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Healing vibes
A variety of bodywork therapies help you relax, reduce stress and minimize pain


September 2016

In Thai yoga massage, a practitioner eases you into poses and uses gentle pressure to relieve muscle tension.

Feeling tight? While group classes that focus on breath work can ease your stress levels, you may find yourself creating more muscle tension as you build strength in your yoga practice, for example. Or you may crave more one-on-one attention or relief from a condition in a setting better-suited to cater to your specific needs.

One option is to schedule a Swedish massage, which includes long strokes, kneading and deep circular movements and provides research-supported relief for pain, headaches and other conditions, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. But itís not the only bodywork therapy. Here are four others to consider:

A Reiki master gently places her hands on, or suspends them just above, her client to balance his "life force energy," or "ki," which is similar to "prana" in yoga. Practitioners believe the healing touch induces calm, relieves aches and pains, and alleviates anxiety and depression. "A treatment feels like a radiant glow that flows through and around you, giving you a feeling of peace, security, healing and well-being," says Maria Giordano, a Reiki master at Greensquare Integrative Health Care Center in Glendale.

In craniosacral therapy, a practitioner creates subtle movements with her hands to relax and open muscles, ligaments and tendons and to get blood and lymph moving in the tissues, according to Katherine de Shazer, a craniosacral therapist at Greensquare Integrative Health Care Center. "If a person is in a lot of pain, craniosacral is one of the most gentle bodywork modalities that will quiet the nervous system," she explains. "(It) uses 5 grams of pressure ó the weight of a nickel." Craniosacral therapy may help individuals dealing with fibromyalgia, a recent surgery, chronic pain, anxiety, trauma or a low tolerance for discomfort, de Shazer says.

Think of Thai yoga massage as a passive form of yoga in which a practitioner moves you into poses, typically while youíre seated or lying on your back or stomach. As you relax with eyes closed, a massage therapist will ask you to connect with your breath as she offers adjustments to help you ease deeper into each pose to maximize the stretch and restorative effect. While itís not an active practice for you, a therapist may ask you to hold onto his wrists to enable him to adjust you safely into a seated forward bend, for example. Popular with runners, Thai yoga massage can relieve tension and increase flexibility.

If you want to improve posture and create more space for your breath, you may seek out Rolfing structural integration. Over 10 sessions, "Rolfing practitioners work with their clients through sensitive manipulation of the connective tissue matrix, (which is) responsible, in part, for the bodyís shape, structure and function," says Kevin McCoy, a certified advanced Rolfer, with offices in Brookfield and Glendale, and a faculty member at the Rolf Institute. For example, he says, a Rolfer can help you find better alignment of your head and neck, ease in your shoulders and more mobility in your pelvis. "Clients typically report feeling taller, that movements feel easier and more fluid, and feeling refreshed and relaxed," McCoy says. Athletes and dancers also work with Rolfers to enhance their performance, he says. M



This story ran in the September 2016 issue of: