In 1998 I left a job that required a lot of standing and walking to a high stress job sitting at a computer all day. I quickly started carrying stress in my hips and all the muscles surrounding the hips tightened. The tightness in the hips eventually extended to other muscles in the legs and back. Pain continued to increase from head to toe, my left psoas was the most painful. Eventually, I could not lift my legs higher than a stair step. I was gaining weight due to the stress of the job and inactivity. High blood pressure, acid reflux, asthma, high cholesterol, allergies intensifying meant adding medications to my system. Soon depression entered the picture. It was a vicious downhill spiral. I tried physical therapy and another thereapy method with minimal to moderate success .
Early in 2012, it was recommended that I go to Rex Brewka for bodywork. By then, I hurt so much that when Rex barely touched me, I almost hit the ceiling! Every muscle in my body was taut to the extreme. By October, my left hip was bone on bone and my right hip wasn’t far behind. I was taking nine maximum strength Ibuprofen tablets per day. The work Rex performed and the therapy exercises helped me prepare for 2013 when I had both hips replaced (NOT at the same time). After surgery, I was down to 2-4 Ibuprofens per day. It is important to note that replacements only take care of the bone on bone pain. The old muscle patterning still existed!
By 2015, I was feeling like I was hitting a wall in that I could not get total pain relief. I developed nerve pain running down the outside of my left leg into my outer two toes. These toes felt like they were in a constant state of cramping. I was starting to believe that I would never get rid of chronic pain and that I would have to somehow learn to live with the pain. Rex introduced me to Bowspring. He described the system and it was the total opposite of what I was experiencing with the postural alignment system I had been using for years. He showed me a couple of things I could do on my own that might help with the pain. Interestingly enough, I felt an immediate positive effect - a small change in the pain in my toes!
Rex continued to encourage me to go to Vital for help. I knew I couldn’t just jump into classes so I requested information about private sessions. I received a phone call from Desi Springer and my life took a dramatic turn! On October 30, 2015, I had my first session with Desi. Since I work at a computer all day, the first session was spent teaching me how to sit down in a chair, get out of a chair, and how to sit properly in the chair. Within the first couple of sessions, Desi verbalized, in words I had not, exactly what I had been feeling prior to our first meeting: “So basically you have given up hope that you will ever be pain free.” Those words smacked me between the eyes! I was looking at Bowspring as my last chance to be free of pain!
When I started Bowspring, I was technically obese at 215 lbs on a 5’9” frame, on several medications, had both hips replaced, and in chronic pain. Within the first week, I took my belt in a notch. Within a month and a half, I was off of Ibuprofen and out of chronic pain! Desi was teaching me how to sit, stand, and walk. The concentration required to learn the new system and to change my patterns was challenging. Two months in, Desi suggested changing my diet. This was something I planned on doing – eventually – as part of my path to better health. So at the height of cake/candy/cookie/pie season, I started a cleanse diet on December 20, 2015.
As of April 2018, I have lost 46 lbs. I am off of medication for acid reflux, asthma and blood pressure medicine. My cholesterol medication dosage is down to 1/4. I am physically and mentally stronger, and emotionally freer. I am pain free! While I still have a very long way to go to optimal health, I recognize how far I have come on this journey. I am 65 years young and look forward to a retirement of movement without pain!
The Vital Community has become my oasis of all things positive and good! It balances out the negative side of life I work in daily. I continue with private sessions with Desi, and bodywork by Rex. I also take public classes at the studio, mostly with Megan, who has become an important member of the team challenging me to improve! All of the teachers at Vital, both current and former, meet the highest standards and play an important role in the success of every student!
The prospects for continued growth and better health are very exciting! But most importantly, I have HOPE! The journey continues! Will you join me?
I was about to take the Anusara teacher training in Germany when I broke my L5 vertebra. On the frontside, this vertebra is still compressed to 50% of it´s original size! Doctors wanted to operate and fill the vertebra with cement which would have led to a massive restriction regarding my ability to move my spine! I declined that for several reasons. My yoga practice only partially helped, all forward bending was very painful! Then I was introduced to the basics of the Bowspring method by Bastian Schlickeisen.
Practising crouching cat instead of downward facing dog was immediate relief and liberation for my lumbar spine. For three and a half years now, I have practiced only Bowspring and have elongated my spine muscularly in its natural curves. I am not only pain free, I am fit, vital and feel light and strong!
