Craniosacral Therapy 101

Your sleep has been poor
You’ve been feeling less energetic
Your stress levels are up
Your dealing with migraines/PMS/back pain…

For those dealing with stress or physical disease, Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a hands-on, light-touch bodywork treatment that works to reduce “restrictions” in the body that can contribute to the buildup of tension and chronic pain. 

Benefits of CST can include an immediate relief of accumulated stress, profound feelings of calmness and relaxation, and renewed body awareness. CST can also identify other areas of tension and imbalance through the craniosacral rhythm.


But what is Craniosacral Therapy?

It’s a common misunderstanding, but straight-up CST is not a massage. Now that that’s out of the way… CST was developed back in the 1970s by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger and works with the craniosacral system. Comprised of the cranium, spine, and sacrum, the craniosacral system is connected by the dura mater— a membrane of the body’s deepest fascia, bathed by the cerebral spinal fluid creating a pulse that is six to 12 beats per minute (the craniosacral rhythm).

CST therapists are trained to identify imbalances in that rhythm, looking for rate, symmetry, vibration, and quality. Through gentle motion, CST therapists assess and find where there are deep or subtle restrictions that are compromising one's well-being— anywhere on the body.


What to Expect During Craniosacral Therapy

CST is performed while you're fully clothed, so you wear loose-fitting clothing and lay on your back, on a massage table, for the session. Depending on the season, the table can be heated.

With a barely detectable pressure, your therapiststarts at the feet, holding the soles for a few grounding moments and then moves up to the top of the body, lightly applying pressure to the head, neck, back, and, eventually, the pelvic area. If we had to put a time on it, it’s roughly 10-minutes per body part. Note: the pressure isn’t a gripping or kneading sensation associated with massage, rather it feels more like a propping up each area with the lightest touch physically possible. 

If it’s your first CST session, you might initially think this is it? But rest assured soon you’ll “get it” and future CST sessions will be ones you welcome, and become more attuned to. No matter your first or 14th treatment, CST is a very relaxing, subtle therapy— you might fall asleep for some or most of the treatment, but for sure you’ll spend the session on the cusp of deep relaxation. 

The unwinding that happens during CST can resurface emotions that are stored deep within the body. It’s normal to experience release such as crying, sighing, and/or internal body noises. Your practitioner has seen it all. Let what ever comes, flow.

The need for fluid dramatically increases during a session due to the responses the body and nervous system go through while in restoration and healing mode. Drinking water before and staying hydrated after your session is important to gain the maximum benefit from a treatment. 

It’s common to feel groggy but also rejuvenated, relaxed, and settled after treatment. One session will not cure anxiety, stress, or fatigue, but you’ll leave feeling a lot better—which, is the first step in feeling better normally ;-) You and your therapist will work together to figure out the course of treatment that meets your needs. 


Who is Craniosacral Therapy for?

CST can address issues for a range of people, from young to old, and is extremely helpful for newborns— providing help with any sleep issues, colic, other feeding challenges, and overall development (especially C-section babies that don't get the deep vaginal squeeze at birth). Other conditions that benefit from CST include:

  • PCOS
  • Acute and chronic headaches
  • PMS
  • Depression
  • Anxiety/Stress
  • Neck and head tension
  • PTSD
  • Nerve damage
  • IBS
  • Acid reflux
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Motor skills and degenerative disorders
  • TMJ
  • Deep-seated tension

A few contraindications include recent cranial injury, fractures and open wounds in the craniosacral area, aneurysms, acute infection of the craniosacral membranes, herniation of the medulla oblongata, and recent brain surgery. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure before you start CST.

We offer Craniosacral Therapy at Boketto, and are lucky to have Pasha Kat Yuen as a practitioner at Boketto.

Pasha is a therapeutic bodyworker specializing in women’s health and the precious time surrounding pregnancy and birth. Her adult practice aims to assist women & families to develop more stability in their mental and physical wellbeing through gentle manual therapies. Pasha’s infant practice supports babies through their transition to life outside of the womb, breastfeeding, and growing into strong and healthy infants.

Pasha’s areas of specialty include abdominal dysfunction, low back pain, pelvic pain & disorders, migraines/headache, TMJ pain & dysfunction, anxiety, depression, prenatal, & postpartum care. She is trained to support women through pregnancy, labor, delivery & the recovery after birth.

Pasha is a seasoned therapeutic bodyworker having practiced in California, New York City, Pennsylvania & Virginia since 2014. She is currently a licensed massage therapist with the Virginia Board of Nursing & the California Massage Therapy Council, with extensive continuing education from the Upledger Institute.

Her work incorporates craniosacral therapy, abdominal massage, myofascial release, mouthwork, herbal compresses & fire cupping as needed to support the body through the different stages of life.