An Effective Healing Method You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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In Williamsburg, Sandra Chiu is using Ortho-Bionomy to banish pain and right imbalances. Here's what you need to know about the cutting-edge healing method.

Sandra Chiu
Sandra Chiu, founder of Treatment by Lanshin in Williamsburg, Brooklyn


More and more, New Yorkers have begun to recognize the power of alternative healing methods like acupuncture and massage—and they even swear by modalities that lack good PR, like Reiki, Feldenkrais, and the Alexander Technique.

But at Treatment by Lanshin, a chic center for healthy living in Williamsburg, founder Sandra Chiu, a licensed acupuncturist, is also using a bodywork technique to banish pain and correct body imbalances that even we'd never heard of. It's called Ortho-Bionomy.

"Everyone I’ve seen learn Ortho-Bionomy is blown away by its elegance and power," says Chiu, who discovered it through a massage therapist, and then fell in love with it after it helped cure her own chronic pain issues. "One of the most important, next-level learnings that it provides is that the body can actually self-correct and experience relief when brought into a position of comfort."

That means no needles and no pressure, which might sound appealing to scaredy cats. It also makes it hard to conceptualize, since while it's happening, it may feel a little bit like, well, nothing. We stopped by for a session and got the facts on this next-generation healing technique.

What is Ortho-Bionomy?

British osteopath Arthur Lincoln Pauls developed the method in 1976, after studying the work of American osteopath Lawrence Jones. The general idea is that the body contains self-correcting reflexes that can be stimulated by gentle positioning, which will lead to structural balance in the body and the correction of damaging patterns. Part of the reason it has such a low profile is the short period of time it's been around, explains Chiu, and because it's been used in a massage therapist's tool kit, not necessarily as a stand-alone treatment.

How does it work?

Basically, the therapist determines what's causing the imbalance or pain in your body and attempts to straighten you out by making you super comfortable (nice, right?). I was having foot pain from running when I went to Chiu, and she could see that one of my legs looked longer than the other, and observed that one was getting a lot of extra pressure. After some acupuncture (optional), she moved my legs into different positions for short periods of time. My knee bent towards my chest, for example, or hanging off the table. For each position, she gave me two options and asked which felt more comfortable. Whichever I chose was where it stayed. At the end, I felt super aligned.

Who and what is it good for?

"It's most well known for creating lasting relief from tension and chronic/acute pain problems," says Chiu, noting that it corrects imbalances that lock tension patterns into the body. She's seen it help people with everything from head trauma to insomnia. When given on its own, it's also a great option for those who don't like acupuncture needles (or intense bodywork like rolfing). Though, Chiu would prefer to use acupuncture and Ortho-Bionomy. (It's $160 for an hour combo session.)

These two powerful tools working together take healing work to another level, she says. "Acupuncture resets the tissues, Ortho-Bionomy gently corrects corresponding structural imbalance. The combo = brilliant." —Lisa Elaine Held

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