Bowen Therapy: funny story #1

A Funny Bowen Therapy Story

So. Not much time to write – it’s been a beautifully busy week here at The Boulevard!

So, I’m going to simply share a funny story with you that along the way tells you a bit more about why Bowen Therapy works.

So, a long time client of mine who over the years came (abeit reluctantly) to believe in Bowen Therapy sent a friend of his to me.  Now this gentleman hailes from Chicago and I only had one chance with him- and he couldn’t turn his head and was in significant pain.

I gave him the appropriate treatment and sent him on his way.  The next week when my long time client came in, he said the two of them had gone to dinner the night of his friend’s treatment and the friend exclaimed: “what was that lunatic doing?! I told her it was my neck and she was working on my legs”!  (This is where I start laughing)

The next morning the two gather to play golf and the friend exclaims: “I feel GREAT! I can turn my head and I have no pain”!

I’m still laughing. Bowen Therapists are used to this.

The technical point of this funny story is as follows:

EVERYTHING is connected! Honestly, what might hurt in the neck could very well be a problem in the rear end! Why? Because FASCIA , in short, the connective tissue that runs through and wraps around every bone, muscle, and tendon (plus much, much more) weaves this way and that and criss-crosses here and there and what starts out in the toe can end up at the top of the head or elsewhere.  So this “lunatic” is telling you the problem may be far, far away from the pain!

And so it is in the World of Bowen Therapy!

Have a Fabulous Weekend!


A Little Bit About Reiki…

All of the aspects of my work are based on natural healing- hands on techniques to help you feel better.  Sometimes this looks like massage which is restorative to the mind and body, stretches, and “unsticks” restricted places in the body, relaxing the mind, opening the breath, and resulting in a a more relaxed  state of mind, and a more comfortable body.  Bowen Therapy is much the same but results from a completely different approach. Bowen Therapy really excels when it comes to chronic dysfunction and deterioration, and neurological issues.

Another system of healing I use is Reiki.  Many of you I’m sure have heard of it.  It may seem to you one of those “airy-fairy” things that new-agers like to tout.  To be sure there is some of that- perhaps even a lot of that.  That being said, there is  much more tto Reiki than giving new agers something “new” to grasp onto.  There is scientific evidence that it works.  The mechanism of action is somewhat vague, but the fact is- it makes a difference in how a person feels- it makes a difference in their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And it makes them heal faster.  This comes directly from the National Institutes of Health(NIH) who call it a “Biofield Therapy.” According to the NIH, people undergoing any type of medical intervention whether surgery or a pharmaceutical protocol- those receiving Reiki tolerate the protocol better and heal faster from surgery.  They get out of the hospital faster, they require less medication- the whole ordeal is much less of an ordeal for them.

Recipients often report improved sleep and digestion, and a greater sense of well-being.  Unlike conventional medicine, Reiki does not attack disease.  Rather, Reiki supports our well-being and strengthens our natural ability to heal by encouraging balance.  The practitioner laying her hands lightly on the client is not channeling her own energy- she is channeling the energy that runs through all of us- call it chi, qi or prana- it is all the same energy that gives us life.  Sound weird? Perhaps, but given the fact that 35% of the hospitals in this country have Reiki programs in place for their patients- well, that’s enough for most people to stop and take notice.  This is what is called “integrative healing”- using the best of both conventional medical practices and natural (referred to as “alternative”) healing practices.

And as with every other healing modality I employ in my practice, I teach Reiki as well, and I use it on myself- EVERYDAY.

Here’s to your Exuberant Well-Being!



Some Clarity On What Is Really Going On With Injuries And Joints “Wearing Out”

Image result for image fascia system

I feel the need to explain what is going on with most people that are hurt or in pain.  And I must say this carefully to not step on any toes or go outside my scope of practice.  Many different sections of the medical industry approach things VERY differently depending on their specialty.  For example, chiropractors adjust the spine itself manually.  Surgeons do just that- surgery.  Bowen Therapists address the soft tissues of the body- tendons, muscles, ligaments, fascia- that are ALWAYS involved when there is pain, dysfunction, and deterioration in the body.

