“It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.”
Bodywork sounds simple—and it is. It can also be deeply complex. Put simply, it is work you do for your physical body. Bodywork is any therapeutic or personal development technique that involves working with the human body in a form involving manipulative therapy, breath work, or energy medicine.
Your body is your physical being, your “meat machine” that carries you around every day. It’s also the place where your heart and soul live. We put a lot of stress and trauma on our bodies every day, whether it is intentional or not. Some trauma is out of our control, whether it comes from past injuries, emotional stress or a dark period in our lives. Some trauma is simply from the act of living a full life; hard physical workouts, stressful jobs and personal relationships, or transformative life events like moving or losing a loved one.
Regardless of where that stress comes from, chances are that it is building up in your body whether you want it to or not. Our body stores this trauma and stress. It becomes locked deep down inside our muscle tissue, in our tendons and ligaments, in our very bones.
“The body is my temple, asanas are my prayers.”
This stored stress is why we turn to yoga as a healing practice. By working with our breath and our movement, we can physically dig into what we have stored deep down inside and work some of it out. That’s why yoga feels so juicy and amazing—we work out all that emotional junk unconsciously buried deep inside our bodies. This is also why it is not uncommon to cry in yoga.
I have seen many, many students (including myself!) surprised by the emotions which rise up as the result of moving deeper into their physical bodies. There is no shame in sitting in child’s pose and bawling! Yoga is a 100% safe, loving and supportive place to let those emotions process.
As a yoga teacher, I am honored and privileged to act as a steward—physically and emotionally—for students undergoing these in-class transformative experiences. And I take that responsibility very seriously. I hold space for students to work through that difficult crap we all go through as humans. I had a powerful experience once of not even speaking to a student as she underwent some deep emotions—it can be annoying and diminishing to be asked ‘are you okay?’ when you’re clearly not!—and simply bringing her a box of tissues in the middle of class, giving her a long hug at the end of practice. I don’t know or need to understand specifics of what she was going through, but I do know firsthand the feeling of needing to be supported without explaining yourself. (For more on crying in yoga, I recommend this great blog post by yoganonamous.)
What happens when yoga is not enough to release all that pent-up stress? Even if you have a daily yoga practice, chances are your body could really benefit from some extra support. Bodywork encompasses a variety of healing modalities. Massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, reiki, and reflexology all play unique roles in physical healing and the release of stress.
Sometimes, all you need is an hour or two to yourself while someone else takes care of your body. Some time to be listened to. Some time to work out the knots in your shoulders. Some time to decompress and process the crazy roller-coaster ride that is being a human. I personally don’t consider massage a luxury anymore, I consider it a necessity to keep me from losing my mind. It’s crucial in my efforts to prevent more emotional stress, more layers of tension from building up in my physical body.
When was the last time you really took care of yourself? When was the last time you held space to heal, loved, and supported your body? If it’s been a while, I suggest you stop reading and book yourself something right now. It does not matter what kind of bodywork you choose—opt for whatever will give you the support and rest that you truly need.
If you don’t know where to start, here are a few of my personal favorite places to go for body work in Bozeman, Montana.
Manifest It – By combining sound healing, Thai massage and yoga nidra, you can enjoy a truly transformative massage experience.
PRH Acupuncture – Very affordable, convenient and easy. Getting the energy, or chi, moving in your body is crucial to health and wellbeing.
Restful Touch– For when you need someone to really dig into those tight shoulders. Hot stone and aromatherapy are some of my favorites massage add-ons, leaving your body feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.