Andi Yablon-Krause had always been an extremely active person. She was a busy pastry chef and avid weekend hiker. But most of all, she love to dance. Yet something started to happen in her late twenties.
“My body felt like it was disintegrating,” said Yablon-Krause. “Then one day in dance class my back went out completely.”
The pain got so bad that she finally scheduled an MRI, which revealed some irregularities in her vertebrae and visible osteoarthritis. To top it off, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the thyroid.
“A pivotal moment for me was when a chiropractor told me I had to stop dancing,” said Yablon-Krause. “I was devastated.”
Desperate for an escape from years of chronic pain and a return to mobility, she heard from a friend about “Bowen therapy” — an alternative treatment she’d never heard of. The theory behind the soft tissue therapy is that it allows the body to repair itself from a wide range of chronic injuries and long term health conditions by “resetting” the autonomic branch of the nervous system. The therapy purportedly communicates with the brain by sending vibrations throughout the body to activate an innate healing response.
As a favor to her friend, Yablon-Krause agreed to try three sessions of Bowen therapy. She was stunned by the results. After the first session, she didn’t have to stretch for four months. When her back went out again, she went back for another treatment and it was better in less than 24 hours — it usually took weeks. After the third session, she didn’t feel the need to go back for four months, and was back dancing and hiking.
“After the three sessions I felt rebalanced and realigned,” she said. “My weight felt more evenly distributed — Bowen therapy resets the nervous system — I would say it’s half way between massage and physical therapy. It balances the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system.”
Yablon-Krause was so impressed with Bowen therapy that she decided to make it her life’s work. Today she is a Professional Bowenwork Practitioner and graduate of The American Bowen Academy, where she has been certified in all advanced, specialized procedures. After a rigorous three-year certification process, which involved hundreds of hours, Yablon-Krause began treating people in 2014. Her office can be found in Nevada City, adjacent to California Organics Market & Cafe.
As with most alternative treatments, Bowen Therapy has its share of skeptics. But the anecdotal evidence from Yablon-Krause’s clients seem to tell a different story.
Cameron Martin of Nevada City said she has struggled with sleep since she was in college. For years she would wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. and never go back to sleep, and the over-the-counter sleeping medication did not leave her feeling rested. She’d heard that Bowen Therapy was good for insomnia, but ongoing pain from a knee injury was what finally brought her into Yablon-Krause’s office.
“After my first session I slept through the whole night — I couldn’t believe it,” said Martin. “After a few sessions my knee was 90 percent better, but I do go back for ‘tune ups.’ Now I can finally go back to my Zumba classes.”
Martin was so impressed that she sent her husband to Yablon-Krause for a shoulder injury, and after two sessions he could fully rotate if after six weeks of pain. As a result, Martin was inspired to begin the long road of getting her own Bowen therapy certification.
During sessions, Bowen “moves” are performed over junctions of muscles, ligaments and tendons to open up nerve pathways, said Yablon-Krause. Many of these “moves” overlap with acupuncture meridians, trigger points and chakra systems, with the goal of sending vibrational patterns to the brain and bringing the body “back to balance and harmony.”
Yablon-Krause asserts that changes can include an increase in mobility, healing of chronic injuries, elimination of toxins, better organ function and improved circulation. During a session, clients may experience a “parasympathetic surge” that can initiate a shift from a “fight or flight” state to one of “rest and digestion.”
Forty-five-year-old Tracy Stirling of Grass Valley had read online that Bowen therapy can help with asthma, a condition she has struggled with her entire life. Yablon-Krause opened her office on a Sunday to treat Stirling, whose asthma had her on the verge of going to the hospital. It was the worst bout she’d had in more than 20 years.
“I got immediate relief after my first Bowen session,” said Stirling. “I had been in pretty bad shape. She pulled me out of a heavy spell of asthma. Then a month later the same thing happened and she pulled me through again. During asthma attacks, the diaphragm becomes locked. The therapy opened up the diaphragm and I could finally relax, which also helped with my anxiety.”
It’s that parasympathetic surge that is the key to the whole process, insists Yablon-Krause, which resets and relaxes the body to “bring internal balance, promote healing and create healthy new connections throughout the nervous system.
Still skeptical? That’s OK, says Yablon-Krause — just don’t rule out Bowen therapy if nothing else is working.
“Bowen can be so helpful on so many levels — I just want to get the word out there,” she said. “I love everything about what I do. For the first time in my life I’m completely fulfilled — it’s so rewarding to make a positive difference in people’s lives on a daily basis.”