Awakening Your Body’s Intelligence
‘Bodywork’ has become a bit of a buzzword on the health and wellbeing scene, but what exactly is it? Falling under the alternative medicine umbrella, and incorporating both touch and non-touch modalities, we were eager to learn more about this growing trend. We went straight to the source by contacting Tahona Santana. Tahona practices bodywork here on the island utilising the Grinberg Method, and has glowing testimonials from her clients who have experienced major transformations at her skilled hands.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you became interested in bodywork?
I originally left my home island in the Canaries to study at university in Geneva, where I became a translator, and specialised in computer tools. While I was working in this field at the World Trade Organisation, I was personally facing the sensation of being stuck in my life. I felt stuck enough to seek professional guidance to help me discover what was going on and eventually unblock and get out of a closed circle of repetition. I was lucky enough to have a friend who sent me to a practitioner of the Grinberg Method and from there everything began.
I was always attracted to both touch techniques (such as massage), and to the field of psychology (my original choice for university studies), but since I decided to focus my career on languages, I had never considered anything else. With the Grinberg Method I had this amazing experience of such a conscious way of touch, accompanied by such powerful sensations. I had never experienced something so interesting, freeing and intense. I fell in love with this method of bodywork straight away and continued to be a regular client for more than a year before I embarked on 4 years of studying the Grinberg Method in Switzerland in 2010. I began to practice what became so much more than just ‘my job’; it was an honoured way to interact with people, a way to make my own life so much richer by walking hand in hand with people through their limitations, fears and pains.
How would you describe bodywork and the Grinberg Method to someone who had never heard of it?
The Grinberg Method is a bodywork approach that aims to stop automatic harming patterns that the client wishes to address. These patterns are visible on many levels: mentally (in the way we think), emotionally (in the way we feel), outwardly (in the way we behave and relate to others), and also physically, in the way our body feels and is held.
The main doorway to learning about these patterns and to work through them is through the body. The practitioner will guide the client into what he/she is repeating, gaining awareness into how he/she is holding this pattern in the body and how this affects everything else.
This can also be applied to working with physical pain or an injury- the way we react to the pain itself dramatically affects the capacity of the body to heal and recover. In the sessions we aim to free the body as much as possible from these blockages so it can do what it is so good at- healing and rebalancing.
The client learns how he/she holds tension in the body, creates unnecessary efforts and adopts damaging postures. They learn how they are reacting to pain for example, and how this way of reacting is hindering the body from working and recovering. Bringing awareness to the patterns is one fundamental step. Then learning to let go, and agreeing to experience whatever is below the tension, whatever needs to flow through and be released is another fundamental part of the process.
I wouldn’t say it is all pleasant, as one must step into the unknown and learn to trust. But it is definitely a revolutionary way of approaching our body, and relearning to trust it, connect to it and to be fully alive and present again. The sessions generally bring a sensation of contentment, unity, lightness and a feeling of being more alive. Which I would say, is all precious and limitless.
How does bodywork differ from a massage?
I would say that the main difference is the level of awareness demanded, both from the client and the practitioner, and the participation of the client to the process, which is fundamental.
In this type of bodywork, touch is used as a means to communicate and exchange in order to teach the person whatever is needed. This is the main difference. The attention of the client is triggered in different ways through touch. Deep touch, slow and heavy or very light touch and quick, soft and comforting ways of touch, and challenging techniques are used to awaken different qualities and possibilities to support the body’s efforts to heal and balance.
I call it my ‘tool box’, a large number of techniques, from footwork (a sort of reflexology) working with the client standing and moving, to breath work or using the voice. In a session, there is space to research what helps the body to find the freedom and the space it needs to increase its level of wellbeing and health.
I also use verbal instructions which help support the work and deepen the teaching, opening new options in the body and thus in the whole being. For example, I will propose the client to breathe in a certain way or to breathe into a specific area of the body. I can also ask them to contract an area or intensify a sensation and to then, let it go.
