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What is Yogic Massage
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Active Listening – a gentle approach that heals deeply.

Yogic Massage is underpinned by the understanding of energy that I gained through Movement Healing. Movement Healing is a way of tuning into healing energy to heal oneself or others through finding inner stillness, listening - letting the healing energy flow through you and then letting that energy express itself in movement. It is a way of coming to a still place - to zero so to speak, observing oneself and letting the body move to heal oneself and others. This requires self-awareness, stillness and meditative qualities and a facility for non-judgmental self-evaluation. It facilitates self-healing but can also be successfully employed for shifting blockages, imbalances and healing others.

One of the differences between Yogic Massage and the usual forms of bodywork is the holding and listening - listening with awareness. Stress and trauma in the body are very much like a baby that is crying with fright: it needs time to be held, and will stop when it realises it is safe again. The listening/holding/being-with can also continue on the various levels when applying massage /deep tissue work /stretching. This constitutes the Muscle Memory Release technique (MMR).

·          Yogic Massage is deep like Rolfing and works with the fascia but without the pain

·          It is like a Homeopathic Massage - with subtle and sometimes amazing results

·          I find Yogic Massage akin to Alexander Technique, my body feels realigned, balanced and centred.

So in essence – to use terminology from Movement Healing – we come to a listening: listening and observing without judgment of the other or oneself. We receive the information, and then, by listening to the self/higher self and intuition, we discover what 'tool' to use to effect release of the pattern - of that memory. In Ben Suharto's words, it is a coming back to zero, finding that still place in oneself that gives inner clarity. The patient/client gives the lead, so to speak, and feels s/he is in control; this encourages deep trust and release. It is like the inner and outer dance of movement healing; listening moment by moment to the appropriate next step is the dance of Yogic Massage. It is like following the flow of water in a river: stress patterns are brought to the surface and as the client becomes aware – on a conscious or sub-conscious level – it releases for good.

The name Yogic Massage was suggested to me by an Indian practitioner, as Yoga in its wider sense means harmonising, integrating. Yogic Massage has profoundly similar effects to a Yoga class, as the recipient feels revitalised, calmed, centred, balanced and stretched after a session. However, with Yogic Massage the client lies down on a massage table as in a massage session and a variety of techniques are used as appropriate, informed by an awareness of what the whole being requires. With the appropriate attitude of the practitioner a still place can be reached, similar to deep meditation. I find it important to give the body a real sense of rest so that it feels safe enough to let go. This helps the nervous system to calm considerably. Body parts are moved slowly, and only when necessary, to give the feeling of support of the table. It is not like Thai Yoga Massage or an assisted Yoga session.

Of chief importance is the appropriate treatment. This is not pushing or manipulating or fixing, it is about allowing the tension to release from the cells. This is what makes Yogic Massage so effective with stress and trauma; it is empowering for the client as well as the practitioner.

As I 'listen' to bodies, I would explain the healing of deep trauma and shock in this way: The body appears to lock the shock of the event or injury into the cells. Cells protect the surrounding area by encapsulating trauma in certain areas so as to free up the rest of the body to cope with the trauma. These smaller and larger traumas can stay locked in the body for life. As long as the blockages remain, they continue to affect the smooth running, the synthesis and homeostasis, of the whole system. These holding patterns seem to stay intact; trauma takes considerable time to work its way out of the system. In my experience general bodywork - even healing or cranio-sacral work - does not usually shift these memories unless specifically addressed.

If you wish to work more confidently with pregnant women this is the approach to use. Women come for treatment throughout their pregnancy. Through the altered hormone levels it seems that a greater sensitivity and awareness develop. Turning into a sort of discomfort, if the changing needs are ignored. As the wellbeing is disrupted also through the body weight shifting Yogic Massage can support all aspects over the months of pregnancy to rebalance support and maintain the pregnant mother's needs. Women feel more confident, stronger, more in control of their body and calmer in their mind. Any pain is greatly reduced, especially tightness in the pelvis, hips and legs as the baby expands. The alignment and MMR techniques of Yogic Massage are safe to use and help the adjustment of the body into new dimensions.

A session will begin with a sensing of the energy field and a release of tension and imbalance and grounding - possible realisation and freeing from emotions occur on that level. This is often described as a relaxing warming releasing feeling. The nervous system calms the body gets heavier and it is as if the muscles open like a flower. Only when that release is complete do I start working more physically. This first stage is crucial can take a half a minute or a half an hour, it depends entirely on what the client needs. The results can be profound, as we give the client that sense of self, self-containment. I would explain it in this way: Ignoring our boundaries, not respecting our selves, our needs, especially in London causes stress. We are confused about where we end and another starts. This in a way gives the client feedback on where they are in themselves and their natural.

Lets be inspired lets bring our attention to the breath. Breathing seems so natural, however, if you observe your clients there are very few who do so efficiently or well. When breathing is used with awareness, this helps to guide the client into a deeply relaxed state. When we apply pressure for example on the out-breath, this is the natural time for the body to 'let go'. So it makes light work for the practitioner and the client feels in control and trusts you more deeply. It also is a way of subtly, subconsciously giving the client the assurance s/he is being listened to, his needs are important, therefore the body relaxes, lets go and trusts. The brain and conscious does not have to 'look out for' or 'be alert', the client trusts your hands. It is the quality of that listening touch. By working in this way the nervous system calms down. As the nervous system releases muscles free up naturally. Depending on the clients stress level and openness, we may also offer visualisations to improve the intake or release of air, or assist the letting go of the body to gravity.

The stretching connects the muscles and acts like a reminder that they need to work together. Done mindfully this will release stress and tension like a good yoga session would do. With these particular stretches alone the client will feel taller, lighter and muscle strain is greatly reduced. Posture and body alignment is improved. The stretching technique when applied with awareness gives the client greater awareness of his/her body, improves posture and can release skeletal muscle tension.

I do not mind if the client falls asleep, it is usually a deep resting - a meditation like state - they stay perfectly aware of what is happening around them, yet the body can let go. This is the best state for repair and encourages the further calming of the nervous system.

Then something that should not be underestimated is the communication between client and practitioner. Firstly we find out about the whole person, this often increases the clients sense of safety and trust. During the session, if information comes to the fore, it is often important for the practitioner to link information – to explain how situations, stresses in the body etc. may occur. Sharing this seems to give vital 'empowering' feedback to the client. The details of what is going on at that moment makes it more of a process of working together, as it encourages the recipient to stay involved and be part of the healing. Explaining the physical processes often helps the mental understanding of disease. It is not always a conscious understanding of the processes, I find, however, the more information that can be shared appropriately, and intelligently the quicker the client regains their health and vitality.

I believe the attitude of the practitioner is of vital importance. Not only is it essential that a good positive self is maintained - but also the attitude, our presence in itself can facilitate the healing. As the mind is 'empty' calm and receptive - meditative in a way and the practitioner makes space - this energy transfers to the client. As we maintain this space we discover moment to moment what the client needs - giving us the insights to work appropriately. Sometimes it requires true patients calm and confidence to stay with the client's real needs.

Yogic Massage is not just a technique you apply. It is more of a holistic approach that works with yourself as practitioner and with the client. Often clients feel much more energised yet deeply relaxed. Yogic Massage often makes a significant difference after one session. The practitioner feels satisfaction and enjoyment when working, as each client is an individual with a very specific need. Yogic Massage releases deep-seated stress, deals with trauma from accidents and is a very useful tool when tuning into the special needs of pregnant women. As stress underlies almost all ill-health and disease this is a most powerful tool to use as it gets to the cause.

By Brigette Hass
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