What is Craniosacral Therapy and Who Should Try It?

craniosacral therapy

I had the same question when I first started to hear about this healing modality a few years ago. Is it energy work? Is it a strange head massage? What do they plan to do with my sacrum? Everyone kept telling me, “It’s hard to explain. You’ve just gotta try it.” Curiosity got the better of me and I scheduled my first treatment while I was on yoga teaching vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Shortly before my session, I had found out my maternal grandpa had died and I couldn’t afford to fly home to be with my family. He was the first of all my grandparents to die, so the grief I was experiencing was new. I wasn’t sure if I should be getting any bodywork done while I was feeling so tender and raw, but I was assured this is one of the best things I could have been doing. They were not wrong.

What is Craniosacral Therapy?

Craniosacral Therapy is a subtle but very powerful form of bodywork that uses light touch to locate and release restrictions, tension and pain in our physical and emotional bodies. Some people have compared it to Reiki or energy work when they experience it, but a craniosacral therapist has different goals in mind when working with the body.

They are looking for what is called the Cranial Rhythm, which is a lot like your pulse, but slower and far more subtle. The Cranial Rhythm is produced by the flow of your cerebral spinal fluid (the fluid that nourishes, cleans and feeds your spinal cord and brain). If a therapist locates any areas where the rhythm is moving quickly or not at all, there may be a restriction and the therapist is equipped with tools to help release anything that might be in the way.

Okay, But How Does Craniosacral Work?

To understand how it works, we have to understand the autonomic division of our nervous system. It splits into the sympathetic (fight/flight/freeze) division and the parasympathetic (rest/digest) division. Sympathetic is engaged when someone cuts you off in traffic and you freeze/honk/swear/struggle to catch your breath. Parasympathetic is when you’re laying on the beach, staring at the blue sky and thinking about nothing in particular. We can’t be in both at the same time. It’s sort of an all or nothing situation. Can you guess which one we have to be in if we want to heal pain and trauma? If you guessed parasympathetic, you’re right. In fact, our bodies are designed to heal themselves with very little external help. But we have to get into that parasympathetic state first.

Craniosacral Therapy can be a huge player in making this happen. The nerve roots for our parasympathetic nervous system are in the base of our skull (cranium) and our low back (sacrum). Hence the name: Craniosacral.

Who Should Get Craniosacral Therapy?

There are lots of ways to turn on the healing division of your nervous system, but one of the best ways is to feel safe, warm and quiet (see above beach scenario). How many safe, warm and quiet moments do you experience in a given day? If you’re like the average human bean, probably not many. If that’s the case, Craniosacral Therapy is a good idea. We, as a society, are functioning in our fight/flight/freeze bodies way more than our rest/digest. This is why we’re sick often, why our digestion is crummy and why we feel trapped in our anxiety and depression. This is also why Craniosacral Therapy is for anyone and everyone at any phase of life.

Craniosacral Therapy can also help with:

  • Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injuries

  • Migraines and Headaches

  • Chronic Neck and Back Pain

  • Stress and Tension-Related Disorders

  • Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries

  • Chronic Fatigue

  • Fibromyalgia

  • TMJ Syndrome


  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Anxiety and Depression

  • Insomnia

When I got treated for the first time, I was really sad. My body was sore from teaching three or more yoga classes a day and sleeping on an air mattress. When the therapist started working on me, I fell asleep almost immediately and remember very little from the session. I felt like I had been there for a very long time and no time at all, simultaneously. I floated out of the space and felt more connected to myself than I had in a very long time, both on a physical and emotional level. It was incredible.

To schedule a Craniosacral Therapy session at the clinic, click here.

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*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

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