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What on Earth is Tui Na, Anyway?

In short, Tui Na is a healing bodywork technique, grounded in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qigong, that effectively balances the body through a series of soft tissue massage applications, joint range of motion, meridian massage and acupressure. Still not clear? Let’s break that down a bit for better understanding and be sure to take a look at the brief video at the end of this article showing various components of my Tui Na bodywork sessions.

Soft Tissue Massage Applications

As you lie upon the massage table, you feel tension leave your low back, your neck and shoulders, your hands, your feet. Slowly, your mind may even begin to slow down, as the weight of the world and the weight of your physicality gently sink into the table. In this time, you begin to let the earth hold you again as your body relaxes to the gentle brushing, grasping, sweeping, and percussive techniques that I apply to your arms, legs, and torso.

According to Chinese Medicine, each of us is protected from external pathogens by an energy referred to as Defensive (or Wei) Qi. When we are healthy and balanced, this defensive qi protects us from external pathogens (examples: wind, cold, damp, dry, and heat). When the Wei Qi is weakened or damaged we are susceptible to illness. Additionally, demands of daily life may cause constricting of Wei Qi, rendering it unable to effectively oversee temperature and moisture balance, or to allow beneficial energy in for nourishment. In a Tui Na session, I seek first to soften the Wei Qi, allowing your whole system to relax and be better nurtured by healthy qi, acquired from food you eat and air you breath (Nutritive Qi).

Joint Range of Motion with Stretching

Deeper relaxation unfolds, allowing your tendons, ligaments, and muscles to unwind and re-align in their own natural balance. Breathing becomes easier and your heart rate is at ease. Your whole system is opening to a wonderful feeling of balance and relaxation.

After the surface tension of your body relaxes, the rest of your system is receptive to deeper change. Ultimately, our bodies want to be in a state of balance, health, and ease. For many of us, our lifestyles cause us to fall out of balance. Responses to such imbalances include excessive tension to counterbalance stress, or greater susceptibility to internal and external pathogens or illness. During Tui Na sessions, I work with meridians and vessels, qi and blood, yin and yang, bones and tissue to help your system find its way back into balance. To do this, I gently stretch your muscles and move your joints in the 8 directions (up and down, front to back, left to right, at the center and to the periphery) associated with Tai Qi and Qigong. These movements are performed as gently or as vigorously as appropriate for each individual.* The muscles and bones breathe more fully with this work.

Meridian Massage with Acupressure

As your body relaxes, you grow subtly aware of a revitalized energy flowing smoothly and freely. This energy moved freely when you were a child. Your system releases and unwinds injuries and traumas that are locked in your body, mind, and spirit. Perhaps there is tingling in your arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, or toes. This is the qi flowing where it has been stagnant. The blood and body fluids moisten your muscles and joints. The qi is breathing fresh life into your system. Ahhhhh...

Throughout the session, I pause at different points and places of your body to focus on particular areas that seem to hold more tension. I take extra care to massage the meridian pathways and tendio-muscular channels. I pause to hold sets of points to encourage a healthy and balanced flow of qi throughout your meridian system, with special attention on those meridians that exhibit excess or deficiency. This work may be as subtle as the gentle touch of acupressure points or as intense as deep tissue and myo-fascial release; again, this level of depth is guided by the needs and preferences of each individual.*

Your whole system is connected. Tension does not exist in one part of the body without affecting the whole system. In my Tui Na sessions, I always address the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. I seek to understand where the root of an imbalance lies and place special attention with that, always returning to the whole system to ensure an overall sense of integration. This is incredibly healing for individuals on many levels. Our busy, often harried lives cause us to compartmentalize life experiences. We may sense this yet not be able to name the feeling. Perhaps we feel frantic, disconnected from loved ones or the activities we really care about. As we reconnect our whole system, ease is restored. Greater joy and fulfillment is experienced. Tui Na, when coupled with a commitment to overall self-care, is a powerful tool to restore healthy ease and balance to your sytem! This work is beneficial for a broad range of physical and emotional concerns, including but not limited to healthy overall circulation, injury recovery, vibrant immune system, improved sleep and healthy dreaming, healing emotional traumas and grief.

*Over the course of my career, I have worked with clients addressing joint replacement complications, cancer treatment and recovery, pregnancy, pre- and post-sports events, chronic upper back & shoulder tension, low back and hip pain, and much more.

May peace and health be upon you!