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Hidden Gems: Meet Diana Christmas of DC Bodywork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diana Christmas.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I had the privilege of growing up on a farm in a rural county here in Tennessee. I learned early on what hard work and a never give up attitude can accomplish. Watching my parents own and operate their own business was something an adult, I appreciate even more. Like most people, I spent most of my early to mid-’20s working a few different jobs trying to figure out what made me come alive and want to continue to learn every day. These jobs ranged from graphic/print design to being a licensed Realtor®. I was always looking for ways to better myself and those around me.

My eventual career of being a structural integration therapist started when I was around 22 with a diagnosis of Scoliosis. I grew up playing sports; mostly golf and softball. I was active, but always dealt with chronic back pain that was chalked up to “playing sports.” I wasn’t even sure what the word scoliosis meant at the time. Doctors told me my scoliosis was significant enough to warrant a surgical consult. After the initial visit with an orthopedic surgeon, I wasn’t left with many alternatives other than surgery & prescription pain medication (which I did not want to consider). I did not have peace about surgery, as it was an extremely invasive and long procedure. Learning that I am more than my diagnosis, I wished to explore other modalities of pain control and healing before potentially getting surgery. A few years later, I made a choice to prioritize my health and take control.

Through a series of events, I came to find the world of Structural Integration & Bodywork. I came to understand the fascial system, which is the beautiful biological fabric woven throughout our body. The fascial system had a role in the chronic pain that I had been dealing with for years. Bodywork and Structural Integration sessions changed my life and I knew that is how I wanted to help others. Sometimes our greatest setbacks or disappointments can actually be the greatest things to happen to us. It launched me into the world of Structural Integration and Bodywork.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I wish I could say it was a smooth road; that I never questioned or doubted myself, but that is simply not true. I started the journey of helping myself so that I could eventually help others. Along the way, I have been met with many struggles – both internal and external. I have learned to stand on my own two feet, but also had to learn there are times to lean on your support system and ask for help. When the path seems dark, reach out to a friend who is carrying a flashlight.

During the year-long certification process to become a Structural Integration Practitioner (in addition to my initial massage therapy licensure), I was met with a lot of challenges that slowly chipped away and helped me loosen my grip on what control I thought I had. Those challenges forced me to confront those not-so-pleasant things about myself and sit in the pain of the process.

I had a teacher tell me once that we cannot expect our clients to allow themselves to go to that place if we haven’t been there before or dealt with those parts of ourselves. I have had the privilege of studying under some of the most amazing teachers, mentors, and humans who have pushed me to face those struggles & develop my skills.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Structural Integration and Bodywork have played the most significant role in my journey. Leading up to 2018, the year I attended Anatomy Trains Structural Integration school in Maine, I received quite a bit of bodywork and sports-type massage. It wasn’t until I went through the first ATSI 12-series that I understood the power of intentional touch and using a methodical approach.

A front to back, side to side, superficial to deep, whole-body approach. As I journeyed through my own 12-series, so much change was happening within my being, chipping away at my edges. It was revealing deep long forgotten wounds, thoughts, & self-imposed judgments; becoming more fully aware of the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. I knew the connection existed; however, I had separated those for most of my life. Becoming more fully aware of who I was, how it was created to function, and what my body was capable of was incredibly freeing. I was more comfortable in my own skin and much more open to taking up space around me, unapologetically. Of course, I am still learning!

A lot can change as you sense freedom within your body, mind, and spirit. Freedom of leaving restrictions, habits, & old patterns behind. Freedom in learning to lean into gravity, instead of fighting it. As you align those things you will begin to become aware of your potential, which is always more than what is revealed. This is the beginning of learning what it means to Ease, Release and Restore.

What is ATSI?

The design of Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI) is to unwind the strain patterns residing in your body’s locomotor system. The goal is to restore it to its natural balance, alignment, length, and ease. Common strain patterns come about from inefficient movement habits, and our body’s response to poorly designed cars, desks, telephones, airplanes, etc. Individual strain patterns can come from birth, imitation when we are young, injury, surgery, and our body’s response to traumatic episodes. Beginning as a simple gesture of response, movements can become a neuromuscular habit. The habitual movement forms one’s posture, and the posture requires changes in the structure – the body’s connective tissue ‘fabric’. ATSI is designed to unwind this process and reduce structural stress. The method depends on a unique property of the body’s connective tissue network.

I understand that not everyone is ready to commit to the ATSI 12-series. I do offer one-off sessions of Structural Bodywork that could include scar work and other modalities that will be individualized to the client.

“Our body is a process over the life span.” -Jaap van der Wal, MD, PhD

“You can’t get beyond the body unless you free the body itself.” -Ida Rolf

What do you think about happiness?
I have grown to appreciate (and am still learning to appreciate) the small things in life. Aren’t we all? As cheesy as it sounds, sunsets can stop me in my tracks. I will turn a car around and pull off on the side of the road to watch the colors change. I enjoy spending time with those who are life-giving, who love what they do, and who share that passion with those around them. My friends are the best gifts I have ever been given. My dog, Charley has taught me what unconditional love looks like and that there is always time to fetch a ball, go on a walk, and eat a treat. Oh, and if you know me, walking barefoot in the grass. Go ahead, try it!

Lastly, what makes me especially happy is helping people achieve and reach their potential – whether that be helping them figure out how to alleviate chronic pain or helping them maintain optimal efficiency at whatever it is they do/want to do and so much in between.

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