About Aquatic Bodywork
What is Aquatic Bodywork?
Aquatic bodywork is a form of warm water hydrotherapy and massage that has been used worldwide for recreation, rehabilitation, and therapy.
In a one-to-one session, you lie weightless in chest-deep warm water. The practitioner will support your head and lower back or knees and you are moved, stretched, massaged and mobilised in ways impossible on land. Aquatic bodywork harnesses the healing power of water and combines it with stretches, acupressure and cranio-sacral manipulation. In underwater sessions, dolphin-like waves and moves are used to provide free three-dimensional motion.
Aquatic bodywork has a range of physical, emotional, psychological, and energetic benefits and is recognised as an effective holistic intervention in most first world countries.
Warm water provides a safe, thermoneutral environment in which the body enters a state of deep relaxation. The body is then free to receive extensive multidimensional stretching, soft tissue manipulation, and undulating, hydrodynamic movement that can free spinal vertebrae, rotate joint articulations, and elongate muscles.
Immersed in water the body is released from the pull of gravity. All movements are three-dimensional, so that no limb is moved in isolation. The whole body is in movement. The sensation of warmth and weightlessness makes all unnecessary muscular activity stop, you just let go… which from a therapeutic point of view is an ideal way to restore health.
Just the hydrostatic pressure of warm water during a session has several benefits:
Firstly, water moulds itself to respond to individual needs and stabilizes joints, making it safe for a variety of conditions and injuries.
Secondly, it compresses all soft tissues, enhancing lymphatic return and increasing diuresis. In other words - faster detox.
Thirdly, it displaces 700 cm3 of blood from the extremities and abdominal vessels into the large veins of the thorax and into the heart. This causes a significant increase in right arterial pressure, stroke volume, and cardiac output – simply put, it slows the heart rate.
And when the body is in a deep state of relaxation, the body’s processes can concentrate on repair.
Warm water affects our consciousness and our sense of boundary. Our body feels more and more boundless. It is where our mind’s chatter is most still. The psychosomatic effects of aquatic bodywork lead to improved body/mind awareness, reduced pain, and a general sense of wellbeing.
We are mammals, and mammals are supposed to stretch. Stretching after a nap, as cats do, is an indication of its good health. By stretching, we fully inhabit our bodies, and experience the innate gracefulness of moving freely. Aquatic bodywork uses many static and dynamic passive stretches. Accelerating a movement through the water against water resistance or lifting the client partially out of the water can further enhance a stretch. In eastern medicine, stretching is believed to release blockages in our meridians, the channels through which our “chi”, or life force, flows. It is also believed that emotions and memories of an event or trauma are stored in the body’s tissues. Stretching and manipulation of these tissues can release this energy and tension, so that emotions surface. People are encouraged to let go, because the more they let go, the more they receive from a session.
Who is it for?
People come in different sizes, shapes, and physical conditions. Water equalizes them all. Aquatic body work is therefore suitable for almost anyone in any age group. It’s an accessible, low-threshold activity and you don’t have to be able to swim. It offers sports-people a blissful form of muscle recovery and can be integrated into convalescence, rehabilitation or antenatal care, or can be done purely for recreation. The effects of aquatic bodywork have been used worldwide to help treat cancer, heart disease, aids, chronic pain, psychological traumas, bone and muscle strains and injuries, and insomnia.
It counteracts the strain and stress of everyday life by imparting an intense feeling of total, deep relaxation, and its beneficial effects may last for many days. It has helped the handicapped, the injured, the stressed, the depressed, the addicted, the abused, hyperactive children, pregnant women, couples in troubled relationships, and those who simply want to relax.
“I often tell my clients to ignore me. I won’t notice if they haven’t shaved or how they look in a swimsuit. The session is about them. It is about guiding them through whatever process they go through. I’m not their counsellor and their session is not about me and them. It is about them and the water. I just help them use the water. Be free like water. Move like water. Yield like water. Become like water.” says aquatic bodywork practitioner Maria Gerondoudis.
What is it effective in?
Calming the nervous system to release stress, tension and fatigue
Reducing acute and chronic pain (especially neck and lower back)
Reducing blood pressure and heart rate
Stimulating cellular metabolism
Alleviating spinal and muscular tensions during pregnancy
Softening connective tissue
Extending the vertebral column and improving posture
Improving breathing and sleeping patterns
Increasing flexibility and range of movement
Reducing depression and hyperactivity
Increasing energy levels
Addressing neuromuscular and anxiety related disorders
Addressing emotional and psychological traumas
Improving muscle tone and skin circulation
It is possible that one session will be sufficient to remedy a problem. In chronic cases, sessions should generally be scheduled once a week. For stress management, a session once or twice a month is enough to impart an intense feeling of total, deep relaxation, and, together with regular exercise, correct diet and lifestyle, maintains the body’s health and holistic balance.
What you need to know
You do absolutely nothing
Your nose and mouth are kept above water
(unless you choose an underwater session)
Sessions are one-to-one and last one hour
Water is heated to 33-36C
Bring only your swimsuit