Coco Rowlette owns her own practice at Coven Chiropractic. / Photo by Nirvana Pereira

The Healing Power of Coven Chiropractic

When Coco Rowlette was in school in Michigan, studying gender studies and poetry, she came down with a terrible sickness that traditional Western medicine wasn’t healing. Coughing, sleepless nights, and dried-out lungs resulted in her ribs popping out of place. After several months of illness, she was at the end of her rope and finally visited a chiropractor. In this visit, she found more than relief from her pain: she found her future calling. What she calls “poetry of the body,” chiropractic is a practice of giving a patient their power back — a practice Rowlette loves deeply.

Her love for chiropractic moved her to open Coven Chiropractic, her own practice at the Liminal Space Collective in Little Five Points. Rowlette spoke to Georgia Voice about Coven, the art of chiropractic, and its all-encompassing impact.

Quotes have been edited for clarity.

 

Can you tell me what drew you to chiropractic?

I got super sick in my third year of undergraduate school. I went to the University of Michigan, so as you can imagine, it’s very cold. I caught a cold that quickly turned into bronchitis and then once that started to dissipate, then I was left with pneumonia, which is just fluid trapped in the lungs. I was using the Western model [of medicine], I had had multiple rounds of antibiotics, multiple steroid shots, nothing was working. I couldn’t sleep through the night. I had pleurisy, which is the drying of the lubrication of the lining of your lungs, so every breath you take feels like you’re being stabbed. After three months of coughing, my ribs just couldn’t stay in place anymore. They started literally popping out. All the muscles that were holding my ribs in place, couldn’t take it anymore, and I was just in constant pain.

So, finally, I went to a chiropractor. I had been told previously that it was going to be a painful experience to get the ribs put back in place, but it was completely pain-free. It was such an inspiring experience because it was also the first time being touched in any of the places where I was feeling so much pain and was the only time a health care provider had taken the time to truly ask me questions about how I was trying to heal myself at home. I really loved it. I was studying poetry and Gender Studies at the time at the University of Michigan, and somehow the chiropractic made sense to me. It felt like poetry in the body.

 

What exactly is chiropractic?

We’re seeking to align the spinal column and the extremities so that the nerves that come out of those locations can communicate properly throughout the body. The nervous system is in charge of every physical process in the entire body, so we want to make sure that’s working uninhibited.

We’re looking for a subluxation, something that’s moved slightly out of place in the body. So we’re using the bones as levers to relieve the joints that are surrounding that region to reduce pain and increase function. Most people are coming to me for a musculoskeletal issue — something hurts or something doesn’t work anymore, something feels strange. The chiropractic philosophy is that each of our own bodies is healing itself and that the chiropractor is just aiming to remove the interferences of the nervous system so that the body can do what it wants to naturally.

That’s the philosophy behind chiropractic: that there’s this innate intelligence within our body that wants to live in homeostasis and there are interferences from our daily life that can get in the way of that. The art [of chiropractic] is which techniques you use and how you employ your intuition to help that person.

 

How did you decide to start your own practice?

The older generations that tend to prioritize security encouraged me to work under someone else for three to five years. By the time you graduate chiropractic school, you’ve been adjusting people for years. I don’t know, I have unwavering confidence as a Virgo, so I guess I just felt like I could do it myself. I graduated at 29, I just could not be told what to do anymore.

The name Coven Chiropractic I thought of when I was in New Orleans — it’s a very witchy place. I loved it as a metaphor for community and equality. I like the idea of saying, “Hey, we’re going to get along in our strangeness together.”

 

What services do you offer at Coven — or, alternatively, what does the process of working with a client look like?

The first visit is an hour and a half long. We take a half hour to go through a health history discussion. This is the time to tell me if you think there’s an energetic reason, a spiritual reason, or an astrological reason why you’re in pain — this is a safe place to tell me that. Then we’re going to do neurological and orthopedic exams to make sure that chiropractic is safe for you at the time to do and get a better idea of what your official diagnosis would be. As long as I do find it safe, I include treatment in that first appointment. My patients tend to be hardworking individuals who perhaps don’t have all the time and money in the world to keep coming back to me three times a week, so I want to provide as much treatment as I can immediately.

A lot of people will have various fears surrounding chiropractic. I like to really describe what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, and I like to give a lot of autonomy to the patient.

I do cupping as well. I love cupping because I feel it helps hold your adjustment longer. So it’s still about the chiropractic adjustment, but we’re adjusting all that soft tissue attached to the bones and encouraging the body to allow change to occur.

Everyone leaves with sweet rosy cheeks and feeling happy. It’s just the best job in the world. Making people feel better immediately is the best. I had a new patient yesterday who I asked how they felt about this very specific injury they had, and their response was that they felt loved and cared for.

 

Do you have other stories like that, from patients who felt particularly moved by your work?

I just had someone — they had come in, completely leaned over to one side and struggling to take a single deep breath from an acute rib injury. By the time they left, they were able to breathe and stand up straight. A patient came in with a cane, having not been believed about their arthritis for years at that point, and after that first adjustment, I never saw them use that cane again. I think of a patient who after her cervical adjustment, just immediately started crying because she said she felt like I had given her the permission to heal from trauma. I think of a patient who cried when they got off the table when I asked them how they were feeling, just the innocent question, and them finally being able to say it feels good, it feels better. It’s just such a heavy sense of relief.

 

Beyond the relief of not being in physical pain anymore, do you see emotional release from patients who may have been holding emotional trauma and pain in their bodies?

Oh, absolutely. I take a lot of time when I first start to just sort of move the body around. So many of us are literally holding the world together with our clenched jaws or shoulders up, and I can just feel there’s like no segmental motion throughout the body. It’s like almost working in one iron unit. To feel that body turn into mush by the end of it, feel them or hear them take that deep breath, deep sighs of relief, the [emotional] weight come out of their eyes. there’s definitely deep emotional releases. I’ve had patients jump off the table immediately to write things down because they’ll have a burst of inspiration.

Chiropractic also is important in addressing posture and the way we hold ourselves in space. Your posture reflects how you feel in your mind, how you feel in your emotions that day, and vice versa. I love giving people extra confidence in that way. Especially when it comes to marginalized communities — coming back to that pride in your chest after a top surgery, for instance, when all your body wants to do is be in the fetal position.

 

What can chiropractic offer somebody in the new year who wants to embrace a healthier lifestyle?

I think it’s really important self-care to say, “I deserve not to live in this chronic state that I’m in,” or, “I deserve to do more than just survive; I want to thrive in my body and feel good and happy and grow constantly.”

There’s this thought about chiropractic that what you go once you’re going to have to go the rest of your life. And in a way, that’s true. It’s like first going to a dentist after living with cavities for years and you’re like, yeah, now that I know what not having rotting teeth feels like, I will have to go to the dentist for the rest of my life. You know how it feels to have enough space in your body and length and confidence and strength and alignment. It just reflects in every part of your life.

Coven Chiropractic is located at 483 Moreland Ave NE. To learn more and book a session, visit liminalspaceatl.com/coven-chiropractic-scheduling.