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What is Bowen Therapy & Bowen Technique?

What is Bowen Therapy? It’s a soft-touch muscle relaxation technique that utilizes muscle “strumming” as a way to help the body heal itself. Bowen Therapy prompts the body to reset, repair and balance itself. Clients routinely report pain relief, improvement of function and recovery of energy. When people ask me what is Bowen Therapy, I note that Bowen Therapy is much like flipping your muscles’ light switches to “reboot” their ability to relax and reset.

Bowen Theory is based on the notion that gentle moves over precise points of the body can prompt the body’s innate ability to relieve pain, restriction and imbalance. Deep, manipulative or forceful treatment are unnecessary. Bowen Therapy “moves” send neurological impulses to the brain. This results in muscle relaxation and pain reduction. Such moves also can create electrical impulses to the nervous system to regain movement in joints, muscles and tendons. Common results include relief of muscle spasms as well as increased blood and lymph flow.

What is Bowen Therapy: Gentle Pressure

Bowen therapy is a hands-on therapy that uses gentle pressure. Thumbs and fingers are used to stimulate muscles and soft tissues. These “moves” act on precise points of the body. Unlike chiropractors, there is no manipulation or adjustment of hard tissue. No force is used. The Bowen Therapy experience is gentle, subtle and relaxing. Bowen Therapy is commonly used for:

  • Back pain
  • Shoulder restrictions & pain
  • Neck pain
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Headache patterns
  • Sports injuries

To truly answer the question, “What is Bowen Therapy,” you have to go back to The Bowen Technique which was developed in the 1950s by Australian Tom Bowen. Training courses in Mr Bowen’s technique were first offered in the late 1980s in Australia and reached the UK and USA in 1993. For more information on what is Bowen Therapy and Bowen Technique, see the American Bowen Academy »

Bowen & Rolfing Massage Room in Honolulu | Karen Asato

Why I Used to be a Certified Rolfer

I truly believe in Rolfing and practiced as an Certified Rolfer in Honoulu, Hawaii for many years. In fact, I was an Certified Advanced Rolfer. But lately, I’ve moved to less invasive techniques for body alignment and structural integration such as Bowen Therapy. For more on Bowen Technique, see americanbowen.academy.  In short, since I have moved beyond strict Certified Rolfer therapy, it makes little sense to maintain the cost a Rolfing license. But if you’re still interested in finding out what a Certified Rolfer does, read on…

Rolfing® is a body alignment therapy named after founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf. Rolfing is a form of bodywork that reorganizes “fascia” which is a connective tissue that wraps body parts such as muscles and organs.

Certified Rolfers seek to break up fascia adhesions so that full ranges of motion are restored to yield a healthy body. More specifically, years ago Dr. Rolf recognized that the body is a net work of seamless tissues rather than a collection of separate parts. These connective tissues surround, support and penetrate all muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Rolfing works on this web of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the body.

Typical fascia constrictions are caused by scarring due to injury or lack of full-range use of muscles. As fascia adhere’s range of motion becomes limited and overall body mechanics pulled out of balance. Structural mis-alignment, poor posture and pain points are all typical outcomes of adhesions. Fascia even wraps organs, so bodily functions can also be negatively affected.

The result of a Certified Rolfer’s work is to enable the body to regain the natural integrity of its form, to enhance postural efficiency and freedom of movement.

Many have heard of Rolfing’s reputation of being a painful and invasive therapy. Over the years, multiple versions of Rolfing have emerged that vary in technique and amount of pressure.  For some, “no-pain. no-gain” deep tissue work is desired. For others, a lighter touch is desired. If you’re the latter, I suggest you request Bowen Therapy as a light-touch alternative.

Certified Rolfers are required to begin their careers by becoming Licensed Massage Therapists (LMTs). Once certified, they can then enroll in Rolfing School and attain various levels of proficiency. In my case, I studied to the highest level of Certified Advanced Rolfer. For more on Rolfing, see rolf.org.

Bowen Practitioner Room

Why I Became a Bowen Practitioner

A few years ago, I took the leap to become a full-time Bowen Practitioner. This was because I truly believe in the power of The Bowen Method. And I’ve seem amazing results from it.

