By Thomas Wills

“I’m not a woo-woo person,” body-worker Roger Baril of Paonia says. Roger’s declaration was in response to my observation that I had detected no overt, mushy New Ageishness about his healing practice during an hour of conversation followed by an hour-long body movement education session.

Roger is tall, thin, late middle aged with direct eyes and personality, but very open and welcoming. Ushering me into to his two room office in the Lamborn Building on Paonia’s central Grand Avenue, he immediately sheds his shoes and offers me a cup of green tea. It is eight-thirty in the morning and outside the first killing frost has put a period to most sensitive garden plants across the lower Valley. We acknowledge a shared interest in gardening and then spend an hour discussing his practice.

I immediately leap on words such as “somatics” and “bio-kinetics” and “myo-fascial release”, wanting to know the reality behind each one and the degree of “woo-woo.” It turned out that the words that, to a person who has never been to a bodyworker/healer, seem a bit mysteriously opaque, but are no more so than most standard medical terms. Somatics, Roger explains, is our awareness of our bodies from the inside as opposed to being objects seen from the outside. Thus, somatic education is teaching the patient/client to be aware of how the whole body is working so that they can take action to correct and prevent bad things from happening. Is there a click when you bend your knee? How does your back feel upon awakening? How aware are you of your posture? Where do you feel the pain as you move a certain way? How does it feel when you move differently? How does it feel to contract an area and slowly release it and completely relax and sense the difference? To breathe deeply into any area with movement?

Roger explains that many times chronic pain in the structure of the body is the result of developing a bad habit that gets locked in, and that learning proper body movement practice can correct the problem in a short period of time. Especially with the hands-on treatment.

Roger takes pride in the fact that he is more than a one or two note bodyworker. While he is a Colorado licensed and nationally certified massage therapist he has also been trained in a wide range of disciplines. He is an expert in kinetics or kinesiology, the science of body movement, and has even developed his own flavor, Bio-Kinetics, to the point of trademarking the name. During an hour-long session during which I don shorts and t-shirt, Roger takes me on a review of most of the major joints of my body, explaining how things work or should work within a certain range of motions and a series of yoga-like stretching exercises that help maintain flexibility and mobility and awareness of movement with relaxation and contraction. He constantly urges me to be fully aware of how certain joints and regions feel, before and after a series of exercises. Of how the body parts, bone and muscles are connected to and affect, other parts. In the end it all seems very practical and common sense.

I have been a runner since I was fifteen and think of myself as being in very good shape, but in just a few minutes Roger makes me aware of my limitations in general flexibility. We talk about how “healthy” people can benefit from massage and movement therapy and how a periodic tune-up from someone like Roger could be of great benefit. In fact, Roger works with skilled athletes, yoga teachers and dancers, helping to keep them at their very best in their practice.

Roger says that much of his practice is dealing with people in pain, teaching them to manage that pain and even eliminate it by learning good body structure habits, along with the hands on treatment with myo-facial release/massage and somatic table work. This also aids in cutting back on or eliminating the need for pain medication like controversial, addictive opioids. On the massage side of things he does myo-fascial release therapy, something useful especially to physical trauma victims, like people who have been in car accidents. This involves manipulating the connecting covering tissue that hold the muscles in place that has become rumpled or bunched, basically smoothing and working it back into place. Softening the tensions.

Roger is fully trained in how to work with special needs such as people with arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. He works with patients of a wide range of ages.

Roger is a State of Colorado licensed massage therapist and a member of the American Association of Massage and Bodyworkers. He is a Certified Massage Therapist, and nationally Board Certified in Advanced Massage and Bodywork Therapy. (NCBTMB). He has been in professional practice since 1989 and is a member of the Paonia Chamber of Commerce. He has lived in Paonia for nineteen years and maintains offices in Paonia in the Lamborn Building downtown, in Delta, and in Grand Junction.

He is registered with the state as being able to accept referrals from regular doctors for patients with Workman Compensation insurance.