defense is achieved through minimal action. Originally seen as a combination of religion and martial arts, aikido was created by Morehei Ueshiba in the early twentieth century.
Developed by Kamala Renner, Alchemical Synergy is a process of evolving universal energy patterns and is used as a holistic counseling system that focuses on achieving transformation by utilizing the universal four forces—centripetal, centrifugal, gravitational, and electromagnetical—the consciousness portion of the Big Bang theory of the beginning of the universe.
- Centripetal force controls all inward movement, allowing us to go inside to observe and reconnect with our inner world, which contains knowledge of all that is natural for us as an individual.
- Centrifugal force controls all outward movement, allowing interaction of the consciousness with the surroundings and other people.
- Gravity regulates the action of centripetal and centrifugal forces to ensure universal balance and stimulates the ability to step out of duality to observe the effect of its interaction from a neutral space.
- Electromagnetics is the life force that is a catalyst for reproduction to occur, allowing the evolution of consciousness to continue.
Centripetal and centrifugal force are duality and control all activity that depends on yin/yang, negative/positive balance for its existence. Synergy training defines every experience in categories relative to the force from which it originates. (Adapted from Holistic Health Directory.)
The Alexander Technique is movement education in which the student is taught to sit, stand, and move in ways that reduce physical stress on the body. Alexander Technique teachers use gentle manual guidance and verbal cues to improve students’ posture and movement patterns. A lesson or group class typically involves basic movements such as sitting, standing, walking, bending, reaching, carrying, and lying down. It may also involve more specialized activities such as playing a musical instrument, working at a computer, etc.
The teacher’s manual guidance stresses the adjustment of the head, neck, and torso relationship. In beginning lessons, the teacher closely monitors the student. Later, the student learns to monitor herself, ultimately learning a unique self-management process, an understanding of balance and dynamic postural control.
F. M. Alexander, an Australian actor, developed the technique in the late 1800s as a result of attempting to solve his own physical problem of losing his voice on stage. He discovered that misuse of the neuromuscular activity of the head, neck, and spine caused maladaptive functioning and that this movement could be corrected. As he began to teach his technique, he found that his students’ overall health improved and that the technique could be used to address a wide array of problems.
Click here to find an Alexander Technique practitioner.
Also known as conventional medicine, allopathy is a medical approach that seeks to cure by producing a condition in the body different than, or opposite to, the condition that exists within the diseased state.
Amma (sometimes spelled anma) is the traditional word for massage in the Japanese language. It comes from the Chinese tradition of massage, anmo, a form of bodywork that is based on the principles of Chinese medicine and is more than 5,000 years old. When anmo was brought to Japan, the technique was further refined into its own therapeutic art form, amma.
The amma techniques encompass a myriad of pressing, stroking, stretching, and percussive manipulations with the thumbs, fingers, arms, elbows, knees, and feet on acupressure points along the body’s 14 major meridians. Amma brings to Western culture the ancient art and wisdom of traditional Japanese massage. Through the structure of kata (choreographed movement), amma teaches the importance of rhythm, pacing, precision, and form in massage.
Unlike Western massage, amma utilizes no oils and can be done through clothing with the client either sitting or lying. This makes amma an extremely flexible style of massage suitable to a wide variety of client needs and environments. Shiatsu—a style of bodywork popularized after World War II—was developed from the amma tradition.
Anat Baniel Method
The Anat Baniel Method is a NeuroMovement approach that utilizes movement and the 9 Essentials to create conditions for the brain to wake up and upgrade its own functioning. The neuroplasticity the Anat Baniel Method fosters leads to learning and to acquiring new connections and patterns in the brain. With these new connections, recipients gain new skills and reach new levels of performance.
Both pets and performance animals experience soft-tissue damage in their daily lives just as humans do. Therapeutic massage provides significant relief, stimulates healing, and promotes stress reduction and relaxation. Other benefits include enhancing performance by increasing range of motion, maintaining muscle tone and joint flexibility, increasing blood and lymph circulation, increasing oxygen to reduce muscle spasms, flushing toxins from muscles and joints, improving disposition, preventing injuries, stimulating areas affected postoperatively, recovering from skeletal and muscular surgery or injury, relieving muscle pain by releasing endorphins, and relieving discomfort from arthritis, lameness, and hip dysplasia. Animals also can receive pre- and post-event massage for competition. See equine massage.
Applied Kinesiology is a healing system that evaluates and treats an individual’s structural, chemical, and mental aspects. It employs muscle testing and other standard methods of diagnosis. Applied Kinesiology therapeutically utilizes nutrition, manipulation, diet, acupressure, exercise, and education to help restore balance and harmony in the body and maintain well-being throughout life. (From Alternative Healing, by Hugh Burroughs and Mark Kastner, Halcyon, 1993.)
Dr. George Goodheart, a chiropractor in Detroit, Michigan, discovered the technique in 1964 during a patient treatment. After applying a few seconds of deep pressure on the man’s severe muscular dysfunction, he found the problem was eliminated. Dr. John Thie developed a simplified version of Applied Kinesiology called Touch for Health in 1970.
A muscle monitoring technique, applied physiology allows the body to express what is out of balance and provides information to restore that balance. Muscles are put through a normal range of motion, monitored to determine where the stresses lie. The centerpiece of the technique is using acupoints to ask “questions” about specific physiological and anatomical stresses. The goal of treatment is to let go of the stress within the body by integrating the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components of an individual.
The use of essential oils (extracted from herbs, flowers, resin, woods, and roots) in body and skin care treatments is known as aromatherapy. Used as a healing technique for thousands of years by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, essential oils aid in relaxation, improve circulation, and help the healing of wounds.
Specific essential oils are blended by the aromatherapist and added to a carrier oil, such as almond oil, to be used during the massage. Each oil has its own unique characteristics and benefits. Aromatherapy diffusers are utilized to fill the massage room with the scent of the oils.
Use of this technique declined as the modern pharmaceutical industry developed. However, the French chemist Gattefossé revived the art by coining the term aromatherapy and by publishing a book on the subject in 1928. Click here to find an Aromatherapy practitioner.
Using the media of the arts (sculpture, painting, collage, etc.) to provide release of symbolic expression, art therapy allows the individual an opportunity to confront inner perceptions of the self.
Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy
This barefoot massage technique was developed by massage therapist Ruthie Piper Hardee in 1995 as a result of her own scoliosis and disk pain, associated with bending over the table to deliver deep-tissue massage. Bars are used above the head for leverage, and lubricant is essential for its application. The technique uses deep compression effleurage strokes that glide over the body.
The resulting movement may help relieve pain resulting from chronic soft-tissue damage. Correct application will provide deep relaxation while stretching chronic shortened muscles of the body.
Correct application of two-footed strokes near the spine creates a “push, pull, pumping” effect on the intervertebral disc space and can relieve irritation on the spinal nerve. No anxiety should result from this application, and client range of comfort is maintained at all times. Additional information is available at www.deepfeet.com.
Monitoring the flow of the vital life energy (known as chi, ki, prana, or qi) is at the heart of Asian bodywork. Using physical pressure and manipulation, the healer evaluates and modulates this energy flow to attain a state of balance. Popular modalities include shiatsu, amma, Jin Shin Do, Thai massage, and tui na.
Aston Patterning is an educational process, developed by Judith Aston in 1977, combining movement coaching, bodywork, ergonomics, and fitness training. It can be helpful to individuals seeking relief from acute or chronic pain or for those wishing to improve their posture and increase the efficiency of their movement patterns, either in activities of daily living or complex activities, such as athletics or the performing arts.
- The movement work, neurokinetics, has two divisions. The first part involves instruction in the most efficient way to perform the simple activities of daily living, and then progresses to complex activities. The second part teaches the client how to use movement to decrease accumulated tension in the body.
- The bodywork includes Aston massage, myokinetics, and arthrokinetics. The massage is a specialized form based on Swedish massage, utilizing a three-dimensional touch that helps to release functional holding patterns from surface to bone. The bodywork is used to make new movement options available, and the sessions are followed with a movement lesson to assist the client in understanding how the tension had been created and how to maintain the changes achieved.
- The ergonomic training shows the client how environment affects the body’s alignment, dimensional integrity, and degree of effort required to perform activities, and identifies the role the environment plays in the current complaint. The client is trained to modify or negotiate with less-than-optimal ergonomic situations.
- The fitness training includes vertical and horizontal loosening, toning, stretching, and cardiovascular fitness. The loosening moves address specific areas of tension that, when released, assist the client in achieving the best alignment and dimensional integrity before working out. Toning teaches the client how to address specific areas that are less toned in comparison to the rest of the body, resulting in an even distribution of muscle tone throughout the body. Stretching is taught in a way that doesn’t borrow dimension from an adjacent body segment while working a specific area.
Click here to find an Aston Patterning practitioner.
Asymmetric Body Balancing
This is a combination of Paul St. John’s neuromuscular therapy and more traditional Hatha yoga that helps clients diminish and/or alleviate pain or discomfort and find homeostasis and equilibrium in their daily lives.
Attunement is a non-touch (or light touch) approach to healing, employing spiritual techniques (prayer and meditation) to restore one’s naturally vibrant energetic and physical well-being. Attunement balances the flow of energy through the endocrine glands, organs, bones, and other tissues of the body—establishing alignment between the body, mind, and emotions and harmonizing these elements with the “spirit,” described as the radiant source of life and healing.
Sharing attunement with clients invites them to occupy a sacred energetic or vibrational space characterized by stillness and peace, where healing at all levels can occur. This life-giving process is the doorway through which an individual may enhance or recover health of body, mind, and spirit.
Ayurveda is the 5,000-year-old medical system of India. It is also a philosophy that offers keys for creating harmony and balance in life. The ayurvedic physician studies for five years and is supervised for one year in a hospital.
Although there are some spas in the United States that are designed as ayurvedic medical centers, most ayurvedic spas do not focus on the treatment of disease. Instead they adopt elements of ayurveda that focus on positive life choices, general detoxification, relaxation, enhanced spiritual awareness, and gentle exercise.
An ayurvedic massage is one part of the traditional detoxification and rejuvenation program of India called panchakarma, in which the entire body is vigorously massaged with large amounts of warm oil and herbs to remove toxins from the system. With the client’s permission, oil is also poured into the ears, between the eyebrows, and at specific chakras, or energy points, during techniques known respectively as karna purana, shirodhara, and marma chikitsa. These treatments have been modified to meet the needs of the West and have been powerful in their effects on the mind and nervous system—calming, balancing, and bringing both a heightened sense of awareness and deep inner peace. The techniques can be done either as stand-alone treatments or in conjunction with the ayurvedic body massage.
The basis for effectively performing all of the various ayurvedic massage techniques is a thorough understanding of the primordial energies of the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth) and of vata, pitta, and kapha—the three basic constitutional types (similar to the ancient Greek method of mind/body classification). This knowledge allows the therapist to determine not only which ayurvedic massage techniques to use, but also how to customize treatments by selecting the proper oils and herbs and the rate and pressure of massage strokes to maximize the benefits for each client.
Bach Flower Remedies
Developed by Edward Bach in the early 1900s, Bach Flower Remedies is a system of 38 flower essences used in conjunction with herbs, homeopathy, and medications that seeks to correct emotional imbalances by working on the subtle body instead of the physical body. The pattern in the subtle energy fields of the living plant influences the subtle energy fields of the human being. In prescribing flower essences, the practitioner assesses the whole individual, focusing on the disposition or negative emotions of the person, such as fear, impatience, or overconcern. An essence or combination of essences is then chosen to facilitate change and administered orally.
Positioned above the client, the Balinese massage therapist performs a combination of kneading strokes, skin rolling, and foot massage. Treatment is followed by an application of coconut oil infused with spices.
The use of waters to restore and revitalize the body is known as balneotherapy. It has been used to improve circulation, fortify the immune system, relieve pain, and treat stress.
Barbara Brennan Healing Science
The Barbara Brennan Healing Science program focuses on clearing blocked energy and balancing the body’s energy field through hands-on work and deep healing techniques. Emphasis is placed on enabling the therapist to discover her own healing process and thus personalize her healing approach. Channeling, the use of spiritual guidance, healing with color and sound, and work with auras are among the techniques used. Through the unblocking and balancing of energy fields, the client has access to healing on all levels of functioning—emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental. Click here to find a Brennan practitioner.
BART (Bonding And Relaxation Techniques)
Based on the parent education program of infant massage developed by Virnala McClure, BART is a program of stroking for individuals with, or at risk for, developmental delays. Designed to empower parents and instill parental confidence, as well as nourish the bond between parent and child, BART aids in relaxation, normalization of muscle tone, respiratory and gastrointestinal functioning, sensory integration, and behavioral organization.
Belavi Facelift Massage
A series of massage techniques using acupressure points, lymphatic drainage strokes, and facial massage strokes, Belaví Facelift Massage is designed to firm sagging skin, stimulate blood and oxygen, release toxins, and soften lines. The treatment also consists of cleansing, exfoliating, hot towel wraps, and a honeylift massage treatment.
A combination of corrective stretches involving the fascia, cartilage, and joints, Berrywork was created by and named for Lauren Berry, a physical therapist.
This technique is based on the theory that any disruption or imbalance in any portion of the body affects the entire system, specifically the autonomic, central nervous, and hormonal systems. Any disruption in any of the body systems will affect the entire organism, both physiologically and psychologically.
Bindegewebsmassage is a specific, advanced technique intended to assist in the rehabilitation of pathologic conditions. The theory of this technique extends to the belief that certain areas on the body’s surface correlate to specific internal organs manifesting the disruptions with an increased sensitivity of certain skin areas called points. See also connective tissue massage.
This bodywork combines marine algae exfoliation, herbal treatment, and light massage.
Developed by Polish healer Mietek Wirkus, bioenergy is a form of energy healing. The therapist uses a combination of noninvasive, light physical touch with manipulation and repatterning of the higher energy bodies and chakras using only the hands. The objectives are release of physical symptoms associated with disease and stimulation of the relaxation response to relieve stress and tension.
Biofeedback utilizes a system of sensitive instruments that relay information about the physical condition of the body. Used as a primary therapy, or in conjunction with other methods, biofeedback provides deep relaxation and stress management skills to prevent stress-related disorders and illness. These skills, including deep breathing and guided imagery, offer self-regulation and control over mental, emotional, and physical processes. The principles of biofeedback can be traced back to the 18th century.
BioGeometry is a design language of shape that balances energy fields. Vitality, emotions, and mental activities are energy and can be balanced geometrically. This is the language of the shapes of nature. BioGeometry is the way of reading the energy workings in all fields of life. (Adapted from www.biogeometry.com.)
Biomagnetic Touch Healing
Biomagnetic touch healing is a light touch complementary healing method that employs the index and middle fingers of each hand to lightly touch specific points on the body. The combination of correct points, light, and butterfly-like touch activates the body’s own inherent healing ability and is subtly motivated.
Developed by John Beaulieu, ND, PhD, BioSonic Repatterning is a natural method of healing and consciousness development using tuning forks and other sound modalities based on the sonic ratios inherent in nature. BioSonics’ tuning forks help the client achieve deep relaxation and mind/body balance; reduce stress and muscular tension, spasms, and pain; increase blood flow and circulation by releasing constriction around targeted organs; and transcend to higher levels of consciousness and access spiritual insights. Each tuning fork is calibrated at a specific frequency to address different areas of healing and development. (Adapted from www.biosonics.com.)
Nerve impingement in cross-linked connective tissue is a major cause of chronic and sports-associated pain. Through trauma (injury), compression, tension, free-radical damage, pollution, and more, cross-linking of connective tissue is formed. These threads of connective tissue adhere to adjacent strands, thereby decreasing range of motion, reducing joint space, impinging nerves, and generally shortening the body.
The BioSync method releases collagen cross-linking by unwinding these locked and hardened strands, thereby restoring the body’s length, flexibility, and function and allowing regeneration and revitalization of the whole system. Developed by Mark Lamm, NMT, it is a sophisticated system of neuromuscular rehabilitation and reeducation and has been successful with a wide range of muscular and trauma-related challenges. It is complementary with existing medical and rehabilitative procedures.
