What is the Closing the Bones postnatal massage?
It is a massage designed to help a woman come back to herself both physically, emotionally and spiritually, after she has given birth.
We were taught this traditional massage at the Doula retreat in 2013, by Dr Rocio Alarcon. Rocio is from Ecuador. She trained in traditional midwifery, shamanism and, ethnobotany her mother and grandmother and rainforest shamans, and she also holds a PhD in ethnobotany.
Rocio explained that if we did MRI scans of pregnant women we would see how the hips open during the pregnancy, becoming wider and wider, and that after the birth it is paramount to help close them back to their normal width, otherwise mothers suffer from pelvic instability (Rocio attributes the many women suffering from hip issues in our society to the lack of closing the bones massages post birth) and leak energy.
Rocio also explained that the hips support the weight of the spine and head and that they are therefore the seat of unresolved emotions and trauma, which can be felt upon the hips as crystals, that need to be popped and released during the massage.
In Ecuador, women are given this massage within hours of the birth, and receive it at least 5 or 6 times during the first 40 days postpartum. The massage stimulates blood flow which in turns cleans, renews, moves fluids (may help with milk supply/lochia), stimulating the release of hormones, the immune system, toning muscles and tissue. In traditional cultures, the 41 days of the postnatal period represent a sacred time. In this time the woman will have the closing massage at least 5 times, the first being 6 hours after birth, this begins to put the bladder and uterus back into place.
The massage itself includes rocking the pelvis with a rebozo shawl, a series of massage of the abdomen, hips and chest/arms using a special warming oil, and finally using the rebozo again for closing the pelvis.
Read more about what happens during a massage here
About the Workshop
This day is for you if you want to learn this postnatal massage, or you want a chance to practice the skill again. We talk about our experiences working with clients and the emotional and spiritual elements to this healing ritual as well as teach the elements to the massage. Here’s your chance to get to grips with this skill and take it back to your community. If you’d like to enquire about attending the day, please contact me.
What makes this workshop unique?
This is a small group workshop limited to around 12 people so there is plenty of time for individual attention. You will received a very special handout, which not only contains very detailed instructions of the techniques (which have been explained and validated by an osteopath) as well as pictures video instructions of each part of the massage. The handouts draws on my own unique mix of traditional and scientific knowledge. You will also gain access to a secret Facebook group which has around 400 closing the bones practitioners, a brilliant space to share knowledge and learn from each other.
This workshop runs from 9h30 to 5. It cost £120 per person (£180 for the postnatal recovery massage workshop), and includes one year membership listing as a practitioner to the closingthebonesmassage.com website.
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No workshop near you?
If you would like to help organise a workshop in your community, getting together a group of at least 8 people, and can provide a venue within about 3h of Cambridge, please register your interest below
Our Experience with Closing the Bones
We feel that beyond the physical aspect of closing the bones, there is a spiritual aspect to the massage, which provide a safe space/ritual for the mother to feel nurtured and release emotions associated with the birth and motherhood. Having experienced the massage ourselves and given the massage to new and not so new mothers, we have both experienced and witness how powerful this ritual can be in releasing birth emotions, even many years after the birth itself.
We have offered and given this massage to a few of our clients. Working together as a pair to massage and nurture the woman has been a deeply emotional experience for both we doulas and the mother. It is a time out for her; a time to have a silent communion with herself and reflect on her journey to motherhood and to feel the loving hands of her sisters. We recently massaged a woman who was 2 years into her mothering. At the end, after her rebozo sifting, we wrapped the rebozo around her hips and sat, one each side of her, each giving firm traction on an end of the scarf, closing her hips.
Her tears began to flow. We sat and held her space for some time and, when it felt right, we released the rebozo and covered her in a blanket and sat silently, each with a hand on her, as she cried. We could sense it was a well-overdue release for her.
Some days later, she told us that a great shift had happened inside her. She has released feelings about her birth and the pent up tensions of the last 2 years and now everything felt different. This experience has reiterated for us how powerful and necessary it is to spend time nurturing the mother in a very physical way, honouring her amazing pelvis.
"Personally, I know how deeply releasing this massage is. I had no idea how much emotion I had repressed and stored in my body until Rocio laid her hands on my hips. My last child was born 9 years before that massage and I thought I was fully debriefed! Little did I know that such emotion was lying just under the surface, and how much better I would feel after experiencing the powerful effect of my bones being closed."