How are you doing, my friends?

How are you doing at this point in the pandemic/recession? I’m enjoying more downtime. Planted a garden, making nourishing soups for cold days, connecting with a few friends, dancing on Zoom, doing the MELT Method to help my body recover from a low-back injury in October.

I have a hunch that a few people are thriving, most people are muddling through the “new normal” that may never really feel normal, and quite a few have been hit hard with losses of loved ones, jobs, homes, security. Bless.

Where are you?

I’m so grateful that during this pandemic, taking good precautions, I am able to work in my office one day a week (Tuesdays), offering private sessions.

I didn’t work for six months except for some long distance healing sessions and consultations over the phone or Zoom. I’ve been working now since mid-September, so nearly 5 months.

I work one day a week to minimize spreading COVID. I figure that if a client or I comes down with it, we’ll know within a week, and I at least won’t have exposed other clients before I figure that out.

It’s not perfect but it (and pre-screening, masks, my face shield, and air purifier) make it safer.

I taught a Self-Help for Jaw Pain course over Zoom last fall that I spent a lot of time developing, and I may offer it again when demand is sufficient. I had developed a busy clientele for TMJ Relief sessions, but COVID has made it unsafe to work in people’s mouths.

I’m considering offering private TMJ Relief sessions over Zoom, teaching people to do their own intra-oral work. It’s not hard. You just have to know where to touch. I’m not sure what the demand is for that, however.

The subtleties of doing craniosacral therapy require practice. The ability to sense subtle motions and patterns in a receiver’s body is developed through training and maintained and augmented through practice.

It took a few weeks to get my palpation skills back to my previous level. I appreciate everyone who has come in over the past few months for allowing me to deepen my abilities.

The swirly state when your body actively heals itself.

Since I’ve been working on my essay exam for getting certified by the Upledger Institute in craniosacral therapy techniques, I’ve developed more sensitivity and awareness of energetic and physiological processes.

I’ve come to appreciate even more the biodynamic branch of craniosacral therapy and sometimes integrate it into sessions, especially for repeat clients. I seem to be one of those people who learns how to “go by the book” and then experiments with integrating whatever is in my toolbox that my intuition tells me will help a receiver release something that no longer serves.

I’ve been receiving biodynamic sessions regularly from my officemate Christian Current. It’s whetting my desire for more training in the biodynamics field. I also had a great Upledger-style session from ou officemate Liz Baker that helped me release some dural tube restrictions after I injured my low back in October.

I recommend that people new to cranial work receive 3 sessions, because with bodywork this subtle, your innate healing processes strengthen with familiarity with the work and with me as a practitioner.

I offer a package of 3 sessions for $250 and a package of 6 for $500. This works out to $83.33 each. A single craniosacral session is $100, so you still save $20 from my regular session price.

If you’re feeling stale or stressed, craniosacral therapy can help restore your resilience. I’m interested in working with people who have had COVID and are suffering aftereffects.

Anyway, this is a little note to you to share what’s up with my practice and stay in touch. I’m available on Tuesdays. I have openings at noon, 1:30, 3, 4:30, and 6 pm. You can check my online scheduling page for availability. I would love to see you. I would love to hear from you.

Discount on craniosacral therapy sessions and packages

I’ve dropped my price for 75-minute craniosacral therapy sessions, from $120 to $100.

I’m also offering two packages: three CST sessions for $250, or six for $500.

I’m doing this to make it more affordable. Because I love practicing this modality so much, I decided to work toward getting certified, and giving more sessions are in order.

craniosacral therapy

Why three sessions?

I recommend getting three sessions for people who are trying craniosacral therapy for the first time. It’s very different from other methods of bodywork in several ways.

Craniosacral therapy is subtle. The touch is gentle. I’m connecting with the craniosacral rhythm produced by the pulsing of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord — yet palpable all over the body, with training.

Qualities of this rhythm indicate areas of restriction in tissues, fluids, energy flow. The restriction comes from old injuries, strains, accidents, habits, traumas. We all have restrictions, from birth or even earlier.

Each restriction once served a positive purpose, to contain an injured or dysfunctional area to keep it from spreading and disrupting your health even more.

The restriction may be nearly imperceptible because you’ve become used to it.

CST helps your system relax enough to release these restrictions and find a more natural flow, integrating the previously-restricted area back into the larger body-mind system.

In a way, you become more yourself — a healthier, more integrated, functional self.

Most people can feel at least some of these releases, as if something is dissolving or unwinding.

Yes, dramatic things can happen in a CST session, but mostly the changes are fairly subtle.

The work is also incremental. As your body gains more experience releasing restrictions, it gets better at it.

With repeat sessions, you can relax and release more deeply.

Why six sessions?

Long-term recipients (I’m one) can attest that CST works incrementally to shift your body-mind system toward a deeper experience of wellness. Three years of monthly sessions helped me get calmer, more centered, and have more clarity about living my life.

I still get regular sessions.

To really get the most out of craniosacral therapy for your money and your health, I recommend starting with a six-session package. Come in weekly for four weeks, and then twice the following month to jump-start the relax-and-release process.

Then, if you like what craniosacral therapy does for you, get another six-session package and come in monthly for six months (or as needed).

You can keep coming regularly as long as you’re benefitting to take advantage of this low package rate.

If this appeals to you, you can book online here. I would love to see you in my office.

Treating TMJ issues: asymmetries in the rest of the body

Jaw pain is rarely entirely in the jaw!

If you were building a tower, and one of the floors wasn’t level, it would affect the floors above it — unless you somehow compensated.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is kind of like that, only it’s because it settled unevenly on the ground beneath it. As they built it over the years, it would sink, stabilize, sink more…

The structure of the body is like that too — even when standing on level solid ground.

