I got the chance to sit down with Joyce Rockwood, the Director of Colon Hydrotherapy, at vegan hot-spot The Springs in the downtown Los Angeles arts district. We covered everything from the misconceptions about juicing to healing practices to detoxification. If you’re unsure of what Colon Hyrdotherapy is and its benefits, now’s your chance to learn.
Q: What do you do?
It’s been around for thousands of years. You can read about man attaining higher levels of spirituality by washing out this part of his anatomy and then frolicking in the hills. If you research the ancient scriptures (The Essene Gospel of Peace), you can read descriptions about this practice. You can see it in nature with birds using reeds to do the same thing. So I am the Director of ColonHydrotherapy but I am truly passionate about helping people in all facets of their lives and have become an expert and a specialist in the area of detoxification. I work with beautiful everyday people from all walks of life and many professionals in the fields of entertainment, sports, and media. Often it’s people in the worlds of entertainment and sports and performers in a variety of fields to live at their greatest potential. My focus is to assist them to seek out their greatest potential as individuals as well as in their own area of expertise. Sometimes clients are working on eradicating serious illnesses and lifelong infirmity or maybe they’re an athlete and are currently asymptomatic but are seeking a competitive edge and in that case, colon hydrotherapy can help them to discover increased speed, accuracy, flexibility, and even recovery time through cellular detoxification. And with singers, increasing their vocal range (with their octaves) is truly possible. When the lower cavity of the intestine is free of obstruction, the diaphragm sits properly in the body so the depth and capacity of breath elevates and increases. You project more profoundly. Over the years, I’ve worked with opera singers, stars, singer‐songwriters, who have all experienced a variety of improvements including less seasonal infirmity. There are benefits for every walk of life.
Q: So do most of the people who come to you have a specific problem that needs fixing or do you ever have everyday people just looking to be healthier?
Q: So it really is a holistic approach. There is not just one thing that you do. It’s diet, exercise, mind set, emotions, etc., that all come together to effect the whole body.
A: Yes, I offer Gravity Based Colon Hydrotherapy treatments and also Nutritionaland Lifestyle Consultations. The concepts of detoxification are taught through various perspectives including: diet, lifestyle, therapeutic treatments, mental and emotional well‐being, and our relationships. So here at The Springs, I perform Gravity‐Based Colon Hydrotherapy sessions which last about an hour based on the individual. I also offer group lectures and group workshops for various organizations and corporate groups. Healthier employees equals increased engagement, interaction, attendance, and enhances creativity and productivity. Recently, we had a really fun group of twenty‐five Neutrogena bloggers from around the country that scheduled a day at The Springs to learn about yoga, enjoy lunch at our raw vegan restaurant, and participate in a thirty‐minute detoxification lecture I hosted.
Q: What is the attraction for you in working with larger groups vs. individuals?
Q: I feel like on a big scale that can help too because it puts everyone on a similar page with each other where you can connect on a level with those people because you’re all trying to do the same thing.
A: It’s community and that’s what’s happening here (at The Springs). People comehere and they meet and there’s an immediate connection because of lifestyle. That’s the difference between this and a bar. In a traditional bar setting, people go in there and they’re trying to drown their sorrows by putting more toxic elements in their bodies. Here, Jared Stein and Kimberly Helms are constantly offering healthier options for people to have a good time, expand their life experience and to do things that are uplifting and beneficial for the body, mind, and spirit! Yoga workshops, live music, marketplace bazaars, in tandem with healthy organic food and beverages! So, service‐wise, I offer gravity‐based colon hydrotherapy treatments as well as one‐on‐one consultations, (lifestyle and nutrition based). And then I also started offering group workshops for the LA community. We had our first one in January. We also organize specialty projects like the one we just did with Neutrogena. I am excited to do more of those because it’s really energizing to interact with a large group of people and share this knowledge for everyone’s benefit.
Q: Education and awareness are really important. I feel like there is a lot of gray area where people don’t know. I’ve been here, I had interviewed Jared and I asked him what The Springs did that was different. He told me about this colon hydrotherapy treatment. And even then I still didn’t know what it was. How did you get into it? Do you have to be a registered dietician or what’s the background?
Q: There’s a misunderstanding that if you’re juicing you’re depriving yourself which is not the case. A lot of times you can juice and you’re eating small light meals. You just in general will crave food less because you’re more satisfied.
A: Yes, that’s right. The bioavailability of those nutrients and enzymes in the juice transports energy right to your blood. You absorb that energy and that’s true life force. That’s oxygen feeding your cells. Essentially that juice is creating oxygen in your body to fuel the cells and we thrive more on oxygen than we do on food. If someone said to you how long can you hold your breath for vs. how long can you go without eating, we know what the answer is. You can go a lot longer without eating than you can go without oxygen. Drinking a green juice nourishes hemoglobin in the blood, which is what carries oxygen to the cells. That’s why you feel good when you drink a juice. That (juicing) was the beginning for me and then I started getting colonics more often and my body shifted dynamically. My immune system got stronger. I would sail through a winter and not get sick. I required less sleep. I had unlimited energy. My complexion was clear and my skin was incredibly firm and healthy looking. My heart was singing. My creativity soared. I lost about twenty pounds. I just started feeling really amazing all the time. I felt love deeper and stronger and it was really easy to feel great compassion towards others. Physically my joints were more open and my flexibility expanded. My skin glowed. Nobody really raves about their skin looking great on bagels and cream cheese. That food only tastes good. It never really leaves us feeling any better than before we ate it.
