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Meet The Practitioner: Aquatic Bodywork at SenSpa

Meet The Practitioner: Aquatic Bodywork at SenSpa

We asked Helena Eflerova, a hydrotherapy practitioner, to share insights about Aquatic Bodywork, its benefits, her offerings, and the exciting new projects she has in store.

1. What is Aquatic Body Work?

Aquatic Bodywork is a therapeutic practice involving floating in heated water and guided through fluid movements by a practitioner. This experience supports movement and flexibility, like a guided meditation in water. Combining weightlessness, gentle stretches, rotations, and massage, Aquatic Bodywork releases stiffness and offers benefits like improved posture, reduced pain, relaxed muscles, deepened breathing, and decreased stress. It's suitable for all ages and abilities, recommended for various conditions, and helps overcome water fears, requiring no swimming experience.

2. How did you start practising hydrotherapy? Is it something you always wanted to do?

I initially wanted to be an astronaut or a dancer, but my career began with precision metals as a goldsmith, then evolved to working with clay and porcelain as a ceramist, and later, sculpture with aquariums. My interest in aquatic therapies emerged after discovering Japanese dance Butoh and Contact Improvisation in water. This led me to aquatic dance, aquatic bodywork, Watsu, and Shiatsu in water. Now, I use all these modalities in tailored sessions with clients, both above and under the water, making each session unique and magnificent.

3. How long have you been practising, and did you undergo lots of training?

I've been practicing aquatic bodywork since 2017 and underwent extensive training. I trained for three years with Steve Karle at the British School of Aquatic Bodywork and Poetry in Water and another three years in Aquatic Body Waves with Manuela Blanchard-Russi at Earth & Water Dance.

I also completed a year of Watsu training with Daria Havelkova and Kelly Procopio, along with shorter courses in aquaphobia, aqua sensory, emotions in water, water touch, and baby bath techniques. I'm fully qualified with an STA Level 2 Award in teaching swimming, safety awards, and as a swimming instructor for all ages.

4. What do you enjoy most about being a hydrotherapy practitioner and your aquatic bodywork sessions?

What I enjoy most about being a hydrotherapy practitioner is the deep connection I form with people in the water. Helping clients quiet their minds and stay present in the moment is incredibly fulfilling. I love assisting them to float and providing massages and stretches, which is a unique experience compared to a traditional massage table. 

5. What would you say are the three best benefits of hydrotherapy? 

  • Improved Flexibility, Strength, and Mobility: The buoyancy of the water supports the body, reducing the strain on joints and allowing for a greater range of motion.
  • Pain Relief, Muscle Relaxation, and Circulation Improvement: The warm water helps to relax muscles and alleviate pain, while the hydrostatic pressure of the water can reduce swelling and improve circulation.
  • Stress Reduction, Improved Sleep, and Enhanced Mood: The soothing properties of water and the gentle movements involved in hydrotherapy can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve sleep patterns.

6. Who benefits most from aquatic bodywork sessions?

Aquatic bodywork sessions are highly beneficial for individuals with chronic pain, mobility issues, or specific conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and Parkinson’s disease. Elderly individuals, those with disabilities, and people recovering from surgery can improve their flexibility, strength, and overall mobility through gentle, supportive water movements. Pregnant women also benefit from the buoyancy and support of water, which reduces joint stress and provides a safe environment for gentle exercise and relaxation.

Athletes and active individuals can use aquatic bodywork for rehabilitation, muscle recovery, and maintaining flexibility, while those dealing with stress and anxiety can experience its calming and meditative effects. Overall, aquatic bodywork is adaptable to individual needs, making it suitable for a diverse range of people seeking both physical and mental health benefits.

7. What are the main differences between hydrotherapy and physiotherapy?

Hydrotherapy involves exercises and treatments performed in water, utilising its buoyancy, resistance, and temperature to enhance therapeutic outcomes. Whereas physiotherapy involves treatments and exercises performed on land using various equipment and techniques to rehabilitate injuries, improve physical function, and enhance movement.

8. What are your personal favourite treatments or activities to keep your body healthy and happy?

 To maintain my health and happiness, I enjoy a variety of treatments and activities:


  • Shiatsu Massage: A Japanese technique using finger pressure to relieve tension and improve energy flow.
  • Aromatherapy: Utilises essential oils for relaxation, mood improvement, and stress and anxiety relief.
  • Hypnotherapy: Uses hypnosis to achieve a heightened state of focus, allowing access to the subconscious mind for therapeutic benefits.


  • Daily Activities:
    • Yoga: Enhances flexibility, strength, and mental clarity.
    • Dog Walking: Provides light exercise and fresh air.
  • Weekly Activities:
    • 5km Runs: Boosts cardiovascular fitness and endurance.
    • Surf Lifesaving: Involves swimming and paddling for a comprehensive workout.

    9. If you could practice any other treatment, what would you choose?

    Hypnotherapy: I am fascinated by its potential to tap into the subconscious mind and facilitate positive changes in behaviour and emotional well-being. It can help with issues like stress, anxiety, phobias, and pain management.

    Craniosacral Therapy: This gentle, hands-on approach focuses on the craniosacral system, which includes the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. I'm drawn to its holistic nature and ability to promote deep relaxation, relieve pain, and support overall health and well-being.

    10. Do you have any exciting projects coming up involving hydrotherapy you would like to share with our readers?

    After the success of our spring/ summer sessions, I’m thrilled to share that the Sen Sound Sessions are due to return to SenSpa in September. Myself and Joel Cahen will be leading each session, where we dive into a world of sensory bliss, and journey into relaxation, escapism and playful exploration through ambient sounds and flotation on water. Keep an eye on Careys Manor & SenSpa’s What’s On page for details on the first returning session.

    I'm also excited to announce my upcoming project, Sculpting Time in Water. From July 2024 to July 2025, ill explore the intersection of Aquatic Contact Improvisation dance, Japanese Butoh Dance, and Artistic Swimming to create a new artistic language reflecting the fluidity of water. This project will feature solo performances and local dance workshops, promoting cultural exchange and artistic innovation. im eager to share the transformative power of water dance with both local communities and artistic audiences.

    Finally, my Sea Connection project, which started this May and runs until September, involves a monthly two-hour workshop right on the shores of Southbourne Beach. These workshops offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in mindful movement and connection amidst the breath-taking beauty of the ocean.


    Helena Eflerova



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