Body Imaging Enhancement
Based on a balance between body, mind, and feeling, body imaging enhancement proposes that anatomical structural relationships of the body need to be realigned and stabilized from a central line of the body. This line posturally positions the body relationally to the force of gravity. As a result of the correction, the client will experience energy release and perceptible changes in body shape, flexibility, and movement. Working with the neuromuscular and myofascial systems, the therapist uses manual manipulations to stretch and release muscle tissue and fascia to create freedom and flexibility of movement. It was developed by Dr. Mark Hendler and Denise Hendler.
Developed by Yamuna Zake, this is a highly organized system of structural therapy/bodywork. This yoga-based therapy works the joints in every possible position to create length and space.
Practiced on a six to ten inch ball, and following specific routines that imitate the logic of the neuromuscular system, body rolling is a self-care practice that helps maintain the health of the neuromuscular and skeletal systems, and assists controlling and understanding the internal sensory experience.
Body-Mind Centering is a movement reeducation approach that explores how the body’s systems contribute to movement and self-awareness. Developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, the approach also emphasizes movement patterns that develop during infancy and childhood. Body-Mind Centering incorporates guided movement, exercise, imagery, and hands-on work. The approach can be used with infants, children, and adults to resolve movement problems and facilitate the “body-mind dialogue.” (Adapted from Holistic Health Directory.)
Body-oriented psychotherapy seeks to enhance the psychotherapeutic process by incorporating a range of massage, bodywork, and movement techniques. Acknowledging the mind-body link, practitioners may use light touch, soft- or deep-tissue manipulation, breathing techniques, movement, exercise, or body-awareness techniques to help address emotional issues. Proper training is critical in this work. (Adapted from Holistic Health Directory.)
Developed by chiropractor/acupuncturist Dr. John Veltheim, BodyTalk is based on bio-energetic psychology, dynamic systems theory, Chinese medicine, and applied kinesiology. It has been extensively tested and used in clinics and hospitals in the United States, Europe, and Australia.
BodyTalk is used to address a range of health problems including fibromyalgia, infections, parasites, chronic fatigue, allergies, addictions, and cellular damage. By integrating a series of tapping, breathing, and focusing techniques, BodyTalk does not require diagnosis and therefore is within the scope of practice of LMTs and bodyworkers.
Its intent is to help the body synchronize and balance its parts (organs, endocrine, lymph, brain, meridians, etc.) so they communicate effortlessly and heal themselves. It strengthens the body’s innate knowledge of how to repair itself.
Various forms of touch therapies that may use manipulation, movement, and/or repatterning to affect structural changes to the body.
Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy (includes video)
A hands-on, drugless, noninvasive method of relieving muscle-related pain, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy emphasizes a speedy, cost-effective recovery and active client participation for long-term relief. Myotherapy relaxes muscles, improves circulation, and alleviates pain in all parts of the body while increasing strength, flexibility, coordination, stamina, and energy. It improves posture, gait, sleep patterns, and work and play performance. The first 90-minute session includes an extensive and vital history. Subsequent treatments are one hour and include self-help techniques. Clients are cleared for treatment by a physician, which ensures the pain is not due to anatomical pathology requiring medical attention.
Bowen Technique (includes video)
Developed by Thomas Ambrose Bowen of Australia in the 1960s and 1970s, this hands-on, light-touch body therapy consists of gentle rolling movements over muscle bellies and tendons to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms. Originally intended to help people suffering from muscular-skeletal problems, Bowen Technique has also been successful with many other conditions, including asthma and respiratory ailments in children and pre-teens. Click here to find a Bowen Technique practitioner.
Created by Paul and Gail Dennison, Brain Gym (also known as Educational Kinesiology or Edu-K) is a sensorimotor program based on research by educational therapists, developmental optometrists, and other specialists in the fields of movement, education, and child development. Brain Gym consists of 26 targeted activities similar to those performed naturally by young children as part of the process of brain development. Brain Gym prepares learners with the physical skills they need to read, write, concentrate, organize, and otherwise function effectively in the classroom or the adult workplace.
This technique entails specific kneading, rubbing, and/or squeezing strokes applied to the soft tissue of the breast to increase lymph and blood flow. As poor circulation to this area can produce uncomfortable symptoms, and breast scarring caused by surgery and/or trauma can cause painful syndromes and obstruct blood and lymph flow, breast wellness becomes increasingly important. The practice of breast massage should be in conjunction with (and not a substitute for) regular self-breast exams. If a lump is found in the breast, the area should not be massaged until a physician is consulted.
Breath therapy, which can ease anxieties and reduce stress, is the use of respiratory exercises to open lung passages, oxygenate the blood, and cleanse the body by eliminating gaseous toxins. The client is encouraged to breathe deeply while the therapist works the appropriate muscles.
The Breema system places particular emphasis on the experience and comfort of the practitioner, teaching that we can best support others by being truly present with them. Its Nine Principles of Harmony are key in this practical approach to self-understanding that nurtures and harmonizes the mind, body, and feelings of the practitioner as well as the recipient. Done with the recipient fully clothed on a padded floor, Breema bodywork uses a wide variety of rhythmic movements, gentle stretches, and fully-supported postures. The system includes Self-Breema exercises that also release physical, mental, and emotional stress.
Budzek Medical Massage Therapy
Developed by Jeffrey Budzeky, RN, Budzek Medical Massage Therapy is designed to relieve acute and chronic pain resulting from muscle, nerve, and joint disorders. This multi-modality therapy is based on the specific sequence of twelve different bodywork techniques and addresses eight different aspects that affect the body simultaneously.
See oncology massage.
Cathiodermi is a rejuvenating treatment for the skin that provides deep cleansing and oxygenation of outer tissue layers, removing impurities and stimulating regeneration. The treatment involves the use of galvanic and high-frequency currents from an electric machine to provide electric stimulation in a low-voltage dose.
Known as seated massage, chair massage, or on-site massage, this technique involves the use of a specially designed massage chair in which the client sits comfortably.
The modern chair massage was originally developed by David Palmer, but the technique is centuries-old, with some Japanese block prints illustrating people having just emerged from a nearby bath, receiving massage while seated on a low stool.
Seated massage includes bodywork and somatic techniques, such as shiatsu, amma, and Swedish massage. It is provided to fully clothed clients in a variety of settings, including businesses, airports, and street fairs. Click here to find a chair massage practitioner.
Champissage is the modern name for India's ayurvedic method of head massage, stimulating the circulation to the scalp and nourishing the hair roots. Originally, the technique only included the head. Today, however, this modality usually includes massage of the shoulders, upper arms and neck, and face and ears. Along with increased blood circulation, it also stimulates the movement of lymph, thus having a cleansing effect, as well as proving to be an invaluable technique for relief of eye strain, headaches, insomnia, lack of concentration, and lethargy. Typically ayurvedic oils are massaged into the scalp. However, this procedure can also be done without any oils or creams.
Chi Nei Tsang
Chi means energy and information, and nei tsang means viscera or internal organs. Chi nei tsang addresses the origin of health problems, including psychosomatic responses, and increases the resilience of the body’s defense system. A chi nei tsang treatment may be self-administered or given by a practitioner.
Chi nei tsang practitioners work mainly on the abdomen with deep, soft, and gentle touch to train internal organs to work more efficiently. All the body systems are addressed—digestive, respiratory, lymphatic, nervous, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, etc. Chi nei tsang integrates applied qigong with the art of abdominal massage.
This technique was created by a Taoist monk several thousand years ago in the mountain monasteries of China. In order for the monks to be able to learn to perform the highest levels of spiritual practices, they needed to generate a very high level of energy. Today, chi nei tsang is still practiced for this same reason, but people in all walks of life who seek greater health and well-being can also use it.
See Tui Na.
Christopher Method Sound-Wave Energy Therapy was introduced in 1995 and is a non-touch therapy that works on the multiple energy fields of the body to reinforce and release energy, thereby contributing to balance and well-being on the emotional, psychological, and physiological levels. It gradually realigns all levels of energy that run through the body. Tiny sound-wave vibrations are passed through the practitioner’s aura to the recipient’s energy field where they resonate through each of the multiple fields of the body to clear blocked energy, restore and reinforce natural polarity, and align and reinforce proper energy flow.
A gentle infusion of warm water through the colon is used to cleanse trapped impurities, preventing the recycling of toxins into the blood stream.
A system that uses specific color rays to treat the body and mind. Color therapy is based on the notion that organs and systems vibrate at certain frequencies. By applying a particular color ray on an area, the correct vibration will be restored, bringing health.
A system of holistic acu-light therapy developed by Peter Mandel, colorpuncture applies different frequencies of visible light onto the meridians where needles are typically placed during acupuncture. By using differing colors, energy can be manipulated, either to stimulate or sedate. Gentle, relaxing, and noninvasive, colorpuncture is sometimes used as an alternative to acupuncture for children and adults uncomfortable with the use of needles.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) incorporates a large group of healthcare practices and treatments that are considered outside of, or supplemental to, the scope of conventional medicine. May involve either mental or physical techniques, and some therapies may include use of herbs, meditation, and/or massage.
Connective Tissue Massage
Also known as bindegewebsmassage, Connective Tissue Massage (CTM) techniques are designed to specifically affect the connective tissue of the body. CTM was developed in Germany by Elizabeth Dicke. After diagnosis of a serious medical problem, she experimented with different types of massage on herself. She found when she applied light pressure through the skin and connective tissue in one area of the body, there was a related effect at a distant site.
“The technique consists of the massage therapist subtly hooking her fingers into the skin and superficial connective tissue while performing a dragging or pulling stroke that somewhat stretches the skin. CTM leaves a visible mark that looks somewhat like an abrasion or burn, but which goes away without leaving a scar.” (From Alternative Healing, by Hugh Burroughs and Mark Kastner, Halcyon, 1993.)
In Germany, it is considered a physical therapy technique; in many parts of Europe, it is considered a medical technique. In the United States, connective tissue massage is taught in many massage schools.
This form of neuromuscular reprogramming and therapy combines massage techniques with muscle testing in order to help people learn how to use their muscles with greater strength and less effort. Conscious bodywork is used to treat persistent joint and muscle pain and to treat restriction of movement caused by injury. (Adapted from Holistic Health Directory.)
Founded by Emilie Conrad, Continuum is a visionary inquiry into our capacity to innovate and participate with the essential, generative, and biological movement processes of life. Much of Continuum explores embryogenesis, allowing each one of us to enter into the great mystery of creation as an existential and spiritual unfolding.
Continuum explores the idea that what we call a body or a brain is actually a creative, nonlinear, unfolding event. Movement is something we are, as well as something we do. All aspects of our functioning—thinking, feeling, languaging, and the very shaping of society—are explored as movement. Continuum provides a nonlinear biological basis for movement education, rather than the mechanistic models prevalent in society, and uses the primary perceptions of sensation, breath, sound, and movement to guide us in both subtle and dynamic explorations.
(Description reprinted with permission, Continuum Movement 2001 Brochure.)
Developed by John Pierrakos, core energetics is the unblocking and releasing of emotion in order to self-heal both physical and mental disorders. According to core energetic theory, combining bodywork, psychotherapy, and the spiritual can activate a greater consciousness and assist clients in getting through the varying layers of energy to be able to reconnect with their core and their innate capacity for love.
Core Structural Integrative Therapy
Originated by George P. Kousaleos, Core is a myofascial, postural, and structural somatic therapy combining massage techniques with client-assisted movement. Normally lasting ten sessions, there are four phases of core body therapy organized according to the level or layer of fascia, muscle, and supporting soft tissues that are manipulated: core massage, core extrinsic, core intrinsic, and core integration.
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a gentle, noninvasive method of evaluating and enhancing the function of a physiological body arrangement called the craniosacral system. Developed by John E. Upledger, DO, OMM, this manual therapy enhances the body’s natural healing processes and has proven effective in treating a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction. The roots of this therapy are in cranial osteopathy, developed by Dr. William G. Sutherland.
The craniosacral system consists of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. It extends from the bones of the skull, face, and mouth—which make up the cranium—down to the sacrum or tailbone. Since this system influences the development and function of the brain and spinal cord, any imbalance or dysfunction in the craniosacral system could cause sensory, motor, or neurological disabilities. These problems may include chronic pain, eye difficulties, scoliosis, motor-coordination impairments, learning disabilities, and other dysfunctions of the central nervous system.
Craniosacral therapy encourages the body’s natural healing mechanisms to improve the functioning of the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress, and enhance health and resistance to disease.
The craniosacral therapy practitioner uses a light touch to assist the natural movement of fluid within the craniosacral system. Therapists generally use only five grams of pressure, roughly the weight of a nickel, to test for restrictions in various parts of the craniosacral system. It’s often possible for the evaluation alone to remove the restriction and allow the system to correct itself.
Click here to find a craniosacral therapy practitioner.
CranioSomatics is a paradigm for understanding relationships between the cranium and its sutures and joints, neuromuscular functions, and meridians throughout the body.
The concept that both functions and dysfunctions of the cranial system are reflected in identifiable and predictable musculoskeletal/somatic responses throughout the body, and that the converse is also generally true, was developed by G. Dallas Hancock, DC, and Florence Barber-Hancock, LMT, in the 1990s. The application of this concept is CranioSomatic Therapy.
Complementary therapies include CranioStructural Integration, developed by Hancock, and Facilitated Pathways Intervention, developed by Barber-Hancock.
Also known as ice therapy, this modality uses the application of cold hydrotherapy in the form of ice packs and cold water immersions to alleviate blood flow, swelling, and inflammation with the contraction of blood vessels. Used in conjunction with heat, cryotherapy can increase circulation, and, hence, remove wastes and toxins from an injured area.
Utilizing a self-activated crystal stimulator, which creates an electrical stimulus when two crystals inside are forced together, this therapy stimulates acupuncture, acupressure, and reflexology points on the body, releasing endorphins from the brain to help block pain receptors in afflicted areas and open circuits of the body.
Dance/movement therapies focus on personal expression to enhance emotional and psychological healing. Using expressive movement as a tool, this modality lends itself to treatment of the physically disabled, as well as clients with histories of abuse and addiction.
The area of the hara, approximately two finger-widths below the navel, is called the lower dantien (or tanden). Dan means the medicine of immortality; tien means field. It is the field of the elixir of life, sometimes also called the “Sea of Qi.” The Ren Chong, kidney, stomach, liver, and spleen channels pass through it. The qi of the organs and meridians of the entire body collect in the lower dantien, like a vast storehouse of power.
(Adapted from “Hara,” by Kondañña, Massage & Bodywork, June/July 2001.) See hara.
Deep Tissue Massage
Techniques that utilize deep-tissue/deep-muscle massage are administered to affect the sub-layer of musculature and fascia. These techniques require advanced training and a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology. The muscles must be relaxed in order to effectively perform deep-tissue massage, otherwise tight surface muscles prevent the practitioner from reaching deeper musculature. It helps with chronic muscular pain and injury rehabilitation, and reduces inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis and tendinitis. It is generally integrated with other massage techniques. Click here to find a Deep Tissue Massage practitioner.
Degriefing is the process of recognizing the mental and physical pain that accompanies grief and treating it with a combination of somatic therapies and psychotherapeutic tools. Degriefing can be used to unlock and remove grief from an individual’s body, and thereby heal not only physical symptoms, but mental and emotional wounds as well. It combines effective verbal counseling therapies with individualized physical care. The techniques used in the degriefing process are intended to ease a person’s emotional distress, mental anguish, and physical discomforts. The goal of degriefing is to unlock blockages that have developed in the body and shift them to a more harmonious state.
This is a system of self-massage promoted most recently by Michio Kushi. More than 5,000 years ago, Chinese Taoist monks observed it was instinctive for a person to touch or hold an injured or painful body part, a form of self-healing. They developed a system called tao-yinn: tao meaning the way and yinn meaning a gentle approach. The name has evolved to Do-In, and the technique is used to sustain overall health, as well as treat specific physical problems.
Dynamic Spinal Therapy
Dynamic spinal therapy was developed by Rolf Ott in Rapperswil, Switzerland, in the 1980s. The technique works with the body’s posture and energetic (acupuncture) system and consists of three parts:
- The ear reflexology test comes from France and Germany and is a form of ear acupuncture. The ear provides information about the body’s energetic state. A therapy stylus is pressed along specific lines, some of which are more sensitive than others and provide the therapist information. Acupuncture meridian harmonization balances the energetic system. The focus is on chi flow to stimulate the personal healing process. With the therapy stylus, certain meridians are traced on the skin surface.
