What is... ?
Holistic Therapy is an umbrella term comprising a blend of various therapeutic methodologies which work in combination to rebalance the various systems of your being. The Three Arenas (of life): The Physical, Mental-Emotional (aka Psycho-Emotional), and Energetic/Spiritual - are all treated directly. Not all Holistic Therapists are alike and each chooses different modalities to work with which usually involve at least one form of bodywork (e.g. massage, shiatsu, cranio-sacral, active release, etc.,) a psychotherapeutic practice (e.g. Hakomi, Psych-K, NLP, EMDR, counselling, etc.), and more subtle techniques that directly address spiritually-based challenges (e.g. Medical Qi Gong, Reiki, Bodytalk, Pranic Healing, Quantum Touch, etc.). Holistic Therapy is grounded in realism, meeting people on a human level, treating the person (not just the dis-ease), and helping clients see a much bigger picture of why their health is the way it is. Holistic Therapists will also often teach clients the countless ways to effectively do something about their particular health challenges and provide on-going support through the necessary changes that need to take place in the client's life.
Integrated Bodywork (IB) is exactly as it sounds - it is an integration or synergy of some of the most effective physical and energetic methods of treatment both modern and ancient. IB utilizes a broad range of techniques to increase the scope of what can be accomplished in sessions and significantly speeds the body's self-healing abilities. IB has been shown to greatly reduce recovery time from certain types of chronic health conditions, such as:
- chronic pain anywhere in the body
- alignment issues, both skeletal & muscular
- chronic back problems, particularly lower back pain
- chronic neck, shoulder, and joint pain
- chronic headaches/migraines
- arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.
- menstrual dysfunction and irregularity
- chronic digestive/gastro-intestinal conditions
- other chronic organ problems leading to serious health conditions
- long-standing mental-emotional issues including depression, schizophrenia, bi-polarism, etc.
- degenerative nerve conditions
- bacterial infections
IB recognizes that the more angles at which you come at a particular problem, the faster it solves itself. The methods and procedures utilized in Integrated Bodywork overlap with the following disciplines: Shiatsu Therapy, Tui Na Massage (Traditional Chinese Massage for Injuries), Active Release, Orthopedic Assessment, Cupping, Medical Qi Gong, Polarity Therapy, Re-Balancing, Biofeedback / Muscle Testing, Bodytalk, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Myo-fascial Release, Dry-needling, guided visualization, etc.
Shiatsu utilizes a wide range of acupressure techniques for various chronic and acute health problems including: pain & stiffness of the joints, musculoskeletal alignment issues, low-back pain, neck & shoulder pain, headaches & migraines, menstrual dysfunction, and digestive dysfunction.
Most methodologies residing under the umbrella of Acupressure, including Shiatsu, utilize both physical and energetic stimulation of specific points all over the body. The still and focused nature of Shiatsu is what sets it apart from the rest.
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to Shiatsu. One branch (sometimes called the "Namikoshi" method) places all of it's emphasis on acupressure applied only by the fingers, namely the thumbs. Namikoshi Shiatsu is based completely on Western science. It's framework is based solely on western anatomy, physiology, and patho-physiology and locations of points are deduced strictly in relation to the physical structures of the body.
The other main branch of Shiatsu, Zen Shiatsu, is a traditional style utilizing not only the fingers and thumbs, but any part of the body deemed effective, such as the palms, elbows, forearms, knees, and feet. Emphasis is placed on Qi, tsubos (see explanation of these below), and meridians themselves (the lines of pure energy running through the body). Like all ancient healing sciences, Zen Shiatsu utilizes the same meridian and tsubo systems of the body that eastern acupuncture does. Practitioners use their "intrinsic force" to manipulate the Qi, tsubos, and mai (meridians) of the patient. This concept is common within all ancient eastern healing sciences.
In both forms of Shiatsu the practitioner assesses and treats the body simultaneously, making Shiatsu one of the most efficient forms of hands-on treatment.
Tui Na ('twee-nah') is an ancient form of traditional Chinese massage. It involves repetitive, deep, stroking methods of massage along with passive stretching, pulsating pressure, skeletal adjustments techniques similar to western chiropractic, and myo-fascial release techniques similar to Active Release. Like Shiatsu, the Tui Na practitioner utilizes intrinsic force to have their pressure penetrate into the body in a way that feels deeper and far more satisfying than what muscle strength alone provides. Tui Na is especially renowned for completely resolving deep-seated soft tissue damage caused by severe physical trauma such as from motor-vehicle accidents or sports injuries. Other conditions Tui Na is known to effectively alleviate are: Chronic muscle pain and fatigue, bone injuries, chronic headaches/migraines, skeletal misalignment issues, menstrual dysfunction, edema, myo-fascial compression syndromes, scar tissue complications, & gastro-intestinal dysfunction. Tui Na and Shiatsu have similar track records in their effectiveness and are based on the same Taoist sciences. If you wish to learn more about the workings of these ancient asian healing sciences please read the information provided in the "Shiatsu" tab above.
