Take back your body through balance: an interview with Hilary Boucher
Hilary is a multi-disciplined bodyworker focused in the progressive technique of structural integration. As a movement therapist, Hilary works with her clients to provide manual therapy and movement guidance towards the journey to pain-free health. Outside of her clients, Hilary works with other bodyworkers through her mentorship program that works to bridge the gap between manual and movement therapies.
We sat down with her to learn more about how she guides her clients to their own wellness and what keeps her motivated as a conscious leader.
What is structural integration, how do you use it with your clients?
Structural Integration is a manual form of bodywork that is designed to restructure the body in relation to gravity via the connective tissue (fascia). Using teamwork of both the client and practitioner, the practitioner works to melt, or sink, into the first available layer while the client moves their body to facilitate opening and consciousness to the area. It’s a profound therapy which impacts the mental, emotional and even spiritual aspects of us.
What led you to the path of guiding others to their health?
As one of my wonderful teachers once said, “I came kicking and screaming into my destiny”.
I was a willfully determined child and first pursued a career in classical ballet training professionally until I was 18. I had health issues at birth that left me physically compromised. Despite this, ballet was one of those things I was going to do even it killed me. Sure enough, as a young adult I pursued a dance career and found myself with injury after injury, and struggling to maintain a vigorous training regime between hospital visits. My health began to decline. Finally, after a surgery in 2009 that left me with a complicated healing process, I found myself losing my window of opportunity to flourish with dance and fell into a depression. I was pushing my body (and ignoring it) and my body was pushing back.
Finally, I mustered up the courage to get myself to a gym where I began to work out. Within days, things began changing and I found myself in a place where I could move and exert energy and still honor my health. I was hooked. I got certified to be a personal trainer and began working at a gym.
As I gained a clientele, I found myself with many clients that had health issues and chronic conditions that required me to educate myself on how to appropriately help them. I began how grateful my clients were to achieve their goals and overcome their struggles, which gave me a new-found sense of purpose. Not only could I relate to what they were going through, but I could make a difference.
How does a balanced body impact a person’s life?
Well, if you think of it, you don’t often see a confident person walking with their head down and their shoulders rounded forward, or a depressed individual strutting down the sidewalk with their head up, smiling, facing the world.
Our physical body is a representation of how we relate to our external world. I believe it was Ida Rolf who spoke of the structure and the psyche being one in the same. Whether or not I’m legally allowed to speak to the internal world of my clients, by conversing with their body, I am also speaking with their deeper selves, who in turn responds in the reorganizing of the physical structure.
More simply put, we are happier as beings when we can move with ease and without restriction or pain!
How do you approach Conscious Leadership with your clients?
The process of “taking back your body” comes with an empowerment that when someone is ready, they are ready…they just need direction.
On the table, I often bring my clients awareness to their breath. In a similar way of using the breath to build chi in the body, the breath is an amazing tool of focus that can lead someone into a deeper, more present (yet altered) state. It’s in that state that the internal leadership kicks-in and the body can heal. I trust in my clients’ ability to self-heal and their inner guidance to lead them to where they need to be.
What are your top 3 strategies to leading others to their true health?
I don’t assume responsibility for my clients’ journey, process, outcomes or struggles. That can be easier said than done when a client comes in to my office declaring that I can “fix” them (God I hate that word!). I learned early on in my career of service that absorbing people’s problems and trying to rescue them would only exhaust me and perpetuate a revolving door of the same people and the same cycles.
Instead I work to stay detached, yet caring, with my clients, which allows them to see where they may not be taking full responsibility of themselves or their pain.
I’ve never been afraid of hard work or consistency. Often when I first meet with a client we discuss their expectations in relation to what they are looking to achieve with me. My approach is honest, but not always light and easy when it comes to changing. I know from experience that if you truly want to change, it requires courage, hard work and determination/motivation. If you really want to get well, you have to own it, otherwise it’s easy to get caught in the cycle of looking outside yourself for answers.
I think health is a form of empowerment and so by leading others to a pathway that can take themselves there, it is then up to me to step back and allow them that process. The saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” comes to mind. If the pathway of opportunity is presented, it is then up to the individual to take it, or not.
Hilary’s certifications include personal training, Fascial Stretch Therapy, and Kinesis Myofascial Integration. Hilary is also a faculty member of the Training in Power Academy.
She practices in Toronto, ON Canada at the Leslieville Sanctuary.