With all my heart a big thank you for the liberation of my body, my mind and my heart!
I took my first Bowspring class in October 2015.
I was resigned to feeling pain and it getting more acute over time. I had past injuries, including fracturing my ankle and being hit by a truck on my bike. I have a very aggressive degenerative arthritis causing chronic pain in my right ankle for the last 25 years. I have had lingering pain from my accident, along my spine and ribcage, for about 13 years. I also have auto-immune disorders that make me very sick when they attack my system.
I no longer have difficulties getting out of bed. My day doesn’t start by assessing aches. The Bowspring practice is therapeutic and helps me move in a way that nurtures and realigns my body. I rarely have pain now, especially when I practice 3-4 times a week. I have more energy and less stress and preoccupation. I have a spring in my step, a smile on my face and a gratitude in my heart that I have never experienced before. I feel more alive and healthier, my blood levels have been stable for 12 consecutive months.
I have a new found trust in my ankle, despite sometimes experiencing pain. For the last 25 years, through physical therapy, steroid shots, casts and surgery, it has gotten progressively worse. My orthopedic surgeon has predicted that it will need to be replaced or fused before I am 60, as though it is inevitable. I believe the Bowspring will prove him wrong. I have better alignment and so much strength all along the back side of my legs, which makes my ankle feel strong and flexible. I can hop, skip and land lightly, what was once forbidden as “high-impact” is now accessible because I land soft and lift myself up, rather than weigh myself down. ‘Digging and dragging’ has taught me to tone my legs on all sides so that they support me and there is less pressure on my ankle. I can now balance on one leg, which is something I was not able to achieve in prior yoga practices.
I have a better sense of clarity, intuition and connection. I believe that I can manifest health through focused awareness because it provides insight into the pathways inside my entire being opening me to the intrinsic healer inside. I have accountability for my mobility, empowering me to realise that I chose to be pain free. I have new found tools and community to reinforce that. Now that I am in not in so much pain, I feel more physically, mentally and spiritually whole.
The Bowspring has invited me to take ownership of my well being and no longer make excuses. Showing up to class heals me and helps me be pain free. It also keeps my entire system in balance so I do not have the inflammation in my body that I had before. I walk with a new purpose, to live. I breathe for renewal and feel a deep love that radiates from the inside out.
I’m 47 and have been practicing the Bowspring for 1,5 years.
I have a ganglion cyst and couldn’t do pushups, I tried yoga and it wasn’t for me. I had a car accident over 20 years ago that left me with chronic shoulder injury and in significant discomfort. I would not be able to turn my neck and would have to take Ibuprofen 2 days a week to manage the pain. I fell and bounced down a few stairs on my sacrum which made my back pain a lot worse. It was really uncomfortable. I had to prop my pelvis up even in my sleep. I was sexually abused and have experienced frigidity. I was unable to experiencea real freedom of orasgme. Just like my shoulder, I had accepted both were going to be a chronic part of my life…
After just 1 Bowspring class I was hooked: it felt exactly like where I needed to be. Just 6 months into my Bowspring practice, my shoulder reduced to flairing up just once a week and I could feel my pelvis reshaping. I now have no problems with my sacrum and I can literally feel the fascia as it releases.
By Courageously opening with my husband, it has been completely transformative. For me to have fun in intimacy with a level of openness and vulnerability that I have learned from the practice. My husband and I are enjoying our marriage in a way we never thought we would.
My Bowspring practice has been tremendously helpful and compliments my meditation practice. I now have room and space to breathe. I’m really drawn to how can I bring what I’m learning through the Bowspring to my work as a midwife. The practice supports my intention of being a light in the world. The focus of radiant heart is what gives me this.
When I can, I practice once a day, but I try to practice at least 4 times a week. My wrists are now marvelous and I know they won’t be a limitation to inversions. Even during the months that I know I can’t justify a monthly membership, I still take a monthly membership because this is my way of supporting a community that is so devoted and dedicated. My financial contribution is the way I can support the studio and the work they do.
Once you experience that amount of openness, there’s no going back.
I am 53 years young and fortunate to not have any significant injuries. However, in the summer of 2013, I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. I managed my life fairly well with treatment and was able to exercise, but I rarely looked forward to it.
I was introduced to the Bowspring in the fall of 2014. I knew nothing of the practice, yet immediately felt at ease, as though my body was born to move this way. I understood that my missing link towards healing was the joy of movement. Thank goodness I found it as the practice has played a pivotal role in my holistic wellness plan.
