Newfoundland is constantly evolving with new ideas, new means and new artists.
Part of this ever-growing province are the skills being brought to the island, increasing all of our options and our own interest in those skills.
Carol-Ann Galego has recently returned to St. John’s with a particular trade called The Bowen Technique.
The Bowen Technique is a type of therapy that involves rolling the muscles to stimulate them in a very delicate, light way. Specific contact will loosen or tighten muscles. Practitioners have a set of certain points that they will contact, then take two-minute pauses to help the muscles react to the stimulation.
“The main benefit is a profound state of relaxation.” –Carol-Ann Galego
“It is gentle with a light touch to various parts of the body,” says Asetha Power, who has been receiving Bowen treatments for two years. “The Bowen therapist releases tension in your nervous system, which signals the body to unravel the sorts of injuries or trauma it has endured.”
Galego says she “challenges the muscle,” which feels as if she is pushing the muscle to a limit and then rolls it. The entire Bowen session feels like the body is centering itself, balancing its weight properly and then lengthening.
Galego works at Dynamis Health Centre in St. John’s. She used to work there part-time during university and while she was learning Heilkunst. The clinic is owned by Molly Graham and it features Heilkunst practitioners, as well as a registered psychologist, a Reiki practitioner, an acupuncturist, a live and layered blood analyst and a massage therapist, who specializes in myofascia release.
Upon entry into the rust-coloured house which the centre calls home, there is a sign requesting the removal of shoes. A clothesline of homemade slippers are strung to warm your feet as you wait. The waiting room is cozy, but sterile, and somehow it smells of homemade bread.
Galego’s office has a massage table, more likely to be called a bed, and after she has asked the appropriate questions, her hands lightly touch the appropriate muscles. Laying face down under a warm fleece blanket, the legs and back muscles are gently worked on and one’s body releases tension.
The body seems to accept lengthening — when one thinks the leg cannot stretch anymore, it does so on its own, delicately, as if the limb is separate from the body. The Bowen Technique is designed to balance both sides of the body equally before the practitioner leaves the room. This is a moment for clients to close their eyes and feel their bodies centre themselves and ‘click’ everything into a comfortable state.
The Benefits of Bowen
Galego is not the first Bowen therapist to come to Newfoundland. According to her, Sharon Walsh used to practice here, and continues to do so when she is on the island in the summer.
The Bowen Technique does not only focus on certain muscles, it is said to help with a variety of problems and health issues, including fatigue, headaches, infertility and depression, to name a few. It can also help the body re-establish itself.
“The main benefit is a profound state of relaxation. It helps shift the body out of chronic sympathetic dominant (fight or flight) to parasympathetic dominant (relaxation mode), which is the requisite state your body has to be in for all healing and repair. It also sends a clear message to the central nervous system about which areas are in a state of pain and tension so that the body can kick in to finally break the cycle,” said Galego.
“Bowen is helping to lift the burden of a longstanding, difficult and complex health condition for which, in spite of trying every sort of treatment available, I had previously received no relief.” –Asetha Power
Galego noticed specific changes immediately after receiving the treatment herself.
“I was first exposed to the Bowen technique by my naturopath in Mississauga and I was immediately impressed with the results,” said Galego. “After one session my menstrual cycle finally regulated, never to become irregular again, my breathing and digestion improved and I finally felt well again, all around.”
Two years ago, Galego was attending university in St. John’s and dislocated her shoulder. When she could not find a Bowen practitioner on the island, she went to Ontario just to have sessions.
“And it was worth it. After a single session I had full range of motion back and no pain,” said Galego.
‘It can help to restore their quality of life’
Power said Bowen is one of the first therapies that has alleviated the symptoms of her Fibromyalgia.
“Bowen is helping to lift the burden of a longstanding, difficult and complex health condition for which, in spite of trying every sort of treatment available, I had previously received no relief,” said Power.
After a car accident in 1998, Power spent years searching for a treatment to help lessen the pain of her condition, without any avail.
“In 2007, my health ‘bottomed-out’ and I became completely debilitated. I was unable to work, socialize or enjoy my previous involvement in writing, performing and recording music,” says Power.
She says the Bowen Technique helped her to regain her health and move forward, and feels it’s a positive contribution to the island.
“Many people suffer with ongoing pain or discomfort, and think they have to learn to live with it, but Bowen could alleviate their suffering; it can help to restore their quality of life,” said Power.
Galego says the technique has gained a lot of popularity in Ontario and there has been a huge interest within St. John’s alone.
“It’s such a kicking city. So it’s a real pleasure for me to fulfill the need that I, perhaps solely, experienced,” said Galego.