craniosacral corner - Inner Spring Cleaning

Inner Spring Cleaning

It’s springtime, so that means spring cleaning!  Dusting those hard-to reach shelves, reorganizing drawers, sorting clothes and bringing all of our accumulated, often forgotten STUFF into the light so we can appreciate what we need, and discard the rest. 

So how about some spring cleaning for your body?  It is a given to those of us in the yoga community that our body stores toxins, emotions, trauma and pain.  Even long ago events can still be held in the body on the physical as well as spiritual and emotional plane.  A mindful yoga practice can help ease this burden.  But sometimes, gentle hands-on therapy is needed to get at those areas that are hard to release on our own.

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) has a complimentary modality called Somato-Emotional Release (SER).  Developed by Dr. John E. Upledger from the 1970s through his passing in 2012, both CST and SER tap into the fluid-filled membranes, or meninges, that enclose our brain and spinal cord.  There is a rhythm to the fluid as it fills and empties out of the dura mater - Latin for "tough mother”- a dense layer of connective tissue that adheres to the inside of the skull, supports the hemispheres of the brain, and travels down to the sacrum.  The filling and emptying phases can be felt by a trained hand anywhere in the body, just as you can take your own pulse in various locations if you know how.  It is a semi-closed hydraulic system. 


In CST, practitioners like myself are sensing the quality and rate of the CS rhythm, and then encouraging positive change by feeling and following the subtle vibrational movement in the bones of the head, jaw, neck, and spine.  What the brilliant "Dr. John” discovered in his many decades of work is that the CS rhythm can spontaneously stop for several minutes.  It just turns off very suddenly.  He found that this was an indicator of a deep processing of energy in the tissues. He called it a “Significance Detector” and it was his way of knowing to pause and ask the client “What is coming up for you right now?”  


Often, the client shared a pivotal and unresolved moment from long ago, as with the woman suffering from Glaucoma who had seen her mother cheat on her father as a 4-year old child, or the man who replayed a scene from his infancy when his father grabbed his tiny wrist and said he would break it if he didn’t quiet down in his stroller.  The replay of these emotional episodes was accompanied by whatever feeling they were experiencing at the time.  The woman felt shame.  The man felt angry that his father was not giving him enough attention.  


After the emotions came up and were acknowledged, the tissue under Dr. John’s hands softened, and the CS pulse came back on.  The cycle was complete.  Dr. John reported that the woman with Glaucoma went back to her doctor and her eyes were normal.  The man was able to identify and release his anger towards his father and approach their relationship as a fully embodied adult, not as a fearful child. 


Now this might not seem like something you want to do... after all, most people avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings.  So I will share my experience during a session a few years ago.  My trusted CST practitioner had her hands on my liver and a scene popped into my head, a mini-movie of something I could not possibly remember consciously since I was just a few days old.  But there it was:  I was just home from the hospital, wrapped in my cozy blankets, and being held by my mother.  She was presenting me to my very religious and somewhat stern grandfather.  He took me unwillingly into his hands, shook his head in disapproval, and handed me right back to her.  I was just not good enough.  I was a girl, and thus a deep disappointment to a man who had hoped that his only son would produce a boy to carry on the family name.  


My adult self cried for that poor infant who felt so unwelcomed into the family.  But it was not painful or embarrassing;  it was like I was watching a sad movie in a dark theatre where I felt safe in letting go.  And my liver began to move and soften, unloading years of not feeling good enough.  What a huge relief!


If you want to try a little spring cleaning for those dusty corners of your emotional body, please consider purchasing a CST 3-pack so I can fully support your process.  Isn’t it time to let go of all that STUFF you don’t need anymore?

Craniosacral Corner - Case Study Three

Case Study #3: Jen

Jen was a new mom yearning to get back to the more active lifestyle she had before the birth of her 8 month old. As a teenager, she had played volleyball, softball and done gymnastics. As an adult she got her workout from performing daily massages as a licensed massage therapist. Yet in addition to the demands of a growing baby, Jen also struggled with intense headaches that centered around her right eye socket about 5 times a month.

