Closing the Bones ceremonies are normally done in-person, but during the 2020 lockdowns I created an online variation where I lead you through the work (on Zoom or Skype). If you have no access to a practitioner near you, this can be very helpful.
What Is ‘Closing the Bones’ and Who Is it For?
The Closing the Bones (CtB) ceremony, aka Closing ceremony, Cerrada or Rebozo massage, is a deeply nurturing treatment that focuses on abdomen and hips (and upper body if wanted) -- areas left out in most other types of massage, but where for us women so much happens during the entirety of our lives -- , and that can additionally incorporate Rebozo massage techniques for the entire body (shoulders, torso, back, hips, full arms & legs) and that finishes with you being wrapped or swaddled in 8 rebozos. More than just physical work, it is deeply energetic work and fulfills the function of a Rite of Passage, something we lack so profoundly in our Western society. It creates a unique space that allows for deep processing and incredibly profound healing, by creating a chrysalis, a cocoon in which a caterpillar goes through the transformation process of turning into a butterfly. And when you are unwrapped, we marvel together at the unique colours and intricate design of those wings you have just grown...
A Rebozo or Manta is a woven shawl from Mexico or Ecuador, which is regarded as deeply sacred. It's referred to as "an extension of loving hands", and the weaving of it can take up to a month. It becomes like the weave of sisterhood and can put us back together or keep us together during times where we feel ourselves unravelling or need to physically feel that support of others around us. I also often call it "the fascia (connective tissue) outside of the body", as in many ways it takes over the function of our fascia, allows a deep release of tension from the connective tissue when worked with, and allows for a deep energetic feeling and connection to develop between the one offering the rocking and massaging with the rebozo, and the one receiving it, to the point that it almost becomes like a 'dance' between the two.
When is Closing the Bones work offered?
- during the postpartum (and the closing work can be done years or decades later still too)
- after baby loss, miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion
- in cases where a hysterectomy is suggested (it can often prevent the need for one) or after a hysterectomy
- with fertility problems
- to help with breastfeeding challenges
- to mark the end of a breastfeeding journey
- to honour milestones e.g. 1 year post-birth
- to honour the menarche (a girl's first period) (rite of passage to Maiden)
- around the time of marriage (rite of passage)
- to assist in the perimenopause or mark a women's menopause (rite of passage into the beautiful state of Crone or Wise Woman)
- to help with loss such as experienced in a divorce, loss of a job, loss of a loved one, ...
- to mark important changes or events (marriage, a new job, a house move, children moving out of the house, ...)
- for anxiety, shock, PTSD
- for ADD, autism, or to help people with overwhelm or sensory overstimulation (also for men & children)
- to help with endometriosis, PCOS, painful periods, prolapse, diastasis recti
- for healing (physical, sexual, emotional, domestic) abuse and trauma
- for ancestral trauma or trans-generational wounding
- for women who have suffered female genital mutilation
- for women who have been trafficked
- for terminally ill people, so they can create a goodbye ceremony with loved ones as rite of passage
So: Closing the Bones is traditionally done during the postpartum period to support women who have gone through the extremely opening experience of pregnancy & 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 any energy leakages to be sealed. Although ideally done in the ‘4th trimester’ (and even as soon as 6 hours after birth), CtB can still be done decades after having given birth with the same extraordinary effects. Moreover, it is also deeply healing after the loss of a baby, a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion, a hysterectomy, or where fertility problems present themselves... It can even be done while you are going through the process of miscarriage - you don't have to wait until you have stopped bleeding as this can be a process of several weeks, and Closing the Bones can be an immense support during a miscarriage. I have also found that Closing the Bones works beautifully to mark the end of a breastfeeding journey, when it can be the most powerfully nurturing ceremony to 'reclaim' your body in some ways as yours again; or to honour milestones such as little one turning e.g. 1 year old (where often all the celebrations are about the little one, just like with birth so often, and mum's well-being and care can again be overlooked while she has just been thrown into a first year of unconditional and often relentless service and sacrifice, very often at the cost of her own sleep, health, food, ...).
Yet, it is not an exclusive postpartum treatment, nor is it even exclusively for women... Closing the Bones ceremonies can help 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, marking the (peri-)menopause, ... And its magic doesn't end there: it can also be used to support men, women and children who suffer from anxiety, shock, trauma (sexual or other), PTSD, ADD, autism, or who feel overwhelmed or over-stimulated; it can be used with endometriosis, fertility problems, PCOS, painful periods, … and it’s wonderful to use around ancestral trauma or trans-generational wounding. In case of a miscarriage, being sifted and rocked, and then wrapped in rebozos, can also be very nurturing and healing for the partner.
Interestingly, new research is also showing that it is likely not adrenaline, but osteocalcin (which is released by the bones of our skeleton) that drives the stress response - and that it thus makes absolute sense to work on the bones during or after situations that have caused us stress!
