"... / wasgratefulforthe
comment that my feet
seemed very relaxed "
Getting three body work sessions in one week may not have
changed my life, but it certainly changed my attitude toward
life, however temporarily.
Despite trouble relaxing on the job and being nervous about
what was expected of me, sessions with the four body workers
interviewed made me a believer.
First-time clients sometimes have difficulty concentrating
on what is happening, Hedden said, and I was no exception.
She constantly had to remind me to breathe deeply as a 'centering technique.'
'People who are out of touch with their bodies restrict their
breathing,' she said, discounting my weak suggestion that people who jog as much as I do couldn't be-that out of touch.
'Often that type of physical exercise is a cover-up for body
awareness,' she said.
The first sessions, Hedden said, are spent going over the body
slowly, building trust. After that the body worker can concentrate on what seem to be high-tension areas, which in me
were inner thighs (sitting at a desk all day, Hedden said), neck
Lasater detected much of the same after examining my profile and noted that I thrust my head forward. We talked briefly about whether that was an indication of anxiety and rushing
to meet the future.
Where Hedden had used fairly light pressure, Lasater pressed
much harder and on muscles I never knew existed. When I
seemed in pain, she told me to breathe deeply and then she pressed harder.
Kendrick had told me, 'There are memories stored in the
muscles,' but I think it would take a number of sessions with
Lasater or another Lomi associate to get to them. Still, the
strong pressure left me tingling and relaxed.
Kendrick and Dollison took opposite positions, Kendrick
working on my neck and shoulders while Dollison massaged my
feet. Self-conscious about my body and prone position in this
my first session with body workers, I was grateful for Dollison's
comment that my feet seemed very relaxed.
Perhaps because it was my first session, I anticipated their
fingers a lot, which kept me from unwinding. Also, I kept my
clothes on, which was undoubtedly more inhibiting. Kendrick
and Lasater say they prefer their clients to be nude, while
Hedden asks them to wear underclothes.
Lasater rubbed my stomach with oil, which is often used on
clients as they lie on the raised sheet-covered pads or mattresses.
All of the women work in rooms set aside in their homes except
Hedden "and she will soon be doing the same. — E.H.
By Esther Horton
"This story may change your
life," Ann Lasater told me when I
called for an interview.
Perhaps she was remembering
how the subject—body awareness—has changed her own.
Seven years ago, Lasater, an
ambitious young bank officer
here, met a yoga enthusiast and
took a class. Back at work, she
began to realize her profession
"was just not feeding me."
She quit and began what became a consuming re-education of
both her body and mind, a pursuit which took her to India,
California and now back home.
When she began, Lasater had
no idea her search would become
the means toward a new career.
Nor did Fleur Hedden, Beth
Kendrick and Alethea Dollison
who came by different doors but
are now also "body workers,"
a subject they discussed with
Body workers, in essence, use
deep muscle-relaxing techniques
to re-align the posture of muscles,
said Kendrick, who dates her
interest in the subject from
reading George Downing's
"Massage Book" in 1972. The
purpose is to help the client
recover flexibility in her or his
muscles, relieve tension and thus
clear the mind.
Of course it's more complicated than that. Body work varies
from simple massage which primarily deals with taking away
tension to far more complex
techniques such as Lomi, an attempt through pressure at certain
points (depending on where the
client is most tense) to explore
the emotion which caused the
tension in the first place.
"In Lomi (Hawaiian for massage) you go back into your life
and there's a lot of stress,"
Lasater said. Thus, clients are
apt to cry, laugh, scream, curse
and otherwise react emotionally
as they become conscious of
their feelings during a one-hour
To cope with such reactions,
the Lomi worker uses techniques
developed in Gestalt psychology,
breathing, yoga and meditation.
The idea, Lasater said, is "to train
a person to experience how their
emotions are affecting
In between simple massage and
Lomi are a variety of body
awareness techniques, and body
workers usually offer a range of
skills, depending on their training and interests.
Fleur Hedden, for example,
does massage at her Bayland
St. office but her specialty is polarity balancing, which involves
applying pressure at positive and
negative poles in the body,
sending energy through blockages
and bringing the body into
The result varies greatly from
client to client, Hedden said,
"but the immediate result is a
deep sense of relaxation and release of tension."
Because she absorbs a lot of
tension herself from her work
Hedden regularly trades services
with a Lomi associate and a
chiropractor, giving free balancing
sessions, which usually cost $25,
in exchange for sessions with
Hedden believes strongly in
body awareness because "I know
what getting in touch with your
body will do for you on multiple
levels." She says it has meant a
total change in personality and a
weight loss in the last year of 45
Because of her own experience
begun as a college student in
Colorado with "alternatives" such
as vegetarianism, Hedden supplements her body work "with other
points of view designed to make
the body work better" including
nutrition, herbs, diet and fasting
Kendrick does the same but
said for years she had difficulty
meshing her interest in such
matters with her activism in the
women's movement. The conflict
arose after moving here in 1969.
"On the one hand, I was
very dedicated to feminist politics and, on the other, I was
getting very much in touch with
my own needs for personal freedom and health."
The two didn't seem to fit together here so in 1975 she moved
to Eugene, Ore., where she knew
there was a strong women's community interested in both. She
did find "the political and spiritual much more integrated"
there, she said, although "I realize
now I could find them here if I
had them in myself."
One of the aims of the
women's movement, she believes,
should be to bring the two planes
together. "If you are only out
there fighting political battles and
ignoring your body, the feelings
are not going to be as strong,"
Kendrick is helping to develop
a funding proposal for a center for
battered women in Houston (see
Breakthrough, June 1977), which
has provided some income.
Recently, she said she has begun
to be able to support herself,
barely, with one-to-one body
work ($10-$25 per session) and
teaching $25 "body awareness"
Other than as a means of support, body work is a job which
gives both her and her clients
happiness, Kendrick said.
Continued on p. 16
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Modern Dance •Ballet
Creative Dance for Children
The Dance Studio
HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH SEPTEMBER 1977 PAGE 9