BENEFITS OF BODYWORK THERAPY
“This is the true purpose of Yoga: the deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.” – Bhagavad Gita
SUMMARY OF BENEFITS
At Integrity Yoga, the primary benefit you can expect to receive is the resolution of neurophysiological tension.
How much tension we can expect to resolve is not given, because it is dependent upon you.
Importantly, we (you and Jackson) will work together to help treat the tension within your body, not specific medical conditions. Any benefit you may experience to a specific medical condition will be the result of your body’s own brilliant and beautiful biological capacity to heal, once freed from any neurophysiological constraints (i.e. tension).
The most benefit will be gained within clients who experience pain with movement, usually coupled with secondary hyperalgesia (increased perception of pain beyond an area of injury) – in other words, those with pain of any duration, no recent tissue disruption, usually confined to a neuroanatomically plausible region, and associated with moving too much or not enough.
TENSION: A Neurophysiological Phenomenon
In a human body, tension is a disorder of stress within a body. It is a sign of maladaptation, a failure of the nervous system to adjust adequately or appropriately to its internal or external environment.
Tension indicates nerves are not healthy. Probably, there’s a disorder in action potentials (i.e. the change in electrical potential associated with the passage of an impulse along the membrane of a nerve cell.) This leads to nerves not receiving adequate blood supply, due to mechanical tension within regional vessels either feeding the nerves or draining the nerves. Consequently, this activates nociception (i.e. danger signals) within the walls of the nerves and the walls of vessels inside it, which may contribute to the brain’s perception of pain.
Tension occurs when neurophysiological strain remains long after fulfilling a protective function. This abnormal motor output from the brain causes basic movements like sitting, standing, and walking to be more effortful and uncomfortable than necessary, and can contribute toward feelings of pain, anxiety, fatigue, and lack of vitality.
YOGA: A Neurobiological Enlightenment
In private sessions, you will learn how to ‘let go’ of chronic tension, learning practical principles of neurobiology and developing your own resources for resilience.
In effect, bodywork therapist Jackson Penfield-Cyr approaches manual and movement therapy from a biopsychosocial perspective. This means we (social) help your nervous system (psycho) feel more safe within your body (bio) through manual (hands-on) and movement (hands-off) interventions.
We call this work “integration therapy” because our approach focuses on strategically aligning the sensitive, cognitive, and affective aspects of your mind (i.e. nervous system), which is responsible for sensing the tension within your body and, most importantly, relaxing to let it go.
The integration of these aspects of your mind reduces tension (i.e. pain and sorrow) and thus improves your flexibility, adaptability, and sense of integrity, so you can be the best that you’re capable of being. In fact, when this happens, you achieve a sense of enlightenment.
The integration of the mind is known as the practice of Yoga.
HOW BODYWORK WORKS
Pain is a nervous system phenomenon – it's in your brain, not your tissues.
Yes – all pain is produced by the brain. No, this doesn't mean that your pain is not real – much to the contrary – all pain is real.
In fact, any healthcare professional who tells you otherwise does not understand biology.
At Integrity Yoga, we know basic pain education is truly empowering.
HOW YOUR BODY RESOLVES TENSION
The primary mechanism in any therapeutic intervention is Descending Modulation.
Descending modulation (top-to-bottom change) represents the process wherein nociceptive (danger-sensing) regions in your brainstem are modulated by descending inputs from cognitive and affective brain regions that are assessing the overall safety of your being.
This modulation can turn the volume up or down on the ascending nociceptive signals. Turning it up is called descending facilitation and turning it down is called descending inhibition. The disruption of descending inhibition contributes to conditions of hyperalgesia (increased perception of pain).
Importantly, your brain will exploit any chance it gets to re-modulate your nervous system toward a state of health (i.e. less tension, more relaxation).
At Integrity Yoga, Jackson will work with you to meet your personal needs in a way to promote descending modulation within you, giving your nervous system the resources to feel and heal yourself.
There are several primary interventions we use to facilitate descending modulation. These include Touch, Breathing, Movement, and Education – all non-invasive methods to promote your sense of self-efficacy, because each relies on your brain’s ability to choose how to change yourself.
Touch – Treatment plans primarily involve you receiving therapeutic touch to influence your brain’s descending modulation. The only physical target is nerve and nerve physiology, not tissues. Touch enhances descending inhibition is several significant ways:
Blood Perfusion: When applying principles of neurodynamics to therapeutic touch, you can promote targeted blood perfusion within a neuroanatomically plausible region. Blood perfusion is the local fluid flow through the capillary network and extracellular spaces of living tissue, which is vital for normal tissue physiology and is responsible for the transport of oxygen, nutrients, and waste products. This relates to your nervous system because unhealthy nerves don’t receive adequate blood supply due to mechanical tension affecting regional vessels either feeding the nerves or draining the nerves. This causes activation of nociception (sense of danger) within its own walls and the walls of vessels inside it, which may contribute to the brain’s perception of pain. In sum, when nerves are well-fed and well-drained via blood vessels, they do not contribute to pain experiences.