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, Asian and African countries similar ceremonies are still widely practiced; unfortunately, Western countries have largely forgotten this ancient lore of supporting women after childbirth, although in several Eastern European countries it's still being practiced quite widely, the Netherlands have a version of it on their NHS-equivalent, and the ritual is slowly gaining popularity again in European countries and in North America. In most villages in Ecuador and other Latin American countries, women are still 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, and evidence suggests this was the case all over the globe. I know through testimonials of my own clients e.g. that in many Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan villages there are still women who will go round and close new mothers’ bones. In the UK there are now around 750-800 Closing the Bones facilitators and this number continues to grow steadily, and most UK practitioners have learned this ancient wisdom through the lineage of Rocío Alarcón (Ecuador), who herself was trained in traditional midwifery, shamanism and ethnobotany by her mother and grandmother, and holds a PhD in ethnobotany.
I offer this massage in the Leicester area and Midlands and have served over 650 women with Closing the Bones ceremonies over the past years. I am also a facilitator for the Closing the Bones training workshops (both the basic 'Closing the Bones' training and the 'Deeper into Closing the Bones' training) and have trained more than 140 people. If you would like to train to offer this fabulous ceremony, do check my Trainings page for upcoming trainings. If you would like to organise a training in your area, please get in touch with me and we'll see what we can do, or I can get you in touch with other trainers in the UK.
What to Expect? What Happens in a Closing the Bones Ceremony?
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.
When you're booking, you are given the choice between several 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 to hold the uterus and bladder in place. We then continue by closing your head, shoulders, abdomen, thighs, knees, lower legs 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 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 herbal tea and a chat to help integrate the experience.
- In a deeper 3-hour treatment we start 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. This work can also help with swelling and oedema. Furthermore this particular massage and rocking work deeply stimulates the Bladder meridian which runs all across the back of the body. The bladder meridian is intimately related to the autonomous nervous system and the meridian branches directly influence the sympathetic & parasympathetic trunks of the autonomous nervous system, which regulates our fight-flight(-hide) response, and, in turn, all the body’s basic vital functions. In the pressures of modern life many people suffer from an overly-activated sympathetic nervous system, causing a constant state of apprehension, fear, or worse. This can be accompanied by tension and pain along the spine and its periphery. Over time, it crystallizes into a fixed pattern of fear which can inhibit the decision-making capability and manifest as chronic high blood pressure, ADHD, bi-polar disorder, heart disease, panic attacks, and low libido. Back tension and pain can be relieved by stimulating the energy flow along the spinal branches of the bladder meridian. Such stimulation induces total relaxation by switching the autonomous nervous system over to the restful, restorative, parasympathetic mode – which is exactly what happens during this work. The Bladder meridian really ‘rules the back of the body’: with some 80 meridian points in 4 lines running down the back, the back is a fertile field for the storage of old wounds that have the potential to become organ imbalances (e.g. kidneys), almost literally bearing the burden of the past. Feelings held here can include guilt, feelings of duty, but also feelings about sexuality, self-control, self-support and stability. Releasing the tension in the back and stimulating the bladder meridian will automatically release the stored psychic tension, thus resolving many physical and psychological problems. 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. I also offer an optional massage of the upper chest, breast area and arms to help with a deep release in the fascia (connective tissue) and with lymph movement and drainage, as well as tension in the shoulder area. These massage movements create a deep and beautiful flow of energy from the womb up through the heart to the throat and neck area, and are very fluid and feminine in nature. They help open the flow of energy upward into the heart and throat, as well as along the kidney meridian. This work can also benefit your milk production. (this part of the massage can be done with your bra kept on if you prefer). You are then wrapped up as described above in the section of the 2-hour treatment, and we finish with herbal tea and a chat.
- The 4-hour all-encompassing Closing the Bones & Rebozo Massage includes everything from the 3-hour session plus further Rebozo fascia-releasing massage work on the full body (arms, legs, shoulders, entire back and head) as well as deeply-relaxing swinging techniques on all limbs to support the joints and ligaments as well as a release of the sacrum.
Especially for recent postpartum mums we recommend these longer sessions as a first treatment, as it is really the nurturing work she will need.
- Rebozo-massage only: Lastly, I offer an option that does not include any hands-on massage of the abdomen, hips or torso, but that purely works with rebozos only: you will then be sifted and rocked with rebozos (you can choose whether you want to have only your hips or your entire body sifted and rocked, as well as the various limbs and head being cradled and swung to support and relax the joints, ligaments, sacrum, ...), and afterwards you'll be fully wrapped and bundled in 8 rebozos (head, shoulders, abdomen, hips, thighs, knees, lower legs and feet) so you can rest in this deeply healing womb-like space. This option can take from 1 hour all the way up to 2 1/2 hours depending on your preference (techniques will be left out or added depending on the time you book for). This option also works well for men and children (we can keep it shorter for children).
There is also the option for you to have a rebozo to keep after the massage. I will use this rebozo then as one of the rebozos used to rock and bind you (for the hips). This will make it a special and lovely memento of the session and you can use it to wrap your hips again afterwards, to babywear your child, to simply wear yourself as a shawl, to meditate with, use as a table runner or on your sofa, ... The cost of the rebozo varies depending on the length and weave-type - you can find them in my webshop.
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.
Learning how to Offer Closing the Bones to others?
