@ Swedish Institute, New York City
Pour Don't Push, Part I: Thursday, February 16, 2017
Pour Don't Push, Part II: Thursday, March 2, 2017
The Solution Is the Sides, Upper Body: Monday, April 24, 2017
The Solution Is the Sides, Upper Body: Monday, May 8, 2017
@ AMTA NY Annual Convention, Tarrytown, NY
Pour Don't Push, Part I: Sunday, April 8, 2017
Come and un-learn the counterproductive habits that you have accumulated from too many shifts at the spa; come re-learn that passion you used to have for the work.
I believe many of us therapists care too much. We are too determined to make our clients feel better. The result: we work too hard. We try to push our clients into feeling better. We all know what happens next: we ache, we burn out and we tune out, we get frustrated when our clients don't appreciate what we are giving them. But what if we pour rather than push? What if we facilitate change, rather than force change?
In the first part of this workshop, you will learn how to work with greater depth and strength, but with less force and less effort. You will rediscover your most powerful therapeutic tools—your breath and your body weight. These innate tools are what make us great therapists, and yet are the same tools we so often forget. The longer we work, the more we tend to rely on our muscles, and the more we become convinced that we need to force our client into letting go. Here we will see the results of the opposite approach. As you contact your client with ease, you help your client become an engaged partner in the work; in turn, you can put the “deep” back in deep tissue massage, but without strain or pain.
Here we will practice:
- using our body weight instead of excess muscular effort.
- applying Tai Chi and Alexander Technique principles to our work.
- being mindful of our (and our client’s) breath.
The goal of this workshop is to help you become a more perceptive and satisfied therapist. This workshop doesn't teach a "new" method of massage, but rather, offers bedrock principles to invigorate the work you are already doing. You will practice using less of your most exhausted tools—your mind and muscles—and more of your most effective tools—your body weight and breath. By pouring rather than pushing, you will find the strength that comes with ease.
Does your body ache from trying so hard to help your clients? Do you want to be present with your clients, but forget your client’s name as soon as she is on the table? We all want to take care of ourselves and take care of our clients, but sometimes these good intentions get in the way. When we focus too much on trying to give a great massage, we often have the opposite effect. You get frustrated at yourself for getting distracted by life’s worries. You try to work harder, and deeper, and better. You suffer and the client suffers. But there is a solution: massaging with mindfulness.
In the second day of this workshop, you’ll see that what you are thinking as you massage is as important as what you are doing.
For all of us who have tried (and often failed!) to meditate, practicing mindfulness can feel elusive and frustrating. Here you will merge simple and specific techniques for mindfulness into your own massage work, which can be easier for us therapists than sitting by ourselves and chanting Om. We will work with our own breath as we become aware of our client’s breath, and we will attend to our own body as we work on our client’s body.
In this workshop we will:
- learn what I call “mindful maneuvers”—specific massage techniques that help us put mindfulness into action.
- gain empathy for what our clients might be thinking about and feeling while on our table,
- experiment with simple ways to return our mind to the breath (and the body) when it (inevitably) wanders.
Massaging with mindfulness can help alleviate both the physical and the mental difficulties of our profession, and is applicably to Swedish massage or myofascial release or anything in between. When we enhance our awareness of our body and mind as we work, we are more attentive to exactly what the client needs, and can offer pressure as light or as deep as the client wants without hurting ourselves. We can acknowledge our inevitable mental distractions while diffusing their burnout-inducing power, so that we keep our mind clear and our career long.
continuing education workshops
I design and teach continuing education workshops, in the hopes of furthering our wonderful profession. I want to help therapists continue to do what they love (and continue to love what they do).
I have taught at the Swedish Institute, the Center for Advancement of Therapeutic Arts (formerly Massage Space NY), the Cortiva Institute, the New York State Society for Medical Massage Therapy (NYSSMMT), and the AMTA’s Northeast Regional Conference (NERC) and Maine Annual Conference. All workshops are eligible for New York State and NCBTMB contact hours.
Below is a list of workshops that I currently teach.
Want to know more about upcoming classes?