- In the second part, the pelvis is checked while being rotated, and specific stretches are applied.
- Afterward, the client lies face down on the Swiss therapeutic cushion, resting like a person floating in water. This position offers complete relaxation. The body is gently rocked in several different ways, the gentle rhythmic motion prompting relaxation and inducing trust. The just-stretched muscles get reprogrammed, and the rocking moves the joint helping to build them.
The therapy is applied for joint problems, migraines, arthritis, foot conditions lumbago, herniated disks, spinal nerve irritations, scoliosis, sciatica, psychological problems, stress, and many more. A treatment usually takes 30-40 minutes.
Earth Energy Healing
Similar to reiki, Earth Energy Healing involves channeling energy through laying on of the hands.
EMF Balancing Technique
In an hour-long session, clients experience their own electromagnetic field (EMF) and the patterns within it. The practitioner carries out a series of graceful, t’ai chi-like movements, while the client lies on a massage table. During some parts of the session, practitioners will gently place their hands on the body to facilitate the flow of energy.
Endermologie utilizes a computerized machine that massages tissues under suction to improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage, thus speeding the healing process. Use of the machine allows the therapist to cover a larger area more quickly and with less effort. Endermologie is also used as an effective method to treat cellulite, stretching tight tissue bands and stimulating circulation to flush out toxins.
Energy Flow Balancing
This gentle treatment assists clients in balancing their energy flow. Therapists hold a space for clients to make whatever shifts or changes toward balance they deem necessary. Emphasis is given to the chakras and the joints, leaving clients feeling at peace and at home with themselves, with less pain, increased mobility, and greater range of motion.
The practice of soft-tissue manipulation applied to horses. See animal massage. Click here to find an equine massage practitioner.
Developed in the 1960s at Esalen Institute on the California Coast, this approach melded classic Swedish massage with sensory awareness practice and slow, flowing t'ai chi. The practitioner works with the receiver, rather than on the client. Today the Esalen massage signature flow is punctuated with deep tissue detail, joint mobilizing, stretches, and energy work. Tension melts away and yields to a state of harmony. Click here to find an Esalen massage practitioner.
This is a healing through the energy field which flows through and around us, and chakras or centers of energy. Each of the seven major centers vitalizes its related endocrine gland(s). It is possible to map and measure this field and to assist in the restoration of good health through working to rebalance the energy field. Therapists have learned to sensitize their hands and inner perception to examine the energy field in detail to find alterations in the flow of energy. The therapist does not touch the client, but works variable distances from the body. The client remains fully clothed.
Eucapnic Breath Retraining
A technique of guided breathing exercises and training used by somatic therapists in combination with musculoskeletal therapy to release and normalize the function of the thorax, diaphragm, and other muscles of breathing and to enhance health.
Derived from eu, meaning good, and tonus, meaning tone or tension, eutony was developed by Gerda Alexander of Germany during her work in Denmark in the mid-twentieth century. It is based on the theory that there is a constant interaction between muscular tone and psychic activity. Acting on muscle tone can affect the whole being and regulate the breathing, circulation, etc. Clients learn how to adjust their tonus through the observation of sensations in various situations. Clients will explore the body’s perceptions—from the skin to the bones—in movement, in relaxation, during activity, and at rest. Professional training is an individual process lasting four years, the last year being devoted to practicum and exams.
StarFace Exerssage is a facial yoga, slow motion movement, and self-massage technique integrated with breathing to release jaw tension and other tensions from neuromuscular parts of the face, head, and neck. It is comprised of 24 cranial facial yoga postures and a series of rhythmic contouring and acupressure pulsing massage movements. Connections are made to the vital organs with sound and intention. It facilitates the release of jaw tension.
The fascial system is one continuous, laminated, connective-tissue sheath that spreads without interruption throughout the entire body in a three-dimensional web. Fascial mobilization allows therapists to locate and address restrictions in the fascial system that are causing asymmetries, postural malalignment, abnormal tensions, and pressures that can lead to pain and dysfunction. The goal of fascial mobilization is to produce a well-balanced, symmetrical, and mobile body within the skeletal, soft-tissue, and craniosacral systems.
Developed by Russian-born Israeli educator Moshe Feldenkrais, this method establishes new connections between the brain and body through movement reeducation. One of two formats of instruction is used: awareness through movement, and functional integration.
- Awareness through movement classes are group sessions in which the teacher verbally guides students through repatterning.
- In the one-on-one functional integration session, a teacher uses hands-on manipulation to guide the student toward new movement patterns.
Feldenkrais proposed that nearly our entire spectrum of movement is learned during our first few years of life, but that these movements represent a mere 5 percent of all possibilities available to us. Habituated responses to problem areas in our lives are ingrained in our movement patterns. By retraining the central nervous system through the skeletal system, old patterns are eliminated and replaced with new skills that improve the physical, mental, and emotional functioning of the body. In this way, unconscious movement is brought into conscious awareness where it may be used as a tool for opening the human potential. Click here to find a Feldenkrais practitioner.
Feng shui (translated as “wind and water”) is the Chinese system of balancing the energy patterns of the physical environment. A composite of mystical beliefs, astrology, folklore, and common sense, the Chinese concept of feng shui blends ancient wisdom with cultural tradition.
The laws of feng shui provide for positioning homes/businesses and designing room and office layouts in ways that promise to enhance the quality of their occupants’ lives and businesses by channeling energy in positive ways. These principles strive for creating balanced, peaceful dwellings by bringing together the external and internal and living in harmony with natural and man-made environments.
Good feng shui promises occupants health, happiness, prosperity, and long life—a conscious connection between the outside environment and the world within. These same principles can also be applied to the human body (called min xiang shue) to promote inner character and restore harmony to areas of imbalance. Through meditation and daily exercises, min xiang shue can allow a deeper self-awareness and regeneration.
This technique is based on classical Chinese medicine’s law of the five elements. The five-element system views the human body as a microcosm of the universe with the tides of energy and emotions waxing and waning. These energies and emotions are stored in the visceral organs and move through specific pathways or meridians in the body in a regular and cyclical fashion. When these energies or emotions become blocked, or deficient or excessive through stress, trauma, or disease, the five-element practitioner may use carefully controlled pressure on certain meridian points to help move the energy or emotions. This restores the natural cycle of energy and emotional movement, thus helping the person’s natural ability to heal.
This aquatic treatment is performed in water heated to body temperature. The therapist and the client work as a team, following the client’s innate intelligence as her body guides the work. With the water allowing uninhibited movement, the body moves freely to release old holding patterns, blockages, and restrictions and then repatterns into wholeness.
Foot Zone Therapy
Foot zone therapy is based on the premise that energy flows through the body in meridians from the brain to the feet. Every organ and cell has a representative point. On the foot, and when pressure is applied, the brain sends a signal to the corresponding part of the body to facilitate healing and restore balance.
Temporary pain, defined also as a blockage of energy flow, is felt on areas of the foot that correspond to the affected organ or body part. When the pain is relieved or reduced, the healing process has begun. Positive and apparent results are felt almost immediately.
Foot zone therapy was used in ancient China and India. Egyptian hieroglyphs and paintings also show the use of this method. But not until the twentieth century, when Dr. Erdal of Norway used a form of this therapy to cure himself of paralysis, did foot zone therapy get rediscovered. After more than twenty years of intensive clinical research, Erdal codified his findings into a medical science widely respected throughout Europe.
This therapy requires two practitioners to simultaneously massage the client’s left and right sides, making sure to mimic the other’s motions and to exert equal pressure for a balanced experience.
Geriatric massage, with its focus on the elderly, addresses the psychological and physiological aspects of aging and its associated diseases. Bodywork, often limited to a shorter time span, is often performed in residential care facilities. Click here to find a geriatric massage practitioner.
The Grinberg Method is a systematic educational method that teaches people to mobilize their own strength and vitality in pursuit of their well-being. It shows people how they can achieve much more in their lives simply by paying more attention to their bodies.
Used in China for more than 2,000 years, gua sha means "to scrape toxins." A method of promoting blood circulation and removing toxic heat, blood, and lymph from the body, gua sha involves scraping the skin with a flat tool to facilitate pain relief. Olive oil and herbs are usually applied to the skin to open the pores, increase deep cleansing, and improve circulation.
Also known as visualization, guided imagery is a relaxation system utilizing imagination and thoughts to improve one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Often involving a process of listening to music or a person’s voice, the participant can take hold of imagery, symbols, and deep feelings to stimulate the body’s immune system, fight disease, and improve overall health. Many seriously ill patients use this technique to imagine the destruction of their disease and/or disorder.
A system designed to exercise the musculature while mobilizing and articulating the joints. Gyrotonic was conceived regarding key principles of gymnastics, swimming, ballet, and yoga through which major muscle groups are worked interdependently and in an integrated manner.
This system is served by a series of specially designed exercise equipment that is built around the human body with all regards to total freedom in movement, no restriction to speed and versatility, and enhancement rather than distraction from coordination, strength, and flexibility.
The motion patterns are natural, turbulence-free, and pure, with no interruption, creating a bridge between contraction and extension through the rotating movement of the joints, resulting in a balanced support system for the skeleton. Each exercise is synchronized with a corresponding breathing pattern and is performed with either a rhythm or melodic rhythmical expression, creating a gentle or vigorous cardiovascular-aerobic stimulation, depending on the intensity and speed of the execution. (Adapted from www.gyrotonic.com.)
Hakomi Integrative Somatics
Using hands-on bodywork, body awareness, and movement, Hakomi Integrative Somatics enables people to discover the habitual, automatic attitudes (both physical and psychological), by which they generate patterns of experience. Particularly helpful in working with the effects of trauma and abuse, emotional pain, and limiting belief systems, this gentle therapy teaches clients to follow the inherently intelligent processes of the body and mind.
Clients are educated in the nuances of inner body sensations and learning to track the ever-changing flow of wordless information that is the language of the body. It is precisely this awareness that becomes a powerful healing tool, as it naturally expands the “somatic sense of self” and heals the various forms of dissociation from the body.
Hands-on bodywork is used experimentally to help clients gain awareness of inner experience, specifically inner body sensation and patterns, emotions, images, memories, or thoughts. Unconscious attitudes are brought to consciousness where they can be examined, understood, and changed. By working physically and psychologically, the transformative shift can take root on both levels simultaneously.
A body-centered psychotherapy, Hakomi Therapy was started in the mid-1970s by American Ron Kurtz. It uses body tensions and sensations to access information about the limiting beliefs, patterns, and habits of the individual.
Hakomi bodywork includes hands-on manipulation to access and change these beliefs. Treatments vary to meet individual needs.
Hanna Somatic Education
This system of sensory-awareness and neuromuscular education makes it possible for a participant to recognize, release, and reverse chronic pain patterns resulting from injury, stress, repetitive motion, or habituated postures. Hands-on methods teach how to relieve tension quickly, lengthen and relax muscles, reduce pain, and regain comfort.
Combining the hands-on methods (clinical sessions with a practitioner) with somatic exercises (done by oneself) expands the range of benefits. Click here to find a Hanna Somatic practitioner.
The source of health, vitality, and power, the hara is the physical center of the body. Bounded by the lower rib cage and the pelvic bowl, the hara includes all the vital organs of the body, with the exception of the heart and lungs—but even these have a reflexive, energetic presence here.
The hara is the center of “me”-ness. The first three chakras, which deal with basic survival needs and ego/personality development, coalesce and interact here, culminating in a sense of individuality. It is an emotional center.
(Adapted from “Hara,” by Kondañña, Massage & Bodywork, June/July 2001.) See dantien.
This practice uses sound to create balance and alignment in the physical body, the energy centers (chakras), and/or the etheric fields. It is a vibration applied by an instrument or the human voice and can be understood as a field of energy medicine. The primary question in this field is: What are the correct resonant frequencies of the body?
Developed by Janet Mentgen, RN, Healing Touch is an energy-based therapeutic approach to healing. Healing Touch uses touch to influence the energy system, thus affecting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, as well as healing.
The goal of Healing Touch is to restore harmony and balance in the energy system to help the person to self-heal. The quality and impact of the healing is influenced by the relationship between the giver and receiver. Click here to find a Healing Touch practitioner.
Healing Touch For Animals
Developed by Carol Komitor and adapted from the Healing Touch program, Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) is an energy-medicine modality combining philosophies, techniques, and applications to promote energy balance and healing of animals. Also called the Komitor Healing Method, HTA works on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels and is used to help treat injuries, illnesses, surgeries, wounds, behavioral problems, and stress-related issues.
Movement education and deep-tissue bodywork are the major components of Hellerwork, named for founder Joseph Heller. Emphasizing vertical realignment of the body and release of chronic stress and tension, Hellerwork involves 11 sessions of 1.5 hours each. In each session, one hour is devoted to bodywork and 30 minutes to movement therapy. The therapist also uses dialogue to explore emotional factors that may be contributing to tension in the client’s physical make-up.
As a preventative technique, the goal of Hellerwork is to produce permanent, corrective change in alignment and movement. Click here to find a Hellerwork practitioner.
Developed by Dave Leflet, HEMME (which stands for History, Evaluation, Modalities, Manipulation, and Exercise) is a soft-tissue therapy designed for practitioners in a clinical setting. It relieves pain by restoring alignment and improving myofascial dysfunction. HEMME is a conglomeration of the most proven techniques found in physical medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic work, and physical therapy, and works successfully in treating chronic low back pain and soft-tissue injury.
Holistic medicine recognizes that the mind, spirit, lifestyle, environment, and other aspects of a person’s existence, significantly affect the functioning of the physical body. Thus, in evaluating and treating illness and prescribing preventative intervention, this approach treats the whole person, addressing more than just the symptoms or disease. Holistic practitioners may utilize a combination of conventional treatments along with alternative therapies.
Holographic Memory Release
This subtle technique, developed by Charles Daily, DC, allows the practitioner to quickly locate specific holographic touch points that are referenced to the individual’s on-going process. As in reflexology, where the entire body is represented on the foot, these touch points correlate to whole-body microsystems. Through very light and specific digital contacts, a piezoelectric effect is created within the crystalline connective tissue memory system for instantaneous memory reframing. This self-assembly process enhances subtle self-observation within the individual. It increases individual somatic awareness and releases self-limiting beliefs and tension patterns that have been stored within the body/mind continuum.
A 15-minute HMR session spontaneously generates coherent waves of cellular resonance in the connective tissue matrix and releases information logjams that can rob the individual of necessary vital capacity.
Holographic Nature Of Healing
The Holographic Nature of Healing is a year-long training program that combines hands-on energy work with verbal process work. The training’s purpose is to add skill to those who are already working energetically and to assist in providing supervised sessions with feedback in a group setting. There are three focus areas: the chakra system, hands-on healing technique, and quantum psychology for process work.
Holotropic means "moving toward wholeness." Developed by Dr. Stanislav Grof, a psychiatrist working with people in uncommon states of consciousness, and by Christina Grof, a transpersonal teacher, this is a simple, yet powerful technique for self-exploration and healing based on combined insights from modern consciousness research, depth psychology, and perennial spiritual practices.
The method activates uncommon states of consciousness that mobilize the spontaneous healing potential of the psyche. Sustained effective breathing, evocative music, focused energy work, and mandala drawing are components of this subjective journey. Virtually all ancient and native traditions recognize the psychological and spiritual healing potential of states of consciousness that differ from what we call “ordinary.”
Holotropic Breathwork is a powerful method of self-exploration and healing. This work can be useful for artists wishing to facilitate their creativity, persons seeking a deep level of healing, or those seeking to explore their inner self and/or the transpersonal dimensions. It may lead to a spiritual opening and transformation.
This alternative healing method was developed by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700s, based on a “like cures like” principle: that is, if a substance can cause symptoms in a healthy person, then it can stimulate self-healing of similar symptoms in a sick person. Clients are given minute amounts of natural substances to stimulate the body to cure itself.
Developed by Tomezo Hoshino, a Japanese-born Argentinian, Hoshino Therapy is a nonintrusive massage and movement system to relieve and prevent musculoskeletal pain and restore vitality. It recognizes 250 vital acupuncture pressure points directly over the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that relate to the biomechanical functioning of the body. Pressure and body warmth are applied by the first joint of the thumb and with full-hand contact to reverse the hardening of the soft tissues. Therapy is combined with daily exercises called Hoshino Action.