My hands were drawn to Jen’s sphenoid immediately. The sphenoid is a beautiful butterfly-shaped bone behind the eyes that floats and undulates with all the other bones of the skull. Jen’s sphenoid was offset such that the left side was compressed with the bones below it, while the right side was gaping, possibly creating the strain behind the right eye. In our early sessions, my fingers spent a lot of time encouraging the sphenoid to explore the 3-dimensional space around it and find a more balanced place to rest. When we achieved that, Jen reported a feeling of her whole body “floating”. Sometimes, she remembered events from a long time ago that she hadn’t thought about in years.

However, when we ventured into the mouth to work with the upper jaw bones, Jen began to feel uncomfortable sensations. She left one session with the beginnings of a headache that worsened later that day. This was a learning experience for me as a relatively new CST practitioner (4 years and counting!) as to how delicate those bones are, especially when there has been past trauma to the mouth. Jen revealed that she been forced to wear braces at a very young age.

In consultation with another colleague, I did some very light and respectful work on one particularly traumatized tooth, and slowly Jen’s body began to come back into balance. Today, Jen isonce again playing volleyball and enjoying her old pastime. Go Jen!

Primary Complaint: Tension headaches, focal point in eye socket

Initial Pain Rating: between 5-7

Frequency: 5 times a month

After 8 Sessions of CST: between 0-2

Frequency: Once a month

Two Months Later:

Between 2-4, with the 4 mostly after volleyball games

Here is a word from Jen:

“Edya’s touch is gentle and I appreciate her getting consent throughout the session on different areas of the body, especially during the mouth work. She was not only able to relieve my physical tension but was able to release some past memories/emotions that I had forgotten about, yet still held onto and could now process

Craniosacral Corner - Case Study Two

In the fall of 2018, Edya Kalev and MindBodySoul partnered to create a Craniosacral Therapy scholarship program for our community. After reviewing several heartfelt applications, Edya was able to share eight sessions of CST with three lucky people.

Case Study #2: Rob
By Edya Kalev

Rob woke up about a year ago with a stiff neck that did not get better on its own. Acupuncture, Physical Therapy and Chiropractic helped to reduce the initial symptoms, but his pain levels often rose as the day wore on. Eventually, an MRI led to a diagnosis of degenerative disk disease and arthritis. Rob also suffered from sleep apnea that impeded his healing, since he had to sleep in uncomfortable positions to be able to breathe.

As we started our sessions, Rob began to use a C-PAP machine, which fortunately improved both his sleep and his neck pain. My challenge throughout our time together was to determine the specific effect of CST in his healing process. I tested his neck range of movement before and after most CST sessions and found small but significant changes in how far he could turn, especially on his stiff side.

Rob also reported that he felt more relaxed (session 1), could lie on his back in yoga class without a blanket behind his head (session 6), and could take a walk without pain (session 7). In addition, Rob reported subtle improvements in his knees, low back, and shoulders, which had all been surgically repaired years before.

My favorite technique to offer Rob was a gentle traction of his dural tube, the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord. It always had a ‘juicy' feel at the end of our sessions, which gave me hope that the bones would eventually come into better alignment around the cord, thus reducing his pain.

Overall, Rob enjoyed the sessions but remained a bit skeptical because of the coincidental timing of his C-PAP use, and his continued acupuncture

sessions. Though CST was not making the big improvements he was looking for, I really enjoyed working with Rob. I learned a lot about how to stay true and clear in my healing intention and be unattached to a particular outcome.

Primary Complaint: Neck and Shoulder Pain

Initial Pain Rating: 3 upon waking, 7 by end of day

Frequency: Daily

After 8 Sessions of CST:

Pain Rating: between 4-5

Frequency: Daily

Two Months Later:

Pain Rating: between 3-6

Frequency: Daily

Here is a word from Rob:

“The treatments always made me feel warm and fuzzy! And I did notice an overall improvement in my sense of wellness during the 5 weeks or so of treatments, plus experiencing slightly less pain and a slight improvement in my range of motion.”

