Bowenwork for Gentle Healing

By Lisa Teets

Originally published in the Crazy Wisdom Journal, Issue #77. Read the original here. 

I had been suffering from neck and shoulder pain for many years due to a car accident. Although weekly chiropractic and massage helped, my problems never fully resolved. Over the years I tried many healing modalities with no lasting relief until a friend suggested I try Bowenwork. I found a practitioner and gave it a try. Since I was used to vigorous massages, I was surprised with how little force was used with Bowenwork. After the second session, I started noticing some wonderful changes. Eventually, my neck and shoulder issues resolved, as well as other issues that I had not communicated to my practitioner.

Bowenwork can provide relief for many types of injuries and health problems, both acute and chronic, and it does so holistically, via the body’s innate healing mechanisms. It offers tremendous benefit to clients by using a dynamic system of muscle and connective tissue therapy that stimulates the body to heal itself, often profoundly.

The Bowenwork delivers signals to the nervous system at specific locations (on muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves), and the body responds in its own time, sometimes for days after a session. Bowenwork is appropriate for people of all ages, in all degrees of health. I usually find myself working with clients whose conditions have developed gradually over many years, when patterns of dysfunctional muscle recruitment and posture have become entrenched over time.

Bowenwork uses a “whole-body” approach to facilitate optimal alignment and recovery. Rather than focusing on a single complaint, I address the entire body, by restoring balance via the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS controls over 80% of bodily functions and is very susceptible to external stressors.

Most people today, even children, live in a constant state of high stress, overstimulation (fight, flight, or freeze mode). Healing can occur only after the ANS shifts from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance (rest, relax, and repair mode). Bowenwork enables that shift. During a session, the client often drops into deep relaxation, indicative of a profound release from stress and a shift toward parasympathetic influence. This shift could explain, in part, the common observation that a Bowenwork session seems to reactivate the recovery process in situations where healing from trauma, sickness or surgery has stalled or reached a plateau.

Clients usually lie on a massage table or may be seated in a chair. A 20 to 60-minute session involves one or more procedures, each of which consists of several sets of moves. The moves are gentle, but purposeful, and can be done through light clothing. I use my fingers and thumbs to make gentle rolling moves over soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, fascia). There are absolutely no harsh manipulations or adjustments, in fact, people are usually amazed at how something so gentle can be so powerful. I address the body as a whole, respecting the fact that the body knows how to heal itself given the right cues.

A unique aspect of Bowenwork is the frequent pauses where I give the body & brain time to integrate, process & respond to the information it just received. Between each set of moves, I incorporate pauses for as many minutes as are needed for the client’s body to begin responding. As the nervous system begins to adjust the tension level in the muscles, I can sense when the client is ready for the next set of moves. This differs greatly from other therapies where there is constant stimuli, sometimes too much for the brain to process in an effective manner.

It’s important to understand that Bowenwork is not a cure for any ailment. Instead, it activates the body’s own healing abilities. It has been found through experience and research that Bowenwork has assisted people with the following health complaints: digestive, urinary, respiratory, balance and reproductive issues, back, knee, pelvic, shoulder, pinched nerve and neck pain, scoliosis, tinnitus, TMJ, migraine, PTSD, sciatica, and restless leg syndrome, frozen shoulder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and many more.

Bowenwork can have a profound effect on children and babies too. It can help to relieve colic, latch, bed wetting, ADD, and more. Babies can be held in your arms during a five to 20-minute session and children can move about if needed. It is very gentle, and most children really look forward to the sessions.

Lisa Teets offers Bowenwork4Kids as a way to introduce families to the work. She runs Bowenwork4Kids on the 3rd Sunday of the month by appointment near downtown Ypsilanti. Schedule by texting 734-678-4791. Teets is a Bowenwork certified professional practitioner since 2010, is “advanced specialized procedure trained,” and is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher. You can find out more about Teets and Bowenwork online at

Author: ckarr114