Huma Transpersonal Bodywork
A method of bodywork that integrates subtle, articulate touch and verbal communication by combining the focus of physical and psychological health found in Western body-based tradition (Rosen Method is part of the foundation) with the deeper self, or inner guide, found in Eastern traditions.
Human Energy Dynamics
This therapy, though similar to reiki, uses the English language instead of symbols. It involves setting up and normalizing polarities, as well as bringing universal energy into structures of the body. It is the mental manipulation of human energy to affect changes in one’s self and in others.
This Hawaiian technique espouses that emotions and experiences are trapped in the fibers of each muscle group and organ in the body. Through a rhythmic massage technique where the practitioner “dances” with the forearm softly across their client’s muscles while informing the client of the particular emotion being addressed (i.e., guilt, fear, anger, etc.), Huna Kane allows clients to reexperience that emotion and to clear it from their bodies. From this place of clarity, awareness, balance, peace, and harmony become more accessible.
Huna Kane is practiced on fully-clothed individuals lying on a mat on the floor.
Although ancient Greece and Rome both adopted the beliefs that water had healing properties, it was the Romans who first integrated hydrotherapy into their social life, building temples and baths near natural springs. Father Sebastian Kneipp from Worshofen, Bavaria, was the father of modern-day hydrotherapy in Germany. Various hydrotherapy massage techniques exist and are generally utilized by massage/bodywork practitioners, physical therapists, physicians, and spa technicians. These include underwater massage, herbal baths, thalassotherapy, Kneipp therapy, Vichy treatments, Scotch hoses, and Swiss showers. Click here to find a Hydrotherapy practitioner.
The use of hypnosis, trance states, suggestion, or altered states of consciousness to facilitate therapeutic goals, including learning and practicing new skills for alleviating symptoms or changing behavior.
Infant Massage Instruction
Qualified instructors teach parents how to properly massage their infants. Infant massage is also utilized in hospital neonatal care units. This specialized form of touch is successful, not only in the critical weight gain of premature infants, but also in creating a strong bond between parent and infant and exposing a young child to the benefits and pleasures of touch. Click here to find an Infant Massage Instructor.
Also known as the Original Ingham Method of Reflexology. In the 1930s, Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist working for a physician, used zone therapy on patients to reduce pain. She mapped the entire body as represented on the feet.
Ingham later developed her work into the Ingham Reflex Method of Compression Massage, which became known as reflexology. Only the hands are used to apply the pressure to the reflex points on the feet. It is used primarily to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Many practitioners integrate the practice of reflexology with other forms of bodywork.
Insight Bodywork, developed by Kondañña Barry Kapke, is a floor-based energy work that seamlessly integrates massage, movement, and meditation. Earthy, gentle, and spontaneous, its integrative approach to somatic discovery and education facilitates energetic balance and flow, brings awareness to embodied experience, and supports the body to find greater ease and ability. Insight Bodywork utilizes acupressure and myofascial techniques, giving maximum support to the body while mobilizing joints, moving into slow deep stretches, integrating with soothing brushes and holds, and, when appropriate, energizing through shaking, rocking, swinging, or dropping. It is a work that is both playful and sacred in its approach.
Integrated Kabbalistic Healing
Integrated Kabbalistic Healing is a system of energy healing, developed by Jason Shulman, based on the traditional Judaic metaphysical path (Kabbalah), object-relations, and advaitic (non-dualistic) perspectives with the understandings of psychology and the power of healing touch.
A session is approximately one hour in length and consists of discussion, followed by a hands-on healing based on what has been discussed. The goal is personal transformation by changing the fundamental patterns that are keeping the client from living the life she wants, ultimately affecting change on all levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
This practice indicates a combination of various massage, bodywork, and somatic therapy techniques utilized by a practitioner in the course of a session. Click here to find an Integrated Massage practitioner.
Integrative Manual Therapy
This therapy recognizes that each person is more than the total components of anatomy, physics, and chemistry, and is instead affected by emotions, thoughts, social interactions, mind, spirit, consciousness, soul, and more.
Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) combines multiple therapies to locate and alleviate health challenges through individual body systems. Utilizing a combination of structural rehabilitation (a manual therapy process of normalization) and functional rehabilitation (a therapy to restore functional outcome according to the optimal potential of the client), IMT utilizes the expertise of professionals in many fields—physical therapy, osteopathic medicine, homeopathy, audiology, massage therapy, etc.
Click here to find an Integrative Manual Therapy practitioner
Alternative and conventional (allopathic) methodologies are combined to stimulate the person’s natural healing response.
Interactive Guided Imagery
An effective set of tools that can be used to mobilize the latent, innate healing abilities of clients to support rehabilitation, recovery, and health. It helps clients facilitate an enhanced awareness of the unconscious imagery they already have, while helping them learn to meaningfully and effectively interact with this process on their behalf.
Intuitive Work is a way of incorporating the perceived and received information that extends beyond the five senses, transcending what is considered ordinary thinking patterns and reasoning processes. The four main media by which intuitives receive and perceive information are clairsentience, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and knowingness (impression or inspirational thought).
The challenge for bodyworkers is how to respectfully incorporate intuition into their work while demonstrating responsibility/respect to the client. While the science aspect of bodywork focuses on the technique of touch (information accessed through the left hemisphere of the brain), the art aspect of bodywork focuses on how to touch with care and sensitivity (information accessed through the right hemisphere of the brain). As obvious tools for listening, hands touch with the intent to hear and see—information accessed through the temporal lobe. These three parts of the neurological system are considered the intuitive network.
Iridology is a diagnostic method in which specific areas of the eye's iris correspond to various organs of the body, so that studying the markings of the iris can be used to identify dysfunction elsewhere. Used by physicians, naturopaths, chiropractors, and other healers, iridology is a noninvasive technique that supplies information not clearly delineated by other means regarding the condition of the body. Based on this information, the practitioner can make recommendations for changes in diet or lifestyle as a preventative approach.
Isometric Muscle Balancing
Developed by Charlotte Vandergrift, Isometric Muscle Balancing is based on the muscle testing positions used in kinesiology. Balancing and strengthening the 42 major muscles are accomplished by isometric action, producing a feeling of lightness and an increase in energy. A 45 minute to one hour session also includes instruction in creating and maintaining balance and proper postural habits, as well as attention to diet and attitude.
Jamu massage is a Balinese-inspired modality based on Indian, Chinese, and European techniques involving acupressure, rolling motions, long strokes, and percussion-like staccato drumming. Beginning slowly and building to a faster pace, Jamu massage is designed to energize and increase blood circulation.
Japanese Restoration Therapy & Okazaki Long-Life Massage
These two practices form an integral part of traditional martial arts training that emphasizes a concern for physical well-being. Restoration therapy has been practiced in Japan for more than fifteen hundred 1,500 years. It is a combination of amma, shiatsu, osteopathy, herbal medicine, and suggestive healing techniques. To be a successful practitioner of restoration therapy, a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology is imperative, as well as knowledge of pathology, dietetics, psychology, and herbal medicines.
Jin Shin Do
Developed by psychotherapist Iona Marsaa Teeguarden, Jin Shin Do combines gentle, yet deep, finger pressure on acu-points with simple body focusing techniques to release physical and emotional tension. The client determines the depth of the pressure.
Jin Shin Do promotes a pleasurable, trancelike state during which the recipient can get in touch with the body and access feelings or emotions related to the physical condition. This body/mind approach, performed on the fully-clothed client, is a synthesis of a traditional Japanese acupressure technique, classic Chinese acupuncture theory, Taoist yogic philosophy and breathing methods, and Reichian segmental theory.
The client lies on her back on a massage table while the practitioner holds “local points” in tension areas together with related “distal points,” which help the armored places to release more easily and deeply. A typical session is about 90 minutes. Jin Shin Do acupressure is effective in helping relieve tension and fatigue, stress-related headaches and gastro-intestinal problems, back and shoulder pain, eye strain, menstrual and menopausal imbalances, sinus pain, and allergies. (With medical problems, the client is asked to consult a doctor.)
Over a period of ten or more sessions, armoring is progressively released in the head, neck, shoulders, chest, diaphragm, abdomen, pelvis, and legs. After sessions, clients typically feel deeply relaxed and may even feel euphoric. If the client is responsive, there will be significantly less tension and pain together with an increased sense of well-being for hours or days. This response will tend to extend after further sessions.
In the case of chronic fatigue, initially the client may feel more tired after a session, because the body is demanding rest. It is advisable to schedule sessions with time to rest and relax afterward. On the other hand, Jin Shin Do can be used before athletic events to improve performance, for horses as well as for people.
Jin Shin Jyutsu
Jin Shin Jyutsu physio-philosophy is an ancient art of harmonizing the life energy in the body. Born of innate wisdom and passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth, the art had fallen into relative obscurity when it was revived in the early 1900s by Master Jiro Murai in Japan. After clearing himself of life-threatening illness, Master Murai devoted the rest of his life to the research and development of Jin Shin Jyutsu, gathering insight from a range of experiences and resources including the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Things).
The resulting knowledge of Jin Shin Jyutsu was then given to Mary Burmeister who brought it to the United States in the 1950s. Burmeister began teaching the art of Jin Shin Jyutsu to others in the early 1960s and today there are thousands of students and practitioners around the world. Jin Shin Jyutsu brings balance to the body’s energies, which promotes optimal health and well-being and facilitates a profound healing capacity. It is a valuable complement to conventional healing methods, inducing relaxation and reducing the effects of stress.
Jin Shin Jyutsu employs 26 “safety energy locks” along energy pathways that feed life into our bodies. When one or more of the paths becomes blocked, the resulting stagnation can disrupt the local area and eventually disharmonize the complete path of energy flow. Holding these energy locks in combination can bring balance to mind, body, and spirit.
Jin Shin Jyutsu can be applied as self-help and also by a trained practitioner. A Jin Shin Jyutsu session generally lasts about one hour. It does not involve massage, manipulation of muscles, or use of drugs or substances. It is a gentle art, practiced by placing the fingertips (over clothing) on designated safety energy locks, to harmonize and restore the energy flow. This facilitates the reduction of tension and stress that accumulate through normal daily living.
Click here to find a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner
Kentro body balance is a technique of gentle centering and balancing movements that stretch, exercise, relax, limber, and strengthen every area of the body.
Founded by Angelika Thusius, Kentro is based on her observation of people around the world who move with ease into an advanced age. Kentro movements can be practiced by anyone and are easily integrated into everyday activities for muscular and joint relief.
Kinesiology is the study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy related to human body movement, specifically the action of individual muscles or groups of muscles that perform specific movements. Applied kinesiology involves muscle testing to assess a client’s condition. Click here to find a kinesiologist.
Developed by dancer/choreographer Elaine Summers, kinetic awareness is a system of bodywork that aims to increase knowledge of the human body by understanding tension as a positive and necessary part of movement affecting health, attitude, and emotional well-being.
Designed to improve mental image, clients can gain a heightened sensitivity to posture and movement. All parts of the body are encouraged to be free to move in all directions possible. A goal of kinetic awareness is to free the body so it is always moving away from pain and toward pleasure.
There are five phases of awareness: attention to breathing, simultaneous movement of body parts, level of tension, speed of movement, and relation to others.
Korean Martial Therapy
This is a deep-tissue modality that includes massage strokes, body movement, stretches, pressure point therapy, yum yang therapy, and Korean energy work. Gentle on the practitioner, Korean Martial Therapy (KMT) may be performed with the client on a table, the floor, or in a chair and may or may not incorporate the use of oils.
Derived from Hapkido and traditional Korean medicine, KMT began as self-therapy stretches that were found useful for keeping warriors in top condition and helping them recover quickly from injury.
The Kripalu bodyworker guides the client into a state of deep relaxation and meditation for the purpose of releasing physical and mental tension. This technique, based on Kripalu yoga, uses specific massage strokes and verbal/nonverbal procedures to aid clients in reconnecting with their body’s own healing wisdom.
Kriya is defined as spontaneous energy movement. Kriya Massage, developed by Kamala Renner in 1980, emphasizes the intuitive aspect by the practitioner in flowing with the kriya movement while performing the massage. It is an art form that integrates the universal, life-affirming flow of energy between the practitioner and client, with any classical massage techniques integrated into the dance.
Kriya Massage is a bodywork dance with the individual creating her own style in harmony with four universal forces. The strokes and techniques are a combination of energy work, Swedish, neuromuscular, and somato-emotional release work done in a connected smooth pattern.
The experience of a Kriya Massage is one of stepping out of time and space as a means of taking inventory of one’s condition, then allowing the subconscious to shift and adjust programmed responses to life. The healing quality of Kriya Massage is accomplished by transforming attitudes. Giving, as well as receiving, a Kriya Massage is a regenerating experience.
(Adapted from Holistic Health Directory.)
This is a form of healing energy in which the objective is to raise the client’s Kundalini energy for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment.
First, the chakras and energy bodies are thoroughly cleansed and balanced by undergoing RoHun transformational therapy, a therapy based on Carl Jung and his theory of archetypes, the personal and collective unconscious, and spiritual awareness.
The therapist then performs noninvasive, light physical touch and manipulation of the chakras and energy bodies through use of the hands.
Stones of all shapes and sizes and varying temperatures, ranging from zero to 140 degrees, are used during LaStone massage therapy to elicit physical healing, mental relaxation, and a spiritual connection to earth energy.
- Warm stones encourage the exchange of blood and lymph and provide soothing heat for deep-tissue work.
- Cold stones aid with inflammation, moving blood out of the area, and balancing male/female energies.
Stones are placed in varying positions on the body for energy balancing or may be used by the therapist for specific trigger-point work. The alternating heat and cold of thermotherapy brings the entire body into the healing process, with a rapid exchange of blood and oxygen and alternating rise and fall of respiration rate as the body seeks homeostasis.
LaStone therapy requires less effort from the practitioner’s own body and delivers healing warmth to the hands, benefitting the therapist, as well as the client. Founder Mary Harrigan drew from the wisdom of ancient healers in using thermotherapy as the basis for her approach.
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This energy medicine therapy abates addictions, compulsions, fears, phobias, and stress-related problems with a hands-on, noninvasive treatment. It employs electromagnetic and bioelectrical modalities and works within a client’s body.
Life Enrichment Therapy
Life Enrichment Therapy (LET) was developed by Mark Hendler. It focuses on touch as a therapeutic agent. Touch is seen as a process of self expression for individuals seeking self growth and finding meaning. Through massage, a person opens up in a refreshing experience.
LET is an interpersonal approach between therapist and participant based on the premise that touch has value. Life enrichment occurs throughout life. Through massage and touch, awareness, and other tools, persons explore what it means to be human.
Lifestream Massage Technique
This method of bodywork was developed to fulfill a need for the busy massage therapist, especially those working in resorts, spas, and health clubs. Students learn a one-hour, full-body massage that provides clients with the relaxation and enjoyment of a Swedish massage with the deeper release of deep-tissue work. Students also are taught to use their body efficiently in a manner that prevents injury and burnout, yet increases stamina to maintain a busy practice.
Lomilomi—Hawaiian for "rub rub"—is described by teacher Aunty Margaret Machado as “the loving touch—a connection between heart, hand, and soul with the source of all life.” This system of massage utilizes very large, broad movements. Two-handed, forearm, and elbow application of strokes, which cover a broad area, is characteristic of lomilomi. Oils are used in the application of cross-fiber friction techniques.
Although it is similar to Swedish massage in many ways, lomilomi also uses prayer and the acknowledgment of the existence of a higher power as an integral part of the technique.
Aunty Margaret was the first to teach lomilomi in a formal, classroom situation; previously the training was passed on within families by kahunas or shamans. Click here to find a lomilomi massage practitioner.
Lonsdale Method of Lymphatic Massage
This technique offers a unique integration of osteopathic visceral manipulation, using both deep and superficial lymphatic drainage techniques and strokes that are nurturing and effective in detoxifying the body. Click here to find a lymphatic massage practitioner.
Developed by Ted Looyen, this technique is a painless approach to deep-tissue therapy, working with the connective tissue and fascial components. It is a combination of several restructuring systems, including Rolfing, postural integration, and Aston-Patterning.
Lymph Drainage Therapy
Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) is unique in that healthcare professionals learn how to palpate the lymphatic flow. As they develop their skills, they can then identify the rhythm, direction, and quality of the lymphatic flow. Advanced practitioners will be able to precisely map the lymphatic flow to find alternate pathways for drainage.