I am also a facilitator for the Closing the Bones training workshops (both the basic 'Closing the Bones' training and the 'Deeper into Closing the Bones' training). Do you feel called to use and integrate this very sacred and devotional work professionally (you might e.g. already be a birth worker, doula, midwife, massage therapist, pregnancy or postnatal yoga teacher, ...)? Or do you maybe just want to be able to offer your near and dear ones (family, friends, people in your community, ...) one of the most nourishing and soulful gifts you could gift them? You would be joining a tribe of over 750-800 women (and a few men) who are passionate about nurturing women in this way -- and we make sure to give you all the possible tools to really help you connect with that tribe and feel supported by them on your own journey as bone closer. If you would like to train to offer this fabulous ceremony, or if you would like to organise a training in your area, please get in touch with me and we'll see what we can do, or I can get you in touch with other trainers in the UK. If you organise a workshop for me to come and facilitate, you can get a 50% discount on your own training fee.
The training workshops are offered as 3 or 4-day trainings (up to 30 hours), and can be run as consecutive days, or we could run them with some time in between the various modules. I also offer a 7-day module (40 hours of work and ceremony) in the form of a women's week with space for deep processing, ceremony, yoga, meditation, gong baths, EFT etc. alongside all the Rebozo & Closing the Bones work and the actual training modalities.
I mostly run the shorter workshops around weekends, but we can look at other options too if you want to organise one near you and weekends are not possible for you.
You can always check for the upcoming trainings on my Trainings-page.
I offer the Rebozo massage in and around Leicester. The massage can be done in the privacy of your home or at my home studio in Leicester. 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 we can organise that too -- in the package series I offer, that is generally included as the last session.
Please do not wear any perfume for the massage, as it will likely give either of us or both of us a severe headache.
"After having multiple miscarriages and a hysterectomy, I went to see Japjeet Kaur for the very soothing closing of the bones ceremony. The entire process was so perfectly gentle and in a comfortable environment. There is an innate healing energy from Japjeet Kaur that was so very delicately balanced and left me feeling lighter - physically and emotionally. As someone who studies the science of the mind in relation to results, I have to say that this is one of the definite factors for my personal healing and my professional strides.
On top of all of this, she has an incredible array of products and an exemplary knowledge of a work that is carried out with love and compassion. Thank you so much for helping me with my healing. I would come to you again and again!"
Gurpreet Kaur 30/08/2018
"That was truly the most loving thing I've ever experienced - it was like a hug that wouldn't end, and the most amazing part was that it was a hug with myself. It was unexpected and overwhelming. It was like everything that ever existed and will ever exist, all at the same time.
It was everything I ever needed, and everything I needed right now but didn't even know I needed.
It was pure love given, without any expectation back.
I love my babies so much, but now I also love myself so much.
Lying wrapped up like that, with glimpses of the past and of the future, of what I've lost and what will still come into my life.
Thank you so deeply. This was bliss."
"After three quite complicated pregnancies and three very intense labours within a 6.5 year period, my body felt broken... The bones in my pelvis area felt 'loose', my lower back just ached and my upper back hurt so much that I really struggled to hold and breastfeed my newborn. After the very recent birth of my third baby, my beautiful, close friends organised a [3 hour] 'closing the bones' session with Japjeet Kaur Ji. I wasn't cynical about the procedure but I had almost accepted that a 'creaking, clickity, achy' body was the price for my three little blessings and so was part and parcel of my future. The session itself was a very nurturing, healing and powerful experience and I immediately began to slowly feel as though I was getting 'fixed' so much so that I have had two more [3 hour] follow-up sessions. Japjeet Ji listened, soothed and advised. She worked around my needs and the needs of my baby in a very caring and compassionate way. Sometimes we often wonder what to get the new baby and at times neglect the mother... we usually end up buying lots of baby clothes, which don't get me wrong is a lovely, kind gesture but sometimes we need to nurture the mother and what better present than the 'closing the bones' session. A massive thank you to my special friends for this and I will definitely be 'paying it forward' to the next new mummy friend. A very humble and sincere thank u ji to Japjeet Kaur Ji and looking forward to another session soon."
Amandeep Kaur 28/11/2018
"Yesterday I experienced the incredible 'Closing the Bones'. Ten years after my first out of three children was born, and after a very traumatic emotional time these last few months. The treatment was so wonderful. I felt safe, looked after, respected and nurtured. I felt how my figure was before being so stretched and now it came back, & my belly button opening even shrunk. I feel different, walk different, and am realigned. Truly recommended for all women. I feel I can reclaim the control of myself. A million thank you's. I feel even better this morning!"
Anna Hobbs 14/12/2018
"This lady, is magical, and a true, true healer, whom I have been blessed enough to be held by, in shawls, in words, and in her healing massage techniques...for any woman who is struggling with any womanly issue or trauma, I cannot recommend Japjeet enough. You are a blessing to all women Japjeet, honestly... I'm still feeling the benefits from my 'Closing the Bones' a few weeks back. I have been on top of the world! Thank you.
The thought of training with this beautiful soul next year, fills me with utmost happiness and joy for the festive season xxxx"
Anna Hobbs 22/12/2018