What Is ‘Closing the Bones’ and Who Is it For?
The Closing the Bones ceremony, also known as Rebozo massage, is a deeply nurturing treatment that focuses on the abdomen and hips, but can use Rebozo massage techniques for the entire body (shoulders, torso, back, hips, full arms and legs). Closing the Bones is traditionally done during the postpartum period to support women who have recently gone through the extremely opening experience of pregnancy, labour and childbirth (during which a woman allows another soul to take birth through her). It helps a woman to find her own self and centre again and allows her to be sealed back into herself.
I offer this massage in the Leicester area and Midlands.
Although ideally done in the ‘4th trimester’ (in the first hours to first weeks/months after giving birth), this sealing or closing can still be done decades after having given birth with the same extraordinarily transformational effects.
Moreover, the Rebozo massage is also particularly healing after the loss of a baby, a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion, and/or to support women who suffer from anxiety, shock, trauma, or who feel overwhelmed or over-stimulated.
Yet, it is not an exclusive postpartum treatment... The massage also helps to mark major times of transition in a woman’s life (irrespective of whether she has given birth or not), such as young girls starting their period – most women indicate to feel tremendous relief from period pains when receiving the massage on the first few days of their menstruation – , marriage, divorce or the end of a relationship, moving home, transitioning between jobs, to mark the menopause, ...
The best and most lasting effects are gained by repeating the closing massage at least 3 to 6 times, but one-off sessions are also done.
In several Latin American and Asian countries the ceremony is still widely practiced; unfortunately, Western countries have largely forgotten this ancient lore of supporting women after childbirth. In Ecuador, for example, women are given this massage within 6 hours after giving birth and receive it at least 5 or 6 times in total during the first 40 days postpartum. In Indian villages too, there are still women who will go round and close new mothers’ bones. In the UK there are now around 150 Closing the Bones facilitators and this number continues to grow steadily. Most of us are trained by doulas Maddie McMahon and/or Sophie Messager, who in turn have learned this ancient wisdom from Rocio Alarcon (Ecuador), who is trained in traditional midwifery, shamanism and ethnobotany by her mother and grandmother, and holds a PhD in ethnobotany.
Procedure – What to Expect?
During the Rebozo massage you are fully clothed and are comfortably lying on a mat and/or blankets on the floor, supported by cushions and bolsters where needed. We always start by just chatting about why you would like a Closing the Bones and what it can do for you.
Upon booking, you are given the choice between 2 options:
During the first option, which is the shorter treatment, lasting up to 2-hours, we start by wrapping a Rebozo (shawl) around your hips, like a hammock, and gently rocking your hips in a distinctive rhythm – a process we call ‘sifting’ – , allowing the lower vertebrae to be released and allowing mobilisation of the pelvis and hips. We take our time for this process, and with all steps of the Closing the Bones you as a client are in control and get to decide the pace, rhythm and intensity of the movement and touch. The sifting is followed by a gentle but firm abdominal massage which works from your pubic bone up to your ribs. I use a nourishing oil with a blend of warming essential oils for this massage to treat aching muscles and joints while relaxing the mind through the aromatherapy. The focus during the abdominal massage is to remove tension in the uterus and bladder, bring the organs back to their original position, and work into the hip bones, thus releasing blocked and stagnated energy. The massage includes the breaking up of adrenalin crystals which have formed on the hip bones and indicate unresolved emotion and trauma. Ultimately, the massage helps to draw your energy back to your creative centre: your womb. The treatment continues with a second round of ‘sifting’ (rocking the hips in the Rebozo shawl). Finally, this Rebozo is firmly tied around your hips and abdomen to hold the uterus and bladder in place. We then continue by closing your skull/forehead, shoulders, knees and ankles as well with Rebozo shawls. I cover you up nice and warm and give you a lavender eye pillow to allow even deeper relaxation. Once ‘closed’ you are able to lie quietly as long as you wish or need while gentle music can play. Emotional release is possible and I will hold the space for you to go through this. The firm hold of the cloth allows you to let go and go deep inside. You decide when you are ready to be unwrapped. Afterwards we share a cup of tea and a chat to help integrate the experience.
In the 'deeper', 3-hour treatment, we start with by using a Rebozo or manta to rock and massage the shoulders, upper back, hips, chest, breasts, armpits, arms, wrists, hands, groin, legs, ankles and feet to release tension and stagnant energy, deeply stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, mobilise and articulate the spine and ribs, drain the lymphatic and cerebrospinal fluids, help you breathe deeply again, open up the sacrum, and release and relax the joints and muscles. It can help with swelling and oedema. We then continue with the hip sifting, massage techniques and closing described above, but we work deeper on the uterus, to remove tightness and tension at the front of the uterus and ligaments, target the fascia and avoid fascia shortening and tension in the ligaments. We can also integrate a massage of the upper chest, breast area and arms to help with release in the fascia and lymph movement and drainage. It can also benefit your milk production (this can be performed with a bra kept on if you prefer). Especially for recent postpartum mums we recommend this longer, 'deluxe' session as a first treatment, as it is really the nurturing work she will need.
*As with all massages and sessions that I provide, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire with details on your medical history before we meet.
Benefits of the Rebozo Massage
On a purely physical level, the sifting of the hips with the Rebozo and the subsequent oil massage of the abdominal area help to loosen the lower vertebrae (which have been compressed during pregnancy) and release tension and stagnant energy that has built up during pregnancy in the hip area. The technique also offers an effective way to help mobilise the pubic bone back into the correct position whilst stimulating shrinkage of the uterus and helping to move the uterus and bladder back into their pre-pregnant place. All this can prevent serious hip problems in older age (hip dislocations, hip replacements, pelvic instability, walking with a walking frame, …). The massage also stimulates the blood circulation which in turn cleans, renews and moves fluids (and may greatly help with milk supply and lochia); moves hormones, renews the immune system, tones the muscles and renews the tissues.
On a deeper emotional and spiritual level, unresolved emotional tension and trauma can be released in this massage and a woman’s energy is drawn back into her creative centre: her womb. A Closing the Bones session leaves you feeling put back together, ‘sealed’, safe, nurtured and cared for by your sisters. It helps to ‘close’ a new mother energetically, after having gone through the deeply ‘opening’ processes of pregnancy, labour and childbirth, which can leave a woman feeling empowered yet also vulnerable (physically as well as psychologically and emotionally). Everything about labour and birthing revolves around opening up, but once the baby is born the mother’s body requires sealing or closing as it can be left feeling raw and vulnerable. Birth is an amazing experience but the extreme openness can leave new mothers feeling empty or ‘leaking’. The ceremony also gives a woman the opportunity to share or unburden her birthing story, should she feel called to.
I offer the Rebozo massage in and around Leicester. The massage is usually done in the privacy of your home, but can also be offered at my place in Leicester if for any reason it is impossible to do this at your home. Should you have small children, it is good to have a family member or friend present who can take care of them for the duration of the session. Newly-born babies can stay on/with you, and little ones can nurse during the massage if they need to – we can be flexible to and accommodate for all kinds of situations. If you would like to have your community of women around you they can take part in the final full closing ceremony.
Please do not wear any perfume for the massage, as it will likely give either of us or both of us a severe headache.