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Earth Spirit Therapies
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Definitions of Therapeutic massage, bodywork, energy healing and alternative therapy modalities.


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Definitions of  Bodywork & Alternative Health Modality Terms

No statements in the definitions below should be considered to be medical advice or taken as advice against seeking medical treatment, but are provided purely for their educational value. In the case of  serious acute, chronic or degenerative conditions immediately seek competent medical advice from your primary health care provider
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Acupressure - like acupuncture , is based on the the principles of energy (chi) flow through the 14 meridians (energy channels) of the body which are a fundamental concept of Traditional Chinese (or Oriental) Medicine (TCM).  This ancient Chinese technique involves the use of finger pressure (rather than needles) on specific points along the body to treat ailments such as tension and stress, aches and pains, menstrual cramps, or arthritis.  The system is also used for general preventative health care.  Although sometimes used as a synonym for Shiatsu,  accupressure is usually applied to a limited number of points to treat a specific condition, while Shiatsu, as practiced in the West, is generally given as as a whole body massage addressing as many points as possible in the time allowed.

Acu-Light Therapy  (see Esogetic Colorpuncture )

Acupuncture - In acupuncture, fine needles are inserted at specific points to stimulate, disperse, and regulate the flow of chi, or vital energy through the 14 meridians (energy channels) of the body and restore  a healthy energy balance.  It is based on Traditional Chinese (or Oriental) Medicine (TCM). Often used in the United States for pain relief, acupuncture is also used to improve well-being and treat acute, chronic, and degenerative conditions in children and adults.  Doctors of Oriental Medicine (DOM) are licensed in New Mexico after completing a three year post bachelor's degree program.  Medical Doctors (MD), Doctors of Osteopathy (DO), or Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) require no additional licensing in New Mexico to practice acupuncture. Training as as Doctor of Oriental Medicne includes much more than placing needles.  Always ask what specific training a practitioner has had if they claim to do acupuncture, but  are not licensed as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Acupunturist - one who practices acupuncture .  They may or may not be trained in the full range of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Furthermore, they may or may not be licensed in acupunture by your state. See Chinese Medicine.

Aikido - like other Japanese martial arts, is both a method of self-defense and a spiritual disipline.  The goal is to harmonize one's chi (vital energy) with that of one's opponenent, so that the opponent's strength and weight are used against him or her.  Many of the moves are flowing and graceful, similar to those of tai chi.  See also Martial Arts.

Alexander Technique - was developed by actor F. Matthais Alexander, who created the method after concluding that bad posture was responsible for his own chronic voice loss.  Practitioners using gentle hands-on guidance and verbal instruction, teach simple, efficient ways of moving as a means of improving balance, posture, and coordination and to relieve tension and pain.  For a more extensive discussion of Alexander, Alexander technique, Alexander training and who may benefit, check out The Complete Guide to Alexander Technique Website.

Algotherapy - The use of algaes ( either fresh or sea-water derived ) in skin care, baths, body scrubs, wraps, etc.

Allopathic Medicine - (often referred to as Western Medicine or the Medicine of Science) relies heavily on modern technology for laboratory tests, X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Interferometers (MRIs), Electro-cardiograms (EKGs), and Electro- encephalograms (EEGs) for diagnosis of a wide range of acute and chronic as well as degenerative illnesses.  They often treat symptoms of pain and illness with the prescription of medically approved drugs, surgery, radiation or physical therapy.  These methods and treatments are usually considered invasive and disruptive to the natural healing processes of the body by alternative health care therapists. Allopathic medicine is not a system of Natural or Alternative healing!  It is defined here to provide a contrast to these systems.  While  Doctors of Medicine (MD's) often specialize in treating specific systems of the body or types of diseases, they rarely practice preventative medicine.  However, if you have a serious or life threatening condition you are advised to seek medical advice from your licensed primary health care provider.  Doctors of Medicine are licensed in all states and are regulated by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Alternative Healing - ( Holistic or Wholistic Health ) encompasses a phillosophy of comprehensive body, mind and spirit total care of the client. The needs of the patient in all areas, such as physical, emotional, social, spiritual and economic, are considered.  This is a very broad term that could include almost every system of healing defined on this page except Allopathic or Western Medicine and Physical Therapy .