Lyme disease affects my central nervous system causing it to be overly sensitive at times. When a body is under attack or stress, it contracts in order to protect itself. The Bowspring has helped me to safely transition from a state of contraction to one of expansion. When I move with complete awareness of the 10 key areas of the body, the practice actually calms my nervous system. It truly is medicinal!
The most profound change that I have experienced is an inner fullness or an illumination from within. I came to the practice with a rather deflated rib cage and a sense of uncertainty in myself. I had forgotten how to shine my own light and a sort of dullness became my normal state of being. The Bowspring algorithm reminds me to fill up from inside and I apply it to my life every day.
Of course I appreciate the physical benefits as well. At an age when it is all too common to succumb to injuries and physical weakening, I am growing stronger in a sustainable way. The Bowspring utilizes muscles which most of us don’t use very often. These muscles are often difficult to ignite but are important to strengthen as they provide the body with a more balanced foundation. I am much stronger than I was prior to starting the practice!
The positive changes that I have experienced are many. Here are a few:
I am less reactive to stress. When I do feel stressed, I am more likely to recognize it and let it go.
I have trust in myself.
I am more compassionate with my kids when they test my patience.
I have a heightened awareness of my patterns and where I tend to get stuck so that I can then move forward.
I often experience a grounded serenity.
I feel comfort in my body at this stage of life.
The practice helps keep me on track during challenging times.
I am deeply grateful to be a part of this Vital community of awe-inspiring teachers and practitioners. Thank you Desi Springer and John Friend for bringing the Bowspring to fruition. May we all shine bright!
I’m 68 and have been practicing the Bowspring at Vital since it's inception in 2012.
Prior to starting the practice, I had a double mastectomy with Pec Flap Reconstruction, triple arthrodesis, (fusing of the three main joints of the hind foot) and a shredded Labrum in right hip. I have personally experienced that Radiant Heart is deeply healing for all Breast Cancer patients.
Within 3 years of Bowspring practice I experienced a 100% improvement in my foot/leg strength and balance. I also attribute the fact that my right hip lasted 5 years longer without surgery due to my regular practice.
I finally gave in to a hip replacement in January of 2017 and thanks to all the Elemental forms of lifting myself sustainably from the ground, I was able to lift myself off the surgery bed right after the procedure!
I practice 3 - 4 times/week. I have experienced considerable improvements in balance and strength in the 5 years of practicing Bowspring. Movement/stretching of the fascia has created ease, lightness and fluidity in all my daily activities.
I love being part of the Vital community that shares similar life philosophy and sustains optimal awareness.
I’m 42 and after 2 major car accidents that caused chronic injuries in my low back, neck, hands and knees, I was in desperation. I’ve had a recurrent shoulder injury from childhood and problems in my feet, ankles and hips from bad posture in my career as a barber. The extreme pain I was living with had me in tears just a couple of days before committing to the practice.
After just 6 weeks of regular practice, I was already completely pain free! I struggled with major depression & anxiety my whole life. Practicing the Bowspring has given me inner strength and buoyancy. The practice of radiant heart helps me live a more heart centred life and has radically improved my mental health challenges, living a more empowered life.
The Bowspring method has also completely changed my relationship to food and my body has transformed into a totally different shape, I’ve lost over 50 pounds! The practice has also completely shifted my self awareness and focus in a way I never experienced before. Everyone in my life has noticed a profound attitudinal shift. Through the extreme courage I have harvested at Vital, I’ve been able to let go of emotional issues that had been holding me back my entire life. I believe this is the kind of transformation that people will have to experience directly to believe.
I’m a passionate Bowspringer and “Buck the Tuck”!
I’m 53 years old and my career has been in urban planning, serving in government as a manager. So no surprise that I came to yoga to address stress and indigestion. This started with Bikram and as we became more Vital as a community I accepted that the changes in our practice were no different than the changes in my outlook and body – all positive! I’ve been
practicing the Bowspring since it started. With the many shifts to the new methodology, I trusted and understood the need to focus on the back body. I was aware of my tendency to be overly reliant on the front body, pushing my head and chin forward, trying to approach an experience with my head and not my heart. I rapidly felt the development of my legs: glutes and hamstrings. I’m a road biker and when you’re biking uphill, you can immediately feel how the quads want to overtax and this got me wondering; how much stronger could I
be with engaged glutes?
