“The means we use to release blocks and resistances must not adversely affect the body. We must proceed carefully. If we force the body we will experience pain or other unpleasant feelings and the problems will, in the long run get worse instead of better…It is by proceeding gently that we will feel light.”
-from T.K.V Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga
The above excerpt about yoga resonated with me and clarified my approach to bodywork. As a perpetual student of the human body, I am constantly trying new techniques and modalities with my clients and myself. My goal is to reduce pain, increase range of motion and help individuals feel more comfortable in their bodies. Not everyone benefits from every technique, but there seems to be a universal truth that I am discovering over time: If you force change, it will not happen. How many times have you heard “you can’t change someone, they will have to decide to change themselves”? The same is true with the body.
My approach to working with the body is to make suggestions slowly and gently, so that it does not resist me. I have the best results with clients when I take time to listen to the tissue, wait for it to soften, and then proceed with caution. I have found time after time, that digging my elbow into a knot (fascial restriction) will not release the tension nor alleviate the symptoms. It might feel better for a while, but will not help the client reduce chronic pain. This is not to say that I don’t work deep into the tissues. I just work slowly.
What I do in my treatment room is similar to what a yogi does on their yoga mat. The Asana practice of yoga can be the process of relieving restrictions within the body and attaining heath and wellbeing. If you force yourself into a posture you are not ready for, you will end up injuring yourself. Like yoga, bodywork should be performed with mindfulness.