Bowenwork, also known as the Bowen Technique, is a dynamic system of muscle and connective tissue therapy that was developed by the late Tom Bowen in Geelong, Australia. It utilizes small but measured inputs to the body stimulating the body to heal itself, often profoundly. Bowen Technique usually results in the relief of many specific injuries and other health problems, both acute and chronic. It does so holistically, by using the body’s innate healing mechanisms. The practitioner delivers signals to the nervous system at specific locations (on muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves), and the body does the rest, responding in its own time, as it is able.

Rather than focusing on a single complaint, the Bowen Technique addresses the entire body, by restoring balance via the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS controls over 80% of bodily functions and is very susceptible to external stressors. Most people today live in a constant state of high stress and sympathetic ANS over-stimulation (‘fight, flight, or freeze mode’). Healing can occur only after the ANS shifts from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance (‘rest, relax, repair mode’). The Bowen Technique seems to catalyze that shift. During sessions, clients often quickly drop into deep relaxation or fall asleep, and loud peristalsis is often heard. Both changes are indications of profound release from stress and a shift towards parasympathetic dominance. This shift could explain, in part, the common observation that Bowen sessions seem to reactivate the recovery process in situations where healing from trauma, sickness, or surgery has stalled or reached a plateau.

Bowenwork sessions generally last from 15-60 minutes. The moves are gentle but purposeful. Clients usually lie on a massage table or can be seated in a chair, if required, for comfort. In a session that balances the entire body, the lower back is addressed first, then the upper back, and then the neck. A Bowen session involves one or more ‘procedures’, each of which consists of several sets of ‘moves’. Between each set of moves, the practitioner pauses for as many minutes as are needed for the client’s body to begin responding. After the nervous system begins to adjust to the tension level in the muscles, the client is ready for the next set of moves. The Bowen Technique allows the body to heal itself with minimal intervention.