Look, Ma, no splash!

Carolyn Rashti at 80 - Aqua Therapist


My therapy of choice is water.  I’ve always liked swimming, but aqua therapy is soooooo different from vigorous exercise.  We walk into the body temperature pool in silence, with an 80-year-old guiding us away from the stresses on our minds and bodies, and focusing our thoughts instead on the sensuality of the medium.  We are told to feel the very moment a part of our body senses the lift; know that water crystals are changing shape as they receive us.  Then for five minutes or so we find our own slow way of dancing with the water.

Gayle’s eyes close in bliss.  Our therapist, Carolyn Rashti, tells me to keep mine open and look at something in particular so I don’t lose balance.  I had back surgery a year ago, and I have weak ankles, probably from wearing “corrective” shoes as a toddler.  I have goofy vision, that makes me see double.  In other words, I’ve always been a klutz.

Carolyn is a retired dancer who studied with Martha Graham in New York City and at the Institute for Movement Exploration at Wesleyan College in CT.  She has a Master’s in Counseling.  She has performed, taught, invented, and provided health as a certified therapist to dancers, singers, actors, athletes, and many others with varying degrees of physical challenges.

I started with her two days a week six months ago.  I am straighter, stronger, firmer, slimmer, calmer, and more graceful (occasionally), and I know how to breathe correctly.

A normal class is 4-6 individuals, each with a unique recovery goal – from knee replacements; systemic problems that create lethargy and thus weight gain; broken ribs.  Depression.  She directs specific movements to each of us.

Even the U.S. Army uses this kind of treatment at Walter Reed Hospital to rehabilitate soldiers with musculo-skeletal and brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress.

So why don’t more people try this kind of healing?  First, it’s not covered by insurance (although it is tax deductible).  Secondly, there are not enough heated pools like the one provided at Santa Rita Springs in Tucson.  This one is in a lovely building with lots of windows, so we can see the palo verde trees waving in the breeze.

Whoops!  Focus.  My imaginary ponytail is being pulled up by the  spirit of the fierce Graham.  Her 80-year-old proselyte is ready to jump up on my shoulders to hold them down.  I drop them, stand on one leg,  my leg and spine are now in alignment, reaching right through the roof.

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