Biodynamic Craniosacral - What is it? Is it something for myself and family?

by Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST ®

Biodynamic Craniosacral: The subtle rhythms or motilities produced by the body are regarded as fundamental expressions of our health and vitality. The ordering matrix carried into the body within these rhythms acts as a blueprint for health which is present from the time of our early embryological development. This blueprint is the fundamental factor that maintains balance in our form and function throughout our lives. When these rhythms are expressed in fullness and balance, our blueprint for health is able to manifest and a sense of wholeness and well-being automatically follows."

Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST®, Monique Bilodeau-Nestmann's craniosacral mentor, is a Registered Biodynamic Craniosacral practitioner with the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America. Her passion and mission is to provide Biodynamic Craniosacral to all people, especially children. Each child deserves the most adaptive and functional biodynamic craniosacral balance for optimal growth, development and healing throughout a lifetime.

"Life expresses itself as motion. At a deep level of our physiological functioning, all healthy, living tissues subtly "breathe" with the motion of life- a phenomenon that produces rhythmic impulses which can be palpated and allowed to self adapt." Michael Kern, DO, RCST, MICrA, ND

When we use the word biodynamic, it refers to a natural order and rhythm in the tissues of the body. We put two words together to create "Biodynamic Craniosacral" or "Craniosacral Biodynamics." It becomes the name for a gentle, effective, long lasting and personally tailored method of healing that is generated by the natural organizing forces within the body." Mary Louise Mueller, M.Ed., RCST®, Lifeshapes Biodynamic Craniosacral Educator


There are many physiological rhythms within the human body. There is the cardiac or circulatory rhythm. The adult human heart beats 60-80 times/minute, (86,400 times/day!) circulating the vital blood supply throughout the body to each cell. The heart rhythm is protected by a strong connective tissue sac named the pericardium.

The respiratory rhythm or breath is the inhalation and exhalation in the human lungs. This rhythm is approximately 12-20 times/minute (28,000 times/day!) for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide within the body. The lung rhythm is protected by strong connective tissue named the pleura.

There is another rhythm named the craniosacral rhythm (CSR). This is the rhythm of the central nerve system. The human body gently expands/narrows and lengthens/shortens at specific motilities. The most significant motility is every six seconds (14,400 times/day!). This rhythm allows the production, flushing and of cerebrospinal fluid within the meningeal membranes and the brain and spinal cord.

Cerebrospinal fluid is important for hormonal and neurotransmitter transport, supply of oxygen and nutrients, filtering of wastes and acts as a hydraulic buffer of force to the brain and spinal cord. The nerve system rhythm is protected by the strong connective tissue named fascia of the meningeal membranes and the entire body's form. You are a living form for protection and function of life!  Significant impacts and traumas can cause injury to the pericardium affecting the heartbeat. Significant impacts and traumas can cause injury to the pleura affecting the lung's breath. Likewise, significant core traumas to the human body can also cause injury to the fascial matrix affecting the cerebrospinal motilities. This can cause important changes to the nerve system and the vital adaptive process necessary for optimal function and healing throughout a lifetime.

A Biodynamic Craniosacral session is a hands-on experience that allows the innate adaptation of the body to restore normal compliance to the human fascia and normal motilities of the central nervous system. A Biodynamic Craniosacral practitioner facilitates the process. There is a wait and watch as the body gently releases, recovers and restores to the healing that is already present. The Biodynamic CranioSacral session is an adaptive progression and an invitation to optimal balance to the rhythm of life. It is for each person. Experience it today!


For some of you, a Biodynamic Craniosacral session may be a new experience... Following are some Craniosacral questions and answers frequently asked at Life Expression Wellness Center (Joanne Gallagher's clinic in Pennsylvania):

What is Biodynamic Craniosacral?
Biodynamic Craniosacral is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the Craniosacral system. It is comprised of the skull, spine, sacrum, membranes and motilities of the cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. With gentle body contact, biodynamic practitioners work to allow the innate ease of restrictions in the Craniosacral system. According to Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST®, it is a very gentle full body experience. A person experiences dimensional manuevers specific to the area and design of the fascia in that area of the body. This allows the innate adaptive process within the body to manifest at its optimum for best function.

What is the Craniosacral Rhythm Impulse (CRI) or Motility?
The Craniosacral Rhythm Impulse is the rhythm of the motion of the cerebrospinal fluid and fluid motilities of the central nerve system. Cerebrospinal fluid is a fluid produced and absorbed in the brain and spinal cord and is important to neurological function. There is a change in fluid motility as this fluid is produced and absorbed, forming a palpable rhythm. This rhythm is independent of the cardiac and respiratory rhythms.

