In-Person Bodywork?

Updated: Jun 18

I am being asked: will I ... or rather, when will I open up to in-person bodywork.


And here, I feel evolution working through me.


If, one year ago, at start of the first pandemic quarantine, I named my state ‘cocoon-like’, then my current snapshot can still be called ‘emergent.’


My understanding of the world and how to navigate it keeps updating and my gut knowing of the way forward is heightened and sharpening.


Even my body responds differently than it did pre-pan: my ears pick up sounds more distinctly and the slightest touch feels striking. I have become even more sensitive.


Olga Chwa's teaching studio is ready: USB microphone, singing bowls and a meditation cushion.

Thinking about the massage therapy work I used to do, I realize how my previous focus on passive manual bodywork allowed many of my clients to “drop off their bodies,” and not really be fully engaged or responsible in their healing.


Now, working remotely and with audio as my main medium, my clients’ full attention is brought in and centered: they are totally present and have to participate - which powerfully uplifts the results.


This last year, I have been flexing my poetic mind to problem-solve and weave layers of consciousness into new, helpful perspectives while nervous systems reset in the healing of yoga nidra. I am no longer just beating my therapist body against the tough muscles and sinews of strangers.


I now have the honor to work with clients who are moving boldly forward, going inward, actively seeking the practices that allow them to live more comfortably in their bodies, lives and dreams. It has been amazing.

While I feel some clarity growing about what my life’s work is -- what really lights me up -- the whole pan-pivot which-way-now confusion, particularly with business, is still far from gone. But I can’t rush whatever is emerging. I am in a process of evolution that I can only breathe with and just keep showing up with my authenticity, moment by moment - constantly in touch with my sense of ethics and need to tread gently.

Olga Chwa is sitting in her teaching studio, ready to guide.

The feelings get especially hard every time I get a text or email with some variation of ‘when is in-person massage reopening?’. These inquiries have come in as a steady heartening and heart-breaking trickle over the months.


I want to roar: I am open! I’ve been open. My life has not been on hold in these last 15 months and I am not sitting around, waiting for some fast change. Despite my cocoon-like spiritual state, my new work began to emerge in the physical world quite early in the first stay-at-home days of the pandemic as I learned to serve my clients in safe, remote ways. Remote, not virtual. The work is very real.


The telephone sessions in particular have been transformative, though the video classes have their moments too. My clients connect to their bodies deeply and authentically, move their human forms mindfully and with therapeutic gentleness or perhaps they breathe into all of the hidden crannies of the inner landscape to find insights, guidance and grounding while being held with a personal yoga nidra.


They come out with perspective and clarity, with fresh understandings of what’s going on for their bodies on levels physical and more subtle. They move through their weeks with small, daily practices to sneak into their routines and find new ways to soothe whatever ails them.


Some love tracking their progress while others are in it for the dream-like journey-like aspect of each session. They all explore new ways of moving and being their bodies, showing up in their lives and implementing what works for them -- for lasting change.


I am witnessing my audio bodywork clients feeling better, and more sustainably so, than they had known before -- even those who used to come in for hands-on massage back in the day.

One bare hand and forearm rest over a flannel sheet at the edge of a massage table

So, what now? What about hands-on massage going forward?


For that, there is no quick “re-open” switch to flip and let my former business back into the treatment room I used to operate in my home.


That space is now my teaching studio: regular movement and meditation class every Monday, a yoga nidra for the LGBTQI+ community each Wednesday, monthly jaw care workshops, seasonal events with Stacey Pickering, on-line trainings with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and Yoli Maya Yeh as well as several ongoing private and corporate classes. Plus, I now attend networking gatherings, coaching calls, meetings with my assistant, continuing education webinars, and even dance parties all from this tiny zoom room.


Having moved into such a rich digital life in 2020-2021, I won’t just suddenly give it up because I’ve been vaccinated. Nor is setting up (at home or renting) a new treatment room with an in-person protocol up to current safety measures a project I am ready for this year. So, if hands-on work is in my near future, it will have to look quite differently.


Seeing my current clients’ results this year leads me to no longer believe in hands-on bodywork as a stand-alone modality. It only really makes sense when paired with the guided bodywork I offer remotely.


Because I have always cared about offering the best to my clients, I feel that I can no longer ethically offer passive manual bodywork without the transformational and educational piece and yoga nidra that I am also able to deliver by telephone or video call.

Olga Chwa is on a zoom screen in her teaching studio, effectively capturing the whole teaching space: computer in front, yoga mat in the back

So, for people committed to their bodies and learning how to live better in them thanks to my regular coaching, I will be available a few afternoons per week for hands-on work. Most immediately, this VIP service is only possible via house visits.


The full details of who is eligible for this new VIP package extend beyond what I share in this post, but do include a conversation about vaccination status, and more importantly, a multi-month investment along with the agreement to acquire and keep a massage table at the client’s home.


In other words, a true commitment to body and spirit with at least one remote session for every hands-on treatment.


Those of you who have been steadfast clients in recent months, I welcome you to contact me about arrangements and bookings if this in-person massage therapy offer sounds like the right next step for you.


If you are not a current coaching / private instruction client and are open to try coaching - even if it is just to get back on my massage table - let’s set up your free exploratory phone session and let me show you what audio bodywork can do for you.