Synergy Physical Therapy, LLC

Physical Therapy for Body & Soul · Ashland, Oregon

synergy (synergos, Greek, working together): Cooperation among diverse elements so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Watsu: Body of Water, Water Bodywork

August 9th, 2008 · No Comments (click to leave one)

Yesterday I received a Watsu session from my friend Sharon Dvora.  Wow! 

Watsu (from “water shiatsu”) is type of bodywork done in the water.  (Find out more about Watsu here.)  

You float in warm water, while being continuously cradled, rocked and stretched by the Watsu practitioner.  Stillness alternates with flow, coiling and uncoiling with the gentle rhythms of the water.  The body is weightless, yet always supported.  The physical body and the energy body are moving together, sensing, integrating.

Again and again during the session, I found myself thinking, “Everyone in the world should experience Watsu!” 

In a Watsu session the body moves, senses and feels in ways impossible on land.  The nervous system – and therefore the entire body, mind and emotions – experiences itself and its environment completely anew.

The sensation truly is like nothing else.  You might think, “Well, I could just have that experience in my bathtub or out swimming somewhere.”  But no. 

Floating in a body of water is beautiful in its own right.  But add the deep presence of a practitioner and the organic Watsu movements, and nervous system and spirit receive a profound nourishment they have never had before.

Watsu offers the body and the mind these benefits:

  • The nourishment of profound restfulness.  The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are rebalanced.  Research continues to show that the relaxation response brings healing to multiple body systems.
  • The nourishment of change.  The nervous system craves variety.  Interposing new movement patterns into habitual ones enlivens and feeds the nervous system, bringing about musculoskeletal change and healing.  Every joint has many, many proprioceptors, specialized nerve cells that give the body information about movement.  Proprioceptors love to feel new movements.
  • The nourishment of freedom.  Therapeutic unloading of the head, spine, pelvis, knees, ankles and feet from the forces of gravity, combined with the gentle movements of Watsu, increases circulation, relaxes tissues and gently realigns the body and the mind.  Unloading is particularly beneficial for the health of the discs in the spine and for posture.
  • Self-healing via the intelligent body.  Watsu, like a Feldenkrais lesson in water, awakens the nervous system to it’s own optimal self-corrective activity or dynamic homeostasis.
  • Nourishment for the connective tissue.  The connective tissue system, which holds the entire body together, giving it its shape through tendons, ligaments, discs, fascia and cell membranes, is made up largely of water.  Stiffness, injury and dysfunction are signs the fluid matrix of the connective tissue has congealed.  Watsu helps the body to remember its natural, fluidic state.

    So if you want peaceful healing, if you want profound relaxation, if you want to enliven all 75 trillion cells of your body, if you want to travel energetically within your own body, if you want to give your nervous system one of the biggest gifts possible, try Watsu.

    Watsu, like Nia, is like chocolate — you have to taste it to know if you like it.

    Sharon Dvora, LMT, Certified Watsu Practitioner, can be reached at 541-482-6396.


    Rachael R. Resch is a physical therapist in private practice, owner of Synergy Physical Therapy in Ashland, and a Black Belt instructor in The Nia Technique.  She can be reached at 541/482-8333.



    → No Comments (click to leave one)Tags: Fibromyalgia Wellness · The Sensation of Living in a Body

    Safe Body Mechanics 3: Dinosaur Tail, Hummingbird Tail, Tiger Tail

    July 26th, 2008 · 3 Comments

    In my last post, we looked at how we can use body awareness and imagery when we are sitting to activate the body’s natural ability and desire for healthy, dynamic alignment.  I described how the body functions best when we allow the spine to lengthen and move upward out of the flowerpot of the pelvis, the head like a flower reaching toward the sun.

    Now, we’ll expand on that practice so that you can take that same sensation and literally move it into the rest of your life.

    Here’s secret:  Remember your animal tail. 