Q: What’s your background?
A: My background was actually in the arts. I grew up the daughter of very creative parents and my father is a well-known professional photographer (David M. Spindel). I studied photography myself at his alma mater but pursued the field from the business side for eight years where I met the person, (my then boss) who introduced me to the world of colon hydrotherapy at the age of twenty-three. The more treatments I received, the more I realized how powerful colon hydrotherapy was in allowing my body to be more self-sufficient. One of the first epiphanies I had was with less frequent occurrences of the common cold. (Now, and for several years running, I never get sick.) I really started to feel the power of having my health in my own hands. There came a point when I realized there was really nothing else on the planet I’d rather do than learn how to perform these treatments. It was so empowering for me. I thought, wow, all these years I’d been suffering unnecessarily as a kid with ear infections, tonsillitis, and then to boot, repeat urinary tract infections because I was on antibiotics so frequently. All that suffering, all that sickness, all those people in my family who were diabetic, and on anti-depressants and blood pressure meds: I thought, illness is so manageable with what you choose to put in your body and how it detoxifies. I liken my enthusiasm for the healing power of the work to hearing an amazing song or seeing an amazing show and wanting to tell your friends – that’s how I felt about this work. I wanted to tell everybody about it and thought it was only fair that people knew how to take care of themselves in a different and more proactive way than we are typically taught growing up, which is to wait until we are sick to actually do something about our health. Just taking medicine isn’t really doing anything to support our health. Then it’s too late. Our immune system is actually undermined by it. It would be similar to actors waited until opening night to rehearse their lines instead of going to rehearsals for months prior. So I asked my colon therapist if he could train me so that I could learn how to treat myself – just putting a unit in my apartment for self-care, that was really my goal. It was strictly personal initially. I learned how to treat myself and that lead into him going on vacation for two weeks and asking me, “hey, can you sit in and tend to my clients while I’m away?”. I was flabbergasted. First of all, I looked up to him very highly (and knew all his other clients did as well) and so I didn’t think it was possible to fill his shoes. So, a few seconds later, I said “Sure!” and just worked out my fears when I saw the first client. Clients give you feedback. Gil had essentially trained me but there’s a lot about the work that you, as a therapist, have to feel that cannot be taught. There is a school that certifies you in a four-day training in Florida. You learn the basics, It’s not enough to meet the standard that I have come to require and my clients have come to expect.
When I train my therapists now, it takes about 2 months and sometimes longer depending on how fast clients will schedule that want to “guinea pig” themselves for a discounted rate and give feedback to the therapist in training. But that’s what it takes. It takes time and working on different bodies, working with different health conditions and different digestive systems, and living the lifestyle yourself, and also self-administering colonics to be able to build experience, knowledge, and confidence as a skilled colon hydrotherapist.
Q: And that’s such a personal thing. You’re going to connect with someone if you’re going down that road. There’s going to be an instant connection.
A: Right. And it’s very primal work. You’re in a very vulnerable situation when you’re in treatment because we’re dealing with that area of the body that’s very private and personal. So you want to be with a therapist that makes you feel very comfortable because we want you to feel relaxed. Our atmosphere is far from clinical. It’s warm and earthy in spirit but we take the work seriously. You may be surprised to see what a great time you have in session while you also receive a great sense of relief and joy! A lot of the feedback that we receive from clients is how comfortable they feel freely talking about their poop! There’s considerable anxiety for some to discuss this topic but we have a comfort level with it that creates ease for the client to engage in conversation and then their bodies start to shift, too!
Q: It’s not everyday conversation. What’s involved in a session?
Q: And what exactly is leaving the body during treatment? How does this work?
A: What leaves the body is considerable waste (fecal matter) and gas. You don’t need it! It’s taking up space in there and besides it’s not paying rent so it’s got to go! During a session, the client is undressed from the waist down and they’re lying on the massage table on their left side to start. The large intestine is shaped like an upside down letter “U” and it starts by the right pelvic bone where the small intestine attaches to it. It travels up towards the liver, which is under the right rib cage, then travels across the gut toward the stomach under the left rib cage. It then travels down to the left pelvic bone and angles to the right to leave through the rectum. So when we’re working together in the session, you’re lying on your left so we can work with the natural flow of elimination. Once matter has freed up on the left side, the client then turns over onto their back and that way the water can move in and around to the right side more easily. As a therapist, I am completely present with my clients and I often engage them in breathing techniques with aromatherapy to help them relax. My right hand pulses the waste tube in a very rhythmic fashion and my left hand is administering abdominal massage. It’s a very relaxing treatment. Sometimes we’re talking. Sometimes we’re “peacing” out. Sometimes we’re telling jokes and making people in the waiting area wonder why we’re having so much fun! For some people, the treatment can be uncomfortable if they have a history of constipation. So if they need to just relax, that’s what we allow to happen in the moment.