I don’t take results lightly. And I believe I have a good eye for body alignment and functionality. You see, I’ve been a certified Advanced Rolfer and before that a licensed massage therapist for decades. Oh my… I hate to admit that, but, yes, I have some experience on my tires. But the good news is that I still have some rubber left! 🙂

A Devoted Bowen Practitioner

In any event, I see how so many of my clients have benefited from my becoming a Bowen practitioner now. So I’ve dedicated a re-tread of my career to integrating Bowen Method into my practice. that includes re-pregramming my brain to go to Bowen practice first. And beyond that, to do the more mundane business stuff like re-printed my business and gift cards. Then there’s getting my husband Steve and his digital marketing agency to work over my website.

I’ve also restructured my treatment room to accommodate the option for two clients to get treated at once. The Bowen Method in practice includes short resting breaks that follow “moves” to allow changes to “bake-in.” This means that I can switch back and forth between two clients. It also means that pairs of people can save money as I give a discounted bulk rate for pairs service.

Next on my agenda is to continue to take classes on Bowen and other related modalities. I travel at least twice a year to conferences and seminars in search of the secrets on how to live better in your body. It’s amazing how deep the topic is and how many viewpoints and perspectives come into play. But it makes for a fun and helpful life. Thanks Bowen Method for allowing me to become a Bowen practitioner!

Bowen Theory, Bowen Technique & Bowen Method | Karen Asato Bowen Therapy Practitioner

History of the Bowen Method

Here’s the 101 on the history of The Bowen Method, the roots of Bowen Therapy, Bowen Technique and Bowenworks among others. All Bowen Method derivatives stem from the works of Australian Thomas Ambrose Bowen (Tom Bowen) (1916–1982). Tom Bowen described his theraputic approach as a “gift from God”. In 1975, several years before his death, the government of Victoria, Australia reported that Bowen treated an estimated 13,000 patients per year, with an 80 percent success rate in symptoms that were associated with a wide range of conditions.

History of the Bowen Method

Tom Bowen was a healer and a doer. Not a recorder. As such, he didn’t document his techniques and practices. So after his death, his many followers interpreted his work. In fact, it wasn’t until some years after his death that the term “Bowen Method” was invented. Bowen Method precipitated a wide variety of sub-versions such as:

Bowenwork (American Bowen Academy): The American Bowen Academy, formerly Bowenwork Academy USA, is the only internationally recognized organization in the U.S. that offers certification, provides standardized, high quality training, and supports current and future Bowenwork practitioners and instructors with resources and opportunities in an expanding healthcare field. People of all ages respond to Bowenwork according to what their bodies need. Bowenwork is extremely effective in helping with a variety of acute and chronic ailments, including back pain, sciatica, neck and shoulder pain, fibromyalgia and other conditions that often do not respond to more conventional approaches. Find out more about the benefits of Bowenwork, and search for a practitioner in your area.

Smart Bowen: an International Training College offering programs in Human, Equine and Small Animal Bowen Therapy in Australia and overseas. All programs are recognized by the International Institute for Complimentary Therapists (IICT), the Bowen Therapists Federation of Australia Inc., (BTFA), and the human programs are recognized by the Bowen Therapists Professional Association (BTPA).

Fascial Kinetics: teaching people for over 20 years balancing the science of healing with the art of healing, addressing body, mind and spirit. The Fascial Kinetics course in Bowen Method was researched and developed by Russell Sturgess and is one of the longest running training organizations in Bowen Method. Sturgess is one of the early pioneers who researched the properties of fascia and recognised its key importance in managing and maintaining health in the whole body.

Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST): The advantage of NST is that it is quicker and smoother in its application than the earlier forms and also consistently achieves excellent results in more difficult cases. It is now practised in many countries around the world.

While the Bowen Method concept exists in various forms and brand names, the historical roots come from the “founder,” Tom Bowen.

Bowen Theory, Bowen Technique & Bowen Method | Karen Asato Bowen Therapy Practitioner

What’s Bowen Technique?

