Healing Touch

Jeremy Lehrer

New Yorkers who benefit from the wellness and healing arts can also take courses to learn how to practice these techniques, which can range from healing through touch (with practices like Reiki, massage and biodynamic craniosacral therapy) to sound therapies (like Soundwork) to herbal and nutritional approaches (including homeopathy and dietary adjustments). Or if you’re more geared to holistic methods like ayurveda—the Indian science of bringing the body and mind into perfect balance and harmony—or energy kinesiology, you’ll learn how to help those seeking to treat a range of physical, mental and spiritual ailments. With some techniques, you’ll also be able to prevent and heal your own problems.

The New York Open Center offers classes in wellness practices in a variety of techniques. The center’s curriculum is nothing if not thorough, and its teachers are some of the most accomplished practitioners in their fields. You can learn to use herbs to heal and prevent illness during a four-month herbalism program, discover how to realign the body's energetic imbalances and reduce stress in a yearlong program that grants a Basic Kinesiology Practitioner certificate and learn to guide and counsel moms-to-be as a birth doula.

The Tri-State College of Acupuncture curriculum allows students to train in acupuncture and Chinese herbology, drawing on techniques known as traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture physical medicine and Japanese-style acupuncture. The school emphasizes the value of an extensive and practical clinical training, and students are encouraged to quickly begin applying their newfound knowledge with hands-on (and needles-in) practicums with other students and willing subjects.

You may not think that the way you walk has anything to do with the aches in various parts of your body, but Jonathan FitzGordon, founder of the FitzGordon Method Core Walking Program (based out of the Yoga Center of Brooklyn), is likely to convince you otherwise. FitzGordon, who has a gentle demeanor and an incisive understanding of the interconnectedness of human anatomy, shows students how to walk and align their musculoskeletal anatomy throughout the day to avoid pain and injury while keeping the body strong, vital and actively engaged. Six-week group-study sessions begin on a rolling basis every two weeks, and FitzGordon also offers private sessions.

Tree of Life Yoga and Wellness is based in Forest Hills, Queens. The center hosts classes in proper diet and nutrition, offers an introduction to Qigong (a breathing and health maintenance discipline) and features a massage workshop series that teaches participants to better contend with stress, tension and pain. Founded by René David Alkalay, a naturopathic doctor and meditation teacher who is himself a practitioner of numerous healing arts, the center offers yoga classes—one of which is geared toward students with multiple sclerosis—and a yoga teacher's training program.

Making and eating nutritious whole foods can be profoundly calming and healing, and the Natural Gourmet Institute has a training program for professional chefs as well as home cooks seeking to expand their repertoire of vegetarian (and flexitarian) cooking. The crux of the Natural Gourmet Institute approach is an understanding of how the foods we eat relate to our health and state of mind, so students learn how to prepare food that enchants the senses, strengthens the immune system, helps prevent diseases and nurtures the well-being of body, mind and spirit.

Those who want to heal others by teaching yoga can sign up for training at Dharma Mittra Yoga Center, Laughing Lotus Yoga Center or Jivamukti Yoga School—all of which offer well-regarded, comprehensive teacher-training programs that allow enthusiasts to discover the unique joys of sharing the practice.