Q: It depends on the person. Every client must be different.
A: Every client is completely unique like a snowflake. And you know, people have a variety of health histories. They have emotional histories. They have spiritual histories. All of those things, whether the client realizes it or not, get brought to the session and therefore can also get stirred up in the session. I don’t pry but they get brought up by the client through the nature of the work. Some people are sharing information that’s private and personal that they weren’t expecting to share but they feel extremely comfortable when they’re bodies start letting go. Because the gut and bowel is such a primal place, when it starts to open, the emotions start to free up. And what I love to share with clients is the fact that about 98% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin is a very important hormone that regulates body temperature and our mood among other things. Working with people who suffer from depression and anxiety and panic attacks is really rewarding for me because as that part of their body opens up, they start to feel balanced and calm in a way that they never expected to from the treatment. It allows them to feel more independent. People often share really personal thoughts and experiences in a session so everything is completely confidential.
Q: What’s the norm for how often you get treated?
A: Frequency is very individualized. I’ve been doing the work almost for 20 years and I have some clients who come every week and implement their colonic treatments as their form of health insurance and it’s the crux of their wellness regimen. Comparable to people who practice yoga several times a week or receive weekly massages or drink vegetable juices daily – this is part of their health protocol. They never get sick. They feel that once a week is a great place for them because it doesn’t allow them to get too far away from a state of balance and it keeps them in check with their good habits. Other people receive treatments every 2 or 3 weeks. Some people come in when the seasons change because they feel like a change of seasons is a good time to shift their diet as well as assist their bodies in the process. Everybody finds their way with the treatments and I work closely with my clients to assure they know how to start reading their bodies so they can be the ones to decide when it’s sensible to return for their next session. The work is designed to bring you closer to feeling your body and hearing what it has to say and then knowing when it’s time to come back. So I usually tell people after their first treatment to write down a couple of descriptive words about how they’re feeling versus how they felt coming in. Then look at those descriptions about a week from now and see if they still resonate. If they feel groggy or moody or bloated then maybe the good diet loosened up more than you have eliminated and it’s time to come in again. So I try to help people figure out for themselves when they need to come back. That’s my perspective with this work. I want to engage them to rely on their instincts, intuition, and connection to their body. Of course, in the beginning I will provide my most expert suggestions but I will guide them to be more independent as time goes on.
Q: How do you go about finding clients? Now, you seem so established with your practice that it must probably be referrals.
Q: How long have you been out here?
Q: It really is highly educational. I feel like it is so simple. Now that you’ve explained it to me, I am completely on board and get exactly what you’re saying. I just didn’t really know about it before.
A: It’s something that’s not talked about often in our culture. We are are taught to have our temperature taken and then if we have a fever, we’re administered aspirin. People often say, “Well, if I eat good food, shouldn’t I just feel better”. We are not a self-cleaning oven. People like to think that they’re bodies should just do it all on its own. So I ask them: “Do you own cotton swabs? Do you own a toothbrush? Do you use shampoo?”. Those parts of your body don’t take care of themselves on their own. We do things hygienically to assist our bodies in so many capacities. It’s the same with the bowel. Our sexual reproductive organs are one thing. They are self cleaning. But that’s about it. The bowel is not. So when you start juicing and properly food combining and putting all these healthier whole foods in the body, you have to think of those more alkaline food choices like soap. If you do your laundry and you put in a quarter cup of liquid and you walk out, you’re going to come back and take your clothes out of the washer machine and put them in the dryer and everything’s going to be great. But if you leave that room and I sneak in and put in 10 more cups of soap, when you come down to get your clothes, they’re going to be loaded with suds. Why? It’s simple: Because there’s not enough rinsing for that volume of soap. So if you equate juices and salads and whole foods with soap, that healthier fare is loosening up layer upon layer of history in your system. And if you think you can get it all out on your own, come hang out with me for one hour in the colonic room and you will have a very enlightening experience! This, I can promise you will be worth your time!
Q: What brought you to The Springs specifically?
A: Jared and Kimberly were clients at my office back in New York City. When Kimberly and I first met there, we hit it off immediately and I don’t think it’s just a Gemini thing! I felt like I found a long-lost sister! And Jared, who is a very accomplished musician and music director, was often performing at Rockwood Music Hall so we had all these interesting connections as well as other shared mutual friends. I closed my office in September 2013 and was looking for a new platform. I wanted to continue to do the work I was already doing but I wanted to do it in a more profound way. I wanted to manifest a new location that would give me the opportunity to speak more globally and reach more people exponentially. This is that environment! Kimberly had called me to discuss some aspects of the Wellness Center because it was similar to the set up of my office. We got to talking and I explained that I was frustrated with New York City’s then current real estate situation. Then this idea for me to come here just popped out of her mouth and voila – I was on a plane to check out the space and the neighborhood! It just started like that and that’s how it manifested. I knew from that one visit that I was going to move here.
Q: Especially after living in New York for so long.