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Push-Pull: Amma Therapy

Amma therapy is an ancient healing technique that has evolved over time, dating back 5,000 years. Amma, translating to "push-pull", was used to relax the body and also restore a person's general well-being. This technique sees areas of the body as a microcosm of the whole, a system in which the mind, body and soul are all very much connected. This is considered a more clinical/medical approach to massage. For more information about the history of Amma Therapy, check out Tina and Robert Sohn's Amma Therapy: A Complete Textbook of Oriental Bodywork and Medical Principles. Tina Sohn was born into one of the eight hundred families that constitute the traditional ruling class of Korea. She began her training of energetics at a very young age, and learned from her Grandmother the basic beginnings of her Amma technique. She and her husband, Robert, have evolved the technique into what I eventually learned from my teacher, Scott Moylan.

What you can expect from your first Amma Therapy session:

My intention is to invite you back to yourself through a greater awareness of breathe and body.

Looking, asking, touching and smelling: these are the four traditional methods of diagnosis that an Amma therapist uses to gain a better understanding of the body. Once a comprehensive assessment has been made and energy imbalances and organ dysfunctions diagnosed, the Amma therapist’s hands and fingers can treat to remove blockages, free the flow of energy, and bring healing energy to problem areas. Traditionally this style is done without oil, though I do incorporate some oils into my massage, with added heat and support when indicated.

When I first meet and work with someone, in order to provide a functional evaluation and therapy plan I do most of the following: pulse diagnosis; abdominal massage and palpation; tongue observation; general pain evaluation; evaluation of diet, bowel movements, menses, posture, emotions, vitality, likes/dislikes, smells, tastes, sounds; understanding of psychological state and any present dis-ease; sleep patterns and dreaming; injuries.

The manual technique of Amma is based in circular movement - by using my navel center I gently rock, pushing and pulling in a circular pattern with my whole body through my hands. I do this along the meridians of the body. Starting with either the belly or the head, this rhythmic pattern can be sedative or stimulating depending on what is indicated. By meeting the areas of tension and not pushing through the tension with too much pressure, the person receiving can fully relax into the reception of the therapy. Once the energy channels/meridians are open, deeper therapy can be used to move more chronic blockages and stagnation. This is where my other therapies come into play - gua sha, tuina, cupping and moxibustion.

Where there is pain, there is no free flow. Where there is free flow, there is no pain.

It's easy to walk through our days protecting ourselves and dissociating from our bodies, especially if you are a person living with chronic pain and/or dis-ease. Amma therapy is meant to bring you back, to notice, to breathe, to soften around the tension, and ultimately engage your parasympathetic nervous system - so you can find some moments of ease and rest - and ultimately have support through your healing journey.

Questions and comments encouraged!


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