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

Digesting Spring – Ojas

Ojas is the beautiful sanskrit word that explains the essence of life. It is the subtle form of radiance, heath, immunity and longevity. On the physical level, Ojas corresponds with our bodies’ muscle, fat, bones, bone marrow, blood, plasma and semen. Ojas, along with Prana (physical vitality) and Tejas (mental clarity), make up the three positive forms of our constitution or doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha)in Ayurveda. In spring, this essence of life makes itself known in the sprouting buds and singing birds. After a stagnant winter, everything around us is bursting with life and creative juice; and so should we! As our earth receives life from water, air and the heat of the sun, we have the ability to restore our Ojas through the food and thoughts we take in. Ayurveda teaches that we are all born with a certain amount of Ojas. Think of Ojas as your bank account – if you are always withdrawing (“burning the candle at both ends”) – this vital essence gets depleted faster. Some indications of low Ojas are feeling tired, weak, fearful or worried. If you spent this winter catching all the colds and flues around you, that can also be an indication of low Ojas.

Since Ojas is most simply understood as the byproduct of our digestion, (what we digest both physically and mentally), we have the ability to deposit into our life savings account through our diet and lifestyle. Everything from the food choices we make to our relationships can drain or sustain Ojas.

Building Ojas through our diet starts with how the food is prepared and eating mindfully in a peaceful environment. This leaves out sports bars with dozens of loud T.V’s and business lunch meetings. Even if we eat healthy foods, we do more to build our Ojas account if we take a moment before eating to appreciate the source of the food – what it took to come into your possession, who grew it and prepared it. It is with this same gratitude that we then invite our body to receive all the nourishing qualities of the food. There is a good reason why we don’t feel like eating when we are emotional; we digest our emotions with every bite. The awareness of the whole digestion process starts with smelling our food, letting it touch our lips, beginning to feel it in the mouth and tasting it on the tongue before the teeth get called into action. This 30-60 second process sets the stage to eat slowly while sitting down (and not in the car!) Even if we can do this for one meal a day, we are depositing into the Ojas account.

Another way to strengthen Ojas and make the energy available for use in our subtle body is with a regular meditation practice. We lose Ojas through the mouth from too much talking and through the mind with negative or excessive sensory input. The constant stimulation and stressors of our modern lifestyle are always depleting our life-sustaining source. Winter is the season where nature gets quiet and stores its energy like a long meditation. As spring arrives, there is a natural order of releasing the stagnancy of winter and stimulating just enough activity to flourish without exhaustion. As in nature, quality and quantity are both a part of restoring the balance of Ojas.

The home of Ojas is in the heart. So what makes your heart happy physically and mentally? Walking outside and connecting your feet to the earth and all your beautiful senses to the rhythm of nature is another way to rebuild your Ojas. Make your life digestible and Happy Spring!

Namaste, Megan