How often should I schedule a Biodynamic CranioSacral session?
The answer is specific to each person. A new client experiences an average of five to eight Biodynamic Craniosacral sessions the first year and less each year according to the dynamics and progression of each session. It is a specific experience for each person. It is an invitation to each person to a process of adaptation throughout their lifetime.

What is the difference between a Chiropractic adjustment and a Biodynamic Craniosacral session?
The objective of chiropractic care is to allow correction of vertebral subluxations of the spine causing interference to the nerve system. The contact is the spine and pelvis. The objective of Biodynamic Craniosacral is to allow ease to the restrictions within the fascia affecting the cerebrospinal motilities. The contact is the dimensional connective tissue of the entire body. It is a full body experience. Chiropractic Care and Biodynamic Craniosacral Sessions are distinct, life supporting, healing experiences.

What can one expect to feel during a Biodynamic Craniosacral session?
An initial Biodynamic Craniosacral session can last approximately thirty to sixty minutes, specific to each person. A person rests, fully clothed, on a bodywork table. Belt and shoes are removed for comfort. The session begins with a calm orientation to the dynamics of function and being. There is a quiet "listening" with hands of the Biodynamic Craniosacral practitioners to the motilities of the cerebrospinal fluid dynamics of the client. One experiences gentle dimensional maneuvers at areas of their body where injuries have left restriction to that process. It is a gentle, progressive experience. One may feel warmth, gentle shifting, relaxation or ease during the session. Some have described the experience as "light, eased, straight, taller, centered, so peaceful, just right". It is important to be in rhythm for the function of design.

Is Biodynamic Craniosacral for those who have health problems or special needs?
Biodynamic Craniosacral is for anyone and everyone who has cerebrospinal motilities. This is everyone! A Biodynamic Craniosacral session could have great value for those facing health problems or children or adults with special challenges. Craniosacral does not replace medical care nor treat conditions or disease states. It allows ease of restrictions so that the cerebrospinal motilities, the fluid rhythms of the brain and spinal cord, could adapt at its best for optimal healing. Biodynamic Craniosacral can be a fine adjunct with other healthcare modalities and therapies for those with special needs or developmental delays.

The Biodynamic Craniosacral motility of life has also been named the "Breath of Life", please describe.
Following are conceptual explanations of the Breath of Life discussed and taught by the foundational Biodynamic Craniosacral teachers. Enjoy!

Dr. William Sutherland- Breath of Life was named and taken from Genesis 2:7 "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living form." "Within the cerebrospinal fluid there is an invisible element that I refer to as the "Breath of Life." It is a vitality within this fluid, something that has potency as the thing that makes it move. This potency is an intelligent potency that is more intelligent than your own human mentality."

Dr. Rollin Becker- "It is a rhythmic feeling in interchange between the patient's body and his biosphere in which there is a total interchange without any areas of restriction, impaction, trauma or stress. It is a feeling of total internal and external environmental capacity to express wellness."

Dr. James Jealous- "It it the permeation of the breath of life into disorientated tissue that re-establishes the Original matrix. The Original matrix is a form that is carried through the potency of the breath of life around which the molecular and cellular world will organize itself into the Original pattern set forth by the Master Mechanic."

Dr. Franklyn Sills discusses Breath of Life in his current teaching as "A sacred principle that is difficult to talk about or describe. It is a spiritual essence that mediates the creative impulse and connects all things to the ground of creation. It generates organizing forces that orchestrate and maintain all form."

Lifeshapes-Christopher and Mary Louise Mueller RCSTsRCST® teach "When we look at the word craniosacral, it refers to the core of the body from the cranium to the sacrum. However "craniosacral work" encompasses the whole of the person. The core dynamics and natural breathing motions of Primary Respiration infuse the field of the entire body. The body intelligence combined with the natural breathing impulse throughout the tissues allows us to re-form, re-orient and ultimately heal,"

Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST® writes "It is the power within life that is the driving force with a creative wisdom beyond our knowledge or explanation. It strives for organization, expression, repair, adaptation and healing within each person. It is the power within and beyond the Biodynamic Craniosacral session that allows the process to occur. We settle to its subtle but potent power. I cannot understand it. I honor and respect its awesome wonder as a gift from God. We are all part of His creation."

Joanne M. Gallagher, RCST®
The Fasciae by Dr. Serge Paoletti, 2006
Lessons from the Sessions by Don Ash, PT, CST 2005

(The information of this newsletter is not to be interpreted as medical advice.  Biodynamic Craniosacral/Integrative Biodynamic Craniosacral Massage sessions are not for the treatment of disease nor pathology.)

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