    The sensation of your animal tail will help you: 

    • Keep your base strong and grounded  
    • Dynamically sustain your pelvis in a neutral position
    • Dynamically sustain your lumbar spine in a neutral position
    • Strengthen your body center physically and energetically
    • Provide support for your spine from behind and underneath
    • Allow your spine to grow long and strong

    What if somehow, your itty-bitty little human tail, in its desire to remember its ancestral magnificence, in its desire to express your shimmering uniqueness, in its desire to bless and be blessed, grows long, and touches the Earth?

    Maybe it’s a dinosaur tail.  Maybe it’s a hummingbird tail.  Or a tiger tail.  Maybe it’s a never-before-seen tail – made of colorful furs, feathers or scales; aromatic grasses, winds and rains; or made of sultry growls, songs or roars.

    What if you are in conscious relationship with your tail?  What if you sense your tail, dragging on the ground behind you, accompanying you wherever you go?  What if you sustain this awareness working in the kitchen and walking down the street?  What if you feel your tail leisurely wrapped around you when you sit on the couch?

    Feel your tail’s wild friendliness connecting you to the Earth, to your animal nature, and to your body’s natural way of moving – which are actually all the same thing.

    What if, as you move through your life — stooping to pick up shoes, getting on your bike or in your car, weeding the garden, tucking in the kids, brushing your teeth, feeding the cat, cleaning the tub, loading the car, emptying the garbage, what if when you dance, stretch, run, do yoga and do all the things you do in your body — what if as you do all these things, you sense both your animal body and your plant body? 

    What if you sense the flower of your spine growing up out of the flowerpot of your pelvis and your tail connecting you to the Earth at the same time?  What if you sustain this sensation?  Our bodies are made of plants and animals, flowers, roots and flesh.  Even if you’re a vegan, you yourself are an animal.

    The plant body, like a tree or flower, loves the vertical axis.  It helps us ground and ascend, root and flower, to simultaneously move energy dynamically along the spine and throughout the entire body. 

    The animal body is great at helping us to move out into the world in the horizontal plane, so that we can move forward and back, side to side and all around, playing, running, walking, skipping and snoozing over the surface of the planet.

    Together, the vertical axis and the horizontal plane create the dynamic experience of living in a three-dimensional body.  Energetically, the above and below and the inner and the outer are in continual motion through our systems.  The boat-like ballast of the pelvis provides a dynamic center for energy moving though the body in all directions: up, down, horizontally, and radially. 

    The practice of tail, flowerpot and flower are very effective in activating the neuromuscular pathways we need for good alignment in motion, in this case, a neutral curve of the lumbar spine.  A healthy lumbar curve is sustained by a dynamic relationship between the weight of the pelvis and the tail, and the upward motion of the spine and head.

    This practice is also one of remembering — in body and in mind — our deep relationship every day with all beings:  animal, plant, soil, water, sun, and air.


    Rachael R. Resch is a physical therapist in private practice, owner of Synergy Physical Therapy in Ashland, and a Black Belt instructor in The Nia Technique.  She can be reached at 541/482-8333.



    → 3 CommentsTags: Osteoporosis Wellness · Safe Body Mechanics · The Sensation of Living in a Body

    Safe Body Mechanics 2: Your Spine is a Flower and Your Pelvis a Flower Pot – Maintaining Neutral Spine in Sitting

    June 3rd, 2008 · 1 Comment

    As you sit in your chair right now, place your feet on the floor as wide as possible and still feel relaxed.  Now feel your sits bones on the surface of the chair.  Wiggle around on your sits bones until you feel them balanced beneath you, holding up the bowl of your pelvis like two little old fashioned bath tub feet.  

    As you sense yourself sitting, see if you can feel a connection between the touch sensation of your feet on the floor, and your sits bones on the chair.  Your sits bones are the heels of your pelvis.

    Wide feet support your pelvis and give it freedom to find its own dynamic alignment.  When the pelvis is in alignment, it’s easier for the spine to be in alignment.

    We can use imagery to neurologically activate sensory awareness and neurologically activate the core muscles of the spine which are vital for good body mechanics.