Here is how we see things in my field:

Bones are held in place by the soft tissues of the body.  If it weren’t for the fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments our bones would literally be a pile on the floor.

So.  If these soft tissues are not held in proper, balanced tension, the bones are pulled this way and that, the joints are compressed, the bursa (the fluid-filled sacs in the joints) also get compressed often causing leakage or rupture and nerve compression/pain.  If left untreated the joint begins to deteriorate (and this is just an example), more pain and dysfunction ensues and often people run to the nearest surgeon.

My point?  It is a very frequent thing that a client comes to me saying “I’m going for a knee replacement” to which I reply “give me three weeks.”  So very often it is simply (or not so simply) a matter of balancing the tension in the surrounding soft tissues- pain goes away, proper function returns, things repair.

My last point- it is much easier and faster to restore balance and subsequently proper function BEFORE it’s been years! And BEFORE  a joint replacement! If you are in pain, if you cannot function as well as you would like, do yourself a favor and call your nearest Bowen Therapist.  It may be a different approach to things but it works!

Today’s favorite Definition of Bowen Therapy

One of my favorite instructors, Australian Acupunturist, Bowen Therapist, and author of  A Textbook of BowenTechnique, Graham Pennington offers us today’s favorite (my opinion) definition of Bowen therapy:

Bowen Therapy is a neuromusculosketel appproach to Health Care that employs soft tissue manipulation, for the correction of mechanical and neural dysfunction. Treatment is based on a holistic appreciation of interrelationships within the body and is intended to facilitate the body’s natural capacity to self-regulate and heal.

We continually strive to architect a definition of Bowen Therapy that is simple, straightforward, and understandable- an insurmountable effort-  Especially since we are true neophytes with respect to understanding the brilliant complexity of our human bodies!

This will Blow Your Mind! How intelligent our Fascial network is

Attached is a youtube video showing very clearly the importance of and incredible function of the Fascial system.  THIS is the system that we are addressing during a Bowen Therapy session.  Enjoy actually SEEING how incredibly complex and intelligent the tissues of our body are ! Bowen Therapy is incredibly difficult to define and you can see why as this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.  We are truly just now gaining insight into the incredible complexity of the connective tissue system and its intelligence.

The bottom line to the trained observer is that  even the slightest pressure to the connective tissue  sends signals to the brain and a multitude of changes in the structure begins to happen!  This is EXACTLY what happens during a Bowen Session that results in amazing changes to the structures of the body- simply with light touch, things move, shift, balance, and heal.  Enjoy.

Explaining Bowen Therapy

I’ve been practicing Bowen Therapy for years-and for just as long I have been struggling with explaining Bowen Therapy in a way that actually makes sense to people.  One of my instructors, An Australian Acupuncturist/Bowen Therapist, doesn’t have this problem.  That is because in Australia, the UK, and much of Europe, Bowen Therapists are as abundant and well-known as chiropractors are here.  Unfortunately, this is not the case (yet) in the U.S.  I think that is about to change, and this is why: Tons of research regarding fascia that has been conducted over the last decade is being published everywhere you look! Fascinating research that explains much of what Bowen Therapists see everyday.

What is fascia? Well, again, that definition is in flux.  It is getting more complex everyday with more and more information becoming available.   From  Anatomy Trains author Tom Myers regarding fascia: “Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together, the connective tissue network. You are about 70 trillion cells – neurons, muscle cells, epithelia – all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that binds them all together in their proper placement.  Our biomechanical regulatory system is highly complex and under-studied – though new research is filling in the gap. Understanding fascia is essential to the dance between stability and movement – crucial in high performance, central in recovery from injury and disability, and ever-present in our daily life from our embryological beginnings to the last breath we take”.