Developed by Bruno Chikly, MD, Lymph Drainage Therapy evolved from years of training in traditional medicine, Asian medical practices, and manual therapies. (Definition provided by The Upledger Institute.)
Click here to find a Lymph Drainage Therapy practitioner.
Developed by Charles W. Wiltsie III, lypossage is a combination of manual deep-tissue massage, lymphatic drainage, and the principles of structural integration, used to combat cellulite. An alternative to liposuction and body contouring machines, lypossage enhances firmness and tone and increases skin resilience and smoothness.
The treatment requires a series of sessions because the reduction of cellulite is only temporary unless treatment is continued. When combined with diet and exercise, lypossage produces a lifting effect in areas prone to sagging.
The M Technique (the M stands for Manual) is a series of stroking movements performed in a set sequence. Each movement, identified with a mnemonic name, is repeated three times. Because the technique is structured in terms of order and number, it is completely reproducible and therefore useful in research. The technique was created by Jane Buckle, a critical care nurse, for the very fragile or critically ill patient and produces a measurable parasympathetic response.
This is a combination of macrobiotic diet, philosophy, and shiatsu. Macrobiotic shiatsu makes use of the classical Asian meridians. The feet are utilized considerably in the application of this method.
The therapeutic use of magnets may be older than acupuncture, originally involving a material called magnetite applied in a poultice. Today’s magnet therapy is still applied to the skin, but employs steady or pulsed magnetic fields from either electromagnets or less powerful permanent magnets. Fixed magnets may also be taped to the body for a period of time. Magnet therapy is used to relieve pain and discomfort and to aid in healing with a variety of physical and emotional disorders, such as arthritis and stress. Treatment may be administered by the therapist or, as in the case of taped magnets, by the client.
Manual Lymph Drainage
The strokes applied in manual lymph drainage are intended to stimulate the movement of the lymphatic fluids in order to assist the body in cleansing. This is a gentle, rhythmical technique that cleanses the connective tissue of inflammatory materials and toxins, enhances the activity of the immune system, reduces pain, and lowers the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.
The most widely taught and generally accepted form of this technique was created by Dr. Vodder of Austria and requires advanced training and precise movements.
Developed by Reiki Master Ethel Lombardi, the expression MariEL refers to a transformational healing energy that works at the cellular level to help clients discover and release emotional and physical traumas.
Massage & Massage Therapy
Massage, or massage therapy, is a system of structured palpation or movement of the soft tissue of the body. The massage system may include, but is not limited to, such techniques as:
- Passive or active stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement
- Effleurage (either firm or light soothing, stroking movement, without dragging the skin, using either padded parts of fingertips or palms)
- Petrissage (lifting or picking up muscles and rolling the folds of skin)
- Tapotement (striking with the side of the hand, usually with partly flexed fingers, rhythmic movements with fingers or short rapid movements of sides of the hand)
These techniques may be applied with or without the aid of lubricants, salt or herbal preparations, hydromassage, thermal massage or a massage device that mimics or enhances the actions possible by human hands. The purpose of the practice of massage is to enhance the general health and well-being of the recipient.
Massage does not include the diagnosis of a specific pathology, the prescription of drugs or controlled substances, spinal manipulation or those acts of physical therapy that are outside the scope of massage therapy.
A collection of bodywork modalities designed to improve health through manual manipulation of soft tissues, including stroking, kneading, pressing, tapping, and shaking. Intends to improve local circulation, reduce pain, and promote relaxation.
Maya Abdominal Massage
Maya Abdominal Massage is a noninvasive, external, massage technique. It guides internal abdominal organs into their proper position for optimum health and well-being. Maya massage improves organ function by releasing physical and emotional congestion from the abdomen.
The technique applies anatomy, physiology, herbology, and naprapathy along with Ancient Maya healing techniques to address common female complaints such as painful or irregular periods, varicose veins, lower backache, infertility, and more. The techniques also address male complaints such as prostrate swelling and inflammation, frequent urination, and impotency.
The technique works by relieving congestion and blockages to improve the flow of chi and fluids of the circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems to prevent the progression of chronic disease symptomology.
Dr. Rosita Arvigo, DN, developed Maya Abdominal Massage after apprenticing with Don Elijio Panti, the last of the traditional Maya shamans in Central America. The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Massage combine modern science with traditional healing and wisdom to produce a holistic path to physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Mechanical Link is a system of evaluation that allows practitioners to locate and release primary restrictions within the fascial system. These gentle techniques help reduce structural tensions and encourage the body to adjust itself and regulate its systems, including the autoimmune system.
Performing medical massage requires a firm background in pathology and utilizes specific treatments appropriate to working with disease, pain, and recovery from injury. The therapist may work from a physician’s prescription or as an adjunct healer within a hospital or physical therapy setting. Click here to find a medical massage practitioner.
Through a series of spontaneous movement exercises, participants use basic sensing, focusing, vocalizing, and hands-on techniques to consciously experience the meaning of their personal breath movement. Since its inception, this artistic form of breathing education, developed by Professor Ilse Middendorf, has achieved international attention for its effectiveness as a somatic healing and growth process.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Relaxation techniques, meditation, and easy stretching exercises are combined to allow the client to become mindful in order to access inner sources of power. By being fully mindful and awake in life, clients may cope more effectively with stress and illness.
A variety of techniques that utilize movement reeducation and proper body mechanics in combination with massage or soft-tissue manipulation. After observing the client, the therapist will determine which corrective measures are necessary to accomplish specific goals. Active client participation is important while the practitioner uses verbal instruction, hypnosis and imagery, deep muscle and connective tissue manipulation, and mobilization in the movement reeducation process. Registered practitioners may include graduates of the Feldenkrais Method, the Alexander Technique, and other movement-based disciplines.
Multi-Dimensional Movement Arts
Multi-Dimensional Movement Arts (MDMA), water version, is the art of using movement in the medium of water to create dynamic balance. Specific actions, patterns, and waveforms promote reorganization, reeducation, rehabilitation, relaxation, rejuvenation, and dynamic balance. This continuous process of attunement leads to heightened states of awareness.
During a typical session, the client is supported by flotation devices and moved in thermal water. Trained practitioners play with the various interconnections and influences of orbiting circles, spirals, and infinity signs, promoting vitality and health. A body in water is buoyant. The liquid environment changes auditory experience. One can move freely without using muscles. Travel and movement are distorted and experience is shifted from ordinary reality. This affects a person on many different levels: memories are jogged, holding patterns released, body parts awakened, and awareness stimulated.
Muscle Energy Technique
Muscle Energy Technique is a direct, noninvasive manual therapy used to normalize joint dysfunction and increase range of motion. The practitioner evaluates the primary areas of dysfunction in order to place the affected joints in precise positions that enable the client to perform gentle isometric contractions. These directed movements help correct neuromuscular and joint difficulties.
Muscle Release Technique
This technique combines compression, extension, movement, and breath to give therapists a tool to provide relief from pain, treating such conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic low back pain, plantar fasciitis, sciatica, tennis elbow, knee pain, shin splints, frozen shoulder, hammer toes, piriformis syndrome, tendinitis, trigger finger, and much more.
Muscle testing involves finding a muscle that is unbalanced and then attempting to determine why that muscle is not functioning properly. Treatments may involve specific joint manipulation or mobilization, various myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian and acupuncture skills, clinical nutrition, dietary management, counselling skills, evaluating environmental irritants, and various reflex procedures. The object is to test the function of a single muscle in the best possible manner. (Adapted from www.icak.com.)
Myofascial Release is the three-dimensional application of sustained pressure and movement into the fascial system in order to eliminate fascial restrictions and facilitate the emergence of emotional patterns and belief systems that are no longer relevant or are impeding progress. It is an effective therapeutic approach in the relief of cervical pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, neurological dysfunction, restriction of motion, chronic pain, and headaches.
First, an assessment is made by visually analyzing the human frame, followed by the palpation of the tissue texture of various fascial layers. Upon locating an area of fascial tension, gentle pressure is applied in the direction of the restriction.
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Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy
Based on the discoveries of Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons in which they found the causal relationship between chronic pain and its source, myofascial trigger point therapy is used to relieve muscular pain and dysfunction through applied pressure to trigger points of referred pain and through stretching exercises. These points are defined as localized areas in which the muscle and connective tissue are highly sensitive to pain when compressed. Pressure on these points can send referred pain to other specific parts of the body.
Myomassology is an integration of techniques including basic Swedish massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, shiatsu, iridology, herbology, energy balancing, ear candling, and craniosacral therapy in conjunction with instruction in nutrition, meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qigong. Click here to find a Myomassology practitioner.
Myopathic Muscular Therapy
Myopathy is a system of muscular manipulation designed to accomplish relaxation in muscles in which there is progressive and residual tension from physical strain, nervous strain, sports injuries, accidents, infections, and/or years of declining health. Created by Dr. Claude Heckman, myopathy reduces inflammation and pain, restores circulation and motion, and aids in the restoration of normal body functions without the use of oil, cream, powder, or lotion.
Myopractic Muscle Therapy
Robert Petteway developed the Myopractic system after 30 years in the healing arts. His experience in structural integration, biomechanics, acupuncture, Oriental medicine, and a wide variety of muscle therapies contribute to the system. He worked with physicians, surgeons, and chiropractors for more than 20 years to develop this therapeutic model.
It combines three basic techniques: compression stretching, which achieves deep relaxation and relieves tension, spasms, and holding patterns; clearing methods, which use the myopractic covered thumb and framing techniques to clean obstructions from soft tissue (e.g., trigger points, scar tissue, muscle bundles, and old bruises); and separating techniques to release myofascial adhesions, separate fascial planes, and rebalance muscles.
Myopractic muscle therapy integrates its own unique style of energetic work, Swedish, sports, trigger point, myofascial, and even structural integration techniques into one system. It teaches user-friendly, pain-free therapy for both client and practitioner. This is accomplished using the therapist’s body weight and leverage, rather than relying on size and strength. Myopractic posture balancing evaluation identifies the source of chronic pain misalignments in the body’s structure and realigns them.
Myopractic treatments focus especially on misalignments in the lower body, particularly in the feet, ankles, and the hips. Addressing lower-body misalignments often relieves tension injuries in the upper body.
The system also espouses that a therapist can clear their clients only to the degree they themselves are clear. Therefore, training seminars focus on clearing the therapist, as well as learning new techniques.
Myoskeletal Alignment Technique
A holistic approach to relief of back and neck pain based on concepts and principles from Rolfing, osteopathy, and related physical medicine. Focused on detecting and correcting strain patterns to prevent back/neck pain, this technique combines deep-tissue work with assisted stretching and non-force spinal alignment.
Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique
This therapy involves light acupressure applied along both sides of the spinal column in an area where the energy flow of a meridian intersects with the nerve roots at acupressure points. It is considered a safe, effective, natural approach to detecting and eliminating all types of allergies.
With influences from osteopathy and chiropractic, this system of treatment uses soft-tissue manipulation to release tension and balance energy flows in the body. The practitioner uses palpation to explore the tissue, looking for rigid, contracted areas of the body, then begins repetitive, rhythmic, thrusts to gently stretch the contracted connective tissues.
Sessions usually last 30 minutes, focusing mainly on the ligaments near the spinal column. Diet, exercise, and postural adjustments help improve circulatory and nervous system function.
Naturopathy integrates a wide range of natural therapeutics emphasizing the healing power of nature to treat the causes of disease, rather than suppressing the symptoms. As part of a holistic medical healthcare system with an emphasis on education and prevention, the naturopathic physician seeks to motivate the individual toward a healthy and balanced diet, lifestyle, and mental attitude.
Treatments such as homeopathic medicines, clinical nutrition, traditional Asian medicine, and acupuncture are used to enhance the body’s natural healing process.
This technique is a holistic healing system that utilizes the best of American kinesiology and European neural therapy. Neural kinesiology recognizes and assesses the need for therapies in each of four primary categories: neurological, structural, biochemical, and psychological.
Neuro-Structural Bodywork (NSB) is a somatic therapy that combines a variety of techniques, including fascial release, neuromuscular reeducation, craniosacral adjustment, and breathwork in balancing the musculoskeletal, nervous, and chakra systems.
NSB techniques restore sensory perception and motor control and allow for new neurological impulses that support postural balance and free range of motion, ultimately enhancing one’s poise, balance, and sense of well-being. It is effective in treating both acute injuries and chronic conditions, including strained muscles, upper/lower back and disc problems, frozen shoulder, joint injuries, fibromyalgia, migraines, TMJ, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
NSB helps create a more receptive environment for a variety of other modalities (especially chiropractic and physical therapy), improving results from exercise and supporting the body in sustaining skeletal adjustments. It also provides a possible alternative to more invasive treatments (including surgery) in cases where the underlying cause of the problem is fascial restriction and/or loss of sensory perception and motor control.
Developed by Nancy DeLucrezia, NSB can also be used to stimulate and support emotional release and as an adjunct to psychological integration therapies.
Neuromuscular Integrative Action
Neuromuscular Integrative Action (NIA) is an expressive fitness and awareness movement program and a holistic approach to health. It combines movements from t’ai chi, yoga, martial arts, and modern ethnic dances. NIA uses a variety of movements blended with the conscious use of mind and energy, combined in a total fitness program.
NeuroMuscular Reprogramming (NMR) uses muscle testing to assess dysfunctions of the coordination system resulting from traumatic injury and overuse. It cues the brain for new learning, resulting in the immediate correction of neuromuscular imbalances. NMR works with the body’s organizational intelligence addressing neuromuscular pain at its source: the motor control center of the brain. NMR is easy on the practitioner, using strategy, not force.
This comprehensive program of soft-tissue manipulation balances the body’s central nervous system with the musculoskeletal system. Based on neurological laws that explain how the central nervous system initiates and maintains pain, the goal is to help relieve the pain and dysfunction by understanding and alleviating the underlying cause.
Neuromuscular therapy can help individuals who experience distortion and biomechanical dysfunction, which is often a symptom of a deeper problem. It is also used to locate and release spasms and hypercontraction in the tissue, eliminate trigger points that cause referred pain, rebuild the strength of injured tissues, assist venous and lymphatic flow, and restore postural alignment, proper biomechanics, and flexibility to the tissues.
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Nikkon (or Okazaki) Restorative Massage
Nikkon Restorative Massage was developed by Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki in Hawaii in the 1920s. He incorporated Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian techniques. The goal of Okazaki’s style was to restore health and pull toxins out of the body through proper application of pressure using fingers, forearms, and elbows. The result is proper realignment of the body to its highest potential.
Nuad Bo Rarn
See Thai massage.
This form of traditional Thai medical massage originated in the Vajrayana Yogic medicine of Tibet. Translated and creatively adapted to the needs of the modern West by Anthony B. James, PhD, Nuat Thai massage facilitates and promotes a harmonious state of being.
The ancient Tibetans, and subsequently the Thai, carefully recorded various states of disease and imbalances of the body, mind, and emotions and, over time, devised methods for influencing the course of these imbalances. This was important, since these imbalances often kept people from experiencing life in a full and productive way.
Nuat Thai incorporates elements of mindfulness, gentle rocking, deep stretching, and rhythmic compression to create a singular healing experience. This work, a unique form of Vajrayana yoga, focuses on balancing energy and creating wholeness of mind, body, and spirit in the client and practitioner.
The four principle methods used in Nuat Thai are Wai Khruu (prayers and spiritual practice), herbs, diet, and laying-on of hands. In the hands-on aspect, the practitioner takes the client through a series of specific postures called asanas, progressively facilitating energy and balancing chakra function. Nuat Thai massage may be used for rehabilitation, pain relief, and stress reduction. It is nurturing, calming, and enlivening. Training is comprehensive, and reaching the practitioner level may take up to two years.
Ohashiatsu is a method of bodywork offering both giver and receiver a complete experience of self-development and healing. Combining Eastern healing philosophy and techniques with psychological and spiritual components, Ohashiatsu expands awareness of self and others through movement, meditation, and touch.
As a holistic method, Ohashiatsu emphasizes sensing and working with the overall energy flow throughout the body to create balance and relieve aches, tension, stress, and fatigue. Studying and practicing Ohashiatsu helps to develop a balanced condition of health and well-being encompassing body, mind, and spirit.
