Working with Keith Douglas Blair made Taos jeweler and professional skier Gail Golden grow an inch.
Using a combination of deep tissue and “nurturing” techniques, polarity therapy, cranio-sacral therapy and foot reflexology — Blair helps his clients release decades-old patterning to achieve new levels of optimal body function.
In a brief glance at the Internet, height has been reported anecdotally to increase after various body regimens, including daily stretching, yoga and pilates, among others.
Still, gaining an inch in your 40s is really not too common.
From 40 onward, most of us lose 1/3 of an inch in height every 10 years after age 40 — up to 2 full inches by age 80 as a rule.
The growth plates (epiphyseal discs) at the ends of the body's long bones that are soft up into the 30s to accommodate bone growth have basically hardened by 40.
While 1-to 2-inch gains in height are typically the result of better posture due to looser ligaments, it's a huge benefit overall when the body's core and vital organs are not scrunched through increasing spinal curvature, poor stance, tight ligaments and/or strained musculature.
But “deep tissue” manipulation, akin to “Rolfing,” is not everyone's preference. To find out Blair's approach, The Taos News caught up with him at Taos Center for Natural Healing, on Calvary Road in Taos, now his home base.
“Deep work,” also called “Postural Integration,” Blair says, can be everything from “very emotionally based to very subtle … I can usually tell pretty quickly what a person's level of tolerance is. ”
He loves finding the balance in the tissue's depth, he says, “playing with that dynamic, opening things up; and after it's been challenged at a deeper structural level, then finding where things are out of balance.”
He likes a 10-session series, to break up the body's “armoring” or systematic dysfunctionality.
“They say most of our emotional programming is built up by age 4 — be it from parents' influence, diet, genetics,” and the like. Exactly what he uses, depends on the client.
“It's very intuitive,” he says, hesitating briefly over the non-scientific term. “Deep work; a lot of breath-work. There can be some dialogue — whatever's necessary. It's about clearing the body of unnecessary baggage.”
While he agrees that the “armoring” may actually be a part of our adult identity, the way we “walk” in the world, he adds however, “We want to be able to take that armor off and hang it up when it's not needed” — to be in charge of the body, not the other way round.
He says a key aspect of his approach depends, too, on a person's attitude about their situation:
“Do they want to change — more importantly — do they believe they can change? I build up a relationship of trust, a safe space to talk about things they maybe haven't talked about before.”
In his 30-year practice of various techniques, he says, “there's nothing that can shock me.”
But no one approach works 100 percent, 100 percent of the time.
“Some people don't relate to certain things. The most important thing for me is that they come out feeling more at peace, more in harmony, with greater ease in their bodies.”
Body as mirror
He and most body workers encounter back issues frequently, he says.
“The upper back often relates to feeling overburdened, weighed down, overwhelmed and exhausted, having to be strong.
“The mid-back can show issues of guilt or a feeling of 'Get off my back!' The lower back seems to be about support — money issues or feeling unsupported in your world, your environment, your friends and family.”
Not earth-shattering, he agrees, but he trusts the body as a reliable reflection of the whole — physical, mental and emotional — state of one's being.
“Body work helps people become aware of what's going on inside them, and then trusting that it can be different, that you can change.”
And while it's all “very nice” to think in rarified terms of spirituality, he insists on being practical, on “grounding” the changes and the concepts in the proof of the body's response.
Toning, making sounds, is another arrow in his therapeutic quiver.
“It's a huge difficulty for some people to 'speak their truth,' so just making sounds is a big step for a lot of people.”
Blair feels his stage and acting work has made him a natural, being able to sound a full range from deep dirge-like notes up to ET (he hit a high pitchy note to demonstrate).
“Sound penetrates into the body like nothing else and I've come to realize that when I hit the right pitch, I'm doing it intuitively. And people just respond to it so positively.”
Overall, he thinks his success is due to compassion, nonjudgmentalness, unconditional love and creating a safe container for change to take place — starting on the outside and ending up from the inside-out.
A native Kiwi (New Zealander), Blair traded his 14-year Los Angeles-acting-career for the wild blue yonder of Taos, 22 years ago and hasn't looked back.
“Life's great,” Blair says. “I'm glad to be the age I am (63), I'm very, very grateful for my good health … a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual embodiment of service to others."