By Dionisia Hatzis
As a writer, I spend my days hunched over a tiny MacBook Air, carrying a flurry of bags between various coffee shops around the city for meetings and in search of quiet workspace. Last month, this lifestyle took its toll on my back and neck, which were both twitching in pain, leaving me bedridden from intense headaches that prevented me from working. Desperate for immediate relief, I considered seeing a chiropractor or visiting my cheap corner massage parlor, but then I remembered Edan whom I had met through mutual friends several years ago. I had always been intrigued by his work, but didn’t have a need for it at the time. Now that I was in severe pain, I did. I was curious to see how Kinetic Release Therapy (KRT), could help me during these dire times.
Edan Harari is the Founder of KRT which incorporates several modalities including Ortho-Bionomy®, AcroYoga therapeutics, and corrective exercises. KRT is a principle-based approach to healing, differing from other approaches because it does not adhere to outdated protocols. By supporting the body's natural healing mechanisms, working with the body rather than against the body, no unnecessary force is needed for deep healing to occur. A trained osteopathic manual therapist and structural educator, he graduated from the Swedish Institute and holds an Associates of Occupational Health Sciences degree. In addition, he is a licensed massage therapist and an associate of Ortho-Bionomy. To put it in laymen’s terms, the man knows his way around the body.
Never heard of Ortho-Bionomy? You’re not alone. It is a rare manual therapy that most people are not aware of, and Edan is intent on changing that. Developed by an osteopath and judo instructor in the 1970s, Ortho-Bionomy is a system that looks at the entire physical structure - the energy body, the organs, fluids, lymphatic system, muscles, bones, joints - in an all-inclusive holistic way. By placing the body in a place of ease and comfort, it will naturally release its own tension.
With this type of bodywork, your body immediately feels safe and in a state of ease and comfort throughout the session. With no pain, and zero exertion of brute force, the body is encouraged to safely heal itself. Essentially, the therapist works smarter, not harder, on the body. When our tissues contract, we can either force them to release by applying force or deep pressure - OR - we can heal from within by allowing the sensors of the nervous system to release the tension in the muscles and fascia.
With traditional massage modalities like acupressure or deep tissue massage, therapists put pressure into the knots and pressure points in an attempt to release the pain. According to Harari, this is the reason clients will return time and again complaining of the same pain. With KRT, contractions release instantly, and oftentimes, forever.
A regular on the dancefloors of New York City, Harari hurt his foot dancing in 2007, keeping him away from one of his favorite pastimes and in an enormous amount of pain. Many attempts at healing with massage and acupuncture led nowhere. When he approached his massage teacher - an Ortho-Bionomist - everything changed. “The bones in my foot had shifted. He held my foot in the position that it wanted to be in, and exaggerated the position of ease and comfort. He didn’t place any force on the bones like a chiropractor would have done, he just held the foot, exaggerated the pattern, and then the body simply let go.” Edan was amazed that with gentle manipulation, his body had the capacity to release its own tension. Within 30 seconds, his pain was gone, forever. He committed at that very moment to dedicate his life to this practice, and hasn’t looked back since.
Harari calls himself a therapeutic artist, a term that illustrates the true artistry of working with the healing forces of the physical body. Much like a chef in a 5-star restaurant creates culinary magic without a recipe, or a musician freestyles her way to a genre-bending masterpiece, Harari does not follow instructions step by step. Each client is in a different place, has a completely different body, and has varying needs. By staying present with the person and being in tune with what is happening individually, he is able to forge a true, unique connection with each of his clients. “When the body is in balance, you have harmony. All systems work well together and that’s when you have optimal health. Typically, other methods compartmentalize the body and focus solely on the muscles. The key is listening to the body as a whole, treating all the systems and the fascia, and simultaneously being present with it.”
My session with Edan began with some relaxing chest and back-expanding acro poses. I immediately felt at ease being supported by his body and his knowledge of the physical structure. Just five minutes in, and it was evident that my neck had already released some of the compression from the prior two weeks. Walking over to the massage table, I felt fluid and relaxed, and eager to feel the release from KRT. As he gently guided my arm into comfortable positions, he asked me, “ How are you more likely to heal from your pain? By receiving more pain that you’ll have to breathe through, or when you are in a relaxed state of comfort and you feel safe and able to surrender?” Words of wisdom.
During the therapy, Edan informed me that my first rib was elevated, putting pressure against my upper trapezius muscles. ‘No wonder my backpack straps keep slipping off my left shoulder,’ I thought to myself. Most other practitioners would approach this knot with brutal force, digging in a futile attempt to release the pain. But not Edan. He said that it was pushing up against the tissue, so by dropping it down, my upper back would release and soften. He held my body into the tense position, and asked me to gently push towards him as he held my elbow. Together, we released.
“Massage and stretching are great, but they’re not the best method for releasing tissues. It feels great, it gets the blood circulating, it softens the tissues, but it’s not the best tool for release. This is not massage. When it comes to true healing of pain, it’s all about working with the body versus against it. Working from the inside out versus outside in.” It turns out that Harari is extremely intuitive. His practice follows the mantra of “Less is more” and he encourages the body to heal itself by gently guiding it in the direction it desires. “The body will know what to do if you just guide it. The body does not want to be in pain. It has its own wisdom.” I melted off the table, but before leaving his office, he placed a room-temperature glass of Tensui water on the table. Parched from the release, I gulped it down in one fell swoop. How’d he know how thirsty I was? Intuition. The same intuition that guided his hands across my upper body and released the tension in my shoulder.
Walking out into the crisp Spring NYC air, I felt something different. Yes, I was significantly relieved of pain. Yes, I was walking a tad bit taller in my lengthened spine. But what stood out the most? My backpack was resting evenly across both of my shoulders for the first time.