As a consumer of massage, you already know there are wonderful benefits to receiving therapeutic touch. And you’ve likely tried one or two variations of massage or bodywork as you’ve meandered along this path of complementary healthcare. But did you know there are at least 250 kinds of therapies that are part of this growing massage and bodywork tradition? From acupressure to Zero Balancing, there are a multitude of lush, leaf-filled branches on this bodywork tree, making it a perfect spot under which to throw a blanket and sit a while.
The word posture, which comes from the Latin placement, is used to describe how we stand in space, and it is a good enough word for common use: “His sunken posture conveys defeat.” Or for metaphoric use: “Our posture toward Iran is evolving,” meaning attitude. But for those of us in the massage and bodywork trade, especially those who wish to, or claim to, change posture for the better, the term will not stand up to close examination.
Humans are creatures of habit, and one of our most enduring habits is the way in which we move our bodies throughout the day. Generally, we move without even thinking about it. This can be a good thing, in that we don’t have to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. But moving mindlessly, without conscious body awareness, also allows us to perpetuate dysfunctional movement patterns that can negatively influence our health and well-being.
As you lie on the table under crisp, fresh sheets, hushed music draws you into the moment. The smell of sage fills the air and you hear the gentle sound of massage oil being warmed in your therapist’s hands. The pains of age, the throbbing from your overstressed muscles, the sheer need to be touched — all cry out for therapeutic hands to start their work. Once the session gets underway, the problems of the world fade into an oblivious 60 minutes of relief and all you can comprehend right now is not wanting it to end.
Someone may tell you it’s all in your head. Yet you know it’s not, because you’re feeling it, in excruciating detail, in your body. Movement education pioneers F. Matthias Alexander, Moshe Feldenkrais and Milton Trager agree that it may have started in your mind — way back when your body and your brain were learning together how to crawl, stand and walk — but it didn’t end there. Movement education theorizes that when the body establishes responses to its emotional or physical environment, those responses are carried forward long after the original stimulus is gone.