Endogenous opioid release: Touch in a caring way creates a social grooming effect that will stimulate, via affective processing, the release of neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, serotonin, GABA, and endogenous opioids that are thousands of times stronger than morphine. Oxytocin, which is released from the hypothalamus in seemingly all pro-social contexts (e.g. hugging and holding hands), also plays an important inhibitory role.
These modulatory mechanisms also influence the spinal cord to affect ascending nociceptive signals and nociceptive muscle reflexes there.
When performed in a caring and strategic manner, touch is perhaps the most direct and efficient way for someone to influence positive health change within another.
Breathing – Treatment plans also primarily involve your engagement in breathing exercises, again (and always) to influence your brain’s descending modulation, but also, because your breath directs every single process within your body. Breathing enhances descending inhibition is one vital way:
When you learn how to breath properly, you can exert influence over your autonomic nervous system, the network of nonconscious functions of your nervous system (i.e. heart rate, respiration, digestion, pupillary response, urination, sexual arousal, etc.), and create an opportunity for your mind (i.e. nervous system) and your body (i.e. all non-neural cells) to bathe in all those feel-good endogenous opioids (aforementioned in Touch) and focus on healing yourself.
In fact, physiologically, once resolved within your nervous system, tension is released through the act of exhalation.
When performed in a gentle and deliberate manner, breathing is the most direct and efficient way for you to influence positive health change within yourself.
Movement – Treatment plans always incorporate movement as a means of sensorimotor rehabilitation and progress evaluation. Movement makes the effects of recent descending inhibition more permanent within your nervous system because:
It is through adequate and varied movement that nerves are well-fed and well-drained via blood vessels. These healthy nerves do not contribute to pain experiences.
Movement cleanses unhealthy nerves that weren’t receiving adequate blood supply due to mechanical tension.
Throughout a session, you will be invited to notice the changes within your body. This reinforces your brain’s sensorimotor perceptions of improved flexibility and mobility, giving you a sense of new options and possibilities for movement in daily life.
Additionally, it’s easy to look after your own nerves once you understand ways you may be unconsciously contributing to your pain problems.
Education – The foundation of all treatment plans is education - conscious and nonconscious - to empower your process of embodiment.
Nonconscious education – the spontaneous modulation within your nervous system via therapeutic touch, breathing, movement, environmental cues and contextual factors.
Conscious education – the intentional modulation of your nervous system via executive function, such as intentional learning and abstract reasoning.
As you know by now, we will work together using both approaches to educate your mind (i.e. nervous system) in order to support your personal health care goals.
There are three basic steps to your education process:
Foremost, Jackson will teach you the fundamental principles of neurobiological health and well-being.
Then, we will consider how these principles apply to you within the context of therapeutic bodywork.
Finally, you will explore these principles on your own within the context of your daily life.
Above all, be curious and ask questions!
This work is a guided self-exploration – and through your practice of critical thinking and critical feeling, this work gives you an opportunity to learn and to grow, to heal and to discover.
This is your opportunity to truly consider your relationship with your body, mind, and self.
HOW BODYWORK DOESN'T WORK
Healthcare providers of non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical treatments can only influence the nervous system and can only touch skin. Period.
This seems obvious, but too many healthcare providers believe they can treat tissues beneath the skin without regard for the nervous system (or that they can treat meridian lines, without regard for physiology), basing their treatments on logical fallacies and specialized techniques from various therapeutic traditions. This is problematic, for many reasons.
Perhaps most importantly, this is problematic because it’s disempowering. When people become reliant on a therapist to ‘fix’ or ‘cure’ their issues, it represents a dependency that doesn’t serve anyone (except the finances of the healthcare provider). Instead, the focus ought to be on developing a person’s sense of personal integrity by teaching them principles of healthcare and practices of self-care.
For starters, here’s a simple therapeutic truth: Any lasting change that occurs within a person’s body is the result of their brain having decided to change its own output, not because a therapist has any special, expensively obtained manual technique or skill set, or magical power in their hands. Additionally, any therapeutic treatment represents an interaction between two nervous systems (i.e. client and therapist), not an operation by one (i.e. ‘healer’ – an operative term motivated by a person's ego).
At Integrity Yoga, we feel a moral and ethical obligation to empower you. Jackson is a survivor of many ‘therapeutic’ modalities, and it is his personal mission to give you the information and experiences necessary for you to make the best decisions possible regarding your own health and well-being.
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”