Massage & Bodywork

March/April 2010

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PLEASE VISIT THE DIGITAL EDITION OF THIS ISSUE ON WWW.MASSAGEANDBODYWORK. COM FOR VIDEO INSTRUCTION OF THE TECHNIQUES MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE. grounded lower body while working, try the qigong exercise Prayer Wheel. Lower Body Find some empty space outside or in your home and put on some comfortable clothing. Stand with your feet hips- width apart and slightly bend your knees. Shift your body weight into your right leg and turn your left foot out to a 45-degree angle. Shift your body weight back into your left leg (left knee is bent) and step your right foot comfortably forward. Your stance will be about 2.5- feet wide. Inhaling, bend the right knee, straighten the left knee, and shift your body weight into your right leg. Keep your back straight and your hips low. As you move forward, keep your hips on the same horizontal line, not moving up and down. Exhaling, straighten the right leg, bend the left, and shift your body weight back into your left leg. Continue this back-and-forth motion with the breath. Imagine growing roots out the bottom of your feet and inhaling up through the soles of your feet. This image will help keep you grounded in your lower body. When this motion feels comfortable, move on to incorporate the upper body. Upper Body Inhaling forward, fl oat the arms up with loose wrists until they are shoulder-height in front of you. Exhaling back, fl oat the arms back toward your shoulders and down along your sides, keeping your shoulders relaxed through the entire movement. This makes a circular or wheel shape with the arms, hence the name Prayer Wheel. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Practice this exercise on both sides, making 10 or more Prayer Wheels. This exercise is great for teaching therapists to stay grounded in the legs and relaxed in the upper body. With time, it also slows the therapist down and reminds them to breathe. BREATH HAPPENS The same way you are conscious of your breath, remain conscious of your client's breath. Relaxation happens with the breath. The breath moves and circulates. If our clients are not breathing freely, they are like a stagnant swamp, instead of a fl owing river. Your massage will be much more effective if your client is consciously breathing. I know right away if my client isn't breathing correctly because I start trying to breath for them. This obviously doesn't work. We can't do it for our clients. Encourage your client to breathe—even if it means breaking a relaxing silence. It is essential. Encourage them to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Ask your client to breathe under your hands or into an area that you are working on that is blocked. Use the client's breath as a helpful and internal tool for deeper release. ADVANTAGES It takes time to develop sensitivity in your forearms, but once achieved, there are so many advantages, including more durability for increased career longevity and productivity, better leverage for leaning into the tissue and saving you energy, and increased area of contact so you can work more of your client in less time. CHECKING IN When it comes to good body mechanics, it's very important not to forget yourself and your needs while giving a massage. Check in with yourself while working. Are you breathing? Is your back straight? Are your shoulders relaxed? Could you be doing less and getting the same or better results? This is your time, too. At the end of the massage, if our clients are more relaxed but we are more tense, we have only succeeded in transferring tension rather than reducing it. therapist and acupuncturist, and is certifi ed in the Rolf method of structural integration. She is the creator of the Auth Method and has a full-time practice in New York City. Auth teaches continuing education workshops and has a DVD, Auth Method of Therapeutic Massage: A Guide to Using the Forearms. For more information, please visit www.authmethod. com. To contact or learn more about her practice, please visit Shari Auth is a licensed massage connect with your colleagues on 77

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