Healing Touch

Ortho-bionomy is a passion for therapist

Photography by Richard Rasmussen

Photography by Richard Rasmussen

For Julia Helbling, ortho-bionomy is more than just work — it’s a passion and a “wonderful body work.”

“In a lot of body work, you work from the outside in. For massage therapy, you press on the muscles to encourage the body to move; in chiropractic, you move the scaffolding to help the body set itself. In ortho-bionomy, you help attack the nervous system from the inside out. We come to the body and find where the tension spots or areas that are tight are and then ask the body to get into a state to where it can unwind itself,” she said recently while working on a pony at Oaklawn Park.

Unlike some forms of therapy, ortho-bionomy works on animals as well as people, Helbling said.

“It’s very gentle, but it can be very deep and long lasting. I think we all work differently and interact differently obviously to get along with someone we want to work with us. I work with a lot of trauma-type situations and working with this system, you can start to unwind stuff that happened a long time ago. When you start working with the body, you are starting to get to the place where everything lets go,” she said.

Helbling, who is from Kent, England, said ortho-bionomy “works with animals, people, everything because we’re all energy systems and we all have nervous systems and we all hold muscle memory and cellular memory of situations that have happened to us so we can help those to unwind.”

She said she believes becoming involved with ortho-bionomy “was an element that was my path to do it—a little bit of a gift.”

“I started doing massage therapy and sports therapy and found that I was attracting the body systems and kind of working my own little way with it. And then I came across ortho-bionomy; that’s what I do and for me that’s what works. I started going to classes and that was 15 years ago now.

“I work on people and animals and I enjoy putting the two together. If you work on
the horse and the person is stuck, then the horse is OK and the person is pulling the horse out (of line). If you work on the person, they start to feel good and feel where the horse is not as smooth as it might be and it’s really nice to put it all together,” she said.

Within an ortho-bionomy session, the practitioner encourages the body to move away from tension and stress, toward ease of movement, helping it become aware of and let go of holding patterns, releasing and stabilizing, creating a relaxed state where there is space for healing to occur.

“A session for you with your horse, can help you and your horse to become more aware of the conversation and relationship you have together, stimulating natural healing instincts, sensitivity, listening, bring heart-centered comfort and ease,” says one of her brochures.

Helbling grew up on a farm in England riding before she could walk and has spent her life immersed in horse culture, pony clubbing throughout her childhood, then riding thoroughbreds at racetracks in America, according to her website.

While some sessions with a horse may last 50 minutes, some may only take 10 minutes, Helbling said.

“I think knowing when you are finished with a horse is a little bit of expertise and experience. It’s timing and presence. Horses will give you signs, too. They will take a deep breath, yawn, relax, and when you get to a place where they are finished and they don’t want anymore, you can feel the change,” she said.

Sessions cost between $80 and $100 and generally last 50 minutes to an hour and are personalized around the needs of the horse and their owner.

To arrange an appointment with Helbling, call 502-387-4639. More information on ortho-bionomy is available online at www.ortho-bionomy.org, and www.ortho-bionomyinschools.org.

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