Image result for image fascia system

(image from MacKay Center for Health and Healing)

So how does this help in explaining Bowen Therapy?  When a Bowen Therapist puts her hands on people and lightly manipulates “pieces and parts”,  she is directily manipulating fascia.  Fascia to me is like the communication superhighway of the body.  Every signal sent through it through direct pressure, sends signals back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body.  This is how we “tell” the brain to change tension in various muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  And this is how we restore the body to balance; thereby eliminating pain and dysfunction! And voila! Our clients are no longer in pain, no longer have to look to invasive procedures or drugs, and they return to their normal activities.

The other part of fascia that I want to talk briefly about is how it runs through the body.  The reason for this is it is an odd thing to come to a therapist for a frozen shoulder say, and have them working on your knees! I know! More than once people have thought ‘what the heck is this lunatic doing’? The explanation is that every part of our body is connected to and affected by every other part.  How? FASCIA.  It runs through and wraps around virtually every piece of our body, oftentimes criss-crossing along the way.  So, when you say to us during a treatment, “uh, I told you it’s the LEFT shoulder” (as we work on the right)- yeah we know:)

So, there you have it- My latest attempt at explaining our trade. My hope is that at least some of this is starting to make sense to you.  I will continue my efforts until everyone says – “Yay Bowen”! Like my clients do! (And by the way, be careful in promising your house to your Bowen Therapist if she fixes your ailment!:)

Until next time- health and happiness to you!

Penny Michaels, Bowen Therapist

Scoliosis and Bowen Therapy

fab 2016 bowen 045seventy year old client ended up on my table for a Bowen treatment- only because a neighbor touted my work that kept him from having a knee replacement. This client had spent most of her life literally trying to unravel her body which had a serious scoliosis distortion in 3D.  She had worked continuously on her own and with therapists of several modalities- with very limited success.

Enter Bowen Therapy- First treatment nothing unusual.  Second treatment her body started “unwinding”- for an hour and a half.  Third treatment her body “unwound” for three and a half solid hours on my table!  Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it.  Astonishing really.  What I mean by “unwinding” is literal- her body “contorted” quite unusually with the right shoulder and left hip going up at the same time, hanging out there and then relaxing followed by the same on the opposite side, followed by the ribs undulating, and it went on and on and on.  At the end of the treatment, her spine was COMPLETELY straight and she had a lumbar curve which she says she hasn’t had for many years. She commented that she did a yoga “cat-cow” and thought her belly was going to hit the floor:)

Working with her has been a huge education for me.  I have always known that the body has unlimited capacity to heal itself, but how it goes about that is a truly amazing process.  I simply give it vibrational signals and it does the rest. We are not done yet , it is a process, and an amazing one.  She has grown nearly 3/4″ and her posture has completely changed.

The point is: no matter how long a distortion pattern has been locked in the body, “IT IS POSSIBLE TO UNWIND ITSELF”!! So, for those of you out think “it’s always going to be this way”, don’t give up! Bowen Therapy may be the answer!

Ozzie The Miracle Dog and his Mom’s Story


I work on people and sometimes I get to work on animals too.  This is an extraordinary story of my friend and client, Ozzie…Enjoy!

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My client, Ozzie, is the most fabulous Newfoundland mix.  Here is his story according to his Mom, Pam:




Ever wish you could have a “do over?” A chance to say, “If only I’d chosen a different path.”  Well we got that chance with Ozzie, a 7 year old Newfoundland/Labrador/Golden Retriever mix who spent his first 6 months at the Fort Pierce Humane Society. 

Ozzie has always been a very active, wonderful, “special” dog.  One of my college roommates Cyndy and I were talking the other day, describing, if you are lucky, in your life you’ve had a special dog or maybe even two.  This is the type of dog who, when you call him from a long distance, looks up as if to say, “Me? Me?  Oh are you calling me??  Oh great!!! I’m coming, here I come, I’m so happy that you called me!! I’m running as fast as I can! Here I am!”  And lands on your feet in a big blast of fur. A special dog almost has human overtones, and eyes that follow you, a tail that wags continually, and a heart of gold, a dog who wants to do nothing more in life but to please. Ozzie is our special dog. 

