Amanda's Story

 

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. 

 

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As a queer person with experience working on folx 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. Queer & Trans folx, check out my sliding scale rate!