Ortho-Bionomy: To Find Balance


Reminding the body of its natural ability to find balance by Alison Zuber, © 19911

canstockphoto3013013Ortho-Bionomy is a gentle approach to bodywork, a system of somatic education and a natural avenue for whole health.

Founded in the early 1970’s by British osteopath Dr. Arthur Lincoln Pauls, Ortho-Bionomy® blends cornerstones from ancient as well as modern health care systems.

From Eastern thought, Dr. Pauls, who held a black belt in Judo, brought the awareness of achieving a state of balance in the body with movement and cycles of movement. From Osteopathy, he brought these major ideas: the structure and the function of the body interact dynamically; the importance of circulation in the creation of health; the awareness that muscles contain self-balancing reflexes; and, most importantly, the innate ability of the body to heal itself.

canstockphoto18237083The body is created with a pattern for balance.

The body’s tendency is to protect and nurture itself and to that end, it inherently has the capacity to shift and change in response to the world to constantly re-create that balance. Sometimes our body’s protective reactions are stopped in mid-process before the body returns to a balanced state. The protective reaction doesn’t have the opportunity to complete itself and the muscles remain stuck in a defensive posture. This can happen if we react to an incident out of fear or with habitual muscle patterns that aren’t balanced.

yay-9347418woman sore neck

An example might be whiplash in the case of an automobile collision. Upon impact, the neck muscles freeze up to protect the vertebrae in the neck. This is an appropriate reaction, but because of the shock involved, the body doesn’t get the chance to move through the incident, recognize that the danger has passed, and return to that natural state of balance. The result is what we call a “misunderstanding with regards to the incident.”

Muscular injuries such as this are among the many places where Ortho-Bionomy can be very helpful. In addition, people with arthritis, sports injuries, illness, posture problems, as well as stress related issues have found relief. Sport, musical and dance performance is improved by Ortho-Bionomy, due to shortened reflex time because of improved structural alignment.

Ortho-Bionomy techniques

Ortho-Bionomy techniques range from physical contact to non-physical interaction with the aura or energetic body. The practitioner of Ortho-Bionomy is essentially taking the body back through the movements which created the problem in the first place (for example the tightening up of the neck muscles in the car collision), but this time under safe circumstances and without the original pain. The work allows the person seeking help to acknowledge the emotions involved with the incident and reminds them on many levels of their ability to return to their originally intended state of balance. From there, the Ortho-Bionomist offers the body new options for movement and re-educates the person’s posture so that the new choices can more easily be integrated and maintained.

This work is very gentle and the movements are done slowly so that the person does not create additional defensive layers in response to abrupt or forceful methods. This makes Ortho-Bionomy very safe as well as powerful.

yay-6023070Ortho-Bionomy philosophy

In addition to the vast body of technique, Ortho-Bionomy has a philosophical platform from which the work is done. The Ortho-Bionomist serves as a witness to change, observing patterns within the whole person – Body, Mind and Spirit. The Ortho-Bionomist is neither a healer nor a fixer, believing that there is nothing to fix and that at every moment each person is doing the best that they can. So, without judgment (good or bad) about themselves or with whom they work, the practitioner of Ortho-Bionomy serves to affirm patterns that exist, and offer options for change. An Ortho-Bionomist is a teacher whose job is to bring a person’s awareness to patterns within themselves. In turn, these awarenesses, through identification, bring the possibility of transformation and the motivation for change.


1 About Unphased Ortho-Bionomy © 1991, by Alison Zuber, modified with permission

Ortho-Bionomy® is a registered trademark of the Society of Ortho-Bionomy International, and is used with permission.

2 Replies to “Ortho-Bionomy: To Find Balance”

  1. Maggie Camfield

    A lovely perception of Ortho-Bionomy, that fits well with my understandings.
    Maggie Camfield
    Dip Somatic Integration, zapchen somaticist, a long-time practitioner of Ortho-Bionomy,, a meditator (for 36 years) and a person enthralled with neuroplasticity – the attempt to scientifically state and prove that what we’ve been doing for a long time really works

    1. Integration Massage Post author

      Thank you, Maggie. Alison Zuber has been practicing Ortho-Bionomy a long time, and originally wrote this article in1991 for Dr. Arthur Lincoln Pauls.