About a year ago, out of nowhere, Ozzie experienced, as our canine Neurologist at The Animal Emergency Clinic in Melbourne described, a stroke on his spinal cord. After a relatively short recovery period, paralysis followed by weeks of physical therapy, he bounced back to an almost normal gaited dog, which is relatively common in the recovery with this diagnosis. Oddly 6 or so months later, he very quickly began to lose the use of his legs and began “knuckling” on his front legs.  Within 2 days, he was back at The Animal Emergency Clinic, completely paralyzed. The wonderful doctors at the clinic who I adore, explained that Ozzie now had a combination of significant problems with his spinal cord, not only one diagnosis this time and surgery was then performed. After the procedure, unfortunately Ozzie did not function well, he did not respond to much of anything, he was very lethargic and continued to be paralyzed.  It was at this point that I knew that I should probably face having him put to sleep.  As I looked into his eyes while they followed me around the visiting room when I’d make the daily trip up to Melbourne from Vero, I questioned myself if the time had come.  It was crushing to have to leave him at the end of each day to return home, but after a week of zero improvement I wondered if I was making the right decision to keep him alive. However, the option to take him home after a very weak but positive response to a toe pinch reflex test made our decision easy.  Our family of one husband and two teenage college bound boys and I, made that decision despite the fact that the prognosis was both guarded and poor. The process of recovery was very bleak; that he may never recover, never gain the use of his legs or walk, and that we would be dragging a 90lb dog outside several times a day.  And if he WAS able to recover enough to walk, that it could take up to a year or more. 

Enter Penny Michaels. I was given her name by the famous Pawprints Doggie Daycare, (I’m sure half of Vero goes there), by owner and friend Kim Conte. Kim knew Ozzie’s plight since she and her husband Sean oversaw Ozzie’s water therapy, who had now gained enough strength in his neck to at least hold his head up, as we floated him around in a pool. After explaining that she’d had great experience with Penny Michaels in the past, a physical therapist not only on humans, but also dogs, suggested I call. 

Calming, knowledgeable, confident, inspirational, and super friendly are probably the words I would use to describe Penny. Immediately I wanted to sign Ozzie up. She described the therapy that she used as “Bowen Therapy,” (which I was not familiar, but that did not matter), as basically working with the Central Nervous System, without the use of drugs. She mentioned that it was very common in the horse world, but not yet in the world of dogs, but should be. I felt so comfortable with Penny’s patient personality as I described Ozzie’s conditions that I was very anxious to begin physical therapy immediately; which I did. 

Ozzie was very responsive to Penny, day one of therapy.  Penny explained that she would work on him once a week.  During Ozzie’s first encounter, he was mesmerized.  It was very odd for me to see him react to her the way he did. Almost on cue, he would stretch his neck straight up several times in a row right after she said, “Now this might make him want to stretch.”  He’d yawn three to four times in a row, right after she’d say, “Now this will probably make him tired.”  He drooled on several occasions and Penny would say, “Yep, its working.” 

I began noticing improvement beginning the week of the first therapy session with Penny.  Ozzie began turning his head more and he seemed to be much more responsive to stimulus. By week two, he was beginning to lunge around on the kitchen floor using his shoulders. He’d scoot to his super dish even though it was only 6 inches away. Ozzie was so dedicated, when Penny came to our house for his therapies with him, he’d put his head in her lap, ignoring me, almost as if he knew she was helping him to the road of recovery. 

On about the 3th to 4th week, Ozzie would try and push up on his back legs although his front legs were not cooperating.  When we brought him home after the surgery, his front legs were as stiff as boards and stuck out completely in the air when he was lying down. His front legs  buckled as he tried to put weight on them.  During each session, Penny would say, “Okay, now I’m going to be working on his front end, (or back end, or neck or shoulders, etc), so watch for any movement there,” she’d always give me an idea what to look for and then ask for videos. 

By around the 5th to 6th week, Ozzie was up on all fours, wobbly, but nevertheless on all four legs!!  I would text videos to Penny and would be in complete shock as Ozzie began to take small steps!!  And Penny would say something like, “YAY that is so exciting,” and then, “Yep, that’s Bowen.” 