What is Bowen Technique” is a common question in my profession. Although Bowen Technique has been around since the 1950’s, it’s ill-defined. That’s because, in part, it wasn’t recognized as a professional treatment process until well after the death of the “founder” Tom Bowen. Add to that the half-dozen schools of thought that were birthed by Bowen’s works and you have the formula for confusion. As part of the world of holistics, faith, various schools of thought and varying descriptions confuse the central theme. Beyond the history of Bowen, the theory remains somewhat mystical as metaphorical descriptions vary.

The Answer to “What’s Bowen Technique?”

Bowen is based on the notion that gentle moves over precise points of the body can prompt the body’s innate ability to relieve pain, restriction and imbalance without the need for deep, manipulative or forceful treatment. Thus to me, the answer to what is Bowen Technique is that it’s a soft-touch muscle relaxation technique that utilizes muscle “strumming”as a way to help the body heal itself. Bowen technique believes that turning your muscles’ off and on switches “reboots” their ability to relax and reset. Bowen theory believes the body can reset, repair and balance itself.

What to Expect

When you come for a Bowen Technique session, you can expect a relaxing experience. You don’t have to do anything expect lay back and relax. I’ll be doing massaging and strumming moves on key pressure points to relieve tensions and re-set muscle memory. And don’t worry, even though I was a long-time Rolfer, in this modality, we don’t work as vigorously or as deeply as  in Rolfing.

In terms of clothing, loose fit clothing is fine. Dress to be comfortable and come ready to relax.

The session generally takes about an hour including some rest time to “bake in” the re-set alignments. This amount of time can vary depending upon how would up your body is. You should therefore allow a bit more time, up to a hour afterwards for over-flow time should I need to work you longer.

Bowen Therapy Logo | Karen Asato, Honolulu, Hawaii

Ways to Spell “Bowen Therapy”: Bowan Therapy, Bown Therapy, Bowing Therapy, Boen Therapy

Let me count the ways I’ve seen “Bowen Therapy” misspelled: Bowan Therapy, Bown Therapy, Bowing Therapy and Boen Therapy. Even Google sees them these way! So to clarify, here’s how to spell Bowen:

Correct:

“B-O-W-E-N”

Incorrect:

The root of Bowen Therapy comes from The Bowen Technique, a type of physical manipulation named after Australian Thomas Ambrose Bowen (Tom Bowen) (1916–1982). Tom Bowen described his approach as a “gift from God”. In 1975, several years before his death, the government of Victoria, Australia reported that Bowen treated an estimated 13,000 patients per year, with an 80 percent success rate in symptoms that were associated with a wide range of conditions.

The Birth of Various Bowen Techniques

Bowen did not document his technique, and as a result its practice after his death has followed one or other differing interpretation of his work. It was not until some years after his death that the term “Bowen Technique” was invented.

Bowen Technique goes by a wide variety of other names including: Bowenwork (American Bowen Academy). The American Bowen Academy, formerly Bowenwork Academy USA, is the only internationally recognized organization in the U.S. that offers certification, provides standardized, high quality training, and supports current and future Bowenwork practitioners and instructors with resources and opportunities in an expanding healthcare field. People of all ages respond to Bowenwork according to what their bodies need. Bowenwork is extremely effective in helping with a variety of acute and chronic ailments, including back pain, sciatica, neck and shoulder pain, fibromyalgia and other conditions that often do not respond to more conventional approaches. Find out more about the benefits of Bowenwork, and search for a practitioner in your area.

While the name “Bowen” exists in various forms and brand names like “Bowenworks” the root word always emirates from the founder, Thomas Bowen.

“B-O-W-E-N”

Bowen Therapy like Acupuncture

Bowen Theory: Like Needless Acupuncture

Bowen Theory & Acupuncture

Many have a hard time defining exactly what Bowen theory is. My husband Steve just came back from an acupuncture appointment asking if Bowen Theory is related to acupuncture ~ in his words, “Is Bowen Therapy like needle-less acupuncture?” An interesting observation as acupuncture explanations are indeed quite similar to Bowen Therapy explanations.

