Craniosacral therapy: not hooey? Who knew!

Yesterday I was led through a lush yard to the back door of a small art studio in a residential area of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 58 miles from my home in Chicago (if the navigation system in my car isn’t telling lies.) Women’s faces were everywhere. One giant canvas looked back at me with eyes I recognized immediately, rendered in black paint and leaned against several microphone stands and loose jars was a painting of my mother-in-law.

“Hallooo!” she calls into the house as she slipped $50 into an otherwise unremarkable box on the deck.After a moment, an older Indian man followed two barking dogs that appeared at the door. It was Rajesh Alwa, the self-taught craniosacral therapist who would be moving my skull bones within the hour.

He ushered us into the studio and apologized for the mess. He’s a thin little guy and always seems to be thinking about his craft. Craniosacral therapy is new medicine, after all, and needs a little advocacy that Rajesh Alwa so happens to provide the world. Officially, he is a Body Mind Practitioner and Holistic Healthcare Consultant. Unofficially, he is a hippy.

Craniosacral therapy is based on what the medical community considers a myth: that the sutures in the skull are not fixed and the eight bones that form the human skull are in constant motion and may become maligned during events of trauma, including birth.  Such was the case with Rajesh Alwa’s daughter who suffered a stroke affecting the motor function on one side of her body. Today, after many years of her father’s efforts, she is a ballet dancer.

Rajesh began with a lesson. I took a seat among the art supplies and he pulled out a model skeleton about the size of a loaf of bread. The “dura” you see, is the deepest layer of the anatomy inside our bones. Picture your skull containing a fluid-filled balloon with a tail extending down the spine. It breathes in and out. A pulse. To the above-board medical establishment it is hogwash, but to a community of holistic practitioners gathering steam since the 1950’s, the dura is the key to health.

There is a table in a tiny room in the back of the studio where I am instructed to lie supine and unsnap my bra. Maria disappears and it looks like I’m on my own. How do I get myself into these situations? I lied down.

Before any real body work begins, Raj takes a series of measurements. My pelvis is fine (whew!) but it appears my sternum is out of whack and my body is not centered. Soon, he puts his hands on me. A series of gentle touches to my head, sternum and tailbone feel more like a gentle child pretending to play doctor than true therapy. Chiropractors crack bones and even massages can get a little rough. Not Raj. He barely cradles my head but soon, I’m nearly asleep.

An hour passed, but it felt like much less. I got up and was suddenly much more comfortable than I had been coming in. Rajesh Alwa guided me to the bright sunshine. Ah, colors! Birds. Everything is funny. I’ve felt this feeling before – after smoking a large joint one spring afternoon in college. I had to sit down and suddenly I became scared of the 90-minute drive back home with three kids in the car. What did this man do to me?

One theory is the body responds to craniosacral therapy by releasing cannabinoids, naturally occurring cannabis compounds found in the human body. Wait, you mean there’s weed just floating around in our bodies, waiting to be tapped into by skull massage? Too deep! Too deep!  The other theory as to why people float out of craniosacral therapy is it’s damn relaxing to lay on a table and have someone rub your head for an hour.

Rajesh Alwa is available for craniosacral therapy, structural reintegration, bio-oxidation, detoxifying, meditation, hypnosis instruction and other holistic consultation at and by appointment at his alternate studio near Belmont and Wolcott in Chicago.

UPDATE: It could be coincidence, but I later realized this adorable baby was created (on the first try!) the day of my cranio-saccaral therapy. Considering it took us six months and two miscarriages to get her older sister I’m declaring this a victory. Craniocacral therapy for fertility? Maybe! 


Rajesh Alwa in his holistic studio in Lake Geneva, WI

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  • Sounds dreamy...please let me know the next time you go. I'm always ready to get in touch with my cannabinoids. Seriously I HAVE to try this guy!

  • The guy told me I'd feel like I was hit by a truck the next day. He was right! I felt like such crap yesterday, all I could do is lay in the baby pool. And now I feel great!

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