The Bodywork Perspective – A Bodywork Session

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The Structure of a Bodywork Session

While it’s impossible to learn to “do” Bodywork from a website or a book, it is helpful to see a session — whether you’re considering having Bodywork, or want to remind yourself of what you learned in other ways.

This section is an overview, interspersed with videos. We’ve broken a typical session down into its component parts.


The requirements for Bodywork are few — a warm and comfortably lit room, and a pad for the floor. Bodywork can also be done on “Shiatsu Table,” which is 18 inches or so from the floor, or on a regular Massage table. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

on flooe Bodywork on floor pad

» The benefit of the floor is that there is nothing to fall off of — after all, people receiving Bodywork can and do move around.

For example, anger release is often accompanied by pounding and kicking, and having a wide, flat, firm surface is paramount.

on shiatsu table Bodywork on a shiatsu table

» The Shiatsu table is a comfortable height to work at, and allows the practitioner to change postures from standing, to kneeling, to sitting.

massage table Bodywork on a massage table

» The Massage table allows for easy use of the elbows and thumbs, and, with a face cradle, is easier on the client’s neck when he or she is face down.

Clothing is optional in Bodywork. Most clients start out in sweats, or shorts and a tee shirt. Belts, elastic, clothes with pronounced seams (like jeans) and bras are removed, as pressure is being applied and pressing into a seam or a catch is painful for both giver and receiver.

If we “add in” massage oil to penetrate deeper while avoiding friction, this needless to say, is best done sans clothes.

The Bodywork Session

There is no one “right” order to a session. We tend to prefer “top down;” we can give you all kinds of reasons for releasing the upper body to “provide space” for the energy released as we then work on the pelvis.

We think “top down” is a good general rule.

We’re less concerned with whether the session starts face up or face down. The videos in this section follow the “face up first, working down from the top” pattern.


The person doing Bodywork acts as a coach as well as a Bodyworker. You’ll hear Wayne making sounds equivalent to the sounds Karen Ann is making, as well as giving her suggestions regarding breathing and expressing more emotion.

About the Session

As you’ll see, the session begins by establishing breathing posture. In the Video, Karen Ann starts face up. We begin by encouraging her to breathe deeply and fully. (Had we begun the session with her face down, we still would have spent a few moments reminding her to breathe fully and make sounds on the out-breath.)

You’ll see that Karen Ann is in quite obvious pain during some of this work, and seems quite “pleased” at other points. This is entirely normal in a session. Some points hurt, indicating blocks, others are OK, and pressure on other points seems to create pleasure. The points will shift, session to session.

Because this was a demonstration session, we didn’t attempt to get a big, dynamic response from Karen Ann. We’ve also edited the length of the session for this course — a full Bodywork session often takes 45 minutes to an hour.

Establishing the Breathwork Posture —
then, Shoulder, Jaw and Neck Work

We establish good breathing, then open the shoulders, neck, face and jaw hinge.

The beginning of a Bodywork session.
Click video, or play button

Notes for this section:

Breathwork Posture

Establish a good breathing posture.

Upper Chest
chest diagram

The Upper chest is “visited” during the Breathwork setup; specifically, pressure to the intercostal spaces. Have a look at the chart to the left to identify the various components.

The Intercostal Spaces

The pressure is even and downward, between the ribs and to the side of the sternum.

The Shoulder Muscles

Pressure to the top of the shoulder muscles is firm and straight inward. You can also grasp and squeeze the shoulder muscles.

The Neck Muscles

The neck muscles are massaged firmly, and again, you can squeeze the muscles.

The Occipital Indents

The occipital indents are located where the neck joins to the skull, and indeed feel like indents. Use the thumb or index finger to apply firm pressure into the indentations.

The Face Points

The face points include the third eye area, the eyebrows, and to the side of the nose. In each case moderate pressure is applied. The eyebrow area can be squeezed between the fingers.

The Jaw Points

The jaw points are at the hinge, and along the jaw. The hinge can be pushed inward with moderate pressure — careful! — this is a sensitive point for most people. Back off until the pressure is just bearable.

Use a squeezing motion along the jaw line.

The Upper & Middle Back

We have Karen Ann turn over, and begin work along the muscles to the side of her spine, from her shoulders to her pelvis. We are systematically opening the body from top to bottom.

A video of Bodywork for the upper and middle back.
Click the video, or the play button.

Notes for this section:

The Upper Spine

We’re working on the muscles to the side of the spine. No pressure, ever, on the spine itself. We begin between the spine and the shoulder blades. Even, firm downward pressure.

The Shoulder Muscles

The shoulder muscles are available at a different angle from “face up.” Again, apply pressure with thumbs and fingers downward into the muscle.

The Upper Spine revisited

We’re working on the muscles to the side of the spine. The muscles are wide enough to allow for the use of the elbow.

The Small of the Back

We’re still working on the muscles to the side of the spine — this time, just above the pelvis. You can either “grasp” the muscles with the hand, or push inward from the sides of the muscles.

A video of Bodywork on the back pelvis. Click video or play button.

Because of the abbreviated nature of the video, we’ve left out working on the sides of the butt, as well as to the sides of the sacrum.

The Back Pelvis

Considered the locus for our passion for life, there are often major blocks at the butt. We focus on the side of the pelvis and the sciatic dimples.

Notes for this section:

Top Edge of Pelvis

We’re working on the muscles to the side of the spine, and along the top edge of the pelvis. Even, firm pressure toward the pelvis. The area is lined with ligaments, and can be worked deeply.

The Hip Joint

The hip joint is at the top of the long leg bone, and there’s an indent near the top side of the pelvis. You can use either a thumb or elbow to apply pressure.

The Sciatic Dimple

The sciatic indent is located on the side of the butt cheek, and most people do have an indent or “dimple” there. Again, use a thumb or elbow to apply inward pressure.

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