Many people in the world of well-being have come across the term ‘bodywork’ but what is it exactly?
Bodywork is essentially a large umbrella that is the roof of a plethora of styles of working with, you guessed it, the body!
It’s probably easier to talk about what massage is first, as it is something that is familiar with most people. However, the development of the word bodywork probably derives from the connotations of the word massage and the massive stigma towards sex workers.
Not let me clear the air before I go any further! I have MASSES of respect for sex-workers. I believe they are part of the oldest form of self-employment that has lasted through the ages. Thanks to a number of reasons, anything related to pleasure and sex has such a negative perspective on it that massage therapists have become pressurised to navigate the awkward conversations that nobody needs to have if all they want to do is make people feel better in their bodies. Sex workers ALSO know how to make people feel well in their bodies and have probably saved marriages, kept families together as well as helped people who built their own closets have a break from their very own prisons. Many sex workers I know are also highly skilled bodyworkers and a new branch of sex and bodywork has evolved into a system known as Sexological Bodywork (Thailand has a tradition known as Karsai & the Taoists also have a large compendium of these techniques, but I will share that in a future post) where sexual health and bodywork come together with some fascinating research behind its efficacy.
Now back to massage vs bodywork…..
Massage is a traditional system that comes from all over the world. Where the power of touch can alleviate physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns however, it usually comes as a set routine. Anyone who has been to a spa can pretty much guess where the next stroke is coming, the depth of the pressure and so on. Anyone who has a few Thai massages can work out that there is some sort of standard routine.
The massage is already deeply therapeutic, it can cover the majority of issues that arise in a typical stressed out person’s body.
But if you go a step deeper, such as Aromatherapy (especially if it is clinical), Reflexology, Acupressure, Muscle Testing, Kinesiology, Myofascial, Structural integration, Chiropractor, Osteopathy, Thai Massage Therapy (essentially anything beyond Thai Massage Level 1&2 training), Yoga Therapy - the way a practitioner sequences a formula together draws from a deeper intelligence than just being rubbed all over. It’s more than just releasing tight knots and more about a system that involves diagnostics and an execution of techniques that carry a precision that is beyond a regally massage training.
Not to diss massage! The 1st year of my degree had a TONNE of massage in it. There is NOTHING like the basics of a deep caress that can alleviate so much distraction of the present moment.
In my humble opinion, a practitioner would start off with learning massage, and then move on to deeper understandings of bodywork and gradually become a bodyworker, specialising in their own understandings of working with the human body.