I don’t usually feel like a rock star but ten years into my practice I sit back and realize my skill set has made me one of the best of my profession. My clients are those who wish to get better and will work to get there. If they’ve come in just to relax we won’t get very far long term. It’s not just providing bodywork it’s providing education and therapeutic exercise to get a client where they want to be.
At a party recently a young man was asking me about yoga, Bikram yoga specifically. He started by asking how I’d gotten so ripped. I laughed and realized he was talking about this photo:
I found it funny because in western culture abs are something of a symbol. Male health and virility are all in the abs I think, least the cast of 300 will tell you so.
He asked what I do and I told him I do Bikram once a week on average for the past 6 years. I also do other yoga, work on clients, eat well and stay active. Nothing crazy is done, just a simple and good life. In discussions about work and clients he asked if I wanted clients to come back again and again because it’s good for business. Emphatically I replied no, that’s just the opposite of what I want.
Over a short conversation I explained to him that if he came to see me, my goal is to help make him better, to give him the tools to make himself better so that I’m no longer needed. Then, he’ll tell all of his friends. That’s where my clients come from. This is no revolving door practice. If you want a therapist who’ll try to schedule your next session immediately with some pressure, sorry, you’re not going to get it from me.
A client came in recently with the usual upper back and neck pain. In the course of our intake he mentioned many herniated discs, ongoing pain for years and I began for me what is my usual work. I began the massage and told him, “you need to begin taking yoga classes.” After a brief back and forth he explained that the doctors told him, “no yoga.” I politely told him that his doctors didn’t know what they were talking about.
How can I say this? I’m only a massage therapist and yoga instructor and certainly not a doctor. Quite frankly, most doctors don’t seem to know what they’re doing to their patients long term if what I see every day is any indication. Nerve blocks, pain medication, unneeded surgeries and thousands of dollars worth of tests to try to diagnose what? Most of these clients simply suffer from chronically poor alignment and myofascial pain. The simple form is their posture sucks and they hurt. How do I know?
Laughs out loud. Lol Because I used to as well. Then I thought for myself and grew up. I was man enough to challenge every notion thrown at me.
Yoga is not what most people think it is. The practice is broad. I can teach it to an athlete. I can teach a 90 year old lady and I can teach someone who’s doctor has told them yoga is bad. Yoga isn’t what you think it is. If you hurt, my suggestion is you need to find a good teacher and learn.
Working on the client, observing his posture and back curvature I asked if he had any numbness or tingling in his hands. There was no reason for me to ask, nothing on the intake indicated this. I can see! I’ve done this ten years. Yes, he told me, his right hand goes numb. I reached over to my old friend the rotator cuff and began my usual work. 5 seconds later I hear groaning and ask, do you feel that in your hand? Guess what the reply is?
You do not have to have a medical degree to heal yourself. I’ve worked too long and too hard to butt up against medical professionals who won’t grow up and give their clients real information and a populace that’s too lazy to get better. I cannot do it for you. I will help, I can lead you to water, but you must drink.
Massage therapists, if you’re reading this you’re missing out by not sitting in my studio and begging for me to teach you. Nothing I do is a secret but no one is doing it. Don’t believe me? I’ve been in Austin, Texas for 6 years and I don’t have a regular massage therapist. Know why? I haven’t found one good enough to give me the work I desire. This isn’t being uppity, it’s being honest. I’m teaching Thai massage to students to get them to work on me.
You want to get better? Forget what you’ve been told by overweight doctors who smoke and have bad relationships. You want to heal, go to someone who’s healing themselves. Do what you’ve always done and you get what you’ve always got. I’m sick of seeing clients lumber into my office with horrible posture and a list of medications a mile long wondering why they’re sick while doctors and pharmaceuticals companies shake hands and smile at each other.
My health, I’ve earned it. Plain, simple and you can to. I don’t just give you advice, I follow my own.
Can you hear it? Off in the distance. I hear shock and awe. How can he say such things?
I can say it with all the righteous indignation I can muster at 35 years of age. It’s your life! This is not a game. Harness your body and grow well. I’ll see you soon for Thai massage and a yoga class.