Bodywork is not a luxury.
Like many folks, I know about pain. In middle school I began suffering from lower back issues. Many doctors doubted my experience, telling me I was too young to have such pain and blamed it on my backpack. By age 16 my back started "going out" for a week or two at a time and I was actively engaging in pain management from PT to prescriptions. Eventually, MRIs showed three herniated discs in my lumbar spine and my doctor named it "deteriorating disc disease". For a few years, I found relief from both western and alternative medicine, particularly acupuncture, but nothing completely relieved my feelings of discomfort and frustration with my body. By the time my busy college life began, I found myself stressed out, flat on my back, and at the end of my tolerance. In 2008, at 21 years old, I opted for a lumbar fusion at three levels. Check out my metal.
After a (luckily) successful surgery and a lengthy recovery, I continued my undergraduate and graduate studies in theater, acting and directing plays in NYC & Philadelphia. My interest in bodywork grew during my graduate studies at Brooklyn College. I spent two years as a student of Alexander Technique - a somatic relaxation method for performers. This technique brings conscious awareness to unconscious habits of tension in order to help increase the feeling of freedom and ease in the body. Alexander Technique helped me realize that I had the power to take the pressure off of my spine using powers inherent to my humanness: the mind-body connection. This was a moment of profound awakening and empowerment to realize that my healing was in my own hands. I have moved from the feeling of helpless dependence on a system in which I was an anomaly, to a deep connection to and personal sovereignty over my body. This brings me back to my first thought:
Bodywork is not a luxury.
Most of us in the West see massage as a treat - something we receive as a gift, or splurge on once in a while when we want to be pampered. For some of us, it ends up being a last resort we turn to when physical/emotional pain feels unmanageable. Because of the nature of Capitalism, bodywork is a monetary expense that can feel unaffordable, even expendable. If we consider that Capitalism is also a system which forces most of us to function beyond what is sustainable physically/mentally/emotionally for long periods of time, the perspective shifts. Working with our bodies is the thing we cannot afford to neglect.
I use the word 'bodywork' more often than 'massage' because it evokes necessity rather than luxury. It implies that there is work to be done. The work of connecting with yourself through exploring the relationships between your body/mind/heart is a two-way street. I open up the space and offer the power of human-to-human touch to let you do your own body work. This is the start of meeting yourself, making amends, and inhabiting the healing power that is already inside of you.
Seven years after my spine surgery, I began to wonder about the future of my body: will my pain come back? Is there anything I can do to prevent that? Is yoga helping or hurting? My search lead me to study functional yoga (YogAlign), biomechanics and movement ecology (Nutritious Movement). With a foundation in movement science and a few years working with clients under my belt, I went on to pursue my License in Massage Therapy from the Philadelphia School of Massage & Bodywork. Merging my background in somatic movement with manual therapy allows me to offer a unique, integrative approach to bodywork.
For the last year or so, I've been honing my skills in a Japanese style of bodywork, called Zen Shiatsu. In an ongoing mentorship with People's Shiatsu in West Philadelphia, I am learning from a tradition that originated with legendary Shiatsu practitioner Shizuto Masunaga. Learn more about this work in my Offerings!
I've pursued a lot of education in my life: theatre, movement, massage. As I put my studies into practice, my roots in theatre have emerged as a thread tying it all together. Healing is, after all, an art. My role, as the artist, is to hold a space for people to experience their body in a new way. To meet them where they are and to help them meet themselves in return.
As a queer person with experience working on folks outside of the gender binary (including post-op and various physical transitional points along the way), my practice is an open, safe space for all bodies.
From Christine Doidge, Actor in Philadelphia:
Amanda's massages are transformative. It's a spiritual experience. It's hard to put into words, but bodywork for me is almost always a dramatic shift. I have left her massage table literally moving through the world differently. Color was more vibrant, I was hearing sound in a way I never had before, and I felt incredibly grounded. I've cried and busted out laughing as my body released locked up emotions. Discovering my body's patterns of holding and then working to release them is our ongoing work together and is now part of my process as an actor.
From Jane Broder, Public Defender in Philadelphia:
Bodywork with Amanda is life-changing and magical. I met Amanda because I signed up for a 10 minute chair massage. Working on me for just those few minutes, Amanda felt and understood my pain, not just the physical, but the emotional as well, and suggested I try Zen Shiatsu. Amanda has a kind and gentle yet amazingly powerful touch that is unlike anything I have ever experienced. When Amanda is working with me, I am able to effortlessly take a breath that is deep and healing in a way that I didn't know was even possible. Through our bodywork, Amanda is helping me to undo and release what doesn't feel good in my body - both physically and mentally. This has impacted me in a way that exercising and yoga and meditation haven't ever done and I am so grateful to now know this experience. Amanda is extremely knowledgable and talented. You can't put a price tag on the experience of doing bodywork with her.
From Stephen Kaliski, Theatre Director in New York City:
I've suffered from chronic neck and headache pain for years, and I've had trouble developing a sustainable physical approach to managing symptoms. Amanda's work, however, is incredibly user-friendly and intuitive, and after a couple of sessions, I feel totally empowered to realign my body for greater strength and reduced pain.
From Maureen Madden, Retired Nurse in Philadelphia:
How fortunate for me that I happened upon Amanda's website while researching skeletal and postural body work to help with my worsening scoliosis. From the very first correspondence from her, I was impressed - her thoughtful, thorough, enthusiastic and prompt reply. Amanda is so so knowledgable about anatomy and physiology, how to move with ease, without too much effort, when certain exercises are indicated, what positions might help when pain and spasms present, what specific body mechanics I used that were less efficient...I could go on and on! I value how much Amanda taught me, how she cared to help me remain optimistic and committed to the positive approach, and how much better I feel physically.
From Anonymous, M.D. in Philadelphia:
Working with Amanda this last year has been a way for me to stay consistently active. I have secondary progressive MS, so Amanda and I work together to find movements that make sense for my body, that build stronger neurological connections, and that help keep my muscles active. I enjoy our time together and find Amanda's teachings to be clear and thoughtful.
From James Gardiner, Tech Developer in Seattle:
After our time together I have altered many of the physical fundamentals that I took for granted such as the way I breathe, sit, stand, walk, and stretch. I am not exaggerating when I say that working with Amanda has been a life-changing experience.
Besides all the valuable knowledge that Amanda passed on to me, I was impressed with her ability to teach. She has a kind and caring spirit, and went out of her way to make sure I was comfortable throughout our time together. She also has a very open style of communication, encouraging questions and feedback. While teaching the exercises, she was attentive and observant to my specific needs and limitations, making the necessary customizations when needed.
After our session I could immediately feel a difference, especially in the way my upper back felt. By altering the fundamentals of my posture I felt certain tensions I had for years drastically diminish. I cannot recommend her enough.