See chair massage. Click here to find an On-Site Massage practitioner.
Oncology massage refers to massage tailored to the needs of individuals with cancer. This specialized practice requires therapists to be fully educated in and pay close attention to the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of clients in all stages of cancer: diagnosis, treatment, recovery, survivor, or terminal. Training in oncology massage covers appropriate bodywork modalities for cancer clients, includes precautions for radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, and covers physiology and pathology.
One Light Healing Touch
One Light Healing Touch focuses on clearing blockages and rebalancing the human energy field by using spiritual and energetic hands-on healing practices and techniques. The application of these healing art forms facilitates and increases our ambient energetic vibrations and awareness, strengthening the immune system and opening the client to her indwelling god or higher self. As the higher self awareness becomes activated, an evolutionary healing journey begins, moving the client through clarity of understanding, health, spiritual autonomy, and ultimately, culminating in the fulfillment of her purpose of being: to heal herself and other human beings and to find her place within the world.
Onsen is a Japanese word meaning at rest or at peace. It is a state of mind, but can also be a state of body. Developer Richard Phaigh translated it to mean balance, particularly length and strength balance in soft tissue, to form the basis of this new protocol.
Onsen includes three key components: muscle energy technique, post-isometric relaxation, and transverse friction massage.
Ortho-Bionomy was developed by the British osteopath Dr. Arthur Lincoln Pauls in the 1970s and has since been refined into a comprehensive system of bodywork that includes a person’s energetic and emotional well-being, in addition to addressing the physical body. Pauls combined his understanding and techniques of osteopathy with the principles of martial arts and the philosophy of homeopathy to stimulate the organism’s self-healing reflexes without needing to use force or painful manipulation.
The term Ortho-Bionomy loosely translates from Greek into the correct application of the laws of life, to indicate Pauls did not invent something entirely new, but returned to a way of understanding the body and energetic field that had been known for centuries but had fallen into disuse by modern medicine.
On a physical level, a practitioner of Ortho-Bionomy uses comfortable positions and gentle movements to ease the body into releasing tension and pain and to reestablish structural realignment. Proprioceptive nerve activity and stretch reflex action are stimulated to educate the body about its own patterns and to support the organism’s ability to find balance, rather than forcing change from the outside. Since the changes that take place come from within, the results of the work tend to be long-lasting and affect not only the body, but the overall well-being of the client. The energetic and emotional aspects of the client are included to facilitate balance and release of mental and emotional holding patterns closely associated with physical imbalance or trauma.
Participation of the client is always welcome in Ortho-Bionomy, and sessions are often educational in character. Often, awareness alone will change a pattern, but specific exercises are also a part of what Ortho-Bionomy can offer a client.
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Combining some elements of sports and medical massage, orthopedic massage integrates ten modalities to treat soft-tissue pain and injury. Emphasis is placed on understanding both the injury and its rehabilitation criteria. Three basic elements adhered to, despite the technical diversity in treatment, are assessment, matching the treatment to the injury, and adaptability of treatment. Click here to find an Orthopedic Massage practitioner.
This therapy utilizes dialogue, coached breathing, and applying qigong from one side of the body through to the other while lengthening, stretching and manipulating the body, all of which creates space in the musculoskeletal system allowing for emotional and psychological restrictions to be cleared.
This system of comprehensive medical care goes beyond conventional medical philosophy to include an emphasis on structural balance of the musculoskeletal system. Osteopathic physicians use joint manipulation, postural reeducation, and physical therapy to normalize the body’s structure and promote healing. Most medical conditions are amenable to osteopathic healing. In some cases, osteopathy has been shown to resolve illnesses resistant to surgery and other medical approaches.
Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy
This technique utilizes deep cross-fiber strokes applied with the thumbs and fingers. Developed by Therese Pfrimmer of Canada, this is a deep muscle therapeutic technique. The technique was discovered in an effort to help herself recover from paralysis. The work enables free flow of lymph and blood, as well as improving joint movement and removal of waste products/toxins from the muscle tissue. Conditions that benefit from Pfrimmer Deep Tissue Massage include arthritis, multiple sclerosis, headache, and fibrositis, among others.
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy
This therapy involves a fusion of hatha yoga, bodywork, and psychotherapy. It is holistic art based on the ancient science of yoga, combining elements of contemporary body/mind psychology with assisted yoga postures. It is a totally client-centered process, and it establishes inner balance by awakening the healing life force within.
Energy work designed to address the total person, Physiohelanics uses the body’s own energy systems to enhance healing. Treatment begins with cleansing, balancing, and repairing the etheric energy field that surrounds the body and is followed by treatment focusing on connecting major and minor energy points (chakras) in the body.
Touch from the practitioner is very light and usually targeted toward areas that require cleansing and clearing. Throughout the 35-40 minute session, the healer channels energy rather than using her own. Physiohelanics was developed by C. Diane Ealy.
This technique utilizes massage, mud packs, wraps, baths, water, and steam therapies, and/or inhalation treatments using natural herbs and floral extracts, plant oils, and seaweeds.
Pilates is a series of movements, done from a sitting, reclining, kneeling, or standing position, designed to increase strength and flexibility, release tension, and relieve chronic neck and back pain. Developed by German-born Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, this method combines elements of Eastern and Western disciplines, including yoga, t’ai chi, and ancient Greek and Roman exercise protocols.
Specially designed apparatus are used for stretching and strengthening exercises and can be calibrated to the client’s needs. Repatterning movements and proper breathing techniques are important components of the training. The Pilates method is used in physical rehabilitation and is popular with athletes and performance artists, as well as those seeking to improve body conditioning.
This acupressure technique requires several practitioners to apply pressure to specific acupoints for up to two hours in order to remove blockage and stimulate emotional release within the meridians. The technique was developed by Karen Peterson and John Walsh.
Polarity therapy is based on universal principles of energy—attraction, repulsion, and neutrality. The interrelation of these principles forms the basis for every aspect of life, including our experience of health, wellness, and disease. With this understanding, polarity therapy addresses the interdependence of body, mind, and spirit, the importance of relationships, and the value of creating a way of life in harmony with nature.
Founded by Austrian-born naturopath Dr. Randolph Stone in the mid-1950s, polarity therapy is a clothes-on, noninvasive system complementing existing modalities with an integrated, holistic model.
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. In addition to physical manipulation, blockages and toxins are eliminated through a cleansing diet and simple exercises. Treatments are suggested in a series of four.
Click here to find a Polarity Therapy practitioner
Postural Integration & Energetic Integration
Postural integration and energetic integration were developed by Jack Painter in the late 1960s and have spread to Western Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Australia. These approaches focus on the unity of tissue, feeling, and awareness. Breathwork, deep fascia manipulation, emotional expression, and meditation are used in a unique synchronicity.
The two methods are similar, but postural integration focuses on systematic work with layers of fascia, while energetic integration focuses on melting bands of body character armor. The client will experience not only extraordinary energy releases and tangible changes in body shape and flexibility, but also major shifts in awareness and feeling.
Pranic Healing is a new science of bioenergetic healing. Developed in the Philippines by Master Choa Kok Sui, it is a practical, easy-to-learn, healing art using prana, a vital life force, to correct energetic imbalances underlying most physical, psychological, and psychospiritual ailments.
Pranic healers are trained to use their hands to accurately evaluate the energetic condition of the aura, 11 major chakras, and corresponding minor and mini chakras. Healers then seal holes and cracks, clean out devitalized energy, and energize with fresh prana. Advanced practitioners are trained to deliver healing down to the cellular level. Removing devitalized energy before energizing makes healing more efficient and helps clients avoid healing crises.
All work is done off the body and sessions are painless. Pranic Healing can be performed on its own or as a complementary therapy to modern medicine and other healing modalities.
Different levels of training are offered:
- Basic Pranic Healing teaches seven fundamental techniques to heal simple and moderate illnesses.
- Advanced Pranic Healing specializes in healing severe ailments and teaching the correct proportion, sequence, combination, and use of colored pranas.
- Pranic Psychotherapy focuses on the healing of mental and emotional disorders and working with the root and web of chakras to disintegrate and transmute negative psychic energies.
It took 20 years of experimentation and research to develop Pranic Healing, which synthesizes the best techniques of the Tibetan, Chinese, India, and Filipino healing systems, and is now practiced in more than 30 countries.
When performed by a trained perinatal specialist, many methods of massage and somatic therapies are both effective and safe prenatally and during labor and postpartum periods of women’s pregnancies.
Prenatally, specific techniques can reduce pregnancy discomforts and concerns and enhance the physiological and emotional well-being of both mother and fetus. Skilled, appropriate touch facilitates labor, shortening labor times and easing pain and anxiety.
In the postpartum period, specialized techniques rebalance structure, physiology, and emotions of the new mother and may help her to bond with and care for her infant.
Specialized, advanced training in the anatomy, physiology, complications, precautions, and contraindications is highly recommended, and many practitioners require referrals from physicians prior to therapy. Click here to find a pregnancy massage practitioner.
This integrated therapy combines traditional acupressure with Zero Balancing techniques and psychological processing to enhance psycho-spiritual growth. Process acupressure offers a hands-on method of influencing the body’s mental and emotional systems to stimulate balance, well-being, and expanded consciousness.
PUSH Therapy was designed to eliminate pain originating from chronic tension. Therapists learn Soft Pressure Stimulation to treat tissue on a layer-by-layer basis. Techniques are administered with the therapist’s body in a completely relaxed state—no muscular force is required—and without using the hands.
The PUSH Treatment Plan teaches therapists to eliminate chronic tension using four unique and dynamic therapeutic tools:
- Treatments that follow specific treatment protocols that ensure consistent results
- Self-treatment methods that help maintain results between treatments
- PUSH Mobility Training that replaces rigid muscle patterns with new supple patterns and make the positive changes permanent
- Specific education that teaches clients how pain and tension develop, and how to prevent its return.
PUSH trainings modules are dynamic and educational. Each student who takes the trainings is taught how to eliminate chronic tension, eliminate pain, and enhance athletic performance, all while maintaining a completely relaxed state and without using the hands.
This traditional Chinese treatment combines hands-on and hands-off techniques that balance the flow of qi (energy) through the body, move and relieve qi blockages, and improve circulation. Qigong is also a combination of timed breathing and gentle flowing movement, meditation, visualization, and conscious intent all working together to achieve an integrated adjustment of mind and body in order to better cultivate, circulate, and balance qi, or life force.
Qigong theory is the basis of traditional Chinese medicine and is used to treat many serious illnesses, as well as for relaxation. See Qigong Meridian Therapy. Click here to find a Qigong practitioner.
Qigong Meridian Therapy
Qigong Meridian Therapy (QMT) is a natural healing system. It is derived from traditional Chinese medicine. QMT is based and focused on the concept of qi. Qi is vital energy, the unseen life force that courses though the body, enabling it to perform its functions, and which permeates all of nature.
The purpose of QMT is to release the innate healing ability of clients so their body can maintain health and resist disease. In QMT treatments, specific hand techniques are used to guide healing energy, which stimulates the meridians and certain points along or near the meridians. The QMT treatments serve to remove energy blockages, balance the overall qi of clients, and increase their energy.
Quantum energetics is a subtle, gentle healing method that works with the energy body to allow disrupted energy patterns to regain their force. It is a holistic, noninvasive technique that follows a systematic approach. Numerical codes that correspond vibrationally with conditions of the energy body are utilized, along with applied kinesiology.
This hands-on healing method offers spontaneous adjusting of proper alignment of the body. Principles behind Quantum-Touch involve resonance, intention, attention, breath, and innate body intelligence. Using various breathing techniques and meditations, a light touch is applied to activate the body’s own healing process.
This technique is a science of universal energy, taught in seminars by authorized instructors throughout the world. It is a seven-level technique, in which students learn a variety of ways to apply and use unconditional, transcendental energy in their work, play, and everyday lives.
Students are taught a basic 12-position, hands-on session that is to be practiced on the self for at least an hour. Authorized instructors of the Radiance Technique do not license or certify students as practitioners. Such licensing and certification is up to the students or practitioners according to the requirements of the community in which they live and work.
Radix, also referred to as Radix Neo-Reichian Education, is an instructional method designed to teach the client how to release emotions held within the muscular structure of the body. Emphasis is placed on working through old traumas and moving into unique, new experiences of body/soul connection.
The two guiding principles of Radix are safety, in which the student may explore deep, painful issues in an atmosphere of trust and comfort; and exploration, primarily of the somatic experience.
Charles Kelly, PhD, developed Radix, combining techniques and principles from Reichian and Gestalt therapies, Erickson’s hypnotherapy, bioenergetics, and the Bates Method of vision training. Radix teachers include certified professionals licensed by the Radix Institute and adjunct teachers who incorporate this method into their therapy practice.
Originated by D. Gary Young, raindrop technique is a noninvasive tool for helping to correct defects in the curvature of the spine caused by viruses and bacteria that lie dormant there. Antimicrobial essential oils are used to reduce inflammation by killing the viral agents, thus bringing the body into structural and electrical alignment. The oils (primarily thyme, oregano, birch, cypress, peppermint, and basil) are dispensed like little drops of rain from a height of about six inches above the back and massaged along the vertebrae. The oils used in this 45-minute treatment continue to work for the next five to seven days.
The Rayid Method is based on the meaning of formations in the iris of the eyes. Hereditary, behavioral, and attitudinal traits with their impact on mental, emotional, and physical health are demonstrated in these formations. The method addresses the causes behind symptoms, so maximum health can be achieved on a longer-term basis. This method identifies an interaction between mind and body, seeing the imbalances and suggesting corrective balancing lifestyles and support activities that enable the immune system to work its marvels.
Loosely based on a conglomerate of modalities, rebalancing combines energy balancing, joint release, deep-tissue massage, and dialogue to relieve pain and induce emotional healing and relaxation.
Developed in the 1970s by a group of practitioners of various backgrounds including Rolfing, the Trager Approach, pulsation, psychotherapy, and craniosacral therapy, the theory was to combine the best attributes of several existing modalities with introspective analysis into a ten-session series of treatments.
Reflective healing is a form of energy healing in which the therapist uses a combination of guided imagery and energy body manipulations to heal a specific physical organ or joint. Noninvasive physical touch of energy centers is important in this process of repatterning the etheric body. Extensive intuitive development and energetic training are required by the therapist.
Reflexognosy is the application of appropriate pressure to the leg and feet, by the hands of a trained practitioner, to bring about physiological and psychological changes in the body.
Sometimes referred to as zone therapy, this bodywork involves application of pressure to specific reflex areas in the feet, hands, and ears that correspond to other parts of the body, with the goal of stimulating body organs and relieving areas of congestion.
Similar to acupressure principles, reflexology works with the body’s energy flow to stimulate self-healing and maintain balance in physical function. This technique is used to reduce pain, increase relaxation, and stimulate circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids. It is especially useful in stress-related illness and emotional disorders.
Reflexology is also convenient in cases where an area of the body is traumatized or diseased to the extent that direct manipulation is not appropriate. Click here to find a Reflexology practitioner.
This technique utilizes manipulation of the musculo-skeletal system to release emotional blockages from the body. It was established from the works of Wilhelm Reich, an Austrian psychoanalyst.
Reiki Healing (Usui System)
Reiki healing is a hands-on energy healing art. It originated in Japan in the early 20th century. The founder of the system, Mikao Usui, had a life-changing experience of light and energy that he recognized as reiki—sacred life force—and that awakened his innate healing abilities. Usui developed a system of practices that enabled others to become effective healers.
In a reiki healing session, the practitioner, trained to access and serve as a channel for the life force (ki or chi), places her hands on or just above the client’s body in order to activate healing energy within receptive points on the body. The practitioner’s hands move progressively with a passive touch through 12 positions on the body, remaining in each position for three to five minutes. As a harmonic flow of energy is strengthened, within the client and practitioner, healing occurs through the return of physical, mental, and spiritual balance. Click here to find a Reiki practitioner.
Reiki-Alchemia combines the traditional reiki of Mikao Usui with alchemia, a form of bodywork which creates a passive and active blend of energies to release etheric as well as subconscious energy blockages and stored trauma.
The ultimate intent of Reiki-Alchemia is to achieve a functional ego state that facilitates unconditional love. Reiki-Alchemia utilizes keys of different geometric shapes to trigger states of consciousness that allow healing and vibrational attunements to occur. The practitioner facilitates transformation by working with the universal life force and the four forces that govern all states of consciousness. (Adapted from Holistic Health Directory.)
