This is part of a series of interviews I am conducting with practitioners of holistic medicine with the aim of answering the question: "How can we increase our quality of life?" I also find folks drawn to help others in an integrative way tend to be ignited with a deep passion and purpose. These interviews were created to delve into that drive and to discover their tips and insight into living life to its fullest.
Toby is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist with a practice in NorthWest Philadelphia. She was kind enough to answer my questions about her passions and the unique style of bodywork that she offers called Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy,
Enjoy the interview!
Q: Toby, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Where are you from originally?
TOBY: I was born in Rochester, New York, lived in Elizabeth, NJ until I was 5, and then settled in Hillsborough, NJ through high school.
Q: What are you most passionate about right now?
TOBY: I am passionate about practicing craniosacral therapy, progressive practices in education, and investigating the root causes of illness and behavior challenges with children.
Q: Can you tell us what Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is and what kind of issues it can help with?
TOBY: Biodynamic craniosacral therapy (BCST) is a gentle-touch therapy that works with the whole body. With BCST, the body will heal and nourish itself thereby creating an individualized solution to any problem that is causing discomfort emotionally or physically. My role as the therapist is to support the body both physically and energetically so that it can make whatever shifts it needs to make. My hands follow change as it occurs in my client's body rather than moving his/her body in a specific direction.
Q: What is the difference between traditional (Biomechanical) Craniosacral Therapy (CST) and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST)?
TOBY: The biomechanical approach addresses imbalances in the client’s system by using gentle touch techniques to release resistance. The primary focus is on the relationship of the bones of the head, the movement of the sacrum, and the movement of fluid around the brain and spinal cord.
The biodynamic approach is a whole-body approach that involves helping clients reestablish their own balanced rhythm. This allows the body's own regenerative powers to heal and support on-going maintenance of health. Healing comes from within the client, rather than from the practitioner. BCST allows space and stillness for issues to simply be and have room to reorganize and shift naturally.
There is one more approach called Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy, which is a compassion based application of biodynamic craniosacral therapy principals to the cardiovascular system. The intention of this work is to support the healing of metabolic syndromes (e.g., heart disease, obesity, diabetes), which are impacting the majority of people in Western countries. I have had training in both BCST and Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy.
Q: What initially inspired you to study and offer this type of therapy?
TOBY: I first learned about craniosacral therapy when I took my son to a D.O. who did osteopathic manipulative therapy. Each week I would watch her work with him until one day I decided to try it myself. When I came back to her and reported what I was feeling, she told me that I was feeling the cranial wave. That started me on a journey of learning this work. The more I practiced, the more connected I felt to the work and the power of the healing possibilities with gentle touch. I love that this work is about honoring the wisdom of the body in discomfort, seeing the client as whole, and listening for the health. I am honored to participate in the practice of providing space for my clients to work out their dis-ease and nourish themselves.
Q: What is the cranial wave?
TOBY: The cranial wave is a subtle body pulse that is variable and moves at a rate of about 8-12 cycles per minute. The cranial wave responds to stress levels - it speeds up when stress is experienced and slows down when the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged.
Q: What is your goal when working with your clients?
TOBY: My goal is to provide a nourishing space where my clients' bodies can get to work on what they need to do. I hope to offer people an opportunity to slow down, connect with their inner wisdom, and offer a space to nourish and heal their own body. My clients (children and adults) come to me for various reasons (e.g., body pains, anxiety, stress, curiosity). My hope is that they walk away feeling nourished and settled. I am taking a series of classes on BCST and concussions beginning in March, and I am excited to see the impact that this work has for individuals who have had concussions.
Q: What is some advise that you offer your clients, that you think would benefit everyone?
TOBY: I think it is important that people listen to themselves and act from their own intuition. Too often, people know they are not well, but do not change their situation to remedy things. If you want to run, run. It you want to meditate, meditate. If you think you "should" do something, ask yourself if you really want to do it. If no, maybe it's not the thing that will really sustain and nourish you.
Q: Toby, what does your morning routine look like?
TOBY: My son is the family alarm clock, and he starts our morning typically around 6:15am. He snuggles with my husband and I in our bed until 6:30 when he shouts, "It's time to get up!" Then I walk the dog, feed the dog, make my son's lunch, kiss my husband goodbye, play "amazing catches" (football) with my son, and bring him to school. It's a full morning!
Q: What do you like to do in your free time? What do you like to do for fun?
TOBY: Ahhhh, free time! I love to move my body: run in the woods, parkour, and play with my family (which often looks like football at the Penn Charter football field or baseball at Daisy field). When I want to have fun in a less active way I love reading, knitting, food shopping, cooking and BOARD GAMES!!!
Q: What book do you absolutely love and would recommend to our readers?
TOBY: There is a terrific book called, "Thanks for the Feedback." Giving and receiving feedback sometimes feels scary, but I think it is a way for us to grow and understand each other.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote that helps or inspires you?
TOBY: I have two favorite quotes:
The first is from Brene Brown: "Blame is a way of discharging pain and discomfort."
The second is from Harry Palmer:
1. Just like me, this person is looking for happiness in his or her life.
2. Just like me, this person tries to avoid suffering in his or her life.
3. Just like me, this person experiences sorrow, loneliness, and despair.
4. Just like me, this person is trying to satisfy his or her own needs.
5. Just like me, this person is learning about life."
Q: Toby, thank you so much for your time and sharing your passions and advice. Where would folks find out more about you or set up an appointment?
TOBY: My office space is in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. I can be reached via email at tobycalandra(at)gmail.com or by phone at 215-882-2790.
About Toby Calandra
Toby's interest in Biodynamic Cranioasacral Therapy (BCST) began on her journey to support her son with healing his multiple allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances to food and the environment. She is constantly humbled and intrigued by what she experiences on a daily basis related to health, nourishment, and being in this world. In addition to practicing BCST, Toby is a speech-language pathologist with her Master of the Arts in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) from Indiana University. She has been exploring how her knowledge of BCST and SLP can be uniquely intertwined, especially when working with children with expressive, receptive, and/or social language disorders. Toby lives in the Germantown section of Philadelphia with her husband, their son, and their dog.