I propose new options to the person through the bodywork session, so they can unblock and be free from old stuck patterns that simply repeat without the person having any control over them, and sometimes, no awareness at all. This is very different from massage, which is less demanding of the person’s active participation.
A bodywork session is not aimed to be a relief or a time set aside to have some ‘me time’ (although there is no more ‘me time’ than a Grinberg Method session). The aim is to be fully aware, curious and to give oneself a type of care and attention that is very rare. Then the person can integrate the learnings from the sessions and apply them back home in their daily life.
I also give ‘homework’ that can be (for example) to pay attention to something in particular, and/or exercises to do at home to support the sessions. But this will depend very much on the process and on the person’s need and will.
What can someone expect from a session with you?
Well, anything really. I myself never know in advance. But definitely all my attention and the intention to get to the real thing.
What are some common ailments and emotional challenges that you treat?
First, I would not say that I don’t ‘treat’ anything at all. I work in collaboration with the client to help their body get the freedom and space to ‘treat’ itself as much as it can with the present condition(s), and to get rid of the old and the unnecessary.
I work with people who want to approach a personal development issue, such as automatic anger, difficulty in relationships, lack of confidence etc. I also work with people who are facing a new challenge in life, such as a new career project, moving country, starting a new relationship etc., and want to awaken their potential and their abilities in order to go through this period with more of themselves.
I work with people who want to recover from trauma, whether it is emotional (such as loss or moving) or physical (such as an accident or surgery). I find this is a fundamental and very helpful part of my work. Many times we go through intense experiences and neglect to create a space to let the body digest them and process them.
I also see people for physical recovery sessions who are dealing with symptoms such as chronic pain, migraines, back pain etc., or who simply want to stay healthy and connected, regularly training their body awareness and their breathing capacity. Many people who are very sporty and take care of their body come to me to make sure their body can recover from intense activity and old injuries.
What kind of other therapies do you think are complementary to bodywork sessions?
I have discovered since I live in Mallorca how much acupuncture (together with energetic foods – nutrition) is complementary to my work. The success is such, that I have developed a collaboration with a fantastic acupuncturist and TCM nutrition expert in Palma where my clients can go to get complementary treatments in parallel to their sessions with me, which accelerates the body’s healing and rebalancing processes in a wonderful way.
Furthermore, this collaboration has given birth to a heartfelt project called Mallorca Holistic, where we (this acupuncturist and I) organise therapeutic retreats in a beautiful finca in Campos, for people to get our full therapeutic program in a delightful setting, together with healing nutrition.
How many sessions does someone typically require with you?
This is a very hard question to answer. It can be from one session to several months. It all depends on the condition the person wants to approach/work with, how many years this condition has been taking place, the willingness of the client to go through layers in time, the rapidity in which the person integrates the work, the level of deepness desired…
What is common to all of my processes is that if the collaboration is not working for whatever reason, the process is put into question and we discuss what other options the person might want to try to achieve his/her aim. I always support my clients in searching for the right professional support so they can pursue their efforts to get healthier and happier.
What are some of the changes someone might see in their day-to-day life through having bodywork done?
Definitely a higher level of body awareness. This is both a great thing, and can also be confronting. Definitely a choice of life: if you open your eyes, you will see, and when you see, you not only see what is nice and beautiful, but everything. Teaching people to embrace all of what is, is my job too. To not judge it and agree to allow what is, to relax with it.
Also, people generally enlarge their capacity to breathe and the awareness of breathing. Breathing is an essential part of my work, and the basis of all processes. Relaxation is also a general capacity that people increase through any process, and also the basis of any wish to more health and wellbeing. Many people feel more joy and more connection (to others, to their body, to their surroundings).
What services do you offer in addition to bodywork?
I offer massage therapy and footwork, and I offer Therapeutic Retreats with my partner acupuncturist at Mallorca Holistic.