sensory motor somatic

What Is Somatic Yoga?

Are you curious about somatic yoga or heard of somatic movement and want to try it? Megan has been teaching somatic yoga classes and incorporating somatic movement into one-on-one yoga therapy sessions for 10 years.  Now you can join her class in person or virtually every Friday at 10:30 am CST or access them at your convenience in the On Demand library.  Have limitations or a specific goal? Schedule a yoga therapy session in person or virtually. And if you are already practicing somatics and want more, watch the fall schedule for another weekly class option.

“And now we’re suffering. Our bodies are suffering with lifestyle diseases, our minds are stressed, our spirits are confused. And our primitive, habitual responses just aren’t working. What we need is a practice, not just to alleviate our suffering, but to live the beautiful adventure we call life.”  From The Exuberant Animal, by Frank Forencich

The natural state of the human body is to be in motion. First person experience of motion is of equal importance as outside, third person observation. Somatic Yoga can change how we live, how we believe our minds and bodies interrelate; it can increase the power we hold in controlling our lives and how responsible we are in taking care of our total being.

The Body As Soma
“Soma” is the Greek word meaning “living body”.  Viewed from the outside, a human being is a body with a certain shape and size.  However, when a human being looks at him/herself from the inside, he/she is aware of feelings, movements and intentions – a very different fuller being. What an individual sees from his/her first person, living, sensing, internalize view is a soma.  To yourself you are a soma.  To another, you are a body.

The somatic viewpoint is that humans are self-aware, self-sensing and self-moving and therefore, self responsible somas who can change themselves, as well as bodily beings who are subjected to physical and organic forces.

Somatic Yoga Movements
Experiencing the body from within through the discipline of movement re-education
–  active “brain exercises”  that use the sensory motor cortex to increase brain neuroplasticity
– address the problem instead of the symptoms
– work with full body patterns that can teach a student how to be self-sufficient instead of returning for visits or medication
– most beneficial physically when the issues are a result of how we use our body; for instance mechanical back pain
– can be helpful in releasing trauma from the body; both physical and emotional.
–  reduce and potentially over time with discipline, eliminate the physiological memories of stress caused by accidents, injuries, surgeries or repetitive movements
– mentally, somatics can help separate emotional expression from thoughts, actions and symptoms
– increases and balances the life flow (Prana) in the body by dissolving pranic blockages, making it an accessible, effective practice to heal “when the issues are in the tissues”.

The majority of somatic movements are done on the floor, seated or lying down.  Fully supporting the body on the floor produces steadiness of body and mind. In most standing yoga poses and movements, the majority of the brain’s energy goes to balancing our body relative to gravity just to keep us in alignment and upright. A grounded body allows the energy of the mind to safely explore movement potential with less exertion.  The student is more likely to remain in a state of relaxation and can explore with lighthearted curiosity!

Join me in Light and Love,

Megan

Yoga as Interval Training for the Body & Mind

Life requires interval training. Physically, interval training allows you to push yourself beyond your limits and increase endurance by combining blasts of energy with a recovery phase. Intensity is increased without burn out.  In yoga, we might practice interval training by releasing all the muscles in a child’s pose after a series of dynamic standing postures. Interval training works on the principle of adaptation – the body’s ability to adjust to increase or decrease in physical demands. Yoga is interval training for the body and mind. The adjustments we make are physical and mental. With repetition, an athlete can expend less energy doing the same movement. Likewise, poses become muscle memory the more we do them. But yoga also considers the fluctuations of the mind. For example, the more savasana (relaxation) we do, the more we live in a state of savasana.  Doesn’t this sound like a program for life?

Using the breath as the pacer, we challenge the body in postures, even to the point of creating stress.  When we are deep in the “blasting” phase of a difficult posture, our mind tends to react to the discomfort in habitual ways; negative self talk like “I can’t do this!” or anxious thoughts like “crap, I’m going to hurt myself!” or even feeling envious of someone else’s pose. The sanskrit term for these conditioned thoughts is samskaras. If we were to walk the exact same route through a muddy trail every day, eventually there would be a rut in the ground. Samskaras are impressions left in our subconscious mind when it continually takes the same path. What we don’t know (or more accurately aren’t aware of) can hurt…or help. When we perceive difficulty for ourselves or others, our unconscious thoughts tend to be vicious or virtuous. Put another way, like addictions, samskaras can be helpful or harmful. But typically they are not obvious in their outward appearance. They hide in repetitive thoughts and emotions.

In yoga, it is in our attempt to keep the breath steady and rhythmic that these patterns are uncovered. The power of the bursts and desire to push toward accomplishment, joy and success are entwined with periods of rest, low activity, and introspection. The breath is the built-in diagnostic tool; if the mind is aware of changes in the breath, we are present for the repetitive thought patterns during times of physical demand, and we can quiet them in the recovery phase. This interval training for the brain offers an opportunity to try a new route into the next  yoga pose and release any negative thought patterns. In between the blasts of energy and recovery phases, we see ourselves for who we are – never perfect, but always pushing beyond our limits without burning out.

“This being human is a guest house.  Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably.  He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

– Rumi, The Guest House