To Hellerwork and Back, Part 2

Drip, drip, drip…

A couple of years ago the kitchen tap in my house started dripping. Isn’t it amazing how such a small noise can pervade every corner of the house, particularly in that perfect stillness just before sleep?!

Eventually, I got round to changing the washer and the dripping stopped – for a while. A few months later, it started again. I changed the washer, again. It started dripping, again, and so it has been in my house ever since. I’ve checked inside the tap numerous times, and there are no ragged bits or anything obvious that could be leading to this abnormal wear of washers.

Hellerwork So often in life we work out a live-able solution to problems like this errant tap. So when our back starts to ache from hours sitting at the computer, we just put up with it, or give up sitting at the computer. Only when the symptoms reach the unbearable stages do we actually do something about it, and by then it’s often too late. In human terms may mean surgery, which is a drastic event when you’re talking about replacing a knee joint or hip joint instead of a tap (and let’s not even consider the horrors of spinal surgery).

Hellerwork cannot, of course, replace the washer. Instead it works at changing both the structure of the tap and the way we use it. Both are long-term projects – actually, scratch that, they are “rest-of-life” projects. Now I don’t mean you’ll visit your Hellerworker of the rest of your life, in fact one of the beauties of this approach is that (barring exceptional circumstances) you only attend for a total of 11. But to keep those annoying drips from coming back, you can apply the techniques you learn to stop the wear and tear to everything you do from then on.

In a way, I found the first Hellerwork session was almost like having a blindfold removed. In the week after my first session I became so very aware of my every movement, and the ever-present task of changing the way I moved. In one way it was very frustrating, and I often prayed that my unconscious would quickly absorb it all and set me free from constantly thinking about how I sat, walked, moved, and so on. But when I got things right it offered such relief, and I knew that there was better still to come.

The second session focused on my legs, which were then a major concern of mine. For starters I had two broken washers, in the form of cartilage tears that were waiting for surgery (the third time for my left knee). On top of that many years of sports and training had tightened up my leg muscles beyond belief, and I had regularly torn my hamstrings muscles in the past as a result of this. To say that I was anticipating some pain from this session was an understatement (and then some).

Caroline spent quite a bit of time ironing out a difference that was quite obvious to me, whereby raising my left leg while prone (in a kind of half-locust) was effortless, but when I did the same with my right the left hip rose up and it felt so much more difficult. Now I know this might start sounding like uber-adjusting but it wasn't really like that, the adjustments just don’t really translate well at times.

And the pain? Well, as I said before it was all under my control, but whereas last week I maybe asked Caroline to ease up once or twice, this week it was about 9 or 10 times. Rather strangely this seemed to be mostly on my left side, whereas I felt that most of my problems were on the right.

Having my feet manipulated was very interesting, if somewhat painful. It felt like they were making these crunchy-poppy noises as Caroline worked her way up from heel to toe, with the pain being much sharper than elsewhere.

The work around my knees left them feeling that little bit more fluid, and I could see that the tracking of both knees was completely different afterwards in relation to the lower legs. Even better, for the next week I felt that I was walking with a little more ease, with my weight further forward and less jarring impact through the heels and leg joints.

For the next session it was the turn of the sides and arms. The main focus here was on my tight right hip, as we tried to find the source of the tension and the solution. It may sound strange saying “we” here, as most therapy is thought of as something that is “done to” the client, but I definitely felt like part of the process at all times rather than the recipient.

On the whole this session seemed easier, less painful, and definitely less 'crunchy'. As we worked on the right hip, Caroline pointed out that when asked to lengthen that area with the interesting observation that I always tend to try to lengthen that hip at the side, never thinking about using my lower half to lengthen the hip. This bodywork certainly has me thinking long and hard about anatomy, and the variety of ways in which it can be accessed (as opposed to the habitual ways I do so).

Also interesting was the dialogue, which I must admit to finding difficult at times. Caroline asked how I communicate with my tension - what would my tension be saying to me if it had a voice. This had me totally dumbfounded - eventually I said I had difficulty conceptualising the tense parts of my body as having a voice. "Doesn't your body communicate with you?" she asked. D'oh! Well of course it does, I realise - and yet there I am, not communicating back with it. Over the past few days I've given this a lot of thought, and it's clearly something I need to work on - learning to communicate with my body a way it understands. Probably learning to listen more closely is the first step.

The postural lessons seem to be coming to my attention very frequently. Sometimes it can be really annoying, thinking about posture time after time, but I guess that's the only way to change these habits- like a drip of water on a stone, wearing them away one drop at a time.

So, after 3 sessions I ask is it working? Well, I would say so - most of my body has had a cursory 'working' by now, and I feel slightly more at ease in general. I don't seem to suffer from the same level of fatigue as before, in that I don't ache all the time. In specific, I seem to be learning ways to dissipate the tension in my right hip (which bothers me especially when driving) and that can only be good .

Next session concentrates on the inner legs (ouch!) and pelvic floor region (yowza!). Hmmmm - best not to anticipate that one, will report back.

Hellerwork article: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

Written by Scott Rennie

Scott teaches general "Yoga for Wellbeing" classes and specialist "Yoga for Pregnancy" classes throughout Ayrshire and Glasgow. He is affiliated as a teacher to the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation (, and is also available for one-to-one sessions to help you develop a regular home practice, deepen your existing practice or to tackle specific issues that cannot be addressed in group classes. You can find further details or contact him through his website at Scott's Hellerwork session took place at Mulberry House, Edinburgh. You can contact Caroline Tremlett via email at: carolinetremlett [AT] aol [DOT] com. To learn more about Hellerwork, visit