What is Cherokee Bodywork?

I met Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD, PhD, and Barbara Mainguy, MS a year ago at a Cherokee Bodywork (Indigenous North American Bodywork) workshop with a group of shamans. At the time, I knew nothing about shamanism except that maybe the mainstream medical establishment probably regarded shamans as something akin to heretics and kooks. And here I was early on a Saturday morning at the suggestion of a new friend and a former teacher, taking a two-day workshop surrounded by people from a part of the fabric of our city of which I knew nothing. Or so it seemed.

That is one of the things I love about New York City: one can take a class with a diverse group of people whose backgrounds and life stories are so completely different and yet discover a common bond and language that precipitates looking at life through completely different eyes.

At the class I encountered another teaching colleague from the Swedish Institute, where we both teach shiatsu. She was more familiar with shamanic healing circles and so I felt ready for a new adventure. It was not long before I discovered the common bond between a shiatsu practitioner and a Cherokee bodyworker. Not only is balancing energy at the core of both practices, but they also share an archetypal approach for observing the body and the manifestation of energy. For years I have studied and practiced 5-element theory, based in Eastern medicine and philosophy from China.

The common thread between the Eastern and North American practices was that both philosophies explore the balance of energy between the macrocosm of the universe and microcosm of our bodies. From opposite sides of the planet our forefathers looked at the sky, the sun, the moon, the seasons and humans’ reaction to them and interaction with them and began to piece together languages that spoke to their observations and practices that answered their curiosities.

And here we are 5,000 years later observing the same moon and stars and finding our place amongst them in Beijing, in New York City, in classrooms and shamanic circles.

Over the course of the next few months, we will post articles,opinions, links and related material defining Cherokee Bodywork in association with Osteopathy, Sound Healing and Reiki in the context of a new series of classes at CATA.

Starting this fall we will offer a series of workshops entitled North American Healing Arts (NAHA). There will be 16 weekend classes with renowned teachers Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Barbara Mainguy, and John Beaulieu, along with osteopath Joseph Schmidlin and Shamanic Reiki practitioner, Nita Renfrew.


-Michael Alicia

Dr. John Beaulieu
Dr. John Beaulieru ND, PhD- Biosonics Healing Enterprises
Composer, Musician, Artist, Poet, and Healing Artist

Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona
Native American Healing: Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD, PhD | Professor of Family Medicine and Psychiatry

Barbara Mainguy

Joseph Schmidlin
Joseph Schmidlin – Health Touch

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