Work with us typically begins with an introduction and assessment session where we will assess your needs, goals, and condition and develop a treatment strategy.
Depending on your goals and presenting condition work can proceed in different directions. We offer a diverse array of treatment modalities that have selected for their unique applicability and specificity in working with various (often inter-related) aspects of the the total human being – structural alignment, movement patterns, the fascial web, nervous system balance, emotional awareness, energy flow, and the imprints of physical, emotional, and developmental trauma. Sometimes work begins in one area of focus, and then leads into another. Often clients will benefit from working in many or all of these potent somatic therapies and learn far more about their body-mind than they initially anticipate.
The styles of bodywork we offer are extremely effective for people looking to get out of pain or chronic dysfunction or to release emotional/energetic holding patterns in the body. Beyond alleviating pain, however, these styles of bodywork can also help to optimize and expand one’s experience of living in a body. After their pain is gone, many clients continue to receive bodywork as they find it improving their energy levels, adding grace and relaxation to their movement, depth and calmness to their breath, expanded range in their emotional lives and relationships, and adding a supercharge to their creative and spiritual pursuits. We believe bodywork can open up many doors in each client’s body-mind and tremendously facilitate living, being, and embodying our fullest and truest selves.
This question is often best addressed in an initial introductory/assessment appointment which is a chance for me to understand your goals and needs, assess your current condition, and explain how my different services work together or independently to address your needs.
That said, if you are curious about a particular approach or have had success with it before, you’re welcome to schedule that service specifically for our first-time visit.
Structural Integration and Myofascial Release: Wear comfortable clothing that leaves as much skin exposed as possible. These styles of bodywork work directly on skin, on all regions of the body. Typically women wear comfortable underwear, a two-piece bathing suit, or form-fitting sport shorts and sports top. For men this will typically be boxers, briefs, or running shorts. It is also best not to apply moisturizing lotion the day of our session.
TRE: Loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that you can stretch and do simple exercises in.
Zero Balancing: Loose-fitting comfortable, casual clothing is fine. Heavy, textured sweaters are best avoided. I will have you remove belts and jewelry, but otherwise you will be fully clothed.
Somatic Experiencing: Any clothing you are comfortable in will be suitable.
My recommended frequency of work depends upon a number of factors including schedule constraints, budget, and the nature of your bodywork goals. As a general rule when I’m working with local clients I typically find that work between once every 1-3 weeks maintains good momentum if we are actively working on particular goals. If our work is maintenance oriented, monthly or less frequently may be appropriate. For out-of-town clients I find it works well to work in burst of 2-3 sessions on back to back days. Most often this is in the context of doing a cycle of Ten Session Structural Integration work. My general rule for out-of-town Structural Integration clients is to try to complete the series within one year’s time.
I love getting traditional massages, but I distinguish ‘bodywork’ from ‘massage’ in several important ways:
In massage, the role of client tends to be more passive and receptive – their main job is to relax and let go. While there is some of that in bodywork, the client is much more active and participatory in various ways. In structural integration, for instance, I am frequently asking clients to notice and describe what they are noticing in their bodies as we progress through the work – often having clients, stand and walk to evaluate felt changes as well. In myofascial release work, clients are reporting to me if they notice sensation in other parts of their body that I’m not working on as a way to understand and trace their whole-body fascial connections. In Zero Balancing, the 45 minutes on the table is mainly about letting go and experiencing the work, but ahead of time we spend time verbally crafting a frame or intention for the session.
As opposed to massage, in bodywork I don’t use traditional draping, instead having clients wear comfortable skin exposing attire that allows me to visually observe the entire structure as we work, as well as facilitate getting up off of the table to observe/feel changes.
Also, unlike massage which is often a one-off experience for that day — in bodywork, we are maintaining momentum and continuity between sessions observing progress and change over time. Often we discuss how to continue the process in between sessions through stretching, TRE, emotional work, etc and use the following session to continue the overall arc of body-mind transformation.
Pain or intensity in bodywork can come up depending on the kind of bodywork we do, but always within your own comfort levels. In all styles of bodywork I check-in regularly with clients about their comfort levels and ask for feedback on my touch. I have a 100% success rate of matching my client’s tolerance levels and many report that our careful negotiation around sensitive or painful areas was critical for their therapeutic process.
TRE and Zero Balancing are designed to not be painful at all. Occasionally in Zero Balancing the work will feel ‘hedonic’, which means its intense in a very good and satisfying way.
Myofascial Release employs stretches applied to the body and tissue for sustained periods. Rarely do clients report these stretches to be outright painful, but occasionally the stretching and release of fascia can feel “burny” and, more rarely, itchy.
Integrated East/West Massage is tailored to your exact preferences for pressure and intensity.
Structural Integration is the technique that is most likely to work into challenging areas in the tissue. The structural integration process is designed to work broadly throughout the body, and also very deeply in the muscle tissue and reintegrate areas of tissue that you have in many ways ‘lost touch with’. The process of waking up these areas often involves pain and discomfort but we work in an extremely careful manner in which you will always feel in control of how fast we work, at what intensity, etc. I teach all of my clients a calibrated ‘number system’ for us to communicate about pain and intensity and it ensures that we are always working within a range that feels therapeutic and effective for you. If you are worried about this aspect, you may want to read through the testimonials I have received from clients, as many speak to their experience of working carefully with pain and intensity in useful and transformative ways. Also, please know that none of my clients have ever discontinued the 10-session structural integration program because it was too painful.
1)Drink lots of water – your tissue is processing and releasing toxins and metabolic wastes and sufficient hydration facilitates this process.
