Russian Bodywork

A Deeply Profound Bodywork Experience

By Randy Watson, LMT

There are many types of Russian bodywork. The style I practice comes from the Russian martial art of Systema, passed down from its living masters Mikhail Ryabko, Vladimir Vasiliev, and Konstantin Komarov. This martial art and its associated bodywork practices are said to have a lineage of over 1,000 years.

Russian Bodywork Ashland Oregon Siskiyou MassageThe purpose of this bodywork is multifaceted. It shares the basic goals of other types of massage: to release tenacious tension from the body, correct movement or posture-related issues, and promote recovery from injury or stress. Furthermore, it can enable recipients to recognize and begin to shed fears, especially as we work into deeper layers of physical tension. As you develop more internal awareness, you can utilize the breathing and relaxation skills taught during the sessions in any situation to reduce pain or stress. This often leaves recipients feeling ‘like a new person,’ rejuvenated, with a new-found sense of freedom that may have far-reaching effects.

We will accomplish this by applying pressure to the body, bringing the recipient’s attention to an area so that they can begin to actively let go of the tension. This is your work. I will guide you through specific breathing techniques which allow one to achieve deep relaxation in the midst of intense work. While it is absolutely possible to benefit from this massage without its use, you will find much more profound effects by integrating the breathwork.

As you gain proficiency in releasing tension, we can go deeper. This is where we meet fear. There are bodily memories of experiences, just as there are mentally, and I believe the body remembers much more precisely than the mind. There are often subconscious fears throughout the body, associated with injury, stress, or trauma, and we will encounter these when doing deep bodywork. Russian bodywork and its associated breath practice can change one’s relationship with these fears, which echoes an often-repeated mantra of Systema: ‘poznai sebia’ (know yourself).

A session may be done with the recipient standing, sitting, or lying on a massage table or on the floor, but most often will be done lying on a mat on the floor (in a similar setting to Thai massage). We will work together to determine what’s appropriate for your session. It’s best if you wear comfortable clothing so that movement can be done as needed (we have scrubs available at our clinic). Techniques I employ include broad or specific deep tissue compression (including viscera), mobilization of limbs, rocking, and percussive techniques, among others, which are applied via the use of feet, hands, knees, or various other tools as may be appropriate.

Because of the vulnerability involved with this kind of process, there must be a certain level of trust between the recipient and practitioner. In order to be able to relax, you must trust me to keep the intensity level safe and to be able to ‘read’ your condition throughout the session. I also need to trust your willingness to engage in and accept deep work and ability to communicate clearly. I will work to create this trust from the very beginning. I also recognize that not everyone has the desire or ability to tolerate the intensity of this work as it was taught to me. As such, I will gladly and attentively moderate the intensity of the session to suit your needs, which you may adjust at any time.

In the words of one recipient, ‘it feels like a heavy angel!’

Feel free to call our office with questions or email me directly at

Randy is a massage therapist at Siskiyou Massage in Ashland OregonRandy Watson, LMT

Siskiyou Massage