By the 7th to 8th  week, Ozzie was walking.  He was knuckling, (the foot part of him bending) about ½ the time and walking the other half, but walking. It was incredibly exciting to see him get up and walk independently. 

Ozzie is now walking, we’re in week twelve. He continues to improve.  He walks outside, eats, drinks, watches squirrels and just seems to really be enjoying life. If he’s thirsty, he walks over to the fountain for a drink, if he wants to cool down, he walks over to a shadowed area in the rocks beneath an oak tree, when he wants to come inside, he walks back in. 

I think back with a lump in my throat the size of Texas about how close I came to putting Ozzie to sleep because I thought it was the time and I didn’t think that there were any other options. With the prognosis I was given at the time, that he’d probably never walk again, and if he did, possibly a minimum of a year to see any improvement if at all, I wondered what kind of life that would have been for him. When Penny came for the first visit, I’ll never forget, she said, “Oh, he’ll walk, it’s just a matter of time.” It’s such a shame that more dog owners don’t know about Bowen Therapy and therapists like Penny. So many dogs’ lives and families would have such different outcomes; like ours. I came so close.  But I had a do over. I was one of the lucky ones.


To see a video of Ozzie, please click on the following link:Ozzie todayapril 2016 ozzie 061





Yogis Know About Balance!


The other day I was in an absolutely delicious yoga class.  The instructor was educating us on the importance of balance in the muscles and connective tissue- front to back and left side to right side.  She was singing my tune!

In Bowen Therapy, we talk about something called “tensegrity”:

ten·seg·ri·ty (ten-seg’ri-tē)

A concept of muscular-skeletal relationships based on the work of architect Buckminster Fuller; refers to the forces of tension (provided by muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia) pulling on structure (bones and joints) that help keep the body both stable and efficient in mass and movement.
[tensile integrity]
During a Bowen treatment, mucles, tendons, and ligaments are lightly “strummed” by the practitioner in a sequence of movements.  These movements effectively tell the brain to balance opposing structures in the body.  This is extremely important– if the body is out of alignment, imbalanced, there is no longer perfect form or perfect function.  The result is first pain, and if left unchecked a distortion pattern gets locked in the body leading to dysfunction and deterioration.
It often happens that new clients come in at their wits end, about to allow invasive procedures because they cannot take the pain any longer and/or they cannot perform whatever activity they desire. Many times within a few sessions, balance, “tensegrity” is restored, function returns, and pain is eliminated.  I see the look of bewilderment in my clients faces.  They marvel at the fact that they didn’t have to go through more pain or undergo any invasive procedure to correct the problem.
This is why I am a Bowen Therapist.  Bowen Therapy is an amazing not yet clearly understood science.  But it works. I help people feel better everyday- and that is a really good feeling.
Yoga On!

Pet Therapy- A Client’s Testimonial

For this blog, I’ve decided to let one of my clients speak to Bowen Therapy for dogs:

My golden retriever, Sundance, turned 9 in April. I noticed he was slowing down on our walks and I attributed it to his age. Soon I realized climbing stairs was challenging, almost impossible, and our home is elevated. Our veterinarian added a steroid and pain killer to his regimen but that made him sleep all day. We visited Penny Michaels and I brought his condition to her attention for advice. She diagnosed the problems which were related to tendons and ligaments in his hind legs. He was walking with his right hind foot turned out. Penny performed Bowen Therapy that day. His sleep was restless that night however, the next day he walked with feet straight, no limping. Over the next week I saw improvement to the point my golden is now getting up to greet me in the morning like his usual self; he is climbing to the second floor to sleep in my room at night, which he has not done in six months. He is happy and most important, he takes no medications. I witnessed the relaxing of these tendons immediately. I can testify how much better the quality of life my pet is experiencing. I am very impressed with Bowen Therapy and Penny’s skills. We aren’t finished and will be back for a few more treatments. I am confident he will be walking with pep for quite a while. Thanks Aunt Penny!!

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