2)Detox bath: I’m a big believer in taking a detox bath after bodywork. This has physical, emotional, and energetic benefits. The detox formula I recommend is 1/2 cup Epsom salts: 1/2 cup sea salt (or kosher salt): 1/2 baking soda in one regular sized bath tub. Soak for 10-20 minutes and then rinse off. If you are feeling sluggish, fatigued, or achy the following day (or days) I recommend repeating. These are inexpensive ingredients and well worth it.
3)Avoid strenuous exercise after our appointment. Your body is integrating the shifts we have made. For the next day or so, do light or maintenance type exercise *with body awareness* and wait a few days before working to your max.
4)Rest/integrate/process. You may need extra time to process and integrate the bodywork. Give yourself extra sleep as needed (very common), and possibly time to journal, meditate, walk or otherwise process any emotional content that has come up.
TRE® Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises: TRE is one of my most recommended home practices for people to use to support the overall bodywork process. It is a method of accessing the nervous system through the body and using a natural neurogenic shaking process to ‘wake up’ and release areas of stuckness and restriction. I find that clients who use this process develop body awareness and responsiveness to bodywork more quickly than those who don’t. In short, it accelerates the ‘waking up’ process we are working towards through hands-on bodywork. I am a Certified TRE Provider and encourage new clients to schedule a private TRE learning session with me at least once early in our working relationship (and often followup TRE sessions as our work progresses). After one or several sessions, clients can comfortably TRE at home or in one of my group classes and check-in with me about questions and progress.
Stretching: Stretching can be very effective for opening up restricted areas. I support most stretching and yoga practices in general, but the approach I especially advocate is the yin yoga approach to stretching which relies upon mild to moderate level intensity stretches held for 3-5 minutes or longer using breath, awareness, relaxation, and gravity as the means to ‘allow’ the tissues to open and soften. Yin stretching emphasizes the connective tissue (fascia) component of the myofascia more than shorter stretches, and often the release we need for deep lasting change is in the collagen fibers of the fascia which we respond well to gentle stretching over time rather than the elastin fibers of muscle. I will suggest particular stretches or yoga poses depending on your needs and we can adapt them over time. I can also teach you a 10-pose daily yin sequence developed by Everett Ogawa that is based off of the 10 session sequence of Integral Bodywork® Structural Integration.
Somatic Exercises: Somatic exercises are gentle movement patterns designed to increase body awareness and facilitate neuromuscular reprogramming so we learn to use our muscles ‘correctly’ with greater ease, fluidity, mobility, and specificity. Often, many of our chronic pains and postural dysfunctions are a result of our motor cortex forgetting how to properly sense and fire our muscles leading to clumsier use of our muscles or our ability to properly feel entire groups of muscles. This is called sensory-motor amnesia and is common in the back muscles, for instance, which lose their softness and suppleness and act like one solid undifferentiated mass of tense muscles.
I use somatic exercises developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, Thomas Hanna, and Dub Leigh. I can teach you specific sequences and also provide you with customized sets of sequences of audio instruction on CD at $10 each.
Seated Meditation: I have a long-time seated meditation practice in the Zen tradition and it has been a critical way for me to develop and refine my use of breath, posture, body awareness, and energy flow. These attributes can be explored in many body/breath modalities (exercise, dance, yoga, martial arts) but seated meditation is unique in its very simple focus and intention. The style of meditation I practice and teach employs a particular method of slow and steady breathing that really develops grounding in the lower abdomen in pelvis, which is supportive of a major goal I am always emphasizing in bodywork. The benefits of this meditation and breathing approach can be appreciated in as little as ten or fifteen minutes of practice each day. Please ask if you are interested in meditation/breathing instruction.
Health and injury history are important to take into consideration before we begin any bodywork. I have my clients fill out a detailed health history ahead of or during our first-time visit so I have a complete understanding of your background before I work. Bodywork will always be tailored to your present state of health and in conversation with your other health care providers as necessary.
I really value when clients submit a testimonial to me directly that I can include on my webpage. It is very valuable for clients new to these styles of work to read about the variety and breadth and depth of experiences that others have. Clients often tell me reading testimonials gives them a richer sense of what this work is about. People are free to publish their names or not, as they prefer.
It’s also very helpful when clients post reviews to Yelp in particular. That said, Yelp has a very stringent screening process whereby it often filters out reviews if they are unsure they are authentic. The main criteria is if that particular reviewer has posted 3 or more reviews total. So, if you are willing to post a Yelp review for me, please also write 2 or more other reviews for businesses which will ensure your reviews are available to the public. Thank you:)
To avoid paying in full for the missed session I require 24 hours notice of cancellation except in the cases of emergencies or unexpected illness. If you have a cold or the flu, please give yourself rest and let’s reschedule your session.
Confidentiality: All of the information shared is kept confidential unless a written release is approved and signed by you. Certain legal limits on confidentiality do exist and do not need a release from you:
1)If there is convincing evidence that you are in immediate danger to yourself or others legal action may be taken for your own protection and the protection of others.
2)If you are involved in a medical emergency.
3)Incidents of child or elder abuse including physical, sexual, or neglect must be reported by me to the necessary agencies.
4)A court of law may subpoena information and may order release of information.
I thought I knew my body…
As a former professional athlete, I thought I knew my body. But over time, aches and pains build up, and Icy Hot only goes so far. After ten sessions of Integral Bodywork® with Alex, I feel and understand my body in ways I didn’t before. This is not massage. This is not relaxing. It’s an opportunity for you to have a different, richer relationship with your body.
~ Rebecca Ryan
© 2020 · Red Beard Bodyworks.