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Imagery Featured in Scholarly PTSD Text; Gyrotonic Magic

01 Jun

Listen up, guided imagery lovers.  At long last, a scholarly book on PTSD gives serious cred to guided imagery as a viable treatment option for posttraumatic stress.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Basic Science and Clinical Practice, a volume edited by Peter Shiromani, Terrence Keane, and Joseph E. LeDoux, got reviewed in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.
 
The book focuses on epidemiology, neurobiology, MRI studies, animal models, arousal and sleep issues, clinical trials, and treatment strategies for clinicians.

Three treatment strategies are discussed: guided imagery, pharmacologic treatment and virtual reality exposure therapy. Jennifer Strauss wrote the chapter on imagery.

I want to write about Gyrotonic.  That’s not an elixir in a bottle, people.  It’s a three-dimensional exercise system, taught on specially designed weight and pulley equipment (ahhh, heavenly traction!).  Created by a Hungarian genius named Juliu Horvath, it’s based on principles of yoga, energy medicine, dance, tai chi and swimming.  Gyro uses fluid, spiraling exercises plus traction, that work the entire body and elongate the spine, loosen up the joints and stimulate the cardiovascular system.  It’s very therapeutic and it feels great.

My daughter-in-law had trained in it in Germany, and forwarded an email to me that proclaimed there was a new studio in Cleveland and that Shaquille O’Neal was an enthusiastic celebrity client, using the method he learned in L.A. to help heal his many injuries and stay limber. (Needless to say, they needed special Shaq extensions for all the equipment.)
 
I’d been hobbling around for months with an injured hip from having taken a header in an archeological dig in Turkey.  I tried everything - physical therapy (boring), massotherapy (useless), cortisone shots (pointless), exercise (ouch), rest (worse)… nothing helped in a permanent way, not even my beloved Sombra, which works for most garden variety aches and pains.
 
So here’s the thing: after two weeks of basic (and I do mean basic) Gyro training, the hip was better and stayed better.  No kidding. And unlike some of the yoga and Pilates training I’ve done, this subtle work didn’t stress my lower back - in fact it made it better than it’s been in 20 years. (Maybe 30).  My spine is straighter. My legs are more flexible. My joints are looser. My neck and shoulders are happy, even.  I love this method. There are even classes just for people with scoliosis.

I can’t vouch for every studio in the U.S., but Gyrotonic Cleveland has primo instruction.  Check it out, Clevelanders!  It’s located at Fairmount Circle on the East Side.  Click here or call 216.320.9446. (And don’t be intimidated by the photos of the super-flexy, obscenely limber instructors - they’re dancers. You will not be expected to do that stuff - unless you want to.)

OK, take care and be well!



Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award