Although very subtle, Cranio-Sacral Therapy is a powerful technique that effectively treats spinal injuries & alignment issues. As it grows in popularity it is becoming a better known alternative to Chiropractic care. This is largely due to the fact that it does not require the classic high velocity "crunching" adjustments (although very effective at times) to realign the skeletal structure and instead relies on subtle gentle manipulations which are known to have long-lasting effects.
The body is constantly doing it's best to re-establish perfect balance of all of it's systems (homeostasis). Every system including the bones themselves are constantly busy attempting to reconfigure themselves back to perfect balance. Unfortunately, the muscle tissues and fascia occasionally get locked into holding patterns, not allowing the skeletal structure to readjust. Cranio-Sacral Therapy gently assists the body's structures in their realignment efforts. Part of how CST does this is by engaging the cerebro-spinal fluid surrounding your spinal column and skull. This fluid needs to circulate properly in order to maintain alignment and properly nourish the skeletal structure. CST regulates the cerebro-spinal fluid's circulation and facilitates the support bones need to move themselves back into their intended positions. CST also has a strong influence on both the central and peripheral nervous systems much like western chiropractic. These effects take time and requires the client's willingness and ability to deeply relax and let go. It involves simply laying on a massage table while the practitioner holds different areas of the client's body and moves them (or better yet moves with them) as the body naturally realigns itself.
CST has also been found to assist in healing old mental-emotional challenges.
Body-Mind Reprogramming is a combination of namely two alternative psychotherapeutic modalities: Hakomi & Bodytalk.
Hakomi is an experientially focused, somatic form of pyschotherapy and/or counseling that emphasizes the release of old self-destructive identifications and perspectives through facilitated self-discovery. Hakomi is built on the belief in an innate transcendent intelligence (sometimes given the terms 'unconscious' or 'subconscious') within the human body that is capable of healing the most complex of problems if given the opportunity. Hakomi practitioners aim to help clients transcend the old stories of their past that hinder their unconscious from naturally re-calibrating the body-mind and breaking destructive psychological patterns. Hakomi steers away from psycho-analysis, avoids questions, and instead works to directly promote present experiences to induce positive change. It's aim is to facilitate natural release and epiphany-like experiences that quickly change destructive mental patterns.
BodyTalk is a Consciousness-based health-care system. It is an advanced level belief shifting system designed to correct your body-mind dysfunctions on multiple energetic levels. In this healing system it is believed we are born with a genetic blue-print intended to bring us to optimal health upon physical maturity. BodyTalk aims to help the body-mind in re-calibrating itself back to this optimal design. Through various bio-feedback techniques, a practitioner establishes a dialogue with the client's body-mind to learn it's highest priority malfunctions. These priority malfunctions or imbalances are addressed through various tapping methods, postures, mental focus practices, breathing techniques, self-reprogramming methodologies (e.g. affirmations/mantras), and specialized movements. The end result is a rewired, reconfigured, rebalanced, body-mind. Don't worry, it went over my head the first time too 😉 An open-mind and the release of expectations is encouraged.
Qi Gong is one of the most ancient spiritual practices known. It's true origins in time are unknown. Qi Gong is considered by many the foundation upon which Taoism came to be and is said to be the predecessor to all martial arts, yoga practices, and healing techniques. Legends in many Eastern countries speak of a prior Golden Age of humanity in which humans lived as an advanced society. Because of the lack of Fear and greed in human consciousness as well as little pollution in the environment, energy cultivation practices like Qi Gong were all that was necessary to treat conditions and maintain health. Qi Gong is a spiritual, physical and mental exercise or "work" in cultivating and manipulating Qi within and without the body.
As mentioned above, Qi Gong is also said to be the origin of yoga. This ancient practice consists of moving the body into various postures and through various sequences that are specially designed to engage specific energy currents of the body and mind. A broad range of intricately designed techniques are utilized for their transformative capabilities of the subconscious-mind through visualizations, breath-work, sound, physical torque, and complex physical sequences. Qi Gong has many translations, two of which are "energy practice", "energy exercise", "way of energy", and "energy work". The Shaolin monks of China as well as certain unassuming and inconspicuous teachers in various auspicious places of the world are some of the only masters left of this invaluable healing system.
Qi Gong-Reiki combines both Taoist medical Qi Gong healing and breathing techniques with Japanese techniques. See the "Reiki & Pranic Healing" tab for further explanation.