Amma Therapy  - (sometimes spelled Anma) is the traditional word for massage in Japanese.  It comes from the Chinese system of anmo which is over 5,000 years old.. When anmo was brought to Japan it was further refined into its own therapeutic system.  Amma is a system of bodywork therapy that uses traditional oriental medical principles for assessing and evaluating imbalances in the energetic system based on the 14 principle meridians or energy channels of the body.  Through the structure of kata (choreographed movement), amma teaches us the importance of rhythm, pacing, precision, and form in massage. 

Ananda Yoga - basically a form of Hatha Yoga, Ananda Yoga classes focus on gentle postures designed to move the energy up to the brain and prepare the body for meditation. Classes also focus on proper body alignment and controlled breathing.

Anma  ( See Amma )

Anmo  ( See Amma )

Applied Kinesiology - (See Muscle Testing)

Aromatherapy - is the use of fragrant substances (usually 'essential' oils distilled from flowers, resins, woods, and roots) to  treat emotional disorders such as stress and anxiety as well as a wide range of other ailments. Essential oils are either inhaled, absorbed directly through the skin or in some cases ingested.  It is often combined with massage since oils can be used to carry fragrances while also allowing more pressure to be applied to muscles. Aromatherapy can be used to support treatment for respiratory problems, skin disorders and immune deficiencies.  Many essential oils from botanical sources also have anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.  Its proponents claim that health benefits are associated with specific choices of scent. For example, clary sage can be used to combat depression.

Ashtanga - (or Astanga) Yoga is the name given to the system of yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. This style of Hatha yoga is physically demanding as it involves synchronizing breathing with progressive and continuous series of postures producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, flexibility, stamina, a light and strong body, and a calm mind. Ashtanga yoga is not for beginners. See also Yoga and Power Yoga.

Astanga (see Ashtanga Yoga ).

Aston-Patterning - is an educational process developed by Judith Aston in 1977 combining movement coaching, bodywork, ergonomics, and fitness training.

Astrology - is the study of heavenly bodies to learn what influences they may have on human life.

Auric Healing - is based on the principle that all living systems are surrounded by an electromagnetic energy pattern (aura) or (human) energy field that includes the human body. Present day scientists measure the frequency and location of this field on humans.  The aura reflects our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Ayurveda (See Ayurvedic Medicine )

Ayurvedic Massage - is part of a detoxification program from India called Pancha Karma, in which the body is cleansed and lubricated in all the areas you can reach, inside and out, to remove toxins from the system.  In the traditional way the body will be massaged on the outside with hot sesame oil and the powder and extract of calamus root.  The oil will also be poured into the navel, ears, and between the eyebrows.  Pouring oil in the ear is done only with the client's permission and an explanation beforehand that it serves to remove wax and dust, lubricate the ear canal, and to calm the mind and nerveous system.

Ayurvedic Medicine - or Ayurveda ( often translated as the 'science of life') Practiced in India for more than 5,000 years, ayurvedic tradition holds that illness is a state of imbalance among the  body's systems (physical, emotional, energetic, and spiritual) that can be detected through such diagnostic procedures as reading the pulse and observing the tongue.  The system incorporates the concept of Prana or 'life force energy'similar to the Chinese concept of chi.  It includes 7 major chakras (energy centers); Root, Navel, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye, & Crown and 72,000 nadis (energy channels) of which there are three major channels; Sushumma (carries Kundalini energy up the spine), Pingala, & Ida  (which carry solar and lunar energy respectively in a spiral around the Sushumma and chakras).  The practitioner uses the concept of a basic constitution or dosha for each individual, which may include aspects of Kapha (earth), Pitta (fire), or Vatta (air) and may be influenced by heat, cold, dryness or dampness.  Nutrition counseling, ayurvedic massage, natural medications, meditation, yoga, and other modalities are used  to address a broad spectrum of ailments, from allergies to AIDS.

