Someone once said to me that, “if you like deep, fast, muscle pounding, limb twisting massage” that I’m NOT the woman for the job. I happily and wholeheartedly agree : )
What I’m proud to offer is a gentler, skilled, mellow, respectful and (often) meditative approach to massage and bodywork. I meet you where you are that day, listen carefully to you with my ears, eyes, heart and hands, and value you as a teammate in the process of your wellness.
Yes, we are a team. And this is a process.
When you come see me, you are coming to someone who views each session as a chance to not only deepen your healing and help you feel better, but also as a chance to continue getting to know you and your body so that one session builds upon the other, you feel more empowered during and in between sessions, and our professional relationship grows and strengthens.
So who do my clients tend to be?
Psychotherapists, somatic therapists, social workers, entrepreneurs, futurists, teachers/educators, artists, life coaches, alternative healers, non-profit warriors, writers, new parents, Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), dancers, yogis, tai chi practitioners, martial artists, students, retirees, care providers (nurses, nannies, etc.), public servants, graphic designers, web designers, software engineers, accountants, food servers/bartenders, etc.
Self-aware. Curious. Creative. Thoughtful. Open minded. Invested in their wellness.
I help to alleviate issues that include and/or stem from:
- General aches, pains and muscle soreness/fatigue
- Acute onset pain from injury, stress, poor sleep, or misuse
- Work, relationship, environmental, and/or parenting-induced stress and overwhelm
- Persistent neck and shoulder pain
- Persistent low-back pain
- Hand, wrist and elbow pain
- Migraines and headaches
- PTSD and Complex PTSD
- Insomnia and poor quality sleep/sleep deprivation
- Residual whiplash pain
- Pinched nerves
- Frozen shoulder
- Postoperative discomfort and fatigue
- Nerve impingement/tingling
How I do what I do:
Ortho-Bionomy® (OB), a very gentle yet effective hands-on technique based on Osteopathic and martial arts principles, guides the way. OB runs on the Golden Rule of “create no pain,” and I use my hands to accentuate the pathways of ease in your body, and work with you to create positions of comfort so your body feels safe enough to relax and release stress and discomfort. From there, traction and/or compression is applied to activate your body’s natural self-correcting reflexes within the muscle fibers. As one client described, “It feels like something is being put back in place.” Along the way, I may ask you for your verbal feedback as to what feels more comfortable, easier, or better so we can move things in that direction. OB can be done with the client completely clothed, or weaved into a more traditional, unclothed massage session.
OB does not attempt to impose change or “fix” the body, but rather shows the body more of who it is and what feels good so that possibilities for healing and more optimal ease and functionality can open up in their own timing.
To learn more about this amazing technique, please visit the Ortho-Bionomy website.
Other frequently used modalities include:
- Swedish Massage
- Somatic Practice
- Deep Tissue & Myofascial Release
- NeuroKinetic Therapy®
- Elements of the Trager Approach, Trigger Point Release, Craniosacral and Thai Massage
Working with Helena has taught me that bodywork can be more than just about relaxation. Not only has she helped me recover from a few soccer related injuries and soreness, but her sessions have helped bring me back into my body when I get caught up with all the stress and emotion of life. I am always impressed by how in-tune she is with my body and energy — it seems like she always knows exactly what I need and has a way of taking my mind and body to a place of peace and relaxation. Every time our sessions end, I feel like I’ve been to the moon and back!
Working with Helena has helped remind me me to give my body a rest and show it some love! I think anyone can benefit from working with her, especially those who are able to keep an open mind about what bodywork “should” be. Her work has reminded me of the power of healing and just how amazing and connected this universe really is.”
Jonathan Castañeda Gallardo Sorgman, Silicon Valley Program Manager
San Francisco, CA
“I can’t believe how much tension has been relieved from my shoulders and upper back! The massage was more gentle than any I have received in the past, and I was unsure how I my body would receive the treatment, but I haven’t had ANY pain since the day after I saw you! I have been experiencing subtle but non-stop aching pain in my back and shoulders for several weeks now, and I feel so much relief. THANK YOU.”
Marisa B., Graduate Student
San Francisco, CA
My work is client-centered, meaning I’m most interested in your experience of your body, your goals, your preferences, and who you are (you’re more than just your symptoms). This is about YOU, after all, not about me trying to sell you on a particular modality or tell you how you’re feeling or ought to be feeling.
Before your first session, I’ll have you fill out a comprehensive intake form so I can learn more about you and your physical history and lifestyle. Then, we’ll talk about what brought you in, what your goals/intentions are for bodywork, and you’ll have a chance to ask me questions, too.