Bowen Theory Affects Central Nervous System

In an article by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine in Portland, Oregon, it’s noted, “Modern studies have revealed that acupuncture stimulates one or more of the signaling systems, which can, under certain circumstances, increase the rate of healing response. This may be sufficient to cure a disease, or it might only reduce its impact (alleviate some symptoms). These findings can explain most of the clinical effects of acupuncture therapy.” The article continues,”According to current understanding, the primary signaling system affected by acupuncture is the nervous system, which not only transmits signals along the nerves that comprise it, but also emits a variety of biochemicals that influence other cells of the body. The nervous system, with over 30 peptides involved in transmitting signals, is connected to the hormonal system via the adrenal gland, and it makes connections to every cell and system of the body.”

Meridians

The Subhuti Dharmananda article continues, “This modern explanation of how acupuncture works does not explain why the acupuncture points are arrayed along the traditional meridian lines. At this time, no one has identified-from the modern viewpoint-a clear series of neural connections that would correspond to the meridians. However, acupuncturists have identified other sets of points, such as those in the outer ear, which seem to be mapped to the whole body. The description, in the case of the ear, is of a layout of the body in the form of a “homunculus” (a miniature humanoid form). Such patterns might be understood more easily than the meridian lines, because the brain, which is adjacent to the ear, also has a homunculus pattern of neurological stimulus that has been identified by modern research. Similarly, acupuncturists have identified zones of treatment (for example, on the scalp or on the hand) that correspond to large areas of the body, and this may also be more easily explained because there are connections from the spinal column to various parts of the body which might have secondary branches elsewhere. In fact, acupuncture by zones, homunculi, “ashi” points (places on the body that are tender and indicate a blockage of qi circulation), and “trigger” points (spots that are associated with muscle groups) is becoming a dominant theme, as the emphasis on treating meridians fades (for some practitioners). The new focus is on finding effective points for various disorders and for getting biochemical responses (rather than regulating qi, though there is no doubt some overlap between the two concepts).”

Bowen Theory & Central Nervous System

Bowen Theory like many other modalities including acupressure, Acutouch and Reiki similarly seek to affect the central nervous system to achieve effect. The frank truth is that the central nervous system is very complex and not easily explained. But by trial and error, practitioners in many ways have learned to create relief and lasting change by working the nervous system.

Is Bowen Theory is like “needle-less” acupuncture? In as much as the central nervous system is sought to be reset by Bowen Therapy without the use of needles, and in so far as my husband needed a simple layperson’s explanation of what Bowen Therapy is, I responded by saying, “Yes.”

 

 

 

Bowen in Honolulu

Bowen Therapy Training in Honolulu by Kelly C.

We were very excited to Bowen Therapy training by Kelly Clancy of Seattle Center For Structural Medicine at my place to teach Bowen Therapy, specifically “Tensegrity & Fascial Lines” this past February 14-15.

It was a enlightening Bowen Therapy training session with many of our local Honolulu ohana of Bowen Therapists gathering to share ideas and techniques. What impressed me the most was the depth of experience and variety of modalities that feed off of Bowen theory and practice. Each of the participants had their own spin on Bowen training and how to best apply it in various circumstances.

Over two days of Bowen Therapy training, 8 Bowen practitioners came together to see Kelly’s approach to Bowen technique. As it happens, Kelly runs a very large and successful clinic up on Seattle. Like may Bowen practitioners, she has other  healing skills that she brings to the table including being a certified physical therapist. Her approach to Bowen is therefore more clinical than many of our practices are. It’s just so interesting to see how each practitioner diagnoses and treats issues.

Best of all, my husband Steve got to be a Bowen Therapy training model and oh did the girls straighten him out!

Kelly’s Bowen Therapy Training & Practice

If ever in Seattle, check out Kelly’s practice. This from Kelly’s website: “Seattle Center for Structural Medicine is a mindfulness-based therapy practice. The human body is an amazing and complex matrix of systems working in harmony with one another to maintain a balance of optimal health and function. Our mission is to help support you during your journey toward a more balanced body and lifestyle. Seattle Center for Structural Medicine is also the home of Balance OT, Fjord Therapuetic Massage and Vibrant Health.”

Looking forward to the next Bowen Therapy training session! Thx Kelly and all for attending!