The practice has completely transformed my shape. The transformation happened in multiple phases: first I participated in a couple of Micah’s Ayurvedic cleanses and acknowledged the power of food in our health, then I realized, with the help of teachers Micah and DP that my glutes were atrophied. Then as I got leaner and stronger, my glutes and hamstrings started to form. I thought I was there, and through many weekend workshops with Desi and John realized that the directionality of the glutes is upwards! It was like looking back and wondering who was lifting me from behind? The last phase is still coming. The thing about this practice is that we think we’re doing it, and we are in that moment, and there’s always more. It’s an embodiment of constant change and evolution.
In hindsight the most powerful shifts have occurred in my meditation practice. This is what I am most grateful for. If we sit in the Bowspring shape rather than a straight spine: the cerebral fluid is freed as the vertical channel is unkinked and all the chakras from the sacrum to the crown flow freely. This is critical for a strong meditation practice.
Sure I approached this practice for exercise and stress management. What I didn’t expect is that the practice has taught me strength on levels never imagined. I now know how to “lean into” and embrace life experiences, including difficult conversations, pain and change. This is reflected with a complete shift in my career: I took a leap of faith to practice healing therapies full time and am a Reflexologist and Tibetan Cranial Apprentice.
This practice asks of us to breathe deeply, become knowledgeable, question status quo, be accountable and not fear change. I bow to the Springer family, to John Friend, to the Vital teachers and community that change and grow, providing us with each other’s gifts. Namaste.
I've been practicing the Bowspring for 3 months and started losing weight immediately.
I am a Certified Pedorthist, (pharmacist for therapeutic footwear and related devices).
I am a breast cancer survivor, BRCRA 1, with all that entails.
Bilateral mastectomy, Ophectomy, 12 rounds of chemo, 37 rounds
of radiation and Deep Flap reconstruction.
At the time I owned a successful orthopedic shoe store.
After all the treatments, I found my body & mind were not my own.
I myself have suffered from plantar fascittis and other ailments and have found that the
Bowspring practice has helped me overcome the pain I've had in my body, as well as restore self confidence.
The Bowspring practice has helped me to be more aware of my body and how to use it
so as to keep it in motion without pain. The practice, I have found coming into play during
routine daily activities.
I have found a new inner strength that I did not know I had.
My confidence is off the charts and my marriage is stronger because I feel
I am more of a participant than an observer. I am content, happy and healthier than
I've been in a number of years.
My family and friends have not only noticed my weight loss, but also my spirit is
shining bright once more.
Bowspring is like coming to confession with yourself! No guilt here, I've learned: To Be Happy with Oneself, We Must Take Care of Ourselves!!
I found the Bowspring in 2014 after seeing an advertisement in Top of the Town. I had done minimal yoga prior.
I was incredibly lucky to have survived a car accident in 2005 where I broke my C1, considered one of the worst spinal cord injuries. In order to start pro-actively working against arthritis, I decided to walk into the studio. I had no idea who John Friend was and after taking his class, I knew immediately, this was something special.
I took my injury as a sign to connect to my body. I was looking for a depth of conversation with myself. I used to have a tendency to self medicate, judge, not pay attention or identify. There was a lot of pain held in. I had to go through the process of releasing emotions.
I now feel different in every way. My body has changed dramatically through the practice. I’ve always been active but never had a practice that re-shaped my body. I practice 4 times a week and have lost 15 - 20 pounds. My core strength, my ability to breathe, opening the belly has released my diaphragm. I’m a singer and my singing voice has changed. I used to stomp around the house and my wife has pointed out: I don’t stomp anymore. I feel so much stronger.
In the Bowspring there’s no place for emotions to hide. The Bowspring gives me a way to tune in to the intelligence of the body and listen. If I don’t do my practice, I feel the emotions start building up. I was in Mexico recently and even in just 7 days of not practicing, I felt things start to build up. I enjoy being humbled, being a student and learning how to look at myself differently. I’ve started doing things I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do.
The studio offers me a space to connect with an authentic, like-minded community. The practice has brought all the pieces together that have been circling for the last 20 years, like the power rangers, all my pieces are coming together. There’s been a symphony warming up for a long time, now there’s a conductor to make music.
I got very lucky, and now I am tuned-in to my body-mind connection.
John-Paul is the founder of the award winning sustainable food and ag-tech company, Waste Farmers www.wastefarmers.com and member of the Colorado Americana band Coal Town Reunion, www.coaltownreunion.com. He lives in Denver with his wife Carrie and his two boys Miles and George, and new baby girl, Poppy. We are honored to have him as part of our Vital community.