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The Solution Is the Sides: Approaching the Body From All Angles
Your client’s body is stuck in its usual spots. No surprise. But is your work stuck in a rut, too? Do you need to add a new dimension to your sessions? Then come refresh the way you see your client—by approaching the body from all angles.
One of our most common habits is that we get stuck seeing our clients in just two dimensions—the body becomes just a back and a front. The result: we get bored, and the client doesn’t get better. But there is a solution: approaching the body from the sides. By reminding ourselves of the lateral musculature of the body—everything from the scalenes to gluteus medius to the peroneals—we regain a more vivid approach to the entire body. In this workshop we tackle those familiar client complaints, but from unusual angles, and using unusual techniques. We will sit and crouch and kneel. We will rock the body. We will work from the opposite side of the table. We will both sink slowly into the client, and we will pull and lean the client up and away from the table. Come expand your technique toolbox by working from all angles!
NOTE: Part I (Upper Body) and Part II (Lower Body) may be taken separately, but taking both together is recommended.
Here we will find fresh angles to explore the most common area of client complaints—the back, shoulders, and neck. We will break free of our usual strokes up and down the spine, and instead will shift our positioning, our points of entry, and thus our results. We will free up those usual tight spots by working on unusual spots. Instead of the erectors, we will attend to restrictions in the ribs. Instead of the rhomboids, we will work all the way around the scapulae, from the medial border to the lateral border, and between the scapulae and the ribs, and into the armpit. Similarly, we will emphasize not the back of the neck, but the oft-ignored restrictions in the sides and the front of the neck. We will explore the edges of the pectoralis major and the usually forgotten pec minor. Throughout, we will attend to the places of transition: to the places where the muscles of the shoulders meet the muscles of the neck, to the border between shoulder and arm, between back and ribs and chest.
With simple but effective myofascial release and deep tissue techniques, from a variety of angles, we will uncover a world of postural holding patterns and excess muscular tension, of which our clients are often unaware. As we gain confidence in accessing the body in all three dimensions, we enable our clients, in turn, to see themselves more completely.
With most clients so focused on tension in the upper body, we often give insufficient attention to the lower body. As a result, our lower body skills tend to atrophy; we develop a quick routine for the hips and legs, to “get them out of the way” in order to focus on the upper body. But that approach ultimately isn’t satisfying either for us or for the client. And our reliance on a quick routine means that we aren’t adequately prepared for those clients who want more detailed attention.
Here we will remind ourselves of the great and often-forgotten possibilities for working these structures. We will unlearn our rote lower body routine, and instead will experiment with a variety of techniques to mobilize the legs in all 360 degrees. We will work the major muscle groups—the hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves—but with greater specificity, sinking into the edges of these muscles, and into the spaces between these muscles. In addition, we will emphasize the underappreciated abductors and adductors, and the possibilities for working the sides of the legs as well as just the anterior and posterior surfaces. Finally, these techniques will underscore the many connections between the lower body and the upper body, so that participants will appreciate anew how working the muscles and myofascial lines of the pelvis—again, both from the front, back, and sides of the body—can help effect change not only in the lower body but in the upper body as well.
Throughout, we will emphasize alternate means of approach—challenging participants to move beyond their usual body positions, to experiment with kneeling, and with working from the opposite side of the table. And I will offer alternate techniques—moving beyond our stock repertoire of effleurage and petrissage and friction, to experiment with myofascial sinking, and rocking, and pulling. From these often-ignored angles, we will deepen our understanding of the structures themselves, and of our possibilities for working on them.
Find Your Focus Again
Do you forget your client’s name as soon as they get on the table? Does your mind wander during sessions? Whether you work at a spa, for someone else, or for yourself, our work can be grueling: both physically exhausting and mentally draining. In this workshop we’ll experiment with simple but powerful means to invigorate your practice: the breath. Through hands-on techniques we learn how to access and utilize both our own breath and our client’s. Learn how the breath can be a nonverbal tool to communicate with the client, enhance your own therapeutic skills, prevent burnout, and find your focus again.