I define it as someone who sees the human body as a vehicle which requires regular maintenance (just as our automobiles do) and employs different manipulative forms of therapy to help others get the most out of their bodies.
Many Bodyworkers begin as Massage Therapists and see that there is so much more to learn and be done than the standard Swedish Relaxation massage. They advance further into the field and add more and more modalities to their tool boxes.
Bodywork techniques are geared toward improving posture, promoting awareness of how tightly the mind-body connection is and manipulating hard rigid sheaths of fascial into soft and free flowing structures.
The term Bodywork encompasses many forms of manipulative and non-touch energy techniques. Massage therapy is one such form as well as: Reiki, Healing Touch, Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, CranioSacral Therapy, Rolfing, Structural Integration, Reflexology, Deep Tissue Massage, Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Polarity Therapy, Bowen Technique, Feldenkrais Method, The Alexander Technique, Pilates and many more.
I believe the thing that sets a Bodyworker apart from a general Massage Therapist is the intent they hold while working with their client. The intention is much more than simply providing a relaxing massage. The intention is to get energy moving throughout the person’s system so they feel “tuned up”, recharged and relieved of unnecessary stress and tension which is affecting their performance negatively.
A long time ago a teacher of mine mentioned in class that she liked to receive her massages at night so she could just relax and go to sleep and her bodywork sessions at the start of her day so she could feel the increased freedom and range of motion throughout her daily activities. I think that’s a great way to think about it.