Please feel free to peruse the modalities that I have selectively chosen to bring in my work. I have chosen these modalities because they are all gentle, work with the mind-body system in a holistic way, and work by offering feedback to the body and mind so that the tissues can unwind, return to alignment, and re-balance to a more functional and relaxed state of being. By working with the nervous system, and not just with the physical tissues, I can help support more permanent changes. In this way, none of these methods are forceful, none of them cause pain, and none of them have the possibility of creating new balance or mobility distortions in the system. In other words, they’re highly effective and they’re safe.
Mindfulness and Somatic Relaxation Techniques
Bringing simple relaxation techniques into the session and your everyday practice can only help to reduce tension mentally, emotionally, and physically.
With somatic relaxation, I can guide you into a practice of learning to feel and recognize tension and limitation in your body before it becomes pain, so you can notice what patterns are building tension and learn to consciously relax or alter them before they become a bigger issue.
Fascia Release and Residual Strain Therapy
Fascia is a connective tissue (it connects other tissues–organs, muscles, bones) that can be found throughout the entire body, horse or human. It is part of our structural support, posture, sense of where we are in space (proprioception), and allows mobility of all our working parts.
When fascia is imbalanced, it creates distortions in the neurological feedback for proprioception. This distorts the awareness we have of our bodies and movement, which can create all kinds of postural imbalances and compensation patterns.
Residual Strain Therapy involves locating those neurological distortions in the fascia and releasing the neurological or physical imbalances that cause problems in mobility and posture throughout the entire body. Because it works primarily with giving feedback to the nervous system, it is gentle work. By releasing this web of connective tissue, it affects our entire movement system. Rather than feeling better in just your arm, you and your horse will feel and move better in your entire body.
Other gentle fascia release techniques involve gently manipulating and melting the fascial tissue where there are other kinds of neurological or physical distortions in the web of connective tissue.
Unlike some types of fascial therapy, the fascia release and myofascial techniques that I use do not hurt, but are highly effective!
Somatic Movement and Posture Rebalancing
Somatic movement teaches you to become aware of the tension in your body while doing simple, relaxing movement exercises. These exercises involve slowly contracting a muscle or muscle group and then consciously relaxing them, often using eccentric contraction to make the work even more effective.
When our muscles get tight and our posture becomes unbalanced, our resting rate of muscle tone becomes higher–our muscle fibers never fully release, and some are still always contracted. This work resets the resting muscle tone closer to neutral, which offers more mobility and flexibility, more strength (due to increased kinetic energy and decreased muscle fatigue), and more postural balance.
Postural tension and imbalances can cause a cycle of increased stress, pain, restricted breathing, difficulty with balancing, reduction in performance, and difficulty moving freely. Once you and your horse learn to release the restrictions that prevent you from moving with ease, you can–well, move easily.
Ortho-bionomy and Positional Release Techniques
Ortho-bionomy and other positional release techniques allow me to gently offer feedback to your body’s balance and proprioception systems through positioning you in the way that is most comfortable for your body and gently compressing joints so that muscles can quickly release and allow the musculoskeletal system to return to alignment. It’s a powerful technique that helps a lot with more serious tension, lack of mobility, diffuse or sharp pain, and joint pain or lack of joint mobility.
Energy Work and Gentle Integrative Techniques
Energy work, lymphatic techniques, fluid flow, and different biorhythms are all something I take into account in my work. If things aren’t flowing, things likely aren’t moving–it’s like a kink in the hose. I use gentle, active listening and re-balancing techniques to get you and your horse flowin’ again so that you can breathe deeply and move forward without that feeling of stuckness you’ve had for a little too long. None of these techniques force a change–rather, they offer the body systems feedback and then support the body to make the change it needs. By using this approach, it’s impossible to create any imbalances or disturbances in the energetic and fluid systems.
This involves me teaching you how to move better and move more in a lot of small, easy, different ways throughout the day. The more you vary your movement (both in and out of therapeutic exercises or exercise), the more you engage your brain and nervous system, and the less you practice contracting and holding certain tissues. This allows you to move and increase mobility, balance, strength, and the ability to flow easily in alignment without creating more contraction, stiffness, or soreness.
Specific Therapeutic Movements
I will guide you through (and then give you homework notes for) specific movement exercises that will help you to increase mobility in areas that you tend to have “stuckness”, and then help you to find awareness of your alignment in these different movements and positions so that the more you move, the better you move. In a way, your movement becomes your medicine, your therapy, and your way to stay out of pain and improve performance and mental relaxation.
Rather than using intense stretches, we work toward creating mobility in your joints and body by working toward the point of resistance, coming back, and then moving toward it again. In this way we can target specific areas of tension and increase mobility in a functional way without causing a stretch reflex–a re-tensioning of tissues that can occur if we stretch too intensely, too quickly, or for too long.
Bringing this into Your Other Exercises:
As a bodyworker who has a passion for postural alignment and functional mobility, I have found that certain exercises, even therapeutic ones, actually lead to a “false posture” that looks more correct but is actually less in natural alignment of your body and creates tension over time. Here, I teach you to move in ways that can be applied to any movement or exercise routine so that none of your movement creates more tension or pain.
Encouraging Dynamic Movement with Horses
This is a part of the practice that I am not yet ready to teach. However, I will still talk to you about ways you can shift your perspective and how you move to improve the way you and your horse move and ride together, and then give you resources where you can find more information on developing these techniques*.
For horses, I’ve been talking to horses and riders about varying your training routine, as well as your and your horse’s movement more while you do in-hand and under-saddle work. It’s not just how much you move–it’s also how you move. Move well, move often, but change in many little increments, in a flowing rhythm.
Slightly altering your and your horse’s pace, posture, direction, and how you move different regions of your body all helps you not only feel better, but move better. The more ways we can move without creating tension, the more ways we can move freely. This really tends to open everyone up, and I’m excited to bring more of this practice in to my work in the future.
*: Manolo Mendez, Peggy Cummings, and Jillian Kreinbring are the primary sources that I use for the horse portion of this work. Katy Bowman’s work and the dynamic movements that I teach you can still support the Rider exercises. At the same time, feel free to take the philosophies and concepts and integrate them with any training or riding method that works for you.