Linda Novick is a Registered Massage Therapist and Certified Rubenfeld Synergist. She has been practising Iyengar yoga since 2018. Here, she tells us about what yoga has meant for her. She also explores parallels amongst elements of yoga, of massage therapy and of Rubenfeld Synergy that support healing and wellbeing.
I came to Iyengar yoga after having three knee-replacement surgeries within four years (one replacement failed in nine months!). I am a Registered Massage Therapist and a Certified Rubenfeld Synergist; because of my education about the body and my training in self-awareness, I immediately appreciated how Iyengar yoga was a method of self-care by which I could re-learn about myself in my new body. I needed expert help to adapt my yoga practice to my new needs. For example, I have to avoid pressure on my knees such as with kneeling, and I have limited knee flexion. I found the Iyengar yoga teachers very knowledgeable and helpful in the special classes I took.
When I came to Iyengar yoga, it was after many months of physiotherapy, where I had become used to pushing myself through pain to increase my range of motion. The pain, dysfunctional compensatory movement patterns, and limited mobility of the years preceding surgery and then throughout my recoveries had reduced my ability to be present in my body. It didn’t really feel like home any more. In Iyengar yoga, I found the frequent reminders and corrections, and the clear, very detailed instructions to attend to each small part of the journey to each pose to be immensely helpful in reminding me to be present in, and listen to, my body and its messages. I learned how to use my breathing and subtly allow movement to happen instead of just pushing. I have befriended my body once again.
Massage therapy school had introduced me to a much more positive, healthier relationship with my own body than I had had. I loved and was fascinated by what I learned and I loved what I could do with my hands. It became my goal to help my patients gain a better relationship with their bodies.
After graduation, I worked in many different types of environments doing massage. Of particular interest was my work in a psychotherapy clinic, where I discovered how easily accessible our insides could be while working with the outsides during a massage. My ‘listening hands’, as I came to view them, paid exquisitely close attention to the responses of the patient’s body to each touch and responded accordingly, so that we were ‘in sync’. Sometimes stories or tears would come, and it was delightful to see how the body’s tension softened when they did.
I wanted to find a way to respond more fully to the patient’s sharing of their feelings, which had shown themselves to be right there in my hands. A friend took me to a presentation to see Ilana Rubenfeld, the founder of the Rubenfeld Synergy Method®, do a demonstration with a member of the audience. Her work looked like magic as she encouraged, with ever-so-gentle touch and dialogue, the client to have a deep personal healing experience. I joined her 4-year training programme to become a Rubenfeld Synergist, graduating in 2002.
Rubenfeld Synergy is done in a safe private space with the client seated in a chair or lying on a padded massage table fully clothed. Rubenfeld Synergy also lends itself very successfully to working both by meeting virtually or by telephone when the possibility of in-person sessions is not available.With the use of gentle ‘listening’ touch and voice, the synergist invites the client to turn their attention inward by attending to their breath and then finely tuning into their present experience in their body. With dialogue compassionately guided by prompts from the synergist, the client's own internal wisdom is accessed and the messages of the body are explored.
By bringing to conscious awareness the experiences and feelings from the past that formed our beliefs about ourselves, others and the world, we then have the opportunity to re-examine and heal our relationships with ourselves and with others that cause us physical, mental, emotional and spiritual tension and pain. We become empowered to make lasting change and healthier choices about how we respond to the challenges life gives us.
While each is its own discipline and practice, there are parallels amongst all of these -- Iyengar yoga, massage therapy, and Rubenfeld Synergy -- which can lead us to deeper self-awareness and a more balanced relationship with our minds, our bodies and our breath.
Linda Novick, CRS, RMT
Certified Rubenfeld Synergist
Registered Massage Therapist