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Bach Flower Essences. (See Flower Essences)

Balneology - referring to the therapeutic use and effects of various baths.

Bindegewebsmassage - German, Elisabeth Dicke is credited with 'discovering' this technique, based on her book Meine Bindegewebsmassage, published in 1956.  It is based on the theory that any disruption or unbalance in any portion of the body affects the entire system, specifically the autonomic, central nervous, and  hormonal systems.  Any disruption in any of the body systems will affect the entire organism, physiologically and psychologically.  Bindegewebsmassage is a very specific, advanced technique intended to assist in the rehabilitation of pathologic conditions. The theory of this technique extends to the belief that certain areas on the body's surface correlate to specific internal organs manifesting the disruptions with an increased sensitivity of certain skin areas called 'points'.  (See also Connective Tissue Massage)

Bindi - Bodywork combining exfoliation, herbal treatment, and light massage.

Bikram Yoga - (sometimes refered to as Hot Yoga ) is a specialized style of Hatha Yoga that is a comprehensive workout that includes all the components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular flexibility and weight loss. The founder, Bikram Choudhury, was a gold medal Olympic weight lifter in 1963 and is a disciple of Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, (Autobiography of a Yogi).  One of  the unusual but most beneficial aspects of Bikram's yoga practice is the 95-105 degree temperature which promotes more flexibility, detoxification, and prevention of injuries. This is the only yoga style that specializes in using the heated environment.See also Yoga.

Biofeedback - A method that montitors pulse rate, skin temperature and muscle tension and feeds back this information to the client through gentle sounds.  The client, in turn, learns to consciously regulate unconscious body processes such as breathing, blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate, to relieve pain and stress related conditions, including asthma, hypertension, and migraine headaches.

Body Scrubs - Usually performed as part of a spa therapy, any skin exfoliating proceedure using either a dry brush or products such as sea salt, oatmeal, almond paste, algaes, gels, etc.

Bodywork - is a very generic term that can include or combine massage, counseling, energy work, movement techniques, or other somatic (body) therapies.

Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy - ( also referred to as Trigger Point Myotherapy  or Trigger Point Therapy ) Developed by fitness expert Bonnie Pruden in 1976, this bodywork method is intended to relax muscle spasms, improve circulation, and alleviate pain. This method is heavily based on the trigger point injection work of Dr. Janet Travel, MD and Dr. David Simmons, MD, authors of "Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, Vols. I & II", published 1982.  The practitioner, using elbows, knuckles, or fingers, applies pressure for several seconds to trigger points -- highly irritable spots on muscle tissue that may radiate pain to other areas.  Clients also perform specific exercises for the freed muscles. There are now several places to learn Trigger Point Therapy, but only one Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy Pain Eraser school.

Bowen Therapy -  Developed by Thomas Bowen of Austraillia.  Bowen recognised relationships within the body that help the body heal itself.  Through recognition of minute muscle tensions the system programs moves to counteract specific body conditions.  An average of two treatments seven days apart are recommended.

Breathwork - Combines focused breathing, music, toning and bodywork to heal unresolved issues and allow life energy flow naturally. Uses a variety of techniques such as patterned breathing to promote physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Breema Bodywork - Practiced for centuries by the Kurdish mountain villagers of Breemava, Breema bodywork activates the body's self-healing forces, bringing the mind, body, and emotions into a natural balanced state.  Based on the highest laws of nature, Breema treatments and self-exercise use rhytmic movements, gentle stretches, and lean-hold-releasees which actively support the recipient to experience vibrant thealth, vitality, and inner harmony.

Byron Katie Work - ( also know as The Work of Byron Katie or just The Work ) based on a method of self-analysis and facilitated self-help developed by the American, Byron Katie. The work of Byron Katie is four simple questions and a single turnaround which, when practiced, wake up within you, radically altering your perspective.  Through The Work thousands are finding relief from chronic suffering on all levels -- mental, emotional, physical.  For more information on The Work, please read Lana's book review of "Loving What Is" by Byron Katie or visit The Work of Byron Katie Foundation.

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