Ricardo Neuman is an expert bodyworker and therapist of 30 years. He is skilled in a range of mind-body therapies including structural bodywork, myofascial release and Biodynamic Cranial Sacral Therapy. Ricardo has worked in clinical, wellness centers, and private settings. He has also been a trainer and spa director in one of Asia’s environmentally-conscious spas. Based in Koh Samui since 2005, Ricardo travels regularly to Singapore and in the region to offer his individually-tailored bodywork sessions to people from all walks of life, from yogis and weekend warriors to computer folks and athletes.
What is your philosophy of health?
I’ve come to feel that we all have the pattern of perfect health, or perfect expression of our genetic heritage within us. All healing is intrinsically coming from within the system. There is no external onto-the-system healing. Tissue regeneration, wound healing, and everything else is coming from the body’s own systems.
Western medicine I came to understand is largely, up to now, an attempt to deal with symptoms and remove causative agents of disease. While I am grateful for western medicine’s ability to deal with certain acute situations, there is no long-term health without the body’s systems doing the work. So supporting them through diet and lifestyle is essential and now I am coming to understand more and more, right thinking and energy level kind of stuff is the real essence of healing.
How do you see your role as a therapist?
As a somatic therapist, I feel that we all have an innate level of intelligence. At some level we know everything that is happening with us so as a therapist, I try my best to connect with that level and find out how I can assist using my resources and my skillset to help the system come back and to get the most out of whatever the system itself knows it needs and can benefit from in that session. Of course, the client expresses their own conscious situations and hopes for improvement, and that is a key starting point for the session. Sometimes I’ll tell people to look to some other modality or person as possible solution. Any responsible healthcare practitioner does that.
What is your approach to your work?
In a certain sense and at a certain level, like hospice care, just being present with the person is already fundamentally powerful modality. There is something we can do which is being present and mindful with that other person and hopefully that becomes sort of a substrate. My work is grounded upon the degree of success that I can do that for myself and the other person. I find that it’s become my spiritual practice, my meditative practice, to do my work with that attitude. I find it easier to do bodywork with a meditative attitude than to do meditation.
Who benefits from your modalities?
At one level, everyone with a modern lifestyle is suffering from office syndrome and Myofascial Release Therapy is very beneficial for that. On another level, dealing with trauma whether physical, energetic, emotional, is amenable to physical manipulation or the craniosacral approach.
I would say since there is a lot of good regular massage, physios, and whatever out there, people who feel like they should be getting better but not finding a way to improve, especially people who fall between the cracks of muscular-skeletal modalities. When they go to a physio, it gets better but it never really gets better. Or if the doctor says “oh you’ll be fine in a while” but they don’t actually get fine.
Or people on the other end of the spectrum who are trying for higher and higher levels of performance and health and they are being blocked by some physical or energetic limitation that may be amenable to this kind of practice. Like for people practicing yoga who are struggling to do the lotus or even some of the simpler things because of restrictions in the body. Dancers or athletes who previously had attained some level and regressed due to injury or they feel some physical aspect is holding back improvement.
Can you explain more about what happens in the body with our modern lifestyle?
When you have an unbalanced structure, being in the office all day, wearing high heels, being hunched over the keyboard, the tissue responds by getting shorter and stronger which means it doesn’t move as easily. It doesn’t stretch as far.
When you are talking about performance, whether it’s on an instrument or with your body, getting through limitation into balance, lengthening, pliability and being able to fully contract and relax can be blocked by the response of the body to shorten. It gets sort of twisted because we are asking it to support us in twisted unbalanced ways. This kind of release work, both physical and energetic, can help release the system back into the more neutral mode. Unlike working with only muscles, working with connective tissue has a longer effect and with changes in your lifestyle, can lead to long-term improvements.
What makes your work different from a purely physical approach?