I’m 57 years old and have been practicing the Bowspring since it’s birth in 2012.
The most significant changes I have noticed are in my awareness, my openness and flexibility.
In 2014, I was involved in a car accident that totalled my car and I was lucky to escape with just a broken metacarpal. My physician could not believe my fast recovery and I believe that due it is thanks to all the hand and arm exercises in the Bowspring where we soften the top of the hand and squeeze the base palm, that is what saved me from having to perform surgery. My physician couldn’t understand why I didn’t need surgery. I am certain that my hand healed the way it did, because the all the functions of the hand were working in perfect harmony.
I’m also a people person and I’ve noticed a shift in how people respond to me, I put this down to the sensitivity I have developed through the practice of radiant heart.
Bowspring has changed my mind-body communication. At 45, I have entered a completely new and empowered dialogue with my body. I am realizing and tapping into my creative energy in ways I never knew were possible. This practice has opened me up to the world of embodied cognition. So very powerful, empowering, and life-affirming.
Bowspring is THE answer to sitting at a computer all day. I’ve found myself sitting, standing, and walking taller, both physically and in life. It helps you achieve a lightness and athletic fluidity in a truly unique way!
After years of lower back pain as a result of tucking my tail, I realized through the natural Bowspring alignment system that I could live pain-free. By bringing back the natural curves in my spine, I can now run faster and easier. Bowspring alignment gives me a feeling of gliding while running instead of pounding the trail.
Since diving into the Bowspring alignment system, the most significant lifestyle change I have made is focusing my awareness on my body. Over the past 3 years, I've started to become very aware of how I hold my body - from sitting at my desk at work, to standing in line at the grocery store or having drinks with a friend. I now notice when I am not in the Bowspring alignment. I am no longer living in an unconscious place. Each time my body defaults to poor alignment, I notice and reset. I feel better when I sit with integrity. I can't sit at my desk anymore slouched over! The Bowspring teaches accountability and moment to moment mindfulness. It's a difficult practice, but the more I move toward this, the better I feel. Now if I am sitting in a poor position, I am making a choice, it's not just happening to me. In every moment, I realize I can choose how I hold my body, the words I say, the thoughts I think and the attitude I hold. It's so freeing!
The Bowspring works so beautifully with people suffering from trauma and addiction. Clients are moving from dissociation to awareness, curiosity and vitality.
I cannot say enough good things about the Bowspring practice! Not only did it completely transform my body, but also in many ways the alignment gave me back my life.
Before being a Bowspring practitioner I had a lot of damage to my body and was in chronic pain. Using the alignment, muscles that had quit working began to fire, and muscles that had been overly working for years started to relax. My entire structure shifted through the Bowspring focus on connective tissue; injuries that the modern medical establishment said were permanent began to heal. There were even improvements to my mind and emotions. Anxieties lessened and my reactions to life became more even. I even started to think better. Most amazingly, after only a year of solid practice, I felt like myself again!
Because of what Bowspring has done and is still doing for me, I now teach the practice to others. It is my art and passion that I feel grateful to share with others. The full story of my miracle is on my blog: www.thespiritualmisfit.com.
I practiced traditional hatha yoga for about 8 years and taught for 6 (within those 8 years) before discovering the Bowspring in winter 2013. The Bowspring addressed problems I had with my back immediately, problems that the traditional method just wasn't ironing out for me. I practiced it solo on the East Coast for about 2 years before moving to Denver in June 2015 to pursue it more intensively. The move was one of the best decisions I've made in my entire life. Never before have I felt as strong both mentally and physically, while at that same time feeling very loose and light as I do now. The way my mind has integrated into my body with this practice has completely changed the way I experience both myself and the world around me. "Connected" and "One with the Universe" fall short of describing my perception since embracing this practice. This is true medicine for the soul. I've never felt as much support from a community of practitioners as I do here.
The Bowspring has helped me live more of my moments in the present. Through increased self-awareness, I notice and recognize how my body reacts to different situations and emotions, and I have an easier time identifying the root of what upsets me so that I can use tools, like breathing with Radiant Heart, to compassionately comfort and calm myself during challenging times. Practicing the Bowspring woke me up to truly loving myself, giving me a better understanding of my personal desires and aspirations and illuminating what brings me the most joy and contentment.