For your first session, I recommend starting with 90 minutes. That gives us time to go over your intake form, discuss your goals, and leaves us with at least an hour of unhurried hands-on time.
As we move forward, we’ll always check-in before any hands-on work to discuss what’s been going on, how your body is feeling that day, as well as your priorities and preferences so that you receive a session tailored to you.
Based on what comes up during the session, I can offer self-care recommendations and/or referrals in an effort to empower you beyond the confines of our time together.
Integrated Massage & Bodywork
I blend the gliding, kneading, relaxing strokes of Swedish Massage with slow, focused Deep Tissue Massage and Ortho-Bionomy® to help you gently release tension, stress and pain. I am a student of the Trager Approach (involving easy rocking, bouncing, holding and shaking; a gift for your nervous system), and often incorporate that, as well.
With your consent, I will sometimes use gentle manual muscle tests from NeuroKinetic Therapy® at the start of a session to assess muscle function and help uncover and address movement patterns that are contributing to pain or restriction.
Unscented vegan massage cream will be used on your skin. Your body will be properly draped to maintain modesty, with only the body part(s) to be worked exposed.
Gentle Somatics and Movement Work
Sometimes, it will make the most sense to leave out traditional massage and use only Ortho-Bionomy®, Somatic Practice, NeuroKinetic Therapy®, and/or Trager Approach work, depending on the issue you are dealing with, your preference, and the state of your nervous system that day. These types of sessions can be totally clothed. If clothed, I will likely ask you to periodically get off the table and walk around so we can gauge and adjust our work. There is also room for these types of sessions to feel quite settling and restorative, in a different way than one might have experienced with massage.
**Unlike many spa relaxation massages, I view all sessions as a collaboration (as opposed to you lying passively while I do things, and then we just see how you feel afterwards). I will occasionally ask for your feedback about my contact and what you’re sensing in your body. Especially if you’re coming in with a specific complaint, better results are achieved when we work together.
Co-Regulating Touch & Early/Developmental Trauma Resolution
Please email me to begin a conversation about how we might work together around issues such as Complex PTSD, early/developmental trauma or bringing more regulation to your nervous system. My work often dovetails beautifully for people also working with a psychotherapist, Somatic Experiencing, or other type of trauma counselor who does not offer hands-on touch. I’ve trained with Kathy Kain and Stephen Terrell to be able to offer this type of work.
From the Co-Regulating Touch website: “Co-regulating through touch is part of what occurs in healthy human development. Methods that use touch as a way to support co-regulation are part of body/mind traditions that focus on presence and connection to address the ways in which both physical and emotional pain are held in our physiology.”
“When I first saw Helena over a year ago, I was experiencing lower back pain. I’d had mixed results with bodywork in the past; it’s often hard to find a bodyworker who my body responds to. However, since working with Helena, the pain in my back has subsided and my shoulder is improving, too. She has a kind of tool-kit when she works, responding to the changing needs of my body with a wide bandwidth of treatment options. One gentler modality, Ortho-Bionomy, has really helped me reactivate my body awareness. I had lost touch with my body in the past and am grateful to be back. Helena has also taught me exercises and suggested self-care practices and I have grown stronger and more aware because of them. I also really enjoy our post-session discussions where she shares detailed observations about my body that shows me she’s paying careful attention and is very inquisitive when she works. I would definitely recommend Helena, especially to my friends in the martial arts and those who have the sensitivity to respond well to her subtler work. She is gifted in this art!”
San Francisco, CA
Are you ready for some relief and relaxation? Let’s see what’s possible. Learn about my San Francisco, CA Location and Services, and then contact me to schedule a brief phone conversation here.
“I wanted to express my gratitude at how incredibly intuitive and smart you were with my body. I never thought gentle work would do the trick, and I’ve been so harsh with it for years. Yet you seem to be more patient with the system as it releases, and I hadn’t felt that at ease in ages. Not only did you listen to my words and pain, but you listened to my body itself, and responded to things that are mysterious to my knowledge. You actually helped me. It sounds simple, but it’s pretty miraculous that you could understand the complexities of the issues so quickly and provide some relief. The tension and ache were finally gone. Usually massages just make me feel better during, but not after. I guess I don’t really trust my body because I feel so helpless, and it feels so messed up, but you showed me that with gentle work, the body can be guided back to a better place. The combination of your talents and healing heart just make you a gift that is hard to find!”
Kasie Shahbaz, Student
San Francisco, CA