There seems often a lack of a whole three-dimensional sense of the client’s body. Working with different layers, instead of specific muscles, and getting the sense of concentric layers of themselves and of structure, releasing fully into breath and into the connection between soft tissue and the bones that can be a more dynamic relationship with the body. These patterns arise from our personal history, use of our body, and traumas of all sorts. Giving space in the session to release some of that and to reorganize the structures leads to more profound results than just attacking tight places or working on isolated structures.
Tissue restriction is sort of my specialty and I work some with the self awareness parts of change. I tend to go more on the physical and energetic rather than the movement education and such but I make it at least a part of the sessions to try to help the person to be aware of the change that happens.
How does bodywork help if the lifestyle or habits cannot be changed? A computer programmer, unless s/he change careers, needs to return to the computer and a violinist plays “one-sided”.
It helps to release the tissues and to increase their awareness that they can do this activity with less negative effects. It takes years to get more and more strained. Myofascial Release Therapy can take us back to a more neutral structure in one or several sessions and restore ease with less pain. Then it’s understanding how to do that activity in a way that is less unbalanced and it’s also helping them to feel the difference from what was their old normal and this better feeling. That helps them get some relief and to understand how they seek balance through exercise or other practices.
Even sitting at the desk or sitting at the piano, people expend a lot of unnecessary tension and stress and they use their bodies less gracefully and expertly than they could. Once they’ve done that, they’re sort of trapped in their own tissue. They may still be doing an inherently unbalanced activity.
For singers that would be more cranial sacral work to open up the bones of the face and also releasing the diaphragm. When I say bones of the face it also directly works with the membranes in the cranium and the facial structures. Releases here can not only open up the voice in themselves, but also to open up the student to better feel what their teachers are trying to get them to accomplish.
Ricardo himself studied voice for three years and has performed Beethoven with a professional orchestra so he has an appreciation for the art, acoustics, and the physical structures involved. He finds the more technical and less well-known level of working with the resonating cavity in the head very interesting. This work is not only for singers as everyone has a voice.
What is your philosophy?
I consider myself an animist because I never lost track of the childhood experience of realising that everything around us has an intrinsic kind of energy. That’s technically called animism while animism is often looked at as a pre-formal lower kind of religious activity. To me, it’s the right description of a reality that is my direct sensory experience. In terms of my own spiritual practice, it’s been much influenced by shamanism, and more formally by Mahayana Buddhism.
How did you become interested in somatic work?
I had taken many classes after I dropped out of college, partly from a lack of knowing what I wanted to do, partly from a total disillusionment with western intellectualism as the pathway to both self-knowledge and larger knowledge. At the time I felt dualism was the biggest difficulty inherent in the western intellectual tradition, and in language and human thought. So I explored everything Asian to try to look for non-dualistic ways of understanding.
My entry into doing this as a career was a search for a calling and my philosophy is that we are all gifted with something or somethings and that with that gift as a responsibility to share it or use it in a positive way. I realised in the classes I had taken in Shiatsu that I could immediately feel a point versus a non-point. I had a direct immediate sensory experience. This was unusual in fact to do it so easily that in fact this is a gift and I could use it to help people.
Before moving to Hawaii and becoming a professional bodywork therapist, Ricardo was already involved in the health and wellness fields. He continued to study a variety of modalities including sports massage, Soft Tissue Release, Namakoshi Shiatsu, Swedish/Esalen massage, and Hawaiian Shamanistic Lomi Lomi and Cranio Sacral Therapy.
He offers Myofascial Release Therapy and Biodynamic Cranial Sacral Therapy at Gallery Helios. The release work, which is sometimes referred to as “deep tissue massage”, is effective for tightness from injury, athletics or lifestyle habits and other limiting conditions by lengthening and releasing shortened connective tissues and bringing the body back into alignment. Biodynamic Cranial Sacral Therapy is recommended to release energetic and emotional blocks through subtle touch to rebalance the cranium, facial bones, and nervous system.
Ricardo is at Gallery Helios 16 to 29 May 2018.
Fees: S$160 for 1 hour / S$240 for 1.5 hours.
Or contact Siewfan Wong, text or WhatsApp +65 9459 8262.