Drawing from both Eastern and Western practices and theory, polarity therapy aims to restore physical and energetic balance in the body. The modality, classified as a biofield treatment by the scientific and medical communities, is based on an understanding of unseen forces in the body that manifest in energy flow and magnetic attraction and repulsion.
Like other somatic therapies, this practice has a broad scope that encompasses mental and emotional well-being as well as physical health, so movement and thought exercises may be used alongside healing touch in polarity therapy.
What Is Polarity Therapy?
Randolph Stone, who held doctorates in chiropractic, osteopathy, and naturopathy, first published the principles of this modality in the book Energy in 1947. Stone maintained that electromagnetic polarity in the body reflected overall health. Though this magnetic attraction and repulsion was scientifically undetectable, Dr. Stone’s studies led him to identify it empirically and treat it accordingly. Like reiki, polarity therapy is built in part on non-Western philosophies related to energy and healing intention. It may be grounded in spiritual beliefs, depending on the practitioner and client, but is not associated with any religious or spiritual discipline.
An imbalance in polarity or blocked energy in the body could either indicate or lead to poor health, stress, and other factors. Polarity therapy aims to correct the root issue and restore balance physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Treatment may incorporate approaches such as traditional touch massage, light touch, changes in nutrition or diet, communication or thought processing, and stretching or exercise, among others.
In the realm of polarity therapy related to bodywork and massage, there are three primary levels of touch:
- Satva, or soft touching
- Rajas, or rocking motion
- Tamas, or dispersing movement
In performing Satva therapy, a therapist’s touch is very gentle and may remain completely still. The goal of a Satva session of polarity therapy is relaxation and inaction. It is the least invasive or disruptive type of touch in terms of influencing the body’s energies and can therefore be used on a wider variety of issues than those typically treated with massage. Rajas treatment is more stimulating and may aim more for activating or changing frequencies of life energy within the client to restore balance. Tamas, the heaviest level of polarity therapy, may be used for a stronger energetic or magnetic reaction within the body.
Benefits of Polarity Therapy
Since Dr. Stone’s first publications on the treatment, it has been the subject of further empirical research that has revealed information about the human energy field and the possible benefits of polarity therapy. One study noted a marked decrease in gamma radiation levels of all participants, each of whom had received polarity therapy. These findings may be especially promising for cancer patients who have received radiation treatments.
Today, polarity therapy is a widely accepted bodywork modality that continues to gain recognition for comprehensively addressing health issues and focusing on treatment of the whole person–not simply one aspect of an individual’s health. Carol Ann Lucia, a registered polarity practitioner and licensed massage therapist, has said polarity therapy is indicated in all aspects of pathology, meaning it can be used in some form for nearly any conceivable health issue. Satva treatment, especially, can be especially beneficial for immune system support.
What to Expect From a Polarity Therapy Session
During polarity therapy, clients remain clothed. A massage table is used for this treatment, but oils and lotions are not. A session in which polarity therapy is administered varies greatly from one practitioner to the next and depends on an individual’s comfort level and the health issues they’re seeking to address.
You may experience silence, stillness, and deep relaxation while the therapist applies very light pressure all over your body. Your physical treatment might also involve setting an intention before the session and stretching and verbalizing some thoughts throughout the treatment. Another approach may use deep pressure and muscle stimulation to activate or encourage energy flow within the body. Some clients leave with self-care objectives to try at home or recommendations for changes in diet or nutrition, depending on the specializations of their treatment provider.
Length of a session and duration of treatments depends on individual needs. As with any bodywork treatment, it is important to convey expectations and comfort level ahead of time so a bodywork professional can provide the best assistance in the healing process.
Contraindications of Polarity Therapy
Polarity therapy in its most gentle form (Satva) can help holistically treat a wide range of health issues, but the Rajas and Tamas modes may be too harsh for some pathology. A properly credentialed professional should be able to assess each modality’s suitability for the client and health issue(s) being treated.
More academic and scientific studies will help provide better understanding of the precise benefits and contraindications of polarity therapy. Current understanding is largely grounded in empirical evidence.
Any massage therapist practicing polarity therapy should hold credentials in both massage therapy and polarity therapy. The American Polarity Therapy Association currently requires 155 hours of beginner-level training to become an Associate Polarity Practitioner. Alternative health care should not be regarded more lightly than clinical medicine and treatment, and it is advised that those interested in polarity therapy research a potential care provider before making an appointment.
- Allison, N. (1999). The illustrated encyclopedia of body-mind disciplines, 126. New York City, NY: Rosen Publishing Group.
- Arnold, L. E., Benford, M. S., Boosey, S., Doss, D. B., & Talnagi, J. (1999). Gamma radiation fluctuations during alternative healing therapy. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 5(4), 51-6. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10394674
- Beck, M. F. (2011). Theory & practice of therapeutic massage (5th ed.), 20, 798-99, 610. Clifton Park, NY: Milady.
- Gilchrist, R. (1993). Polarity therapy: A comprehensive system in the energy-based healing arts. Bridges. Retrieved from http://www.wellnessinstitute.net/articles/detail/17
- Professional training for polarity practitioners. (n.d.). American Polarity Therapy Association. Retrieved from http://www.polaritytherapy.org/education
- Welcome to polarity therapy. (n.d.). American Polarity Therapy Association. Retrieved from http://www.polaritytherapy.org/polarity-therapy
- Werner, R. (2009). A massage therapist’s guide to pathology (4th ed.), 19. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Wisneski, L. A., & Anderson, L. (2009). The scientific basis of integrative medicine (Second ed.), 212. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.