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Massage vs Bodywork: What's the difference?

The glow of soft lights dances with the harmony of relaxing root chakra vibrations as the smell of ylang-ylang and eucalyptus flood your nose. You have entered the bodywork experience - a method that combines traditional massage techniques with ancient, spiritual healing practices.


Most people are familiar with the many health benefits of massage - from stress relief to accelerated healing of injuries. Massage involves rubbing and kneading the body using the hands, or muscular manipulation. Some of the most common types of massage include: Swedish, Deep Tissue, Sports, Trigger Point, Prenatal and Lymphatic Drainage.

Massage sessions typically last for about one hour and take place on a massage table. Massage is great for many physical ailments, increasing circulation and releasing muscle tension that causes pain. While the benefits of massage are numerous, there are some situations that bodywork is much better suited to compliment.


Bodywork is a horse of another color. Bodywork includes all of the same physical relaxation benefits of massage, as well as mental, emotional and spiritual effects. Eastern methods that have been practiced for thousands of years are woven into more modern massage techniques to create a unique healing experience customized for each individuals’ needs.

There is a lot more verbal communication during bodywork - starting with a consultation on what’s going on physically and spiritually. There is guidance on breath, meditation techniques, discussion of what feels good, instructions about manual manipulation of the body, and feedback on what’s observed in the body.

Spiritual = Mental + Emotional

According to self-improvement site, licensed massage therapist and Brooklyn-based bodyworker Jordan Fleet “describes bodywork as a physical and emotional check-in, if not a form of self-study, much like a yoga and meditation practice. It’s a way to get to know your outer shell, your body, on a deeper level, and discover old sheaths of tension or trauma that had previously been hidden from view. There are innumerable benefits to getting your body worked on, like increased circulation and rest-and-digest activation, which speeds up the body’s natural healing process.”

In this same article, bodywork is summarized simply:

Think of it this way: You’re retraining your muscles, which have likely developed lifelong, tension-forming habits, and will require conversation and commitment. Yes, it takes time and energy, but the benefits are numerous and lasting. If you’re dedicated to alleviating longstanding pain and tightness, discomfort from old injuries, and even correcting bad postural habits, then the bodywork path is definitely for you.”

Violet Vibrations - Jackie’s customized bodywork experience

Personally, I prefer bodywork, both receiving and giving. With injuries that have persisted much of my life, the deeper energy movement that goes along with bodywork does far more to provide relief than the physical touch of massage alone. As a bodywork practitioner and yogini, I diligently cleanse and balance my Qi (chi) - or life force energy. This enables me to tune into and connect with the Qi of others.

Having the great fortune to study anatomy and massage with a Traditional Chinese Medicine

(TCM) doctor in China, I carry with me these techniques that have been practiced for thousands of years. TCM massage focuses on movement of Qi through the body, which may involve physically moving the body, twisting and pulling on limbs. Acupressure is common in bodywork, holding consistent pressure on meridian points in the body to achieve similar effects to acupuncture.

What to expect from a bodywork session with Jackie?

  1. Verbal consultation - We’ll chat for about 10 minutes about what’s going on in your body and in your life. During this time I’ll also be assessing your physical posture, breath pattern, and Qi flow. This session is all about you - so I ask your preferences for aromatherapy and sound vibrations.

  2. Undress & unwind - When I step out of the room to customize your aromatherapy blend, you get comfortable on the table. Remove as many, or as few, clothes as you’re comfortable with. Yes, it’s really ok to be nude - I welcome a nude body for oil-based massages. No worries - I’ll tuck the sheets just right to protect your privacy while you’re on the table. You’ll be given instructions on how to lay on the table - face down, face up, or on your side.

  3. Connect - The first 10 minutes of the bodywork session include guided meditation and breathwork. Before I engage in physical contact, I believe it is important for you to connect with yourself, and for us to connect energetically. I will gently lay my hands on targeted areas of your back to help deepen the breath, thus moving energy and bringing vital nutrients to the body.

  4. Tissue Warm-up - The next 10 minutes will be surface-level touches including light effleurage and palpitations. Going too deep too fast can cause a disconnect in energy through a sort of primal distrust, so I take my time to learn your body’s landscape.

  5. Deep Work - The bulk of the bodywork session dives deep into the tissues, ligaments, tendons. This is where you may find yourself in a transcendent, even euphoric space as your body releases toxins along with traumas.

  6. Tissue Cool-down - I resume light touches to bring circulation throughout the body, including a mini-cranial-sacral massage.

  7. Disconnect - As much as I love the time we spend together in bodywork sessions, it is very important for us to both disconnect at the end. I end each bodywork session with empowering guided meditation, giving you ownership of your energy and the good feelings that have been cultivated.

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