Reposturing dynamics is a system of stretches and massage techniques designed to restore balance and flexibility to the body. Reposturing dynamics is participatory, with lots of breathing and many stretch positions. There are exercises or additional stretches available to support the rebalancing process. It can be intense and emotional at times, as stress is unloaded from each muscle group. The client is always in charge of how fast and far she progresses in any one session.
Resonant kinesiology is a meditative form of educational bodywork. A resonant kinesiologist teaches experientially, as well as cognitively, using sound, movement, and touch to create active lessons for the body. A fundamental principle of resonant kinesiology is that human bodies inherently have all the resources needed to be healthy, though these resources may not be consistently available to conscious awareness. Healing is viewed as a form of learning.
Restoration therapy has been practiced in Japan for more than 1,500 years and has proven successful in the treatment of migraine headaches, nervous tension, general fatigue, and muscular aches and pains. Professor Seishiro Okazaki was the foremost exponent of restoration therapy in America. He founded the Kodenkan Dojo, Ju-Jitsu School, and Nikko Restoration Sanatorium in Honolulu in 1929.
The therapy is a combination of amma, acupressure, shiatsu, chiropractic, osteopathy, and herbal medicines. Restoration therapy is divided into four age groups, and to be a successful practitioner of restoration therapy, a thorough knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology, dietetics, psychology, and herbal medicines is imperative.
RoHun Transformation Therapy
This is a form of energy healing in which the therapist manipulates the client’s energy bodies near each chakra. The objective of RoHun is to understand how certain adverse patterns became fixed in the emotional and mental energy bodies and to release the negative effects of these patterns on daily life. Although primarily an energy manipulation method, some noninvasive physical touch is involved.
Rolfing Structural Integration
A method to reorder the major body segments, Rolfing was founded by American biochemist Dr. Ida Rolf in the 1940s. Rolfing utilizes physical manipulation and movement awareness 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 from Rolfing.
Treatments are offered in a ten-session series, as well as advanced sessions. See structural integration. Click here to find a rolfer.
Rosen Method Bodywork
Using gentle, nonintrusive touch, Rosen Method works with held muscles to bring about physical and emotional awareness through relaxation. Developed by Marion Rosen, this technique utilizes both sensitive manipulation of the soft tissue, observation of the client’s breathing patterns, and communication to promote physical ease, pain relief, and a deeper contact with the inner self. Because the work can bring up buried feelings and memories, it is also used as a tool to promote personal growth. Click here to find a Rosen Method practitioner.
Rubenfeld Synergy Method
Founded by Ilana Rubenfeld, this method integrates elements of two great body/mind teachers, F.M. Alexander and Moshe Feldenkrais, together with the Gestalt theory and practice of Fritz and Laura Perls and the hypnotherapy of Milton Erickson. The Rubenfeld synergy method uses many avenues, including verbal expression, movement, breathing patterns, body posture, kinesthetic awareness, imagination, sound, and caring touch to access reservoirs of feeling.
Russian Massage (Russian Sports Massage)
This technique alters the basic strokes of classical massage so each stroke provides the client with the least invasive and most comfortable treatment. Each stroke in Russian massage has a known physiological effect on a healthy or dysfunctional body. Therapists don’t use their wrists or single digit pressure, instead opting for shoulders or elbows as the primary sources of strength for deep work.
See chair massage.
This modality is based on Carl Jung’s concept of the shadow—those parts of your personality or beliefs that you do not give a conscious place in your life. The theory is that by putting your emotions in shadow, they will then turn against your family, your clients, or yourself, resulting in health, financial, or ethical problems.
Shadow integration involves creating a ritual container in a group setting, in which participants give voice and flesh out the conflicting beliefs and feelings that sabotage their professional and personal lives. This process emphasizes the personal and professional development of health professionals (ethics, communication, therapeutic relationships, and body/mind dynamics). It is usually facilitated in groups of eight to 20 people, or in one-on-one sessions.
SHEN (Specific Human Energy Nexus) Therapy was developed by American Richard Pavek. It is a form of energy healing which aims to release emotions trapped in the body, leading to freedom from pain and tension
SHEN teaches that most emotions are held in the torso, at four main sites: the heart, the solar plexus, the kath (below the navel), and the root (the perineum).
The practitioner places hands in paired positions on a fully clothed client lying on the table. The practitioner ascertains the locations of somatically held emotions and determines an appropriate physio-emotional release plan. A naturally occurring energy flows from the practitioner’s hands through the emotional centers of the client’s body in a precise way to discharge debilitating emotions.
This is a hands-and-foot-on therapy system designed to create space and unblock restrictions in the body via gravity. Shiat-Surf works with the body’s breathing, pulses, and nervous system.
Developed in Japan, shiatsu is a finger-pressure technique utilizing traditional acupuncture points. Similar to acupressure, shiatsu concentrates on unblocking the flow of life energy and restoring balance in the meridians and organs in order to promote self-healing. With the client reclining, the practitioner applies pressure with the finger, thumb, palm, elbow, or knee to specific zones on the skin located along the energy meridians. The treatment brings about a sense of relaxation while stimulating blood and lymphatic flow. The benefits of this treatment may include pain relief and a strengthening of the body’s resistance to disease and disorder. Click here to find a Shiatsu practitioner.
A system of healing based on the study of the relationship between the non-physical world (ki, energy, and spirit) and the physical world (illness and environment) as experienced through mind, body, spirit, heart, and life. By synchronizing personal vibration with the healing vibration of ki, learning to keep that vibration present within you and continually heightening the vibration, you can heal yourself and others.
Shinkiko is a type of medical qigong that increases levels of energy, intuitive sense, and consciousness through meditative-like ki harmonizing, without physical training or exercise.
Soft-tissue release (STR) is an injury treatment technique developed in Europe. Methods are based on European osteopathy techniques, along with insights from quantum physics.
STR deals directly with the reasons for soft tissue dysfunctions and subsequent referred pain and nerve entrapment. In acute conditions, STR affects the insidious way scar tissue is formed, and in chronic conditions, STR breaks up the fibrotic and adhered mass of scar tissue to quickly allow the muscle to return to its natural resting length. Once the muscle or muscle group has returned to the original resting length, there is an immediate release from the pain induced by the inflammation response.
The client is positioned so that the muscle begins to stretch in a very specific direction or plane. When the exact location of the injury has been defined, a determined pressure is applied directly into the affected tissue or along a specific line of injury. At the same time, the client is given a set of instructions that now engage the antagonist of the muscles involved. The muscle is extended from a fixed position in a determined direction under a pinpoint of pressure. Decrease in pain and increase in range of motion are often immediate, offsetting any minor discomfort experienced.
Click here to find a Soft-Tissue Release practitioner.
SOMA is a unique development of the holographic body reading technique. Holographic body reading recognizes that each person has an individual blueprint, allowing for the practitioner to analyze this, personalize its needs, and design the sessions to correspond to those individual needs. The SOMA practitioner works with the fascia and musculature to restore circulation and return the body to its original perfection. See SOMA Neuromuscular Integration.
SOMA Neuromuscular Integration
A ten-session system of bodywork, SOMA neuromuscular integration works the fascial network to release chronic, stored structural aberrations; to effectively realign the entire body; and to facilitate the change process. The three brain model theory and holographic body reading, as part of the SOMA theoretical framework, assist the practitioner to analyze each individual blueprint, personalize needs, and design the session for each structure. SOMA work includes extensive guidance tools (movement, journaling, drawing interpretation, and other mind/body integrating tools) for training bodywork practitioners and for educating clients.
Somatic Education is a healthcare modality taught and practiced in a co-creative partnership with nature. Somatic Education considers the body as one of nature’s gardens, and facilitates self-healing by working with flower essences; maps and calibration; and environmental, energy, and other processes.
Somatic Experiencing is a body-awareness approach to trauma, developed by Dr. Peter Levine.
According to the Foundation for Human Enrichment (www.traumahealing.com), Somatic Experiencing is "based upon the realization that human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma" and "restores self-regulation, and returns a sense of aliveness, relaxation and wholeness to traumatized individuals who have had these precious gifts taken away."
This work has been applied to combat veterans, rape survivors, Holocaust survivors, auto accident and post surgical trauma, chronic pain sufferers, and even to infants after suffering traumatic births.
This is a body-based orientation that facilitates the client’s therapeutic process. A client session is directed to the body experience that references the body as a resource. The therapist shifts the content of the session to the here and now process of the client, which opens the client’s awareness of her own experience of sensation, tension, relaxation, breath, response, and evoked thoughts.
"Somatic" means "of the body" and is often used to denote a body/mind or whole-body approach, as distinguished from a physiology-only perspective.
SomatoEmotional Release is a therapeutic process that helps rid the mind and body of residual effects of past trauma and associated negative responses. Dr. John Upledger and biophysicist Dr. Zvi Karni discovered the body often retains physical forces as the result of accident, injury, or emotional trauma. Following trauma, the body isolates the “energy cyst.” Students in SomatoEmotional Release learn how to help the client physically identify and expel the energy cyst through reexperiencing and resolving unpleasant incidents.
Using the media of sound (music, tones, vibrations, etc.) as tools for healing, sound therapy enables the realignment of natural body rhythms. Therapy may include, but is not limited to, the use of Tibetan singing bowls, chimes, acutonic tuning forks, rattles, and drums.
A variety of body treatments administered in spas. Herbal wraps, loofah body scrubs, parafango, salt scrubs, seaweed body wraps, hydrotherapy treatments, etc.
Spinal release allows therapists to correct distortions of the central nervous system and restore the body’s center of gravity. The therapist works with techniques that address the eight muscle groups of the lower back. Practitioners also focus on the soft-tissue release procedures for the neck and back as they help identify curvatures of the spine and other dysfunctions.
Spiritual Massage Healing
Spiritual massage healing is a form of divinely inspired and divinely guided religious healing. It consists of prayer, love, anointing with oil, and movements derived from the laying-on of hands. It is the practice of one's religious faith and conscience, and it is a mode of worship. Without prayer, there is no spiritual massage healing. However, practitioners perform spiritual massage healing in unique ways, which may vary from one client to another.
Sports massage is designed to enhance athletic performance and recovery. There are three contexts in which sports massage can be useful to an athlete: pre-event, post-event, and injury treatment.
- Pre-event massage is delivered at the performance site, usually with the athlete fully clothed. Fast-paced and stimulating, it helps to establish blood flow and to warm up muscles. During the massage, the athlete generally focuses on visualizing the upcoming event.
- Post-event massage is also delivered on site, through the clothes. The intent here is to calm the nervous system and begin the process of flushing toxins and waste products out of the body. Post-event massage can reduce recovery time, enabling an athlete to resume training much sooner than rest alone would allow.
- When an athlete sustains an injury, skillful massage therapy can often speed and improve the quality of healing.
Click here to find a Sports Massage practitioner.
St. John's Neuromuscular Therapy
St. John’s neuromuscular therapy seeks out the cause of pain, focusing on creating a balance between the muscular and nervous systems. This bodywork focuses on five basic principles—biomechanics, ischemis, trigger points, postural distortion, and nerve entrapment and compression—that are important factors in the body’s physical homeostasis. Also, attention is given to hormonal balance, nutrition, and elimination of toxins. This therapy is used to treat soft-tissue pain throughout most of the body.
Developed by osteopath Lawrence Jones, this noninvasive treatment helps decrease protective muscle spasms and alleviate somatic dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system. By using palpation and passive positional procedures, the therapist practicing strain/counterstrain therapy can help restore pain-free movement. The position that relieves the referred pain is held for 90 seconds. After resuming the original position and pressing the trigger point, the referred pain is gone. The client is often asked to bend or twist like a contortionist to secure a comfortable position.
Structural Energetic Therapy
Developed in 1983, Structural Energetic Therapy (SET) is a deep-tissue, body-restructuring therapy that addresses chronic and acute pain and dysfunction. SET integrates cranial/ structural techniques, myofascial unwinding, myofascial restructuring, emotional energy release, kinesiology, and postural analysis to address client symptoms and problems as they relate to body structure. SET is a client-centered therapy that treats the specific needs unique to each client by addressing particular injuries and conditions as they relate to the structural distortions. The release of the core distortion pattern, both cranially and structurally, allows a balanced weight-bearing pelvis to support the entire spine and facilitates the unwinding of all other structural distortions. The goal of SET therapy is to have clients return to life activities pain free.
Based on the work of Dr. Ida P. Rolf, structural integration is based on the idea that the entire structural order of the body needs to be realigned and balanced with the gravitational forces around a central vertical line representing gravity’s influence. Therapeutic intervention is directed toward the myofascial system—the ligaments, muscles, tendons, and surrounding connective tissues. A practitioner of structural integration has a ten-session cycle of work, in which different angles and degrees of physical pressure are used to stretch and guide fascia to a place of easier movement. The process is not intended to cure symptoms; its goal is to create a more resilient, higher-energy system, free of inhibitions due to past trauma.
See Rolfing. Click here to find a Structural Integration practitioner.
One of the most commonly taught and well-known massage techniques, Swedish massage is a vigorous system of treatment designed to energize the body by stimulating circulation. Five basic strokes, all flowing toward the heart, are used to manipulate the soft tissues of the body. The disrobed client is covered by a sheet, with only the area being worked on exposed. Therapists use a combination of kneading, rolling, vibrational, percussive, and tapping movements, with the application of oil, to reduce friction on the skin. The many benefits of Swedish massage may include generalized relaxation, dissolution of scar tissue adhesions, and improved circulation, which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury. Click here to find a Swedish Massage practitioner.
Syntropy Insight Bodywork
A combination of neuromuscular reeducation, hands-on application, qigong, Taoism, and meditation, Syntropy Insight Bodywork acts directly on the nervous system to dissolve chronic patterns of pain and tension. The practitioner helps to access and empower the client’s innate healing ability by focusing on what is functioning well in the body and expanding on it. A noninvasive practice, Syntropy can be used exclusively or as an adjunct therapy.
T'ai Chi Chih
T’ai chi chih is a series of simple, non-strenuous movements known to relax the body and refresh the mind. Moves can be performed by anyone, regardless of age or physical condition. T’ai chi chih can help individuals feel calm, even in the midst of activity, and helps relieve daily tensions and stress based, on principles of relaxed breathing, rhythmic movements, and equilibrium of weight.
T'ai Chi Chuan
T’ai chi chuan is an ancient Chinese martial and healing art. Most obviously characterized by the slow motion manner in which its choreographed movement patterns are carried out, t’ai chi chuan is more accurately defined by its attention to correct body alignment and structural detail. T’ai chi chuan practitioners move slowly and with a minimum of overt muscular effort, opting to rely instead on exact positioning of the body’s structural components to facilitate the transfer of force through the body. This efficient transfer of force reduces stress on both the body and mind. T’ai chi chuan principles apply globally to walking, martial application, bodywork, or any other activity for which economy of motion and efficiency of effort desired.
Taikyo shiatsu is a style using ancient Taoist yin/yang and taijiquan principles combined with the gentle stretching of Zen shiatsu.
From the Eastern perspective, this shiatsu focuses on stretching and palming the meridians, opening channels to induce flow of stagnated energies, and supplying circulation (oxygenated blood) to the organs. The application of the Taoist principles enables the therapist to generate and utilize optimum energy to perform the shiatsu efficiently.
From the Western perspective, stretching increases bone, sinews, and muscle flexibility and enhances mobility.
A unique wave technique—visualizing the energy as an ocean wave forming (potential), reaching the highest crest, falling (kinetic), and expanding (distribution)—is used in this modality. Qigong breathing from the hara, or dantien, is one of the keys to generating efficient energy output.
Taikyo shiatsu emphasizes philosophy, traditional Chinese medicine, essentials, breathing, and taijiquan postural efficiency. The following Taikyo essentials achieve optimum shiatsu efficiency and transmission as well as distribution of energy:
- Spirit: state of being.
- Intent: volition or plan of action.
- Calm: state of mental stillness to perceive.
- Posture: proper body positioning for optimum operational efficiency.
- Presence: the sum of the previous above essentials.
- Intuition: ability to perceive.
- Breathing: qigong mode.
- Simplicity: unpretentiousness.