Reiki is a Japanese healing technique utilizing the subconscious power of symbols and awareness of energy-flow patterns. The symbols and their meaning are safe-guarded amongst Reiki practitioners in order to preserve the purity and safety of their use. The mind is used to project energy through the practitioner and patient to heal the body on all levels through the energetic foundations of organic life.
Pranic healing has it's roots in Ayurveda, India's most revered healing science system. Pranic healing utilizes the subconscious power of colour, and sometimes sound, in order to work with the energies of the human body more effectively. Every colour has it's own unique healing properties which the practitioner uses to manipulate the energies of the patient. This is a potent energy healing technique, the use of which must be used with care.
The art of Cupping is an ancient practice found in many cultures. From China, Korea, and Japan, to Afghanistan, Egypt, & Mongolia, cupping has been used for centuries by much of the Eastern continent. Traditional cupping involves the use of orb shaped cups made of natural materials such as glass, clay, and sometimes wood. Of course in modern day plastic cups have been developed as well.
The magic of cupping lies in the vacuum effect of the cups. The practitioner creates this vacuum by quickly inserting a flame into the opening of the cup to burn off any oxygen after which the cup is quickly placed on the skin before oxygen can re-enter. This vacuum or suction effect creates a negative pressure 3 inches into the body, working to draw out dead cells, poisons, and toxins held deep within the tissues and organs.
The principle use of cupping is to heal very old soft tissue damage from long-standing injuries; injuries such as from sports, motor vehicle accidents, and repetitive use. Cupping helps to relax chronic muscle spasms and tension, resolve headaches, and can quickly turn around colds and flu's. It is especially effective in resolving the problems associated with scar tissue and myo-fascial adhesions.
It is important to note that cupping leaves noticeable marks on the body. The skin becomes red, blue or dark purple resembling bruising from physical impact. These marks, however, are a healthy and natural bi-product of the healing process. They can be touched and pressed without pain. It can take up to two weeks for the skin to return to it's usual colour.
Qi ('chee') is the Chinese term for the source energy of all of creation. Quantum physics calls this foundational force of all creation "quanta". India calls it "prana", Japan calls it "Ki", and some mystic christians equate it to the concept of the "holy spirit". Qi is essentially everything and everything is made of, and fueled by Qi. As Qi becomes more and more dense it manifests as what we call physical reality. Qi is light, Qi is sound, Qi is your blood, Qi is water and body fluids, and so on in different levels of density and vibration. The key with Qi is that it is naturally dynamic and therefore must always be changing, transforming, and moving. Circulation, movement, etc. is vital to maintain the flow of Qi in our body and it is ultimately when Qi stagnates or "gets stuck" that we develop dis-ease.
Meridians (otherwise known as channels or mai) are the energetic pathways in our bodies that a certain dimension of Qi circulates within, much like blood circulating in our blood vessels. They are the network that pure energy primarily travels through in our body. Like the circulatory system and nervous system, the meridian system is vast and complex. Similarly to these other systems, however, the meridian system includes very large channels within it's network that stand out from the rest. These could be equated to the large nerves like the sciatic nerve or large blood vessels like the brachial artery or hepatic vein. There are 12 what are called "primary channels" and 8 "extraordinary" or "psychic" channels. Along these major channels are points of concentrated energy, like vortices. A physical equivalent for reference sake could be the lymph nodes along the lympathic system. They are like major intersections of energy and they make up the complex system of points utilized by asian style acupressurists, acupuncturists, and some energy healers. Manipulation of these points in order to re-establish free flow of Qi within them can have far reaching positive effects on our health and well being.
Tsubo is a Japanese term widely used in reference to the acupressure/acupuncture points of the body. It is used in specific reference to energetically strong points of energy. These are like intersections of the meridians and their countless collaterals. Like an intersection in traffic, tsubos are places where Qi collects and pulsates. If you press all over your body you will notice certain spots that seem tender almost all of the time. These are tsubos and the tenderness felt is due to the abundance of Qi regularly collecting and releasing in those spots. Because tsubos are located on meridians, they can have direct effect on distant points along that meridian. For example, some of the tsubos on the hands and feet are far more effective in relieving conditions of the head than the points on the head itself. An acupressurist's and acupuncturist's job is to utilize the myriad effects of tsubos to return and maintain homeostasis of the body, mind, and spirit.
The following is a partial list of conditions I have had success with in my 15 years of personal experience in practice:
Arthritis / Rheumatism
Backache / Lumbago
Blood pressure irregularity
Car accident related injuries
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Headaches and Migraines
Joint problems / pain
Nervous system disorders
Pregnancy – Morning Sickness
Soft tissue damage
Tension from fatigue and/or stress