Craniosacral Corner - Case Study One

In the fall of 2018, Edya Kalev and MindBodySoul partnered to create a Craniosacral Therapy scholarship program for our community. After reviewing several heartfelt applications, Edya was able to share eight sessions of CST with three lucky people.

Case Study #1: Melissa
By Edya Kalev

A long-time sufferer of chronic refractory migraines, Melissa had tried many conventional and alternative approaches before coming to CST. There were many potential triggers to be careful of, so we initially worked together to create a sense of safety around the especially tender areas of her skull. There was a sense of “vigilance” that was almost palpable in her tissues, so I lightened up my pressure to almost nothing, and got ever more clear on my intention to be a compassionate presence. I simply felt what was there and followed it with my hands, trusting her body’s natural healing mechanism to do the rest.

After several weeks of techniques on her head, spine and tailbone, Melissa was ready for some intra-oral work on her hard palate. These powerful techniques proved to be some of the most beneficial to rebalance the bones of her skull from the inside out. Melissa felt more spacious in the right side of her head where her migraines had been most intense. Her face became noticeably fuller and lighter after each session, and her right eye looked more open.

In combination with a new medication, Melissa found that CST helped reduce both the intensity and frequency of her migraines. These positive changes began after two weeks of treatment and have continued into the present. Other small issues resolved as well, including residual pain in her right foot due to a past fracture and periodic cysts in her gums. The body often heals itself when the CranioSacral system is in balance!

Results


Primary Complaint: Chronic refractory migraines
Initial Pain Rating: up to 10
Frequency: 15 days a month

After 8 sessions of CST:
Pain Rating: up to 4-5
Frequency: 7 days a month.

Two months later:
Pain mostly up to 3-4
Frequency: holding at 7 days a month

A Word from Melissa:

“I found that Edya through CST was able to create some much-needed shifts in my body, particularly in my face and skull. Sometimes after certain treatments I found myself for days touching my neck or face because I couldn't believe how much different and better it felt after years of being painful or stuck.”

Craniosacral Corner - Introduction

The CST Scholarship Program:
Three Case Studies in Light-Touch Healing

 

By Edya Kalev, MA, E-RYT 200, MELT Master Trainer, and CST Practitioner

 

I stumbled onto CranioSacral Therapy (CST) over 10 years ago, and it has been a constant partner in my healing since then. My monthly sessions have ameliorated many chronic issues, from a swollen patella to low back pain. It has helped my TMJ, and improved the fit and effectiveness of my dental appliance. Subtle shifts in my tissue have untethered me from past traumas I had almost forgotten. Even my young daughter has had sessions to unravel the bumps and bruises of an active childhood. Just knowing I have CST in my life has given me comfort that most minor issues can be resolved while I lay relaxed on a table, fully clothed, and often in a state of bliss.

 

So after a decade of teaching group classes in yoga and the MELT Method, it was only natural to turn to CST when I decided to expand my skills into a hands-on modality. In 2015, I began studying at the Upledger Institute, an internationally-recognized school started by John Upledger (b.1932-d.2012), a gifted osteopath and researcher in light-touch therapy.

 

Last year, MBSY owner and yoga goddess Alyssa Snow sat down with me in her cozy new wellness space and we chatted about how to spread the word about CST in the Washington Heights yoga community. Alyssa so generously offered the use of the beautiful treatment rooms to hold CST sessions. It was decided that I would offer these sessions free of charge to four lucky individuals… and so the CST Scholarship Program was born.

 

After reviewing over 20 heartfelt applications, 4 were accepted in the program, and 3 were able to complete the program in the 4 weeks allotted. It was my pleasure to work with these lovely people and share the benefits of CST with them.