Tantsu Tantric Shiatsu
Tantsu Tantric Shiatsu was invented by Harold Dull, who also created Watsu, or water shiatsu. Tantsu brings Watsu’s in-water nurturing and power back onto land.
In a Tantsu session, the giver cradles the receiver with their whole body. No oil is used; the receiver lies fully clothed on the floor, while the giver kneels or stands beside the person. Like shiatsu, Tantsu is based on point work and powerful stretches to release chi (life force) along the body’s meridians and in the energy centers, or chakras. Tantsu focuses on connecting the chakras and freeing the natural movement of energy along the spine.
Learning to give a Tantsu session involves the giver in a process that leads to a deeper connection with others and with one’s own centers and flows of energy. (Definition adapted from Dull’s book, Bodywork Tantra On Land and In Water, Harbin Springs Publishing, 1991.)
Developed by Dr. Stephanie Mines, the TARA Approach is a holistic system for the critical transformation of psychological, physical, and emotional shock and trauma. Combining the ancient healing art of Jin Shin with therapeutic dialogues, this approach activates healing from sexual abuse, battering relationships, abusive family environments, neglect, and illness.
Tera-Mai Seichem translates from Sanskrit as "action of compassion." This healing art uses the universal elemental energy rays of earth (reiki), air/ether (angelic light), fire (sakara) and water (sophi-el).
Also called nuad bo rarn, Thai massage has been taught and practiced in Thailand for approximately 2,500 years. Although the origins are somewhat vague, credit for Thai massage is given to a famous Indian doctor, Shivago Komarpaj, who was the personal physician of the Buddha and Magadha king.
Historically, manipulation was one of four major branches composing traditional Thai ceremonies or magical practices. This is based on the theory the body is made up of 72,000 sen, or energy lines, of which ten hold top priority. Thai massage also involves peripheral stimulating, meaning it acts as an external stimulant to produce specific internal effects. This point serves as the main division between Thai and Western massage.
Thai massage is practiced on a firm mat on the floor instead of on a table, instrumental in the effective use of the practitioner’s body weight. Except for the feet, the client remains fully clothed, so draping is not necessary. Click here to find a Thai Massage practitioner.
This treatment uses the therapeutic benefits of the sea and seawater products to restore health and vitality to the skin and hair. The treatment may include seaweed and algae paste spread on the body, and being insulated with sheets or blankets. Seawater baths may include massage with strong, underwater jets or manual hose massage by the therapist.
Developed through the collaboration of a nursing professor and a spiritual healer, Therapeutic Touch is an energy healing method in which practitioners, primarily nurses, are trained to feel or sense energy imbalances in the client and to use laying on of hands to disperse blocks and channel healing forces to the client’s body.
The therapist uses a light touch or holds the hand above the body, with the client generally seated. Meditation is used by the therapist to center herself and strengthen her connection to the client’s energy system. Therapeutic Touch has been applied in an assortment of medical situations, including the care of premature infants and emergency room patients. It is known to induce a state of relaxation within minutes.
Therapeutic Touch is considered safe because of its gentle, noninvasive approach. Developers of this technique affirm that everyone has the potential to heal with Therapeutic Touch and may be taught the methodology in one day. Click here to find a Therapeutic Touch practitioner.
Tibetan Point Holding
Developed in 1989 by Karen Peterson and John Walsh, Tibetan point holding focuses on prolonged holding of acupressure points to generate emotional release. Lengthy holding allows the client to address internal thoughts as they arise. As many as five practitioners are used to hold pressure points on the client for up to two hours. Treatment needs are assessed through iridology or kinesiology.
Touch For Health
Developed by chiropractor John Thie, Touch for Health combines methods and techniques that include acupuncture principles, acupressure, muscle testing, massage, and dietary guidelines. The method of treatment requires a second person who performs muscle testing. This determines which muscles are strong or weak, indicating if a physical problem or organ malfunction exists.
Once weak muscles are determined, a variety of methods are used as part of a muscle strengthening program. Such techniques include finger pressure on neuro-vascular holding points on the head, and pressure on the acupressure holding points. After the muscles have been strengthened, Touch for Health theory states that energy then flows through the body, improving vitality and the ability to maintain good health.
See kinesiology. Click here to find a Touch for Health practitioner.
Developed by Iris Burman and Sandy Friedland, TouchAbilities Essential Connections is a universal skill set and philosophy for bodywork practitioners. This skill set includes the core techniques that are common to all modalities, incorporating physical manipulation of soft tissue as well as dynamic interaction with the body’s mental and energetic fields. Philosophically based on the idea that the body is a multidimensional blend of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual qualities, TouchAbilities encourages an “in the moment” dialogue between bodies to support optimal function. Its objective is to identify areas where actions, waves, and flows are obstructed or distorted and to apply techniques that reestablish a more functional dynamic.
Trager is an approach to bodywork developed in the 1920s by American medical practitioner Dr. Milton Trager. It makes extensive use of touch-contact and encourages the client to experience the freeing-up of different parts of the body.
The approach consists of simple exercises called Mentastics and deep, nonintrusive hands-on work, including fluid, gentle, rocking movements. The idea is to use motion in the muscles and joints to produce positive sensory feelings that are then fed back into the central nervous system. The result is a feeling of lightness, freedom, and flexibility.
A Trager session takes 60-90 minutes. No oils or lotions are used. The client wears a swimsuit or underwear, and lies on a well-padded table in a warm, comfortable environment. Extreme pressure and rapid thrusts are not used, and pain is not necessary to make this approach effective. During the session, the practitioner makes touch-contact with the client in such a gentle and rhythmic way that the person lying passively on the table experiences the possibility of being able to move each part of the body freely, effortlessly, and gracefully on her own.
The practitioner works in a relaxed, meditative state of consciousness. After getting up from the table, the client is given instruction in the use of Mentastics, or “mental gymnastics,” a system of simple, effortless movement sequences, to maintain and enhance the sense of lightness, freedom, and flexibility instilled by the table work. It is a powerful means of teaching the client to recall the pleasurable sensory state that produced positive tissue change. Because it is this feeling state that triggered positive tissue response in the first place, every time the feeling is clearly recalled the changes deepen, become more permanent, and are more receptive to further positive change.
Changes described have included the disappearance of specific symptoms, discomforts, or pains; heightened levels of energy and vitality; more effortless posture and carriage; greater joint mobility; deeper states of relaxation than were previously possible; and a new ease in daily activities. Click here to find a Trager Approach practitioner.
Trauma Touch Therapy
Trauma touch therapy was developed to address the needs of clients affected by trauma and abuse, including sexual and emotional abuse, battering, the trauma of war, surgery, or criminal violence. Focused on empowering the client, this technique combines therapeutic movement and breathwork with psychotherapeutic elements to bring body and mind together in holistic healing. The pace of therapy is determined individually according to the client’s need. Relearning touch from a healthy perspective is a major focus of the therapy. The trauma touch training program was developed in 1993 at the Colorado School of Healing Arts.
Trigger Point Myotherapy
Trigger point myotherapy is an integrating, noninvasive therapeutic modality for the relief and control of myofascial pain and dysfunction. The goal of treatment is the client’s recovery from, or a significant reduction in, myofascial pain. The treatment goal is achieved through a systematized approach.
Treatment consists of trigger point compression, myomassage, passive stretching, and a regime of corrective exercises. Success may be measured subjectively by the level of pain reduction experienced by the client and objectively through increased range of motion, strength, endurance, and other measures of improved function.
Trigger point myotherapy relies heavily on client-therapist interaction, including verbal and nonverbal elements. The myotherapist encourages the client to be personally responsible for their improvement, with attention to such factors as nutritional intake, stress, proper exercises, mechanical abnormalities, and other physical components. These elements protect the client from delayed diagnosis, delayed treatment, or contraindicated treatment. Click here to find a Trigger Point Myotherapy practitioner.
Tui na (pronounced t-weigh na) is a Chinese system of manual therapeutics with a wide range of techniques and indications. The term first appeared in the Ming Dynasty text Pediatric Tui Na Classic in 1601, and combines the names of two of the hand techniques, tui meaning to push and na meaning to lift and squeeze. While traditional Chinese medical precepts form its theoretical basis, clinical experience governs its application.
Tui na facilitates healing by regulating the circulation of blood and qi (vital energy), which controls body function and enhances resistance to disease. Practitioners recognize more than 365 hand techniques, although these techniques can be generally grouped as pressing, rubbing, waving, shaking, percussion, or manipulating. Techniques range from light and soothing to strong and invigorating. Click here to find a Tui Na practitioner.
Turaya Touch System
With Turaya Touch, using the body’s system of light energy, practitioners place their hands on various parts of the client’s head, back, shoulders, and abdomen. This technique brings about a feeling of deep relaxation as it releases the energy blocks causing mental and physical distress. Turaya also unlocks creative potential at the cellular level.
Unified Field Therapy
Unified Field Therapy (UFT) has discovered that beyond the body, beyond energy, lies a matrix of consciousness that permeates every aspect of our world. This dynamic, ever-expansive matrix forms a single field from which all conscious life flows. This field is called the unified field.
All physical, mental, emotional, and energetic patterns known to our world originate from this single source. Present in our every experience, these patterns form the very fabric of our reality. The most subtle shift or change in these patterns can yield immense expansion in our consciousness and bring enormous transformation to one’s life. Utilizing this knowledge, UFT directly accesses the unified field to initiate shifts within a conscious system.
Clients remain fully clothed and are asked to lie face up on a massage table in a comfortable position with eyes closed and attention focused internally. The therapist then begins to evaluate, palpate, and integrate fields of consciousness surrounding and permeating the client. This can be done in a hands-on or hands-off application.
Sessions last approximately 40-60 minutes. Clients must define for themselves how their consciousness integrates and changes as a result of this work. For this reason, therapists are trained not to define or project their perceptions or expectations onto a client’s experience. Therapists often request that new clients follow up within 48-72 hours after the initial visit to discuss any additional shifts that may have occurred in the interim. (Adapted from www.unifiedfieldtherapy.com.)
UNTIE was developed in the United States in the early 1980s as an alternative to exerting force into soft tissues that may already be painful to the touch. It is basic to UNTIE that soft-tissue dysfunction, no matter how deep within the body, can be felt in the skin, and these patterns of dysfunction are palpable once the proper awareness and sensitivity have been developed.
Changes in the patterns of dysfunction are stimulated by the presence of the practitioner’s fingers and determined by the body’s natural desire to reach homeostasis. The hands move gently in concert with the changes, and the fingers respond to the changes without any application of force, will, or preconceived routine.
Once the patterns release, the soft tissues are reevaluated to confirm they have normalized and musculoskeletal integrity has improved. Although other approaches may not specifically address soft-tissue patterns, the patterns are affected, since there is contact with the skin as soft tissues are manipulated. The more thorough the method used, the more likely it is that the patterns will be released, allowing for more complete, long-term change.
Because the foundation of UNTIE is sensitivity, it readily deals with the unique patterns of the individual. It is a procedure for working with the body, not on the body.
Vibrational Healing Massage Therapy
Vibrational Healing Massage Therapy (VHMT) is a bodywork therapy designed to restore one to fluidity. It is like massage therapy, providing touch techniques and distinctions that help people live in their bodies as a liquid process, freeing pain as we have known it.
VHMT works with the physical structure to free up past tensions and stresses that have been held in the body. This reawakening of the nervous system restores circulation to injured areas, moves energy and emotions, and helps in the release of chronic pain or stiffness.
There are approximately 16 basic techniques that serve to align, loosen, and connect the body so tensions can reverberate freely. Special sensitive stretching, rebounding, and torquing are some of the techniques that help clients become aware of where they have been holding. Practitioners and recipients alike begin to feel not only their vibrations move within them, but also new circulation of their basic metabolic fluids flowing to once-rigid areas.
As they listen to people’s body rhythms and frequencies, practitioners of VHMT facilitate a clothes-on massage therapy that is rhythmic and fun. VHMT includes new distinctions of awareness in thinking, speaking, walking, standing, and sitting, which allow for fully-connected and communicative bodies. These concepts are:
- The Fluid Body Model—a body of knowledge where we experience being in our bodies in a whole new way, acknowledging and honoring the fluid, evolving processes that we are.
- Disease as a Strategy—a self-responsible way of thinking that allows us to access self-healing and growth.
- The Language of Healing—a way of speaking responsibly about our bodies and lives, so that when we speak, we are causing and accessing healing and transformation to happen.
Visceral manipulation enhances the normal mobility and tissue motion of the organs of the visceral system. Hypertonicity, displacement, and adhesions can all cause organs to work against each other, creating chronic irritation and fixed, abnormal points of tension. The visceral organs are dependent on their ability to move freely in the visceral cavity to then work correctly and efficiently. When they are pulled out of their effective positions, they cease to function properly. By freeing each organ to work compatibly with the others, a therapist can potentially alter and improve the structure and functioning of the entire body.
Based on the piezoelectric properties of the human skin, Vitaflex is a specialized form of manual stimulation at specific reflex points throughout the body, using the pads and nails of the fingers in a rolling motion to produce therapeutic electrical voltages and currents. Vitaflex massage can be used as a modality in and of itself, but also works well as an adjunct to aromatherapy with the application of essential oils. Vitaflex is a part of the raindrop massage protocol.
VortexHealing Energetic Therapy
VortexHealing is an energetic healing art that works solely with divine light and consciousness. It derives its name from a particular energy-vortex that interfaces our physical world and a special divine healing realm that is accessed in this art.
This healing realm is what makes VortexHealing unique, for the practitioner can channel not just the divine energy and light of the Vortex, but also the consciousness of this special realm, which is composed of seven divine beings whose sole intention is to manifest healing. This enables VortexHealing to perform extraordinary healings on the physical and emotional level, as well as to release the deepest karmic issues we hold as human beings—they are transformed directly by divine consciousness.
Even a musical instrument can be magically and directly transformed by this divine consciousness, improving its sound remarkably.
Watsu, or aquatic shiatsu, began at Harbin Hot Springs where Harold Dull brought his knowledge of Zen shiatsu into a warm pool. Zen shiatsu incorporates stretches that release blockages along the meridians—the channels through which chi or life force flows.
Dull found the effects of Zen shiatsu could be amplified and made more profound by stretching someone while having them float in warm water. By supporting, rocking, and moving the whole body while stretching a leg or arm, Watsu lessens the resistance there is when a limb is worked in isolation. When the whole body is in continual movement, each move flowing gracefully into the next, there is no way to resistantly anticipate what’s coming next. Warm water and the continuous support it provides are ideal for freeing the spine.
Click here to find a Watsu practitioner.
The word "yoga" describes a variety of ancient Hindu practices developed in India to unify body and mind with universal spirit, thereby encouraging physical and mental well-being. Yoga most commonly involves a series of stretching postures (called asanas), breathing exercises, and meditative practices. Diet is also considered important to this discipline. Yoga increases flexibility, improves muscle tone, and is helpful in the reduction of stress.
This is a massage modality that enhances the free and natural movements of the body through gentle, sustained stretching and applied pressure. Gentle vibration and energy work with the chakras is integrated into a gracefully flowing sequence. Unique positioning with props is incorporated to facilitate myofascial stretching without strain. Yogassage has been compared to Thai massage on a table, as it blends elements from both the Eastern and Western cultures of bodywork.
Zen Body Therapy
This technique integrates Zen training with Eastern teachings of the circulation of vital energy or essence of life.
This style was developed by Shizuto Masanuga, who proposed the treatment of meridian extensions beyond those recognized in the classical Chinese view. He also developed the widely-accepted two-hand style, where one hand moves, applying pressure, while the other provides stationary support.
Zero Balancing uses gentle acupressure focusing on joints and bones. It was developed by Fritz Smith, MD, and has its roots in osteopathy, acupuncture, Rolfing, and meditation. Relaxing, yet energizing, Zero Balancing integrates fundamental principles of Western medicine with Eastern concepts of energy.
This technique provides clients the possibility of healing by addressing the energy flow of the skeletal system. By working with bone energy, Zero Balancing seeks to correct imbalances between energy and structure, providing relief from pain, anxiety, and stress.
A Zero Balancing session generally takes 30-40 minutes and is done through the client’s clothing while they lie on a massage table. For the massage therapist or bodyworker, Zero Balancing may enhance other modalities and open new avenues of energetic and structural balancing through touch.