    Now — imagine your pelvis is a flower pot and your spine is a flower stalk, which is rising up out of its earthen home, reaching up toward the sun as plants love to do.  

    When you sit, the flower pot of your pelvis provides a stable base from which your spine grows up.  When you walk, your flower pot grows a tail that wags.  (What kind of tail is it?  Tiger tail?  Hummingbird?  Dinosaur?)  And whether you are sitting or walking or dancing or washing dishes, your feet are your roots connecting you to the ground.

    Your face is a great, beautiful flower blossoming up to heaven and shining your uniqueness out into the world.

    Using imagery and sensory awareness to align the spine is great for all bodies, especially people with sacroiliac problems, disc problems, low back pain and osteoporosis.

    Dosage:  Use often and freely.  Invent your own images.  Let the sensations of your body guide you to wellness, comfort and to a deepened relationship with your body.

    If you’d like to schedule an appointment for physical therapy with me, please call 541/482-8333, ext. 2.



    → 1 CommentTags: Osteoporosis Wellness · Safe Body Mechanics · The Sensation of Living in a Body

    Safe Body Mechanics 1: Why

    May 20th, 2008 · 2 Comments

    The body is elegant in its function and design. In anatomy function follows form. So, we can look at the structure of the body and it will tell us how the body functions best.

    When we look at the spine from the side, we see several curves which alternate forward and back from head to tail.

    The curves of the spine are: the cervical curve, or neck, which curves forward; the thoracic curve, or upper back, which curves back; the lumbar curve, or the low back, which curves forward; and the curve of the sacrum and coccyx, or tail bone.

    The curves of the spine are an ingenious part of the body’s design. They distribute the force of gravity, body weight and body movement extremely efficiently. In fact, if we didn’t have our spinal curves, we would have to be much smaller and shorter, because a spine without curves would not be able to hold up nearly as much body weight.
    (Illustration by Shoshanah Dubiner ©2008)

    Therefore, the body functions best when we maintain the natural alignment of all the curves of the spine. The natural alignment of the curves of the spine is called “neutral spine.” This is the position where there’s the least stress on the bones, discs, nerves, ligaments, muscles and tendons of the back.

    It’s important to minimize excessive stress in the spine, especially for anyone who has back problems or osteoporosis.

    By learning to maintain neutral spine in all our daily activities, we can significantly lower our risk of injury to the spine as well as decrease pain, because we are moving in accord with our body’s design.

    In the coming weeks, I will discuss several techniques of safe body mechanics that apply to your life.

    My physical therapy practice is built through referrals. If I’ve been able to help you, please tell others. Thank you!

    → 2 CommentsTags: Osteoporosis Wellness · Safe Body Mechanics

    Pleasure and Pain

    March 12th, 2008 · 4 Comments

    Life is busy.  If I have a body pain or problem, I don’t always want to feel it.  I want it to go away so I can get on with my life.  But pleasure or pain, sensation is the voice of the body, guiding me with its innate wisdom that has evolved over billions of years.  And since I need my body to live my life, I try to listen.  

    Pleasure is one way my body says, “Yes.”  Pain is one way my body can say, “No.”  As one of my clients says. “The body is the score keeper.”  Some days the score may seem to be Pain-10, Pleasure-2.  

    I want to love both the pleasure and the pain.  Pleasure is easy to love.  But love pain?  Yes — I want to love pain like I would love a hurt child, hold her in my arms and ask her what the matter is and help her to feel better.       

    When I put attention on pain, it will guide me to healing.  Celebrating even the smallest decrease in pain encourages my body to heal.  When I put attention on pleasure, it allows me grow my awareness beyond my troubles.  

    It’s good to remember we can still sense pleasure even when we are in pain:  the aroma of my tea; the length of my exhale; the angle of the light; the jingly sound of my keys;  the touch of my hand to my cheek; the places in my body that are not hurting.

    → 4 CommentsTags: Fibromyalgia Wellness · The Sensation of Living in a Body