Because the jaw is near the top of the skeleton, imbalances below can affect the alignment and functionality of the temporomandibular joints (TMJs).

The primary cause of most jaw pain is asymmetrical hypertonicity. Thanks, TMJ Mastery teacher John Corry! That means that some of the muscles that affect the jaw are tighter than others.

I include a basic structural evaluation in my free TMJ consultations. It’s pretty cursory. I’m just looking for asymmetries. Here’s how I do it.

The patient stands with their shoes off.

I feel the space under theIr arches and check whether their feet (or one foot) are pronating or supinating.

Checking the points on the tops of the hips to see if they’re level comes next.

I ask about scoliosis if it’s not already apparent. Same with pelvic floor issues.

Then I check their shoulders to see if they’re level.

I look at the patient from each side to see if they have a pelvic tilt toward the front or the back and view their spinal curves.

When they are lying on my massage table, I can check for a leg length discrepancy with their legs flat, and then with feet flat/knees bent. I can also see whether their feet point up symmetrically.

I place the pads of my fingers over their TMJs right in front of their ears and ask them to open and close repeatedly.

Usually one side moves first.

Often one side feels closer to the ear than the other.

Sometimes one side sticks out more than the other.

Try it yourself. What do you notice?

None of this is super precise. I’m just getting a basic read on asymmetries in the structure of the patient that may affect the jaw.

Have you noticed that you have a dominant side? A side that feels stronger than the other?

Have you ever had a foot, ankle, leg, or hip injury? Can you still tell the difference between the injured side and the uninjured one?

Does your physical activity work your body evenly, left and right sides, front and back, upper, lower?

Do you have a full range of movement in your joints?

How’s your posture?

How about your sleep posture?

It’s not my main business to start correcting these asymmetries (except in the upper body/jaw when I can). Becoming more symmetrical can take a while, years in some cases, so I consider it a long-term project for people with jaw pain to find relief, as well as more ease and functionality in their bodies.

Symmetry is also an ideal, like perfection. Most of us are doing the best we can. There’s probably always going to be some asymmetry in the body, but we can definitely address the most dysfunctional areas.

The functional movement screen is a set of 7 movements you do with a trainer, who scores you and can prescribe workouts that strengthen your weaknesses. FMS was developed to identify athletes who were prone to injury before they got injured. It can work for ordinary people too.

Here’s a link to view the screening movements. Find a trainer on your own.

Practices of non-linear movement can help if done regularly over a long period. These movements work both sides of the body. They increase flexibility and balance and fluidity. And they are fun! Examples:

  • yoga, especially if it’s alignment-oriented like Iyengar and Anusara
  • qi gong
  • tai chi
  • Gyrokinesis
  • martial arts
  • dance, especially free-form dancing like ecstatic dance

The type of bodywork that addresses asymmetries is called structural bodywork. There are two main schools of training: Rolfing Structural Integration and Anatomy Trains Structural Integration. Neuromuscular therapy also assesses posture and gait pattern and can address imbalances.

There are a lot of tools that you can use on yourself to improve posture and sleep posture, release muscle tension, help remove strain from the neck and the sacrum. Some of them are included in this post on self-care tools.

Speaking about my work…

Today I have the good fortune to be interviewed on Mind Body Radio at 10-10:15 am CST. You can listen on the Internet live or find my interview afterwards. Here’s the link: https://mindbodyradio.com.

Sunday I hosted a brown bag education session on craniosacral therapy for 10 of my fellow members of the Austin Wellness Collaborative. I spoke for about an hour about how I got into CST, its evolution and branches, and answered questions. Then I did a demo, talking about what I was doing and sensing, on a fellow AWC member, who also commented on what she was noticing. Success!

Coming up, on January 29 I will be talking to the staff at the office of Dr. Elizabeth Raine, DDS (my own dentist) about what I do and asking questions about what they notice and how they work with TMJ issues. This will be my first talk with a dental office.

It feels good to be doing more educational work, continuing to get the word out that skilled manual therapy can relieve TMJ symptoms.

If you know of an opportunity to educate, please keep me in mind.

Coming attraction: yoga for the jaw

I’m announcing now that I intend to create a “yoga for the jaw” class by the end of this year. There’s a sweet overlap of demographics: women of child-bearing age are nine times more likely than men to have severe or chronic TMJ issues, and this group also tends to take yoga (and Pilates) classes.

My plan is in the seedling stage right now. I have so much to learn and discern.

It feels good to get back into teaching yoga. I completed teacher training 10 years ago and taught restorative classes for a while. I’ve been practicing since 1982 and have been especially devoted since 1996 after a car wreck. I’m drawn to alignment-oriented classes and teachers, both for my own issues and as a bodyworker.

To this end, I will be taking a workshop from a highly-regarded yoga teacher in Dallas in late September. Embodied Dharma: Yoga, Connective Tissue, and Inter-Being is being offered at the Dallas Yoga Center by Tias Little, who created and teaches Prajna yoga.

Learning from Tias has been on my bucket list for a decade, and I’m finally doing it! Prajna means wisdom in Sanskrit, and Prajna yoga is more comprehensive than most yoga, including more of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga into practice, as well as anatomy and somatic awareness. Tias includes aspects of Buddhism and craniosacral therapy — interests we share — into his teachings.

I am especially looking forward to learning more about yoga for the cranium, jaw, and ear from him.

Thank you, Anna Gieselman, a Prajna teacher at Castle Hill Fitness in Austin, for letting me know about this workshop!

If you’re interested, Anna is teaching a free Prajna yoga class on Labor Day, Free Day of Yoga, at